After an enjoyable couple weeks with the foster kittens Daisy and Beans, I took them to the shelter vet for their 6 week vaccinations (they were now nearly 7 weeks old). While there, the vet noticed that while Daisy had gained about half a pound in her time with us, Beans had not gained any weight. This news was surprising to me. We saw Beans eating along with Daisy at each feeding. He was a lively and playful kitten. How was he not gaining weight? Foster guilt (a feeling with which I would become more familiar case by case) crept in when the vet asked me to estimate how much Beans alone was eating each day and if I had weighed him in the past couple weeks. I only knew how much the two kittens ate together and had not been keeping track of their weights.
A mysterious illness?
I was convinced that something was terribly wrong with him. Did he have a parasite consuming all his extra calories away? Did he have some metabolic disease? (I would later wile away quite a few hours snuggling Beans and researching what could be plaguing him.)
Dr. Julie weighs in
Then the vet, Dr. Julie, explained to me that some kittens just do not naturally eat enough to gain weight and need some extra attention and encouragement to do so. She sent me home with several different kinds of kitten food, including some cat junk food, the cheaper kinds of cat food that some cats prefer. Dr. Julie advised feeding Beans separate from Daisy and keeping track of how much he ate. If he wasn’t eating at least half a can of food each day, I was supposed to start syringe feeding him.
Syringe feeding is basically using a syringe (no needle) gently inserted into the kitten’s mouth and inserting a little bit of wet food to get them eating. Syringe feeding can manually deliver some nutrition and often kickstart a kitten into eating more on his/her own. Included in our supplies was a small kitchen scale for weighing Beans. I was instructed to separate him from his sister while eating, monitor how much he ate and track his weight daily.
Homeward bound, I was determined to get that baby to GROW!