My recent engagement as a kitten 'mama' is almost over. The kittens can climb up on the bed to wrestle now as easily as they once climbed up my leg. (Ouch!) It's hard to believe that the day before Thanksgiving they were only four days old and I was in a panic about how to keep the five of them fed. They were too small for bottles, but were able to suck at a small nipple. I spent the first day using a tiny (1 ml.) syringe stuck into a standard PetAg nipple to feed them. That worked, but a lot of the time I spent was getting the syringe refilled. The kittens liked to hold the nipple in their mouths, so I could remove the syringe, refill it and 'lock & load' the nipple already in the kitten's mouth. Advancing the plunger slowly filled the nipple, which the kittens could empty even with a fairly weak sucking reflex.
I realized what I needed was a larger syringe with a small pointed end. The pharmacist at Walgreen's Drugs handed me a bunch of 5 and 10 ml. medication syringes, and I took those home to work with. Amazingly, the nipples I was using snapped onto the 'business end' of the new syringes. The 10 ml. syringes never worked well, as they lacked the smooth action of the smaller 5ml. syringes....those were our mainstay for feedings from then on. The kittens thrived on KMR (Kitten Milk Replacer), and it was easy to keep track of how many ml. the kittens were getting. Other benefits of the syringes over standard bottlefeeding: Kittens swallowed less air, and less hand strength was needed...a real consideration when feeding so many kittens.
A friend who fosters young kittens told me recently that she thinks the arthritis in her hands was caused, or at least aggravated, by keeping pressure on a nursing bottle when feeding kittens in the past. I'm sharing this method to help folks like her, who would 'bottle'feed kittens more easily if the 'bottle' was a syringe!
This is the official notice that I'm delegating my kitten raising in future to other, younger, folks.....I'm here to give advice if needed. And, to my family and friends, next year you will get Christmas cards---even if they are e-cards!