Does Reflux in premature kittens exist? I’m asking because we got 4 tiny premature kittens yesterday…

Does Reflux in premature kittens exist?
I’m asking because we got 4 tiny premature kittens yesterday with their mother. She didn’t have milk when the were born, so the little ones were bottle fed/syringe fed the 2 days before they came to us.. However since she still showed interets in her babys they stayed with her. They had around 70gram according to their owner. When they arrived, they were cold and crying. One died a few minutes after they arrived, despite slowly warming up. It had tiny bits of milk in its nose.
(they were fed ca. 60 minutes earlier)

When they were finally warmed up two were drinking, one was fed with a syringe. All were urinating normally, one had a bit of bowel movements (yellow and soft). I placed them to their mother who was very worried about her babies and cuddled around them immediatly. She had a heat pad below her box to help keeping the temperature. She was extremly nervous, so I left her alone for the time being.
When I looked after them for the next feeding, the second one was dead. Milk around nose and mouth. I checked for cleft palate, but there was none visible.
The other two also showed no signs of a cleft palate. However, they felt cold again despite lying on their mothers belly.

I warmed them up again and this time I didn’t put them back – as it seemed that the despite mother and heat pad below they could’t keep their temperature. So they stayed in the box we use for raising kittens.

One was drinking, one was not. The none drinking was tube fed. When I looked after them a ca. 15 minutes later the non drinking one hat milk running out of its nose and mouth. I cleaned it immediatly and it started breathing again – but I guess it still got something in its lungs, as it died a few minutes later.

The remaining one was now warm, still urinating normally and drinking. But it couldn’t settle down. It was always crying and seemed restless. The next two feedings went normally – as dfar as that is possible with such a tiny one. When I wanted to feed it in the late evening I found it dead – a bit of milk running out of nose and mouth. It was the smalles one of them with only 67 gram.

I’m very worried that I did something wrong… They were not the first babys I bottle fed (or syring fed/tube fed). But it’s not like I’m very experienced… Usually the ones I get are at least full term… I only had one premature Baby before, that also died after 2 days. It had only 53 gram when being born – but it was with me since birth.
None of the babyies I cared lost as much milk through their nose – and especially not their mouth. The only ones that did this, had a cleft palate. The healthy babys may choke at some milk at the beginnig when they try to figure out the bottle – and may show a bit milk at their nose when doing so – but they never showed those problems. They were fine later,

These ones died more or less immediatly after I took them in – and that’s why I’m asking myself, if I did something wrong – or if I should do something different next time – as all of them showed milk at nose and mouth. The third one looked like it had spit our everything it drank earlier and the last one also had more than just a drop outside of nose and mouth. I only fed tiny amounts – ca. 1ml each feeding, to get them started, was that still too much? The previous owner said nothing about problems with feeding – and I used the same milk as them.

It seemed all aspirated milk because it came back out of their stomach (reflux).
I know reflux is not unusual in human preemies – but what’s with cats and is their a way to avoid that? (If that’s the reason for their problems at all). But if not why came the milk back up?

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4 years ago

Good morning. I’m so sorry that you had this experience. While I cannot truly answer your question about reflux, I just wanted to say that the fact that you cared so much and tried so hard does not go unnoticed. Thank you so much for trying?