We recently adopted a rescued street kitten named Chuy and he is about 5 weeks old now. It's been a long time since I lived with a kitten so I have some questions.
1) He has started eating canned "baby cat" food which is sort of like pureed kitten food. He likes it a lot but he never goes to the bowl on his own and starts eating like I'm used to with other cats. I always have to put some food on my finger and pretty much force him to taste it, then get him to follow my finger to the bowl, then he starts pigging out. Is that normal? It's almost as if he doesn't have much of a sense of smell. Or maybe he'd just rather be fed with a bottle?
At his age (which I'd put about 5-6 weeks) that's normal. Kittens have a super short attention span, and he's still learning what is food. Put those two together and you get exactly what you're seeing.
This is a great time to introduce him to as many different flavors as possible! Buy good quality canned food in every flavor you can find, and give him something new every day. If he only ever eats one thing he won't believe other flavors are food. It is MUCH easier to teach a kitten to eat a wide variety of things than it is to convince an adult cat you aren't trying to poison them, lol.
Personally I'd also give him tiny strips of raw meat too, raw food is very healthy for cats and it's really easy to teach him it's yummy at this age.
Whatever you do just keep encouraging him to eat. He will eventually catch on that he can do it without you showing him first, but it might take a little while.
2) Whenever he eats he ALWAYS puts his feet in the bowl, and with wet food that's just gross. It's frustrating because sometimes I give him a bath and then he does it again 10 minutes later. The bowl isn't too big for him, its the smallest bowl I could find. I can't even hold his feet down when he eats as he always tries his hardest to put them on the food. Any advice on how to get him to be less of a pig?
Not really. He's a baby. Babies are messy. The best way I found to deal with this was to use a wet warm washcloth and have a little grooming session after food time. This encourages the kitten to groom themselves, and it is normal for them to grrom right after a meal. So, use the cloth to make short stroking motions, with the grain of his fur, all over his body. Paws too! It will help him bond closely with you, tolerate grooming, and teach him to clean himself. It's an all win situation
If you follow a short grooming routine after every meal he will eventually catch on. Part of the issue is that he's very clumsy right now and he probably feels like he's going to fall over into the food. Coordination comes with age.
3) I have yet to see him drink water. We still feel him kitten milk replacement form the pet store through a bottle because we're worried he won't get enough fluids. Lately we've been diluting it a bit to make sure he gets water. Occasionally he'll step in his water bowl (which he really dislikes) and one or twice I've seen him put his nose into it and then get scared and jump back /sneeze. I'm starting to get worried that when I'm at work he isn't drinking any water at all and thats probably not healthy. Any advice on how to teach him to drink his water?
First he needs to learn to drink from a bowl. Use his kitten milk, and instead of putting it in a bottle put it in a low bowl, or a small plate. He WILL stomp in it *shrug*. I suggest having a video camera handy, cause this will be adorable and hilarious
Get a drop of milk on your finger and hold it to his mouth. He should try to mouth or lick your finger. Each time he does get a new drop of milk, but hold your finger slightly closer to the milk in the dish. Gradually you'll be lowering your hand until he's licking your finger submerged in the milk. Slowly try taking your finger away. Most kittens will immediately stick their whole face in the bowl, then sneeze and shake adorably. Repeat the fingers in bowl bit until he seems to understand.
Once he's having no problems drinking from a bowl and doesn't need even the littlest bit of finger help THEN you start diluting the milk with warm water. Eventually he'll be drinking water straight from his dish.
4) He's starting to become quite playful, which is normal for a kitten, but I've noticed that he is biting me a lot when he is playful. It's not hard enough to hurt and he sometimes mixes licks with biting, but I'm not used to the biting, at least I don't remember my other kitten biting me ever. Is it normal to bite me? Is he just play fighting like he'd do with other kittens, or do I have to worry that I am teaching him bad behavior by tolerating his biting. I worry that some day when he gets stronger, it might actually hurt, unless it's just a kitten thing.
I know this is a lot but I appreciate anybody who can help me out with these 4 questions. Thanks in advance!!
-Jax and Chuy.
It is normal for him to bite you, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea. Don't use your hands to play fight with him, that will teach him that hands are a good target and as he gets bigger it will really be painful!
Instead grab a stuffed toy and use that to wrestle with. Encourage him to wrestle the toy. If he misses and bites you instead drop the toy and walk away. (He's too small for any real corrections, and if you do this right he won't ever need any!)
30 seconds later (literally, walk to the other side of the room, stand facing him for a second or two) come back to him, grab the toy again, and encourage him to wrestle it.
I'd also suggest getting a wand toy. It's always better for fun things to NOT be a part of your body. It might be cute at this age, but he will get bigger, and a biting wrestling year old cat really hurts.
The most important thing for you to remember is that since he's so young you have to be both mum and littermates. If you want him to learn manners the only way will be for you to teach him. This means that you should NEVER encourage him to wrestle with people, bite arms, hands, or feet, or climb you. Whenever you are interacting with him, correcting him, or ignoring him he is learning something. Keep that in mind and think about what you WANT him to learn.
He's a baby, so at his age learning is gentle. If he guesses wrong just ignore him for a few seconds, then show him what the right choice would be.
It sounds like you're doing very well with him, and he's certainly very cute! Good luck with raising your little buddy!
I have a blogpost (linked below in my signature) about raising young kittens. I'd suggest you read through it. Feel free to message me if you have a question about it