Archive for the ‘Weaning kittens’ Category


Kittens – raw feeding – importance of fibre

22 July, 2007

This follows on from my post on the kitten with the sticky bum.

Turns out the pumpkin did the trick and Roly produced a beautiful one.  It was firm, solid and everything that sites on raw feeding claim raw-fed cat poo should be.

Unfortunately, he did it on the front door mat.  But hey, at least he didn’t wipe his bum clean on the carpet.

The thing is, I almost didn’t find it either because it was relatively smell-less.  A lack of smell is not something you normally associate cat poo with, but it’s true with raw fed cats/kittens.  It’s something that was mentioned in the Winn Feline Foundation Report on diet and cats too.

Fibre is something that raw feeders may or may not have to add to the raw food.  It helps to ease the passage of food along the bowels.  Some cats don’t need additional fibre.  Some do.  It all depends on the cat.

If you think about one of the natural food sources of a cat in the wild, it’s a mouse, which would have a stomach full of digested grain (or  bird, with its fibrous feathers).  That would be a source of fibre for the cat.  How to duplicate this source of fibre for our domesticated cats?

I used pumpkin in this instance with Roly.  Some experts advocate adding psyllium husk instead, but some (e.g. rawpaws) don’t.  It’s something you’ll want to investigate and try out for yourself.


Kittens – weaning through raw feeding – importance of Taurine

16 July, 2007

Kittens eating minced rabbit


Here’s a photo of the kittens at one of their first meals of wild minced rabbit (whole, with no tripe, bone-in).

It’s said that weaning kittens is relatively easy using a raw diet.  I can only speak from personal experience and say that seems to be the case: the kittens seem to recognise what natural food is.

I know some sites on kitten weaning mention offering first meals of rice/rice pudding/milk/porridge.  If those work, great!  However, I don’t think rice/porridge are what cats would eat in the wild.  And cats lack the enzymes to digest cow’s milk.

The first meal the kittens had was freshly-minced whole chicken with bone-in.  The recipe was the same as the adult recipe, except that the chunks of chicken were cut into smaller, kitten-sized pieces.  I also made sure that each chunk wasn’t joined to any other chunk.  Last year, a kitten nearly choked when she swalloed a chunk which was joined to another by a tendon – she couldn’t chew on the second chunk and it stuck in her throat until I managed to hoick it out with a finger.

I tried them on lamb as well, but they didn’t like the mince as much as just chunks.  And Poly, the black girl kitten prefers lamb to the chicken.  When I feed lamb chunks I am careful to add some calcium supplement (Stress) to it because the lamb chunks don’t have minced bone to provide calcium.   This is very important.  When you look for suppliers of pet mince, make sure that it’s been minced with the bone-in.

Last year, I got my wild rabbit whole from my sister-in-law and her husband who have a smallholding which is overrun by rabbits.

This year, I discovered that Woldsway Rabbit have started offering wild rabbit in their pet food range.  They already do a range with farmed rabbit, but my cats prefer wild rabbit.  It’s got a richer look to it too.  I’m usually cautious about using commercially-made raw pet food, but David Blythe of Woldsway assures me that he’s had to implement EU standards of food preparation that are usually used in human-food preparation.

The rabbit comes frozen in packs of 0.5kg.  It’s a little on the large size to thaw out completely, so what I do is let it defrost slightly so I can break the pack up into smaller meal-sized portions which I then defrost totally.

One caveat is that you should always vary your cat’s diet, so that it does not consist exclusively of one type of meat.

And if you do feed a frozen-type raw meat diet, you must supplement with taurine.

Taurine is an amino acid which helps cats digest fats.  Unlike other species of animals, cats cannot use another amino acid for this function.  Taurine is essential in healthy heart-functioning for cats.

A Winn Feline Foundation Report on diet and cats showed that feeding only ground rabbit led to a Taurine deficiency.  This was possibly due to the fact that when meat is frozen, it loses taurine and Vitamin E.

So always supplement raw diets with taurine. You can buy powdered taurine in capsules.  Solgar is one such brand.  Michelle Bernard of recommends adding at least 2000mg of taurine for every 2.5 pounds of meat.


Raw feeding for Kittens (again)

11 July, 2007

Well, after last year’s success I was shining my fingernails on my shirt, thinking I’d had the weaning problem solved.  Of course Hubris meant that I would be writing this, humbled and confused.

I’d taken Monday off work to prepare raw mince for the kittens.

I made two batches of raw mince – one was lamb and the other was chicken.

Last year, the litter of seven had taken to the mince chicken like it was mother’s milk.

Anyway, the chicken recipe was close to the one set out in Michelle Bernard’s site.  And the lamb one was a variant, using lamb chunks which I minced together with a lamb heart and lamb kidneys.   The chicken was free-range, from Springfield Farm in Hertfordshire, bought from my favourite poulterers in Borough Market [I did say my cats get the best].  They’re my favourite because I get extra giblets, and they save rabbit heads for me.

I put a plate of freshly-prepared chicken mince down, and to my surprise (but actually, not really), both kittens tucked in.  It was that natural.  The boy actually took to it more readily than the girl, not sure why.  The girl took a few licks, then backed away, as though it was something she wasn’t quite sure of.

The second day I put some lamb mince down.  They weren’t having any of it.

So I put some more chicken mince down.  But it had been frozen, and they didn’t touch it.

Today I chopped some lamb into leetle chunks and put it down.  They whalloped it.

So I’m confused now.  Chicken mince yes, then no.  Lamb mince no.  What was putting them off the lamb mince?  Was it the supplements I’d added?  I’d added the same to the chicken mince.  Was it because it wasn’t fresh but frozen? (lord, please, not gourmet kittens).

I have one more weapon in my armoury. Minced wild rabbit.  Woldsway rabbit are now selling pet mince made with wild rabbit.  Last year I got some from one of my sister-in-law’s who together with her husband was farming a small-holding in Norfolk which was overrun by rabbits.  The kittens loved the wild rabbit, and so did Teddy.

So I was glad that Woldsway have started offering a wild rabbit alternative.  Wild rabbit is just that more richer in taste and colour than farmed rabbit.

I’m hoping it will reach the bits of the kittens that domestic chicken and lamb can’t.

More soon.


Kitten: Panic – Squeaky has swallowed the teat off the bottle

25 August, 2006

I could kill myself.  Squeaky has swallowed the teat off the bottle.I’d stopped hand-feeding her because she wasn’t having to fight for the teat, but she kept running up to me and squeaking for milk. So two nights ago I decided to feed her.  The bottle I use is a Catac bottle – it’s glass, shaped like a banana, open at both ends.  Anyway, the teat had been soaking in Milton’s disinfecting solution and was a little soft.  It was also a little chewed.

Squeaky was so ravenous she sucked the teat and chewed it as she sucked.  Next thing I knew, she had bitten off the end, and before I could stop her, she had swallowed it.

The vet says it should pass out, but if she started vomiting, to bring her in for surgery.

The problem is, Squeaky isn’t weaning onto solids yet … she’s still suckling from mum.  So nothing solid is passing out.  I’ve been encouraging her to drink loads, but I don’t know if that will work.

I’ve done a fingertip search of the litter trays and squished poo like a forensic scientist, but nothing so far.

Please say a prayer for little Squeaky and pray that she won’t have to have the teat removed surgically.

Lesson:  don’t hand-feed kittens if they don’t need it.  And don’t use teats that have been chewed.Addendum: 7 September 2006.

Good news. Squeaky is still doing well. It’s as though nothing has happened. I’m not sure what’s happened to the teat, but I spoke to the vet early this week and he feels that the teat has passed through her – nothing can stay that long in the gut of a cat.

I hope so. Thank you for all your prayers and good wishes (and Squeaky sends you her little mews and purrs too!


Kittens – fourth week – weaning

6 August, 2006

I started weaning the kittens yesterday. They’re now nearly four weeks old and I wasn’t sure if it was too early to start, but what prompted me was that Mum cat was losing condition and starting to look quite skinny. Nursing kittens is hard work, and lots of queens lose condition during that time, but I wanted to help her out as much as I could. During the two weeks I was at home I fed her up to as much as once every two hours. Now that I was back at work, I suspect that Hubby wasn’t as conscientious.

A lot of breeders have problems with weaning, with kittens being fussy etc. Some advocate using intermediate foods like porridge, or rice pudding. With last year’s litter I fed raw mince (homemade and ground up with the bone and supplements added – recipe to be supplied in a later blog) and there were no problems at all. It seems that kittens recognise real food when they see it.

I smeared a little raw chicken mince on the rim of a small plate and put it down in the pen. The cream kitten investigated and to my delight sampled it. The larger kittens all had a taste of it. The smaller kittens, like Squeaky, didn’t bother even though I put a little on my finger and offered it to Squeaky.

Today I repeated the raw food offering, and a few more kittens ate it. Good thing I supervised the meal because the mackrel kitten started making yowling noises. I checked it and there was a piece of meat sticking out of its mouth, so I loosened the meat. It tried to swallow it, and to my horror, started choking. I immediately pulled the piece of meat out, and saw that it had been attached by a piece of ligament to another piece of meat that it had already half-swallowed.

This is the second time I’ve had to rescue a kitten and been successful. I think I’m blessed.


Kittens – the first week – a question of weight

5 August, 2006

What I didn’t realise was that the top teats of a mother cat (the ones located just underneath the forelegs) have less milk than the bottommost ones (the ones located closest to the hindquarters). So the kitten that ended up there would have less milk MilkBar1than the rest of them.

Of the two black (tortie) kittens, one got the top teat and one the bottom teat. I can’t be sure, but it could have been the seventh kitten that got the top teat.

I’d weighed all the kittens when they were born, and they ranged from 110g to 132g. I wasn’t conscientious about weighing them and keeping records, and there lay my mistake.

By the end of the week the heaviest kitten weighed in at 210g. The smallest weighed 150g. That was a good 60g difference between them. And of course the smallest was the little tortie girl.

So I resorted to topping-up the tortie’s milk. Some breeders say you shouldn’t hand-feed kittens because in the wild, it’s not something mother cats do, that really, kittens should be allowed to fight for their teats. Others said that as long as it wasn’t more than eight kittens, mummy cat would be fine feeding them. But I was worried that if I didn’t top-up the kitten it would continue to lose ground to the larger kittens. 60g may not seem much but in terms of proportion it could be significant later on.

The milk I used was the powdered variety, a brand called KMR, and supposed to be one of the best on the market. I had a Catac kitten bottle and teat – the bottle was the type that looks like a banana and open at both ends.

In theory, you made the formula up (one spoon of powder to one of water for newborns), filled the bottle at the wide end, slipped the silicone teat over the small narrow end, and there you were … all ready to feed the kitten.

In practice, it’s a messy business in the beginning. The kitten can’t see you, it thinks you’re some sort of evil predator when you pick it up and squeals for its mum to save it. Mum who’s lying down feeding the other kittens comes to its rescue. In the meantime, the other kittens are still tenaciously suckling off her when she charges out of the box with them dangling from her belly, so you’re forced to quickly rescue the kittens before they fall.

And when you manage to get the teat into the kitten’s mouth it mumbles round the teat and the milk goes everywhere, especially if you’re wearing pyjamas.

The good news is that afer I widened the hole on the teat, the kitten got the hang of the yummy stuff coming out of the bottle. There is a danger that if the kitten drinks too fast, the milk could go down the wrong way – into its lungs – so that’s something to watch out for. Me, being paranoid and cautious, every time the kitten moved its head, I thought it was choking and immediately removed the teat.

Despite topping-up two to three feeds a day, the kitten still wasn’t catching up with the others, so I consulted my homeopathy books. I still wasn’t confident of my ability to get the correct remedy so I consulted a homeopath and was recommended calcarea phosphorica.

I gave it several doses of calc phos, but can’t say I noticed any difference.

The kitten has put on weight, but hasn’t caught up with the other kittens. It’s fine in every other way – it’s lively, and meeting all the kitten milestones. The only difference between it and the others is size, and even then, without weighing it, I wouldn’t be able to detect the difference.

A breeder I spoke to says that it will probably just be a small kitten. Having said that, last year, the smallest kitten in the litter is now a grown-up young lady, very long and muscular and as large as the other two adult cats in the owner’s household. So I really must stop worrying.

By the way, because the kitten always squeals and rushes to the edge of the pen when it sees me and won’t stop squealing until I’ve picked her up, I’ve named her Squeaky until I manage to get a posh pedigree name for it.