Fostering a mama and kittens, questions!

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PLAY!!! Play- play play play- pl...zzzzzzz
Purred: Sun Jun 30, '13 10:18pm PST 
A customer at my store brought me a mama cat and two kittens today. The story I got was disjointed and kind of odd. She *claims* that Mama was a stray cat she had been seeing around. Apparently she was friendly enough to come inside occasionally, and the *surprise*!! She had kittens in the dog's bed one day. There were originally four, but are now only two, and the details of how that happened were vague.

I find the entire story very suspicious, but whatever. They are in my care now.

Mama (I'm naming her Celeste) Is not much more than a baby herself. She's petite, VERY friendly, and EXCEPTIONALLY beautiful. She is a delicate silvery lavender color with white tuxie markings. One of the kittens is the same color as Celeste, the other is a darker blue.

Both kittens are thin, but perky. I suspect they are thin because Celeste herself was having to scavenge for food. Earlier today I put an entire can of fancy feast plus half a cup of kibble in her carrier, and when I checked her again the bowl was empty except for maybe five kibbles.

I've got her set up in an old wire dog crate, with a bed, food, water, and a litterbox. I set her in the box earlier, but she still has not used it. Right now the crate is mostly covered with a sheet to give her some peace, since she has had a long day.

Here's where I'm getting out of the realm of things I'm familiar with...I've had dozens of bottle bubs, but never had a mama cat before!

I can't tell if Celeste is producing any milk. I felt her belly, and I didn't feel swollen mammaries like I expected, except maybe on one nipple. Someone suggested I squeeze a nipple, so I did and was not able to get any milk from it. I took the kittens and placed each of them on a nipple and they sure seem like they are sucking vigorously, but I'm concerned that they aren't getting enough/anything to eat. At what point do I offer them a meal of KMR? I have KMR and a bottle handy, but I don't want to intervene unnecessarily or upset the kittens' appetite or Celeste's routine.

Is she likely to have more milk now that she is getting fed as much as she wants? How long will it take?

Celeste seems almost...confused by the babies. She will sniff and lick them if they are placed in front of her, but earlier I put them in the bed while she was in the litterbox, and when I came back she was laying ON THEM, with her shoulders smooshing them beneath her! How alarmed should I be by this? Celeste seems so young, I am concerned that she might not know what to do as well as an older cat would.

Celeste's belly is pretty big, but doesn't feel like it's painful or lumpy or anything. Should I assume she was just having a lot of success hunting, or should I be concerned about dystocia?

When should I worry that she hasn't used the box? She hasn't had an opportunity to potty since about 1pm, but she was also ravenous and (I hope) a lot of the food is being used to make milk.

At what age do I worry about the kittens getting through the bars of the crate? Obviously I'm going to have to come up with a better setup at some point, but right now they are only three-ish days old so I don't think they'll be escaping tonight.

Luckily, Celeste is not phased by dogs. Since we live in a loft we literally have nowhere to put the cats where they can be completely away from our VERY cat friendly pooch. She meowed at him a few times, but didn't even get off of her bed when he approached and sniffed at her.

Anything else? I'm so nervous, I've lost so many fosters in the last year (one to distemper, and several to a respiratory infection that swept through here last year like a plague) and I want these guys to succeed! One kitten is already spoken for if they do.

Lessee if I can get this pic to work...OK apparently I can't. She's adorable, take my word for it LOL. Or copy/paste this:

https://fbcdn-sphotos-b-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-prn2/s403 x403/8629_4574707780584_803857850_n.jpg

Edited by author Sun Jun 30, '13 10:55pm PST



Ambassador at- the Kitty U.N.
Purred: Mon Jul 1, '13 4:33am PST 
The only answer I can think of to any of your questions is *please* get Celeste to a vet to be sure she and her kittens are ok. The vet will be able to tell if she's producing milk and what else is going on with her. If two kittens were already lost, who knows what's up? Perhaps the vet will give you a price break since she's a stray and you're just being a great rescuer! Good luck.


PLAY!!! Play- play play play- pl...zzzzzzz
Purred: Mon Jul 1, '13 2:28pm PST 
I got off the phone with my vet awhile ago, who assured me that if the kittens have made it this far she IS making milk, and more will come now that Celeste is getting as much food as she wants. He did not feel that supplementing with KMR was necessary, though he made a point of telling me to call back if there were any changes.

I'd still love to hear form someone who has fostered a mama cat before!