Bottlefeeding Kittens? ~8 weeks

xReaOctober 17, 2012

So I was looking to adopt a kitten.

I'd found a kitten, and the foster was bringing her to my house tomorrow(last Tuesday)..Great!

But then I found out that there were two kittens living in an industrial park, in danger of heavy machinery and falling objects.. they were small, hungry, and one had a bad eye infection. Umm, yeah, couldn't just leave them there.

Emailed the foster to tell her what was up, and heavyheartedly postpone(or cancel) the adoption..

Took the kittens to my vet/place of employment (i'm a vet tech c: ), and am awaiting blood/fecal test results for FELV/feline leuk/giardia/ect.

So..basically.. they're ~7-8 weeks old according to my vet/their teeth.. According to the workers, they were dumped there by some jerk (theory, as they kinda just showed up one day) about a month ago, and their eyes JUST changed to greenish from blue.. "Hey, weren't their eyes blue on Thursday??? I'm not crazy! *all the workers laugh*"

So, if they're 7-8 weeks old now, and they were dumped a month ago.. they were just BARELY weened when they were taken from their mum. Which makes sense because.. one of them tries nursing your hand if you let him, and the other nurses on the other kitten's butt area when they nap together..

I know they're a bit old for bottle feeding, but I think it might help them a little? For closure..or something? :(

Ideas? Suggestions?

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Sound way too old to bottle feed at this point. Most abandoned kittens will make the shift to eating canned food as early as 4 weeks, and most kittens stop nursing around 6 weeks.. (sometimes as late as 7, but by then mom is usually fed up with their sharp nails and teeth). Felv test at 7-8 weeks may not be too reliable.. .might want to retest in a month. Kittens who get weaned early often retain some suckling behavior, often throughout their life. In my experience, these are often the kittens most likely to grow up as fat cats.. best to keep these ones on canned food (hard to get fat on canned food though it's possible).

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 3:00AM
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Sometimes kittens who were taken away from their mother too soon "nurse" for a very long time, maybe all their lives.

something like thumb-sucking, I think.

Bless you for taking in these little 'uns;
you'll love & enjoy them for many many years!

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 10:25AM
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I have a cat who was orphaned very young and didn't get to nurse properly. He's 5 now and he "nurses" on fuzzy blankets. He takes a mouthful of blanket and sucks on it while kneading and purring madly.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 12:30PM
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They're lucky they have each other to keep company and cozy.

My cat was an abandoned kitten, sick and an eye injury, and she nursed on the stuffed toys I gave her to sleep with. The nursing disappeared around 3-4 months of age and never returned.
The vet recommended canned food and that's all she's had the past two years. She's still a trim 10 lbs....tall, long and lean.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 12:32PM
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YES, I WOULD INDEED bottle feed them if they are showing signs of sucking behavior. Grown cats sucking on clothing or your skin is a really obnoxious habit (I think), and ut can in fact become dangerous if they do it to the point they are actually ingesting fibers from fabrics.

You really can't a make blanket statement like all cats are or s/b weaned at 6 weeks, or 8 weeks. Some of the oriental breeds wean much older, at 12 weeks. Some are born prematurely and so you can't really apply the same yardstick to all. AND, besides... it is becoming more recognized amongst animal behaviorists that 10-12 weeks is a better age to take kittens from their mom as there is a whole host of behaviors they learn from mom and also it gives more time for them to make a healthy adjustment to being more independent (Don't worry, they are still plenty playful and cute at 12 weeks.)

Back to the sucking habit - it is in fact caused by taking kitten from mom too soon, and it really is an obnoxious habit. Somewhere I read that bottle feeding was indeed recommended for the very reason you suggest to help along their development - this one behaviorist even recommended it for older cats which sounded interesting - that would definitely make an interesting experiment if I ever have the misfortune of getting a sucking cat again.

It's great those little kitties found you when they did! Poor things - if they lost their mom as early as you guessed its a small miracle that they survived at all.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 12:32PM
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I had one that must have been separated from mama too early because he liked to suckle on buttons in particular, but sometimes blankets, and sometimes he would make an attempt at his sister's belly (which she would not tolerate even a little). He did it for several years- maybe even until he was 4 years old if I recall correctly.

I never stopped him because it didn't affect me, and seemed to be comforting to him. From that standpoint, I would kind of agree that maybe you should offer them bottles to see if it soothes that need out of them in a few weeks time.

Good luck with your little rescues. What lucky little babies they are.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 3:51PM
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Kittens at six weeks or older will eat on their own, but I have had them suck on blankets, other female cats will sometimes "baby" them. Just give them lots of love, warm milk until they are a little older and soft food (If you can't find soft morsels soak dry kitten food in the juice from a can of tuna or chicken until they are soft but not soggy).
I am glad to see that I am not the only one who can't turn away a stray. I have several inside and outside, I just can't say no!

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 1:20AM
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