Keeping Kittens - Kitten Care
Keeping Kittens - Guide to Caring for Kittens


Kitten Care  > Sick Kitten

Identifying and Caring for a Sick Kitten

Do you enjoy being sick? Of course not! It is easy to understand that being a sick kitten is no fun. And as an owner seeing your small helpless kitty undergo sickness can be quite upsetting. What can you as the owner do to make your little kitten feel better? You can start by calling your Vet or if the matter isn't urgent, ask our Vet a question and we will answer it for free here.

Note that some circumstances are perfectly normal. For example. kitten ears and eyes remain closed until 3 to 16 days after birth. Eyes that appear off center (Divergent strabismus) is normal until age 8 weeks.

As the owner, and the human in charge - you are responsible for making sure your kitty is well cared for and nurtured back to good health. If you know what kitten illness your kitty is suffering from - kitten care is a bit easier. It is also important to understand the difference between a sick kitten and one that is simply tired.



Has Your Kitten Lost Her Kitten Health or is She Just Fatigued?

Just like us, kittens can get sick for any number of reasons. Maybe your kitten has recently undergone surgery and isn't quite healed yet. Maybe your kitten just has a mild Upper Respiratory infection or cold, or perhaps she has kitten fleas. Your adventurous little missy may have injured herself while climbing or jumping. The signs your kitty displays should help you find out what is wrong with her. Kittens that are just born do not have any natural immunity until they start feeding on the mothers milk. In the short period between birth and feeding they are exposed to bacteria and other pathogens that could cause illness.

Tell-Tale Signs Your Kitten Is Sick

  • Kitten diarrhea (sign of a problem that needs immediate care)
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Kitten sneezing
  • Poor Appetite
  • Limping
  • Behavioral changes
  • Whimpering
  •  Lack of activity
  •  More vocalizing
  • Coughing and other upper respiratory problems
  • Upper respiratory issues in particular are common in kittens. Nasal congestion can keep the kitten from nursing. Failure to nurse can cause problems such as the formation of bacteria in the bloodstream which in turn can cause a condition called sepsis conjunctivitis and blindness. In this case a veterinarian will show you how to carefully pry apart the eyelids as soon as lid separation occurs. The eye is then cleaned with saline solution. Antibiotics are applied every 2 to 4 hours. A humidifier can help with the nasal congestion while fluids provided by a line placed just under the skin that contain nutrition will help combat the bacterial infection.

    Diagnosis of Kitten Health

    To diagnose a sick kitten, a veterinarian will take a blood test to check blood glucose levels, white blood counts and levels of urea (nitrogen levels in the blood). The blood test can determine if problems such as low blood sugar exist (hypoglycemia). Hypoglycemia in kittens is caused by higher than normal metabolism, nursing problems, hypothermia (low body temperature), and bacteria in the bloodstream (called sepsis).

    Urine tests, umbilical discharge, diarrhea, and discharge from the nose can all be examined for signs of infection.

    Signs Your Kitten May Be Just Fatigued

    It can be easy for an inexperienced kitten owner to mistake a fatigued kitty for a sick kitten. Kittens are growing a lot during their first year of life, so a lot of sleep is normal. Sleep helps build your kittens immune system, and helps her to develop into a healthy full grown adult cat.

    It is perfectly normal for your kitty to be fatigued after any of these things:

  • Vaccinations.
  • New medications (dewormers or anti-flea).
  • Stress (vet visit or moving house).

    A kitten may display fatigue if she is suffering from fading kitten syndrome. Fading kitten syndrome refers to kittens that were born looking normal, but fail to thrive and grow normally after several weeks. This could be the result of kittens that are smaller in size or that are not nursing normally. It is thought that the condition may be caused by exposure to a virus such as FIP or FeLV, genetics, a nutritional deficiency, toxins, or poor care from the mother.

    If your kitty is sleeping a lot but still has a healthy appetite and good co-ordination she is more than likely just fatigued.

  • Caring for a Sick Kitten

    There are things you can do to make your ill kitty feel better faster. These include making a safe kitten haven, helping your kitty keep clean and just being there for him or her.

  • Your kitty might not feel like eating, but eating will help your kitten to regain her strength faster. Try to make sure they eat something, even if it is just a little bit. If your kitten flat out refuses to eat - take them to the vet.

  • Create a safe private kitty haven. Make this an area where you kitty feel safe and comforted. Make sure she has her favorite blankets, fresh food and water. Encourage the family members to leave her in peace, but make sure to check in on your kitten from time to time to ensure she hasn't gotten worse.

  • Felines are very clean and fastidious. Ensure your sick kitty is able to stay clean and tidy, even if she is not up to much grooming herself. Use a warm moist cloth to wipe away sleep from the corner of her eyes and wipe her nose. Particularly for long haired cats - fur can become quite a mess. Gently brush your kittens fur to keep it tidy.
  • Remember that a sick kitten relies on you to help nurse them through their illness. Take care of them, keeping a watchful eye out in case your kittens sickness develops into something worse. If you notice your feline is not getting better - take her to your veterinarian.

    In the sad case that a kitten passes away, a veterinarian may want to determine the cause in order to avoid the problem sin other kittens in the litter.

    Ask Our Veterinarian a Kitten Health Question and We Will nswer it for Free!

    Do you have a kitten care question you'd like our Vet to answer for free? Just enter it below. It might take several days to respond, so if you have an urgent question, we suggest using this 24 hour online veterinary service that is available now.

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