Pregnant Stray Won't Eat or Drink!

dlynn918June 29, 2010

Almost 2 weeks ago my husband found a tiny kitten outside his work with its eyes glued shut with infection. We took her to our vet who said she was under a year and pregnant! On top of having an 11 month rhodesian ridgeback and a 4 month old american bull dog mix we rescued, we now have a 5 lb pregnant stray kitty to take care of! She was so sick and could barely keep her head up but she purred and purred and didn't fight us at all. Her eyes were cleaned, she was put on medication but it shortly became clear that she wasnt eating or drinking so that night I fed her some whole milk with an eye dropper. She was perked up the next day but still refused to eat from her dish, although she licks the outside of bowl. Its been two weeks of syringe feeding kitten formula to her sometimes with pureed kitten food. She has gained 6 oz and just had eye surgery for an ulceration. She is overall a happy kitty and purrs a lot, loves the kids and the dogs too but she just refuses food and water but readily "nurses" from the syringe. Im wondering if she maybe has brain damage from an injury? She uses the litter box just fine daily although has only had 2 solid bm's since we got her. Any thoughts? Oh and I have never had a cat who had kittens...advise appreciated! THANKS!

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How did the vet confirm her pregnancy? Did he do an ultrasound and how far along is she?

I just wonder if something else is going on internally.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2010 at 9:06PM
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Interesting dilemma. Have you tried smearing canned cat food on the outside of her bowl to see if she'll lick that off? Try that with different flavors of Fancy Feast (not great quality food, but irresistible to many cats). If she won't go for that, I strongly recommend you pick up some A/D prescription food from your vet for syringe feeding. It is nutrient dense food formulated for debilitated animals in need of maximum caloric intake in minimum food volume. It has a very fine texture that mixes easily with water and syringes without clogging.

There are meds that can stimulate appetite in cats, though I don't know if any are safe for use in pregnant queens. You should discuss that with your vet.

It is extremely important that you get her eating on her own, because there is simply no way that you'll be able to keep up with her immense nutritonal needs by syringe feeding when she reaches her last trimester of pregnancy, much less once she starts lactating. Frankly, I don't know how you'll be able to prevent her from starving to death unless you terminate the pregnancy now or hand-rear the kits away from her if they manage to be born full term. Even adult, healthy queens with voracious appetites sometimes become dangerously emaciated with the physical demands of a nursing litter.


    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 12:49AM
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I just remembered something else. The vet didn't vaccinate her, did he? I believe it's the distemper vaccine that can cause very serious and permanent birth defects if administered during pregnancy.


    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 12:58AM
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Wow, I feel for you dear. I agree with Laurie about ending the pregnancy. That may be the only option for saving her. I wonder if her body has enough strength to even deliver these babies much less to make milk for them. I do have some other suggestions though.

1. Heat - give her a heating pad or heating throw. Heat is very very important to cats. It is absolutely the first thing I do when I get a sick, injured or young animal,( dog, cat or wildlife,) is get them on heat, get that body temp back up. Normal house temps are cool to cats. Winter and summer I have a heated throw and warming pads that I leave on all the time. It allows the cats (and dogs) to go to it when they need heat. I have also found that my cats ( I have 16 indoor cats-no I do not breed, they are strays. All spayed/neutered.), when they are not feeling good, they will go to it. Remember a cat's normal body temps is higher than our own. A normal nursing kitten's rectal body temp is about 96*. Lower than that, and they stop feeding. You can apply this to your cat as well. If she is very thin and weak, she may not be able to regulate her own body temp. Give her the heating pad and also a place she can get off of it if she begins to get too warm. Also, new heating pads have an automatic shut off after 2 hours. This does not work for warming animals. You can find heating pads without this feature on Ebay or even Goodwill. If they are not available, check local pet stores for warming pads or even with your Vet or local wildlife rehabilitationist. You may be able to rent or borrow one.

2. Fluids- Most cats don't drink like dogs do. It is easy for them to get dehydrated. Being dehydrated makes you feel really bad so giving fluids under the skin can be a big help. Your Vet can teach you how to do this, it is really easy. It will also give you another chance to help bring her temp up, by warming the fluids.

3. Nutra-cal - is a brown paste sold at the Vet clinic. It is usually given to animals that are weak and lethargic (sp?). It is very dense in nutrients and high in sugar for instant energy.

4. Kitten replacer milk - The A/D that Laurie spoke about is an awesome food for animals in distress. Side note: It also works well on predatory wildlife. I used it on a Redtailed Hawk with a head injury last fall, to get him to start eating again. Anyway, if she will not eat on her own, you can water down the A/D so she can lap it up. It smells really good. If she will not go for this, you can also offer her kitten replacer milk. It will not give her loose stools like cow's milk will. It is also nutrient dense.

5. Steroids - I am NOT a Vet, but I know steroids can sometimes boost the appetite. I don't know if this can be used during pregnancy, but it is worth asking the Vet about.

6. Other foods - I have had some luck with offering meat baby foods, cooked chicken and cooked chicken liver to cats that would not eat. Warming the food helps. Again, we get into the notion that she is shutting down, ie dying. The appetite goes and they have trouble regulating their body temps. Cold food just takes more energy, they may not have, to heat up. So warm the food. Have doubt about the temp? Put the food to your lips. If it burns your lips, it is too hot.

Last thoughts: I hope some of this helps. I can't see your kitty, but my gut goes back to bringing her body temp up. You can use a childrens rectal thermometer to check her temp. The Vet can also teach you how to take her temp. Remember to use a lubricant like KY jelly.

Also, if you can afford to do it, a blood work panel is good window to see what is going on, on the inside of your kitty. Have you done a feline lukemia/FIV test? Both diseases could play a part in her condition. Both are spread by sexual contact (if I remember correctly). From what I know of the diseases, the FIV is workable. Actually, I have two "AIDS" cats. They live with my other cats and do just fine. We have had no transmission of the disease as we do not allow breeding or fighting. But unless they have gotten something new since I worked at my Vet clinic, I don't think there is much they can do with the Lukemia. I may be in error here, it is worth exploring.

One more last thought. Financial help. I an in Indiana and locally in the city we have a group called IndyFeral. They work with feral cats and the people that are trying to help them. The provide food, shelter, traps, spay/neutering and Vet care for the wild cats. You might check locally if there is anything like this around you that might be able to help you if this is causing a financial strain. I really do understand being "animal poor". Thanks! Susan

Below is some additional info copied from the Merck Veterinary Manual.

1. Body Temperature
Feline "normal" body temperature range is 100.5 - 102.5 Fahrenheit (38 - 39.2 Celsius).
A body temperature below 100 or above 103F warrants a call to your veterinarian. Cats may become stressed in the veterinary office (or car ride to the office), creating a higher-than-normal body temperature temporarily. Gauging body temperature by the moistness of the nose or how warm the ears feel is not reliable.

2. Respiratory Rate
16 - 40 breaths per minute
Respiratory rate is the number of breaths per minute. Normal respiratory rates are assessed when the cat is resting. A cat that is in pain, having heart or respiratory problems, suffering from heatstroke, or stressed will usually have increased respiratory rates. It is important to gauge the overall situation and condition of the animal to assess the respiratory rate.

3. Heart Rate
120-140 beats per minute
When stressed, heart rates will increase. This will normalize as the cat calms down in healthy animals. Cats that suffer from heart conditions (cardiomyopathy) or diseases such as hyperthyroidism will have increased heart rates -- over 200 beats per minute in some cases.

4. Duration of Pregnancy
On average, feline pregnancy lasts 63 days, but can vary from 57 to 69 days.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 7:59AM
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How very frustrated you must feel. Has her mouth been checked really well for signs of stomatitis or ulcers? Dental problems? Broken bones in the jaw area? If it hurts to eat and drink an animal will avoid it as much as possible. Is she dehydrated?

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 3:08PM
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Thanks everyone! Kitty has begun eating on her own by rubbing some kitten food on the syringe. Its been a long 2 weeks but she is gaining weight slowly. And no worries, I have been feeding her kitten formula via syringe the entire time, I thought I mentioned that? She is doing great although still an odd ball!
;-) No vaccines yet, just focusing on getting her well. Off to vet, more posts to come! Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 3:30PM
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Calliope- Great thought! I didn't even think of mouth trouble. So glad you mentioned it.

dlynn - good luck! I am sending good thoughts your way. It takes a special person to take on an animal in trouble. Thank you for helping her.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 5:13PM
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I thought of it because I went that route with my big old Tom cat. He would approach his food, apparently wanting to eat, over and over and then stop short. A trip to the vet revealed a broken tooth and infection. After removal he went back to his bowl with enthusiasm.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 5:29PM
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Good luck with her. You're a good person to care for her.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 12:56AM
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