Kitten who cannot bottle feed?

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    I hope everyone is well? I’m very new here, from Ireland, and I’ve been looking for a forum like this, you guys seem awesome and I’ve spent the last half hour looking around immersing myself in kitties. I work on and off with a local animal charity, I take on kittens and cats, foster them and help get them homes. I recently was handed a 5 day old kitten to foster. She’s doing well (she needs to be wormed etc, but other than that she seems totally healthy.)

    My one issues is that this little spud is about 17 days old now and still cannot feed from a nipple/bottle.

    I have tried several different kinds, cut various tips off the nipples, including a crosscut that only allows the barest slow drip, to no success. (I have a miracle nipple ordered online but because they don’t sell them in my country, it’s taking far longer than I’d like to get here.) Basically, this little girl aspirates when she tries to feed from the nipples/bottles. I suspect it’s because she is drinking too quickly; she sucks like crazy and seems to forget to swallow, then she inhales and it goes down the wrong way- but she keeps on drinking, instead of stopping. I have been syringe feeding her since I got her, which allows me to control how much she’s taking in. It’s more difficult, but it works. She is sometimes (or, often) frustrated by it because she can’t ‘latch’ the same way she would a nipple, which means trying over and over. When she does latch, she can suck hard enough to move the plunger down all on its own. 🙁 Which might be the issue with the bottle feeding. I did try a bottle a few times, which she immediately prefers but she can’t manage to get it down properly. So I’ve abandoned the bottle feeding for now. It seems too risky.

    I don’t think she has a cleft palate, from what I’ve seen it doesn’t seem to be the case but it’s the first time I’ve fostered a kitten than can’t manage a bottle and I’m concerned about weaning her onto solids if I can’t make a slurry of solid food + kitten milk down the line. It won’t pass well through a syringe. I’ve taken her to the vet to ensure her lungs are clear more than once. That’s a massive concern of mine, but so far the vet has given her the all clear. He did not check for a cleft palate though so I will be taking her to my own vet the next time (I will be doing this soon, the initial check up was made by the animal charity vet). It feels like a game of chance every time I feed her, and I keep waiting for that telltale wet, crackling sound when she breathes after she’s been fed. I check and double check.

    The veterinary nurse also explained that sometimes you’ll get the occasional kitten that can’t manage a bottle for whatever reason and I’m wondering if anyone else has come across this and if so, how did you manage?

    She’s also only pooping with difficulty. Once a day if I’m lucky. I dilute her kitten formula a little more than what’s recommended so that she isn’t dehydrated and it seems to be improving slowly, but she really has to strain to get it out. Poor thing.

    I guess I’m mostly wondering if anyone else has had a kitten that could never manage a bottle and how they worked with that?



    Welcome ENC! It seems to me that you have been very thorough and have tried everything. Although I haven’t had a kitten that kept having trouble like yours, I have had kittens who started out not being able to figure out the nipple/bottle thing.

    It may be that she will not master it, but as long as she is getting nutrition and you are making sure that she isn’t aspirating milk, then she will eventually graduate to eating solid food/slurry and should be fine. I am glad you are having her checked for cleft palate as that was my next question.

    For her constipation, you could add a few drops of mineral or olive oil to her milk since this softens up hard stool and makes it easier to pass. Although, I don’t think a kitten that poops once a day is really constipated, in fact it sounds like she has her own schedule! You can give her goat’s milk (pasteurized) that is full of probiotics and is good for her immune system and will help with constipation. I have fed this to my own kittens with great results.

    Please let us know how she is doing. Keep up the good, positive work you are doing with fostering and starting these kittens out for a great future. Your feedback will help future people who come here needing advice and us TDKers who try and give them the best advice possible.

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