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General kitten advice needed - weaning and litter training

Discussion in 'Cat Breeding' started by mobykhan, Apr 21, 2011.


  1. mobykhan

    mobykhan PetForums Junior

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    Hello All - I'm sorry I think I am just destined to be an annoying long winded poster! :p

    Our cat Jerry has been a good mummy cat but I am a little worried about litter training. I know breeders have 'nurseries' for litter training and section off areas but we don't have that luxury. We moved house 3 weeks ago and the kittens will be 4 weeks old on Friday.

    Jerry settled into the house very well and we read up that we should have a single room for Jerry and the kittens with their nesting box, food in one corner and litter tray at the other end away from them. We put this all in the spare room but I let Jerry explore the rest of the house as she was alot more relaxed than I thought she would be. However, on the first night she decided to move one of her kittens into our room! (Which I realised with a tiny bump & squeal from the kitten!) I rushed to the spare room to get the nesting box with the other two kittens in and placed it beside our bed and settled the carried kitten back in and Jerry hopped in too and went off to snoozy land!

    I left the food and litter tray in the spare room but a day & a half later I realised she hadn't pooped or wee weed! I moved the litter tray into the bathroom (like it was in the old house) and she went soon after. (Bless her, i feel sorry for her that she held it in! :( ) Also, she used to be fed in the kitchen and seemed to still wait there for her food even though it would be nibbled at at the bedroom. (But not all eaten like normal). So I moved her food back to the kitchen and she's eaten well again.

    So after that background info - I am just wondering how best to go about litter training the kittens? (I'm not actually sure when to start, I have read anywhere from 3-8 weeks :confused:) Jerry uses a very big hooded litter tray because she kicks litter EVERYWHERE and I am assuming she isn't going to use her litter tray if we moved it to our bedroom becasue she wouldn't use it in the spare room. I know kittens learn from mum but will they go all the way to the bathroom to learn from mum using the litter tray? (It's not that far but seems like miles and miles away on the little wobbly kitten legs!) I just don't want loads of accidents on the way to the bathroom!

    Or is it best for me to just place a shallow tub for their own litter tray that they can get in and out of in the bedroom? There's no way Jerry could poop in it without getting every bit of litter absolutely everywhere so I am worried that she might try and teach the kittens to do this too :confused:

    Also, I am worried about the kittens being in our bedroom, I know as they get older, they will probably go nuts with play but I tried to move Jerry and the kittens again in the nesting box out into the lounge (spare bedroom got full soon after moving!) But she moved them straight back in again! So I'm not going to risk stressing her with moving them! I am just hoping, as she doesn't play fight with our hands/feet and never comes on the bed - will the kittens follow her in this too? And be good? ;)

    I also realised Jerry isn't feeding them as often now, mainly at night. She just sits outside of the nesting box alot. The kittens seem happy and playful enough still but I'm not sure if it's weaning time? I tried some food with the kittens last week - crushing orijen dry food with water and offering the kittens a little but they were totally disinterested and hissed their bums off. Jerry seemed very keen and lapped it up instead at the end :p I am going to try from the weekend (when they are 4 weeks old) so I am just checking that this does sound about the right time and thing to do?

    Lastly, the kittens started venturing out from the nesting box 3 days ago :D They are still alittle frightened of us but very rarely hiss now. However, the largest of the 3 has still not stepped out. It was only the brave little girl at first, then her brother that night. The largest A.K.A Fatboy will resolutely sit at the back of the nesting box and just watch them play. They stay out for quite awhile but he will not move. I am wondering if this is normal? They all seem happy with normal playtime when they're all back in the nesting box again.

    Sorry for long post with different issues. I didn't really want to post each issue seperatley, just hit it all in one! I have a lot of questions and worries still so I really am sorry that my posts are so long! I just think background info can help and is annoying when it is missing :eek:
     
  2. silverhorse

    silverhorse PetForums Member

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    A tray in the bedroom is a good idea a tiny kitten tray. Royal cannin babycat is also a good tiny biscuit for you to try. and yes they will probably jump all over you in bed.:):):)
     
  3. carly87

    carly87 PetForums VIP

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    Hi there

    Can you block off an area in your bedroom for them? I know you say you can't have a nursery, but if you can make them a secure area, litter training is going to be a whole lot easier and quicker, and less messy for you!

    You do need to give them a small tray, yes. If she's a good mum, she will go in there to show them how it's done. I wouldn't worry too much about them kicking litter everywhere. At this stage they're too small to do it, and as they get older and more able to, you can gradually increase the depth of the tray to contain the mess. You could alternatively use an open tray with a deflector on to contain the litter when she kicks, and use something on the outside that the kits can use as a stepping stone to get the height needed to get into a deeper tray. I know one person who uses an upturned water bowl as a stepping stone, and kits don't seem to have any trouble.

    I wouldn't start your kittens on dried food just yet if you can help it. Start them on a good quality wet kitten food. Breeders normally mash this up with a little KMR (kitten milk replacer) or similar. It will be messy to start with. They're most likely going to discover it by walking in it, so be prepared for lots and lots of mess! I'd advise covering the carpet where you have them at the moment, or failing that, investing in a good clean once they've gone. Problem is though that if they wee on it while being litter trained, you will have to work hard to remove the smell with special cleaners, otherwise they will probably keep weeing there.

    Use a litter that is non-toxic/harmful when ingested, because it's pretty much a guarantee that one of the little stinkers is going to taste the stuff they poo in.

    Some timid kittens take much longer to come out of the nesting box than the more bold ones. Do you handle your kittens regularly? Could you physically take fat boy out for a cuddle without upsetting him or mum too much? If not, you should really start handling regularly if you want bomb proof, well socialised kittens. He should come out of the box quite soon in any event.

    I hope some of this helps.
     
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  4. mobykhan

    mobykhan PetForums Junior

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    Thanks for your replies!

    I will be blocking the area off in the bedroom as you suggested Carly87. I was more worried about Jerry actually showing the kittens because she doesn't seem to use the litter tray other than in the bathroom. I moved it to the bedroom for another day and she just wouldn't use it! :rolleyes:: And I wasn't going to risk longer because she just holds it in. I have a little litter tray that I will be putting down today and seeing if the kittens are interested in it at all.

    Will they still learn to use it if mum is there but not actually showing them? (I very much doubt Jerry will use it).

    And thanks I will try them with the wet food and KMR instead then :) Should I carry them to the kitchen to show them where their food 'will be' or just try feeding them near the nesting box for now?

    Also yes I handled the kittens from day 2 when they were born and they always ALWAYS squealed and struggled! (Jerry was never bothered though!) I got a bit scared by the end of week 2 thinking maybe I am over handling them even though it was a maximum of 10 minutes while weighing and checking them all. I then stopped picking them up after that for a few days and just stroked them and sat with them. After reading your post carly I went straight to them while they were playing outside and picked them up and didn't even hear a squeak! :) So thanks! :D I will be handling them more again now :) Fatboy still hasn't come out but I will try handling him later and see how he takes it... fingers crossed!
     
  5. carly87

    carly87 PetForums VIP

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    Ok, a few things

    If Fat boy is really scared, which I doubt he will be, you could try wrapping him in a soft face cloth. Just like babies, kits seem to feel more secure when all cuddled up in something soft. This might not be an issue though!

    Feed kits right next to the kittening box. You should leave food for mum down too. Even if she doesn't eat it, the kits will eventually discover it by walking in it, not liking the sticky sensation on their paws, and cleaning it off.

    You'll probably be surprised, but I suspect that mum will indeed use the tray once or twice just to show them how it's done. If not, try putting them in there yourself when they show signs of squatting to wee in their bed, and gently padding their paws on the litter in a scraping motion. I've never needed to do this myself, but some say it works. Many others just put them in when they start to squat and that's enough. When you put the litter in the tray, take some out of mum's tray in the bathroom and sprinkle it over the top so that they get the smell of her wee in that place. Some people say that kitten trays must be kept squeaky clean, and hwile I agree with this as far as poos are concerned, I've heard others say that litter training goes quicker if wee is left in there for a little while, so that their noses can tell them where to go. You need to make your own decision on that, as it depends how hygiene paranoid you are.

    Keep kittens' feeding place constant. If you do move this to the kitchen when you integrate them into the household, feed on the flor rather than on the kitchen sides. I don't know whether you let your cats on the worktops or not, but not only will kits struggle to jump, but it will encourage a habit that other owners may want to break. Better not to start it in the first place. Use a shallow dish or even disposable plates to feed the kittens, as it's easier for them to pick up food that way.

    you can never handle too much, unless it's stressing mum of course. The more handling you give them, the more lovable they're likely to be when they grow up. Take every opportunity you can to pick them up. At this stage, to get them used to and comfortable with vet visits, open their mouths, look in their eyes and ears,handle their paws, tails and lower bellies so that they see this as routine rather than scary. I put my fingers in kits' mouths and all sorts so that if they need to have a teeth cleaning, this isn't traumatic.

    Have you got homes for them yet?
     
  6. Aurelia

    Aurelia PetForums VIP

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    The quote below is something I put together for another lady a while ago. Hope it helps.

    Here's the thread if you want to have a proper read ... http://www.petforums.co.uk/cat-breeding/150097-when-shall-i-give-kittens-food.html
     
  7. mobykhan

    mobykhan PetForums Junior

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    Hello again, thanks I was really pleased to see more replies :) I have no internet still so checking posts is a nightmare and i'm still in a pickle!

    Kittens are 7 weeks old tmw, 2 out of 3 eat well and i'm sure they're almost fully weaned.. I don't mind them taking their time at this as we're keeping all of them anyway! :)

    I made an enclosure similar to the above pic (thank you!) with our house moving boxes but the kittens easily escape daily and i seem to have made a fortress I can't even jump over now! :eek: As we are keeping them all, I was planning on moving them to the bathroom where Jerrys litter is as this is where I will keep all the litter boxes.

    We started well with training and they used the litter trays straight away but then suddenly 1 or more (dont have a clue who the culprit or culprits are!) started to go poop and pee in random places around the edge of the enclosure. They now only poop in the tray as I finally caught one but they still pee everywhere - but also still in the tray so im confused! We have carpet but we actually placed plastic sheeting down to cover it and then old bedsheets on top. I change the sheet daily and wash at a pre 90 and also wipe the plastic sheet down with water, bicarbonate of soda and fairy liquid. It seems to work until the next day again. Does anybody know why?? Am i doing something wrong with cleanig??

    Hence why I would like to move them to the bathroom for the next couple of weeks maybe and once confident in them, let them out freely to wonder in and out. But i will keep te spare bedroom wherebthey started the litter training closed and off limits in case that tempts them!
     
  8. mobykhan

    mobykhan PetForums Junior

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    Oh yes handling is still a small issue I think. When they are playing in the lounge, they run all over and climb on us but once they are having a rest and watching us, they get scared of us walking by. Fatboy is still quite nervous but better. We can pick them all up and they stay limp and just stare for a few seconds and then they begin to struggle. At this point i'm not sure if we should keep a hold on them and force them to get used to us holding them or let them down? I always let them down to be honest because I just want them to trust us! Oh and mummy Jerry doesn't mind us holding the kittens at all, she reassures them when they are squealing their bums off but doesn't mind what we do to them it seems!

    Stroking still seems to scare them a little too, but they just flatten themselves mainly. I try and open mouths etc which isn't so bad, they struggle and run off alot but don't seem scared. I can trim all of their claws which i'm pleased about. It's a struggle sometimes but worth it when theres no sharp pinpricks in your skin when theyre trying to escape!
     
    #8 mobykhan, May 13, 2011
    Last edited: May 13, 2011
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