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nursing kittens

My one year old cat just gave birth to 7 kittens two weeks ago. She has been a wonderful Mom, but it has gotten to the point she cries when the kittens are nursing. She seems to have plenty of milk but the kittens are being very rough on her. Can I use baby formula to supplement what momma is feeding them? They are not interested in moistened kitty chow or watered down canned food. Please help me help my momma kitty.  Thank you, mamashu
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At two weeks old, the kittens have already gotten the colostrum that they need, but the mother's milk still contains a lot of antibodies to protect them from disease until they re old enough to recveive a set of immunizations.  Typically, maternal antibodies last for about 2 weeks after the kittens stop nursing, so when she weans them, make sure you get them their kitten shots within 2 weeks of weaning.

There is a product called KMR (Kitten Milk Replacer) that they sell in pet stores, and there's also a product called Just Born, which is a powder that you mix up to make a milk replacer.  Both are available in grocery stores and pet stores.  You can buy either one of these and start supplementing the kittens with them, but make sure that they all still have some nursing time during the day.  

The other thing you can do is buy a set of baby nail clippers (the kind they use for human babies), and clip the very ends off of the kittens' claws.  At this young age they cannot yet retract their claws, so they're sticking out all the time.  When kittens nurse, they knead the breast with their paws to stimulate the milk.  The constant kneading with the needle-sharp claws I would imagine would get VERY painful after a while, and with SEVEN of them, that's a lot of claws and a lot of discomfort.  It would make the nursing a lot more comfortable for the mother to take the tips off the claws, but JUUUUST take the tip.  Make sure you don't clip too far down and make the kitten bleed.  It won't hurt them severely, but it will make them afraid to have their nails clipped, and it could make them nervous about being handled, which will slow down their socialization.

I just love kittens!  There is nothing cuter than a litter of kittens as they grow and start to play.  Have fun with them!  

Ghilly
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An addition to what I just posted - I should have been more clear and said that the milk replacer is for use in a kitten nursing bottle or eyedropper.  They sell the kitten nursing kits at pet stores, it's a little bottle that looks like a baby doll bottle, about four inches long, and it comes with a couple of extra nipples.  You'll have to cut a larger hole in the end of the nipple so that the kittens can get the milk more easily, but that's easily done with a sharp pair of scissors.  :)

Ghilly
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