Need help getting kitten to eat solid food

neeneeJuly 14, 2008

My husband found an abandoned kitten at work a week and a half ago and brought her home. We took her to the vet and got her checked out and made an appointment to come back for shots, etc. He said she was 3-4 weeks old at the time. We've been feeding her kitten formula in a bottle and that's been fine. The vet said we could start her on kitten chow. I tried mushing it up in warm water, but she turned up her nose at that. Then I tried wet kitten food, mashed up with a little formula and warmed, and she wouldn't eat that either. So last night I started mixing a little of the warmed wet food with the formula and putting that in the bottle. I had to cut the tip off so it would come out, but she likes it. How do I transition her to eating out of a plate? I'm using a tiny dish (one made for olive oil dipping), so I know that's not it. I dip my finger in it and rub it on her lips, but no go. Is she just too young yet? Her baby teeth are in good now. After I feed her, I put her in her litter box (a pie pan) and she goes. We are keeping her in a rabbit cage for her safety. We have two other cats and they are staying far away from her for the most part, but sometimes their curiosity overcomes them and they have to come closer to check her out. It always ends up with them hissing or growling and then hastily beating a retreat. We keep her in a room by herself at night, with a towel over the cage. We also take her out on our screened porch for exercise. She really likes to romp around out there. We haven't let her roam about the house yet, because she does still go outside the box once in awhile. Plus, I'm afraid she'll chew on electrical cords or something. We've never had a little kitten. Our other cats were bigger when we got them...or when they found us. Thanks for any advice. BTW, her name is Taji.

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She's just precious...& *tiny*!

Maybe someone with more experience will chime in, but I'm thinking she's still too young to wean, maybe 4 weeks or so right now.

If she's taking a mix of kitten formula & smooshed up canned food from a bottle, I think you're doing very well with her indeed.

Hang in there!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 5:45PM
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Taji, what a nice name for a cat. Omg the picture just came up (I have extra slow dial up) what a cutie. I enjoyed raising my bottle babies and we have a special bond. The hardest part was getting them off the bottle, they enjoy it. I did just what you are doing make a kitty shake and put it in the bottle with the nipple made bigger.
I then put the kitty shake in a tea spoon tip(I use a plastic spoon just in case the kitten bites the spoon) I hold it and the kitten starts sucking on the spoon and slurps up the food. The next step is make the shake thicker. I then move to a small dish. They are just like babies of all types they get more on themsleves until they get the hang of it. I keep a small dish of kitten chow in the cage and a dish of water(if she doesn't drink much water I would give her a bottle with water in it, she will be shocked and a little mad because she was expecting milk). I find that it will take a week or two more before she eats the dry food but since she can play with it she will learn to eat it. I think it is so cute when they bite all the points off of the little kitty stars. I don't know how big your rabbit cage is I use a big rabbit cage and keep a pan of litter in the cage so they learn to use the box on their own.
I think Taji has a great human mother, you are doing all the right things.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 5:55PM
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I think she is just too young yet.They will start eating when they are ready.I never moistened or wet down food for kittens.I just start putting out dry and when they were ready to eat they did.I know it is probably time consuming and a pain to feed it from a bottle but it would still be nursing if it were with it's mother.
I don't think putting food/formula mixture in a bottle is going to solve the problem.The kitten will just come to expect it and still won't try the solid food.JMO

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 6:31PM
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What a cutie!!

Weaning varies with each kitten. Some pick it up faster than others. But they all eventually get with the program.

I found that in the morning, when they are really hungry, is the best time to encourage them to eat the gruel made of kitten food and formula. Make it mostly formula, and try to get her to lay it from the tiny bowl you have. Use the spoon, as suggested and bring it up to her face. Once she starts lapping, she will wean. It may take a week or so!

It's important to keep he clean when she sticks he face in the bowl! I put my washcloths to good use in weaning!

Also: in a week or so, put some dry food in the blender to crush it and start offering her that! And bowls of water.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 7:05PM
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I emailed a friend of mine who is a vet assistant (and also rescues/fosters/bottle feeds) and she asked me to post this on her behalf:

The kitten only looks to be about 4 MAYBE 5 weeks old.....keep her on the formula and keep leaving small amounts of regular wet cat food in there also. Reduce the feedings to 2-3 times a day and if you use friskies "pate" formula ( good old regular chunk of wet food) that is the best. it is easy on their systems. Iams and eukanuba tend to cause them a little bit of abdominal distress....I have bottle fed LOTS AND LOTS of babies and have had great luck with good old friskies wet food and purina one dry food! Good Luck!!!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 10:08PM
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I would say the same as cat mom's friend. The kitten is too young to be weaning right now. In a couple of weeks you can try the canned food mixed with formula to help her start weaning. She may take longer to wean since she's an only child and no mom or other kittens around to teach her.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 12:02AM
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Thanks to all for the good advice. I've put dry food in her cage so she can investigate it. (I already had water in there, but I haven't seen her drink any yet. She steps in it, but that's all.) I kind of had a feeling that she might not be ready to come off the bottle. After the bottle, she likes to 'nurse' the loose skin on my hand or my Mom's arm. (Mom's got little hickeys on her arm!) She goes to sleep that way, and then we put her back in the cage. Then she sleeps until the next feeding. Right now, I'm feeding her 3 times a day. She typically doesn't eat it all at once. We have to play a little too, and I put her in her litter pan during the feeding and usually she pees...sometimes even poops. I'm hoping our other two cats will soon warm up to her. Our younger cat loves to play and would be perfect to teach her cat etiquette. The older one can't be bothered. I'll keep you all up on her progress. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 11:18AM
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We've raised countless litters of orphan kittens over the years. Actually my then teenage DD came up with a perfect solution for the finickiest eaters. She asked me what mama kitties bring to feed their babies. Red meat. So we tried rare hamburger, just small amounts at first, and no kitten ever refused it, never. They just laid into whatever I gave them and scarfed it down like they were starving.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 4:09PM
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You aren't going to believe this. The solid food issue is resolved. My DH brought home another kitten last night. Apparently it is a litter mate to the first one. There were two left and he talked a co-worker into taking the other one. This new one is half the size of Taji, but is already eating from a dish. The guys at work had been feeding him their leftovers. He is just a little bag of bones but has a good appetite. When Taji saw him eating, she decided that maybe she was missing out on something. I'll get some pictures tonight, I was overwhelmed last night. My sweet little girl has turned into a bully, though. She is all over the new one and plays really rough with him. Hopefully, once he gets some nutrition, he'll toughen up and give as good as he gets. He just wants to snuggle into your neck. He's a brown classic tabby with little tufts on the ends of his ears. Very pretty. We've gone from two cats to four cats. DH says we're not keeping this one, but I don't know if I'll be able to let him go.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2008 at 2:52PM
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Here's a picture of our new foundling, Max. He is so sweet. Tomorrow I'm going to get him vet checked. Taji was fine, but he's sooo skinny, there may be something extra he needs.

Here he is next to Taji. It's been two weeks since we got her and she's been eating very well. But it is really hard to believe they are litter mates. Max is really cuddling up to my hubby. I think he's going to fall for him and want to keep him too.
    Bookmark   July 16, 2008 at 9:55PM
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That is one small kitten! Glad to hear he's going in for a check-up tomorrow. The vet will probably recommend a nutrient rich food for him for awhile.
I'd keep them separate, except at eating time, since the gray one is so much larger and rough with him.

He'd probably also appreciate a little extra warmth with a blanket since he is so under weight.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2008 at 1:22AM
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She looks like my little"RAT CAT" Had the same problem.Waited a week or so mixed her liquid food with the dry and she has been eating me out of house and home.Be patient.My problem I went to Walmart and brought her a lot of toys and she ignores them and goes around looking for things of mine to destroy,She seems to know they are mine and just wants attention.We do have our problems but that just makes it fun to love animals

    Bookmark   July 17, 2008 at 12:07PM
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What a survior. I have six cats because the ones I fostered I fell in love with and kept. I let RocKat suck on the webbing between my fingers when he was a kitten. He did it when he was getting bigger I was afraid I would be walikng around with a big tabbie cat haning from my hand. LOL He is two now and quit along time ago.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2008 at 2:35PM
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First off, I'd be wary of any food wet or dry the vet gives you-Most vets are pushed by very bad companies to feed foods which are litterly garbage, made up of all kinds of byproducts and things you would never fed anyone of your family, vets are NOT nutritionalists. I would stay away from Brands like Iams, S/D, science diet and friskies, purina and meow mix.

The idea diet for small ( house cat sized) cats wild or domesticated would be frozen dead rodents similar what you would feed a large reptile such as a savannah montior or boa However this can get very expensive as unlike snakes and the like cats must eat daily so realistically a good pre raw would be something like Natures variety Madallions or a good canned such as Innova EVO or Ziwi peak or Wellness grain free. Or you can make your own raw dishes, bone MUST be raw and included for dental health but you MUST know exactly what your doing!! I'd highly recomand going to these websites to learn more of cat feeding and the truth about pet food.

PS don't declaw as this will cause the cats to, suffer , even become a biter or stop using the litter box. Declawing is illegal in many countries, germany, most of the european nations, new zealand ,ect.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2008 at 11:52AM
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