How to Tell if a Kitten Can't Smell

by Billy
(Liverpool, United Kingdom)

All 4 kittens

All 4 kittens

I have four 4 weeks old kittens, 3 of them are fine getting weaned and on to food and weaning milk but the fourth one just doesn't seem interested in anything. I was wondering if she has no sense of smell and that's why she's not eating the food or drinking the milk? Bearing in mind all 4 of them were bottle fed at 2 weeks because they hurt the queen, this was under vet's orders.

Can you help me?

Reply from Liz (Editor): I've never heard of a cat that is totally unable to smell. They may exist, but I've never personally come across it. A cat in the wild relies on its sense of smell for survival, so I think any cat trying to fend for themselves wouldn't cope very long without being able to smell.

The most common cause for a kitten being unable to smell is a blocked nose. This may be due to an upper respitarory tract infection, or its nose may have got blocked up during hand feeding. A blocked nose reduces sense of smell, and as you rightly say, also reduces appetite - if the kitten can't smell the food, they'll be less likely to want to eat it.

If you think the kitten's nose is blocked, it's worth getting her checked over by a vet. A respiritory tract infection in a very young kitten can be serious, and it's also highly likely to spread to the other kittens in the litter too - so the earlier you can get her treated, the better.

To encourage her to eat, warming the food is a good idea, as this releases more of a smell. You can also mix something into it in small quantities that's quite smelly, especially when it's warmed up - e.g. tinned pilchards or sardines.

I have come across a few hand reared kittens who just like to be bottle fed, and it can be quite difficult to wean them. They will start to eat eventually, they just take a bit longer to get the hang of it than others, and they need to be bottle fed for a bit longer.

I'm assuming the kitten seems healthy in general - i.e. she's the same size as the others, moving round the same as the others? If she's not, she may have a health problem that's causing her to develop slower. Again, a vet would be able to help figure out if this was the case.

Best of luck with solving these cat problems, and thank you for the lovely photo - they all look gorgeous. I hope she's OK.

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