I really don't like to tube feed unless I have no choice otherwise. It is possible to accidentally put the tube in the lungs and cause death to the kitten. However, there are times when it's either tube feed or the kitten will most certainly die. This is the case with the kitten in the tube feeding video I have made for this page. He was too weak to nurse. i tried bottle feeding but couldn't get enough fluids inside him. He layed there and cried non-stop. I could tell he was slowly starving to death. So I decided at that point that I needed to step in and tube feed.
Here are some things to know when tube feeding a kitten:
1.) Make the kitten's body temperature is warm enough. If the kitten is not warm, the milk will curdle in it's stomach and kill the kitten. I found this out the hard way. I took a litter of premature kittens to a vet and the kittens were not warm enough. The vet tube fed one of them and killed it almost instantly. If you cannot get your kitten's body temperature up enough, then DO NOT feed it milk. Instead, rub some karo syrup on it's gums to bring the blood sugar leval up, and feed it only warm pedialyte. Once the kitten feels warm to the touch, then you can start feeding it warmed milk.
2.)Never feed regular cows milk. Only feed kittens KMR (or another kitten formula made especially for kittens) or goats milk, or pedialyte (or something similar to that).
3.)Always feed them while they are laying on their belly in a natural position. (this is especially important for bottle feeding, but I like to be in the habit of always doing it even when tube feeding)
4.)Never force the tube in. If it is not sliding in easliy, then it is going down the wrong way and will end up in the lungs. If it's hard to get the tube in, pull it out and start over.
5.)I personally try not to overfeed. Too much can cause them to vomit and inhale the liquid and this can cause pnumonia. I feed little, but feed often (I feed every two hours around the clock for the first week) and gradually increase the intervail between feedings as they get older)
6.)Keep an eye on the kitten when it's with it's mother (this applies only if the kitten is not an orphan). You may only need to feed the kitten a couple of times before it is strong enough to nurse from it's mother. If it starts to nurse from its mother, you might want to stop tube feeding, or only suppliment once or twice a day.
7.)Make sure the liquid is warm. Not hot or cold. Test the liquid on your wrist first.
8.)When inserting the tube, make sure it's over the tounge. You will see chewing like motions and if the kitten is crying, this is good, that means the tube is not going into the lungs.
9.)When removing tube, pinch the tube and remove quickly. This helps to prevent a drop of liquid from getting into the kitten''s lungs.
10.)Have antibiotics on hand in case you think you may have gotten some liquid in the lungs. Clavamox (drops) works well.
11.)While they are under eight ounces in weight they should get 1 c.c. of formula per ounce of body weight at each feeding. That is why an accurate postage scale is a necessity. When their weight is eight ounces, give them approximately one and one half c.c. of formula per ounce of body weight. When they weigh 12 ounces, you can put them on a five hour schedule. By now, when you feed them, you should be able to judge when they have had enough by the nice, plump feel of the mid-section. You can gradually increase the amount so that if you are still tubing when they weigh two pounds, (which is unlikely with cats), you will be giving almost two c.c.'s of formula for each ounce of body weight at each feeding but you need only feed every six hours. ( tip #11 taken from CFA website)
Description of procedure: ( description taken from CFA website)
Assemble your equipment: syringe, tube, formula, scale, record book and pen, permanent magic marker, face cloths and an extra box with a towel covered heating pad set on low. Put a kitten on a cloth and place the tube against the kitten and measure from the tip of the nose to the last rib. Mark the tube with magic marker at that spot. Weigh and identify the kitten and write down its weight. Withdraw the correct amount into the syringe from the container of formula and attach the tube. Very carefully press the plunger until a drop of formula shows. Dip the tube into the container of formula. This will act as a lubricant and the taste will also encourage the kitten to swallow the tube. Working on a surface at a convenient height, take the kitten in your left hand approximating nursing position. GENTLY press against the chin/lower jaw with the tip of your right index finger to open mouth slightly. Tip the head back and insert tube.
Ok now that you've read over the tips and instructions on how to do it, click on my video below to see how I do it.
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