Can Kittens be too Big for Cat Mother?
June 8, 2011 7:48 AM   Subscribe

Can Kittens be too Big for Cat Mother?

So...Kissa is quite small (~8 pounds), and she hooked up with this guy, who is quite big. Kissa's babies are starting to become pretty big (a few are bigger at 3 weeks old than Kissa was at 8 weeks old).

The five kittens together are now about the same size / weight as Kissa is. There are no signs of trouble, except the kittens do seem more ravenously hungry every time mother visits them. I'm just wondering if the kittens can overwhelm Kissa's ability to feed them, and, if so, what can be done to help?
posted by Jon44 to Pets & Animals (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Put out kitten food. She'll probably eat it (it's got more protein) and the kittens will start experimenting with it soon, too. Depending on how she likes it, you can swap kitten food for most of her normal food (she should be eating about twice as much as she normally would, or more). Your keywords are "lactating cat food".
posted by anaelith at 8:19 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

She should already be on kitten food because lactating mothers need all the calories they can get. At about four weeks, the kittens should be able to start taking solid food along with mother's milk, so you can start introducing it to them then.

What does your vet say about feeding Kissa and her kittens?
posted by cooker girl at 8:27 AM on June 8, 2011

Definitely ask about calcium supplements for Kissa.
posted by zadcat at 8:44 AM on June 8, 2011

The easiest way to make sure the kittens are being fed is to weigh them daily at about the same time (ie just before feeding). Kittens grow very quickly, so loosing weight is a big deal. (Kittens also go downhill very very quickly, as well) If they're not eating enough, they will not be gaining weight either obviously. But if they're gaining weight, are eating and otherwise seem healthy and are not crying too much, they're probably ok. If they're not eating, you can try hand feeding them kitten meal replacement (KMR) from any pet food store. But in this case a phone call to the vet should be made.

But yes, mommy cat should be eating kitten food, and lots of it. In a week or so they kittens might be ready to start on it as well, although that can very widely (my foster-kittens were really late to the solid-food bandwagon, because mommy-cat was better!). You can take dry kitten kibble and soak it for 15 minutes in either warm water of KMR. Smudge a little on the kittens noses or paws and they should lick it off, which should hopefully teach them that it is indeed food.

On an quasi-related tangent, you're going to get Kissa (and the kittens!) spayed after all this, right?
posted by cgg at 8:54 AM on June 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

Thanks for reassurances.

(And yes, our appointment for spaying is scheduled.)
posted by Jon44 at 11:40 AM on June 8, 2011

Oh my goodness, so much cuteness! Kissa's boyfriend may have been large for her, but he matches well, and oh dear, they made adorable kittens!

My brother didn't get his small female cat spayed early enough, and she had kittens with a somewhat larger male. I believe there were also more than 5 of them. Everyone turned out fine, and I can vouch for the fact that at least two of her babies grew up very large and healthy (because they live with me now). I think the kitten food is a good idea, but I also think everything will probably be all right anyway. And I know of situations in which a human has had to bottle-feed a kitten which was taken from (or lost) its mother too early. The fact that you're concerned says to me that you'll make sure everything is all right.

We once had a very tiny outdoor cat who got pregnant and spontaneously aborted, presumably because she wasn't going to be large or strong enough to take care of the kittens. Anecdotal, yes, but I suspect that Kissa going full-term is a good sign in itself. Good luck! (Also, Kissa is a completely adorable name. I'm going to go now before I squee *too* much.)
posted by Because at 3:33 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

I can't speak to lactating cats specifically, but in humans (and, I assume, all mammals), lactation works on a supply/demand type system - as in, when there is more demand, more milk is produced. SO, if Kissa is getting enough nutrients/calories, she should be producing as much milk as those kitties need.
posted by LyndsayMW at 11:21 PM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

oh, what an adorable kitty family! she looks like a great little momma.

nthing giving her kitten food - wet is best if she'll eat it (and the kittens will get a good start on non-momma nutrition), wet mixed with dry is next best, and dry if she won't go for either is still better than normal cat food for her current needs. it'll keep her strength up and support healthy milk production.
posted by batmonkey at 2:08 AM on June 9, 2011

She'll be fine. ;o) As other said, she needs the extra nutrition of kitten food herself -- but realistically, you can begin putting out kitten food (wet, or water added to dry) for the kittens now anyway, as this is close to the age they wean. I've had a foster mama who nursed her 4 kittens and then accepted 5 from an orphaned litter -- so she was nursing 9 kittens for weeks and everyone did fine.

I've never lost anyone during weaning, but after the first 24 hours of life, it is supposed to be the most 'dangerous' period -- I would fret per se but if you wanted to keep some babyfood meats or canned kitten food around in case you notice someone's a little off or something, that wouldn't be a bad idea. Having a (needle-less) syringe around for rehydrating (google homemade pedialyte) or 'force-feeding' might come in handy, as well.
posted by MeiraV at 10:43 AM on June 10, 2011

Oh HOLY CRAP, that is a gorgeous group of kitties. Congrats!*

*Don't let it happen again! lol
Yeah, I know you've got the appointment to get her fixed (WONDERFUL!), just felt the need, as an animal rescue volunteer, to express 'disapproval' for anyone else who might find the cuteness too much to resist.

Anyone who wants kittens: you can contact your local animal shelter and foster parent an orphan litter, or a mom & babies! It's a good deed and they are YUMMY, fun, and cute!
posted by MeiraV at 10:50 AM on June 10, 2011

Thanks for all the advice regarding extra protein. One thing I've wondered about this is Kitten food special in any other way. I've already been feeding my cat "high protein" dry and wet foods (e.g., "Go" brand)--which seems as high in protein as other foods I've seen.

posted by Jon44 at 7:53 AM on June 11, 2011

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