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Common Kitten Ailments
Your kitten who was dashing across the floor yesterday is now hiding under the bed, or lying in the corner of the room not willing to move. What happened so quickly to take her from the state of high energy to one of lethargy? The answer can be complex. Here are some tips to discovering what to do about kitten ailments:
Eye discharge -could be as simple as the kitten got food, cat litter or another foreign body into the eye, or she has come down with an Upper Respiratory Infection (URI). Feline herpesvirus is another consideration. Flush out the eyes with infant eye drops. NEVER put salt water in a kitten’s eyes.
Gummy eyes- NEVER try and pry open an eye that has glued shut. Take a washcloth wet it with warm water. Lay the warm, damp cloth on top of the eye for as long as the kitten tolerates, or until the cloth becomes cool. Gently, wipe the gummy excess off with a clean, warm cloth. If the eye stays shut, call your veterinarian.
Prey bites- Kittens tumble with their littermates and older cats. During this play the kittens can get bit. These bites can form small bumps. Watch the area for signs of infection; redness, swelling or heat. If the kittens are quiet during play it is harmless. If they are vocal, you need to intervene before a kitten gets hurt and the kitten ailment turns into a major vet bill.
Discharge from the nose- Kittens can get allergies and colds just like people. Sneezing, snorting or bubbles appearing out of the nose can indicate URI, cat flu or disease. Use Little Noses to help the kitten breathe. Set up a vaporizer in the room (add a pinch of salt to the water to help create more steam). Set the vaporizer up out of the way so the kitten doesn’t burn herself. Check to see if there is an accompanying fever. 102 º F is normal for kittens. If you suspect your kitten is sick call your veterinarian. If a kitten can’t smell, he won’t eat.
Falling – Active kittens love to climb. They tend to fall especially when they are figuring out how to get down off of tall objects. If the queen hasn’t shown the kitten how to climb down (feet first) then the kitten will climb down head-first which can result in a fall. Kittens are resilient and generally shake off any injury. If you see prolonged limping or other signs of discomfort, call your veterinarian immediately.
Red Eyes- conjunctivitis, feline herpesvirus and other infections can cause red eye. A littermate’s claw may have scratched the eye, or the kitten might have inadvertently scratched his own eye. Rinse the eyes out with infant eye drops. If it stays red, call your veterinarian.
Diarrhea- always a concern with kittens. Chronic diarrhea should be checked by a vet immediately! Parasites, disease, infections and other health issues can cause diarrhea. Kittens with chronic diarrhea dehydrate quickly and need sub cu fluids. You can check your kitten for dehydration:
If fever or blood in the stool appears call your vet! This can point to something more severe than just a kitten ailment. Food changes can also cause diarrhea. WARNING- the new Kaopectate is no longer safe for kittens.
Constipation- feeding your kitten dairy products can cause constipation. Changing food suddenly can cause constipation. Many kittens explore with their mouths. They find items in the home that they will eat. This will cause constipation. Feed one tablespoon of canned pumpkin (not the pie mixture) with each meal. Ask your vet for Laxatone. NEVER give your kitten any over-the–counter products.
Scratching and head-shaking- check for fleas and ear mites. To find out if the kitten has fleas, use a flea comb. Comb through the fur. Pay special attention to the tail section and stomach. Clean the comb over a white sheet of paper. If dark spots appear (they look like bits of dirt) your kitten has fleas. If you see dark, oily debris in the ears, the kitten may have ear mites or a yeast infection. A trip to the vet will help clear up the problem. If after treating the ears, the oily dark substance is still intact; your kitten has a yeast infection.
Kittens who have access to the mother cat’s colostrum will gain advantages over bottle-fed kittens. But, at five weeks of age- this protection will vanish. If your kitten has a weak immune system, he can become ill quickly and fade right before your eyes. Knowing what to look for and when to call your vet becomes crucial during this time.