A few months ago Kyle and I were “graced” with the presence of a two-week old kitten. We had been considering getting another cat (although we were thinking adult, who am I to mess with fate), so we decided keep him. Since that period we have gone through multiple different phases of “what was I thinking?!?!?!” He is not my first kitten that I’ve raised from a bottle baby, but I don’t remember it being nearly this hard!
The first two weeks, he still needed all the “hardcore” mommy stuff. Feeding every 3-4 hours didn’t use to be an issue when I was younger. However the 2nd night, as I was sitting in my basement at 3:00 AM bottle feeding him, I was trying really hard to figure out how human moms found this to be good bonding time and how I was going to stay awake for the twelve-hour day that was starting in five hours. He also refused to poop for what seemed like forever when it was time to make him potty. During the day, he was so adorable and snuggly it made up for all the not sleeping nights.
Around four weeks, I started to try to introduce kitten milk in a dish as well as a slurry of kitten milk with canned kitten food…he wanted no parts of it. I, initially, wasn’t too worried about it. Everyone develops at his/her own rate, and I wasn’t going to push him. So I kept offering and bottle feeding, except at 6 weeks, I still managed to have a kitten that wouldn’t lick anything! (and if I let him, he would suck down two bottles worth of food in one feeding). I started getting pushier about the eating on his own, and multiple times, I’m pretty sure he almost drowned in his own food bowl because he wouldn’t lick but would suckle it instead. He also is long haired (yes somehow the girl that said she could never have a long haired cat now has two!), and LOVED playing in the gruel I made him. So he became a pro at almost daily baths. Eventually, he skipped totally over the licking of the milk and went to just straight wet food, except instead of licking or biting it he suckled it and pushed it EVERYWHERE!
I’ve had a bowl of kitten dry food out for him since he started being offered real food, and obviously he had no interest in this because you couldn’t suckle it. My cats eat a mixture of dry and canned, and I decided he was going to follow that trend as well, even if he didn’t agree. So I started trying different varieties, and had the doctors check him to make sure he seemed to be formed correctly. All seemed normal, I tried every combination of food mixture I could come up with and nothing worked, including chicken AND turkey. Until one day, he was sitting on my lap while I was eating Cheez-its (one of my favorite snacks), I accidently dropped and he suddenly woofed it down without a problem!!! So I finally have him weaned over from dry food… with a Cheez- it crumbled in it to just dry food in the bowl.
His newest trait is attack! And he does it well, literally. I can be sitting on the couch and in five minutes he will go from attacking me, the carpet, a toy, the other pets and sometimes even his own body parts. This goes on for hours! Literally 99% of the time when we try to pet him or pick him up he is biting us, fairly aggressively and persistently. When walking our legs are randomly scaled, and the dog can’t even wag her tail without attack. Slink and Norbert are being stalked, pounced and mostly taking solace in the fact he can’t climb everything yet. When he is not in his attack mode, he is curled up usually on my shoulder snuggling and purring away and it makes it all worth it.
Although I don’t remember any of my other kittens putting me through nearly as many obstacles as he has done, in the end with patience and working on “manners,” I’m pretty sure he will turn out to be an adorable, sweet and fun cat (I’m just not convinced this will happen before he is twelve-years-old at this point, haha).
Nikki Kline, Veterinary Technician
French Creek Veterinary Hospital