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Help! My Cat Won't Feed her Newborn Kittens

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Question: Help! My Cat Won't Feed her Newborn Kittens
HELP! My cat had a litter of six kittens, unfortunately two died shortly after they were born. It seems that the mother no longer wants to feed the other four babies. Do you have any suggestions?
Answer: First, you need to get the mother cat and the remaining kittens to the vet for a checkup, without delay. It could be that the mother has mastitis or some other condition that makes nursing painful. If that is the case, the kittens will need to be hand-fed until the mother cat is recovered. Are you willing and able to do that around the clock? If so, you'll need to get some small nursing bottles and a supply of kitten milk. One brand is KMR, which is available online or at stores such as Petco. Your veterinarian may be able to help with those, or you could check with your local pet supply stores. In an emergency, you can create a reasonable substitute for the mother cat's milk, with this recipe for "Kitten Glop."

In the meantime, if the mother cat has completely rejected the kittens, they will need to be kept warm. Chilling at this tender age can be quickly fatal to kittens. I also have an article on feeding newborn kittens that should help get you started.

Other resources can be found in my article on Post-Nasal Care for a Queen and her Kittens.

However, if this is a job you feel you can't handle, you'll need to find a local rescue group that might be willing to foster the kittens. Your veterinarian or local animal shelter should be able to help you locate such a group.

I hope after this experience, you will strongly consider spaying your female cat. It's really the best solution for her health, and for avoiding future crises such as you are presently experiencing. If she does nurse her kittens after veterinary care, she can be spayed as soon as they are weaned (as early as six to eight weeks after birth.)

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