Newborn kitten has a cleft palate please help me!

by Brittany Wood
(Burlington Ky America)

On April 7 2011 my cat Baby gave birth to 3 kittens but we noticed that one of them wasn’t latching on and sucking on a nipple so I looked to see if it had any mouth deformities and I noticed that it had a Cleft Palate.

I asked my neighbor who works at a shelter and she said that it is probably going to die today or tomorrow and she is surprised it lasted that long. I have been feeding it Whiskas cat milk and it has been taking it, but my question is can I continue feeding it cat milk?

Also I would like advice on how to care for it and maybe comments on your cleft palate stories. Please help!

Brittany


Hi Brittany… thanks for visiting and asking.

A cleft palate is a birth defect of the nasal and oral cavities. The palate bones don’t fuse together leaving a hole in the roof of the mouth to the nasal cavity. Kittens can’t nurse as you say.

Whiskas milk does not have the correct composition for newborns and it does not contain the antibodies to fight disease that mother’s milk (colostrum) does so it is inadequate but would seem to be a stop gap measure (see Kitten Development). Kitten milk replacer is required. You can buy this in powder form or premixed. Also some of the milk will possibly pass into the nasal cavity (see tube feeding below).

The newborn kitten absorbs the antibodies from the colostrum which builds their immune system. This is called “passive immunity”. After 6 – 16 weeks of age the cat will have created his or her own antibodies.

Kittens absorb the antibodies best during the first 24 – 36 hours of life.

As to the cleft palate, this can be corrected in an operation – plastic surgery. It might require a “surgical specialist and aftercare may be extensive.” There is risk of complications too.

I know a person who cares for a cat, Buddy, that had a cleft palate and who underwent and successful operation. Here is Buddy:

cat who had a cleft palate
Buddy also had a cleft palate. Photo: Michael

Her name is Martha Kane and she lives in Malta. She is the number cat rescuer and carer on the island. I will ask her to comment and advise. You can read about Martha Kane’s Kitty Appeal.

I would certainly telephone a vet immediately and ask what to do in the early days to keep the kitten alive other than what you are doing He will no doubt say that survival depends on tube feeding using milk replacer.

Tube feeding means that the tube passes into the stomach. It is not difficult apparently but you will need someone to instruct you and to ensure that the kitten is feed properly and not hurt (i.e the milk formula passing into the lungs if too much is fed).

The tube is passed into the kitten’s stomach and the milk formula pushed down the tube with a syringe. You can mark off the length of tube to insert with a piece of tape on the tube. The stomach is “located at the level of the first rib.”

Raising kittens by hand requires skill and knowledge and I don’t have that in detail but this page may help: Newborn Kitten Care. I hope someone will leave a helpful comment. I’ll ask.

I would also ask your vet as soon as possible for advice on tube feeding and the surgery.

Hope this helps a bit. See also:

Immune System Of Cats

All reference are from Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook

Michael Avatar

Newborn kitten has a cleft palate please help me! to Cat Health Problems

Comments for
Newborn kitten has a cleft palate please help me!

Click here to add your own comments

Apr 15, 2011 Baby kitten
by: Martha Kane

I am so sorry to hear about the kitten losing the battle before he had a chance at life. I am sure you did everything you could and i do understand how sometimes it’s impossible to cope because this week alone we spent 650 euro on tests for three of our cats that we love dearly but who have serious health problems . It’s money we don’t have , but how does one choose which ones to save and which ones to let die , we just can’t do that .In your case i doubt if an operation could have helped a kitten that had become so weak so pleased don’t feel bad but concentrate on the ones that are still alive.


Apr 15, 2011 Baby kitten
by: Martha Kane

I am so sorry to hear about the kitten losing the battle before he had a chance at life. I am sure you did everything you could and i do understand how sometimes it’s impossible to cope because this week alone we spent 650 euro on tests for three of our cats that we love dearly but who have serious health problems . It’s money we don’t have , but how does one choose which ones to save and which ones to let die , we just can’t do that .In your case i doubt if an operation could have helped a kitten that had become so weak so pleased don’t feel bad but concentrate on the ones that are still alive.


Apr 12, 2011 R.I.P Babys kitten
by: Brittany Wood

he passed about an hour ago. thanks for all of your help, but i guess he wasnt strong enough to live.


Apr 12, 2011 he isnt doing well
by: Brittany Wood

The kitten isnt doing well, we cant afford to take him to a vet and he is getting weaker he wont even meow any more. he is refusing food and will not even try to nurse as before he did. do you know how much the sugery costs? i think that he will die soon. please help.


Apr 11, 2011 Thank you very much Martha
by: Michael

Martha, thank you very much for taking the time to make a comment. I hope you, your cats and Richard are all keeping well.

Michael Avatar


Apr 11, 2011 Cleft Palate
by: Martha Kane

My cat Buddy arrived on my doorstep two years ago with a cleft palate that he must either had at birth or had acquired during some sort of trauma . My thoughts are though that he was born that way which strengthens the argument that this kind of deformity does not necessarily mean a death sentence especially if the carer knows of the problem and gives the cat /kitten the attention it needs . As Micheal pointed out my darling Buddy has already had one successful operation to correct this problem by taking a skin graft from the cats cheeks and overlapping it over the cleft palate where it was left to heal however since he is an adult cat the opening will need another operation or two to fix completely , which is not the case for your kitten. The problem with these otherwise healthy cats is that they cannot lap up food or liquids without having it all come out their nose most of the time and this in itself causes infections in the nasal passage which can be quite distressing to the cat . My advice is to take the kitten to your vet right away so as to avoid further discomfort and any other possible risks. In the meantime carry on bottle feeding the cat baby milk and also give him water every now and then to clean the nasal passage . My cat got used to drinking from a tap instead of a bowl so i bought him a water fountain which he uses all the time. Keep your eyes open for any mucous which could be a sign of infection and would need antibiotics , but please do get your kitten to the vet ASAP. I hope i have been of some help and please send me a message on www.kittyappeal.org and let me know how your kitten is doing.

Martha and the cats .



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Heads up! You are attempting to upload an invalid image. If saved, this image will not display with your comment.

To upload a photo (1) place the photo on the desktop of your computer (2) write your comment (3) click on the "browse" button below the comment area (4) select the photo (5) click on the "post comment" button (6) wait and it will appear if you are a regular. It failed? Please click this. Thanks.