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How often should 5 week old kittens be fed?

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Nerys

I'm a princess- and I know it.
 
 
Purred: Mon Jul 25, '11 9:13pm PST 
Hello again!

My mom & dad are caring for a pair of orphaned kittens, and everything has been going very well. They're getting a bit nervous about backing off on how often the kittens are fed, though, and they've been having a hard time getting a clear answer:

How often should 5 week old kittens be fed?

They were very weak and hungry when we first got them about 10 days ago (yeesh, feels like it's been a lifetime already, mol), so we were bottle-feeding them KMR once every 3 hours. We have since backed off to feeding them once every 5 hours, and now they're getting two "courses" per meal: 1-2 tablespoons of canned kitten food mixed with human baby food (turkey, chicken, or beef), followed by KMR from a bottle. They LOVE the kitten + baby food, but they still don't seem to be able to drink liquid out of a bowl or saucer; we've tried offering them KMR in a saucer a few times, and it seems to frustrate them more than anything (plus, they keep getting it in their noses, and I know it's not safe to let them do that for fear of pneumonia). We've been told that we can eventually move to feeding them every 8 hours, but no one has been very clear on how quickly we should be moving in that direction.

Fewer feedings would certainly be nice, mol, but we don't want to starve them! Also, we want to make sure they get plenty of moisture: we had been figuring that they'd be able to lap water out of a bowl soon, so we'd be able to leave water out for them in between feedings, but that's not going to be an option anytime soon since they don't seem able to drink liquid without a bottle yet.

As a side question, SHOULD they be able to drink out of a saucer yet? They're starting to chew the bottles rather than just suckle on them... Is there anything we can do to "teach" them or encourage them to try it, without getting it in their noses?

Thanks so much! kitty
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Pandora

go getter kitter
 
 
Purred: Thu Jul 28, '11 10:43pm PST 
Very runny wet food will help them learn to drink (gradually increase the water). I would think they will be eating pretty well within a week. As to 'how much'--fun, I know, but watch their poop. If they are eating too much it will be soft and unformed though not really diarrhea. If it's greenish looking, it's because there is bile still working in it, and the food has definitely been pushed through too fast by too much food.
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Nerys

I'm a princess- and I know it.
 
 
Purred: Fri Jul 29, '11 1:08pm PST 
Thanks, Pandora!

Ah, thanks for the tip on the poop. Yeah, I think any revulsion and dealing with kitten poop got laid by the wayside long ago, mol. They've been having good, solid movements, but it is a little green.

At this point, they're THRILLED with the canned kitten food: they're happy to scarf it straight, without even any milk mixed in. Until they're able to drink water, though, we don't want to cut off their milk supply, so we're still feeding them about 50-50.

Hah, I never thought of giving them mixed liquid-solid food with the intention of -decreasing- the solidity over time. Sounds like a plan! We've continued trying to offer them milk in a shallow saucer, and that continues to just frustrate them. We've also tried giving them a bottle of warm water mixed with some milk, and they are NOT happy with that, mol: "What heinous substance is THIS?!"
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