Over the years we've had members ask us some questions regarding kitten health. We finally decided to do some research to collect the most relevant info for you to read in case you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of your kitten being ill.
The kitten doesn't want to eatKittens can refuse food for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it's just being finicky, but a loss of appetite combined with other symptoms (such as diarrhea or apathy) may indicate a serious health problem that requires veterinary help. If the kitten doesn't show any other symptoms and its overall behaviour is fine, you can try the following.
- Make sure the food you feed the kitten is warm enough. You don't want it too hot, just warm, so that it becomes more comfortable for the baby to eat. Besides, warm food produces more smell, which should trigger the kitten's appetite. To heat the food, you can put it into a microwave for several seconds. Canned food can be warmed like this too.
- If your kitten refuses to eat from its bowl, especially if it has never eaten from there before, the baby may simply not know how to do it. Set the kitten in front of its food; when it is watching, put some of the food on your fingertip and offer it to the kitten to lick. When the kitten starts doing so, gradually move your finger closer to the bowl so that the kitten's mouth meets the food in the bowl eventually. If the kitten doesn't want to lick your finger, try very gently touching its nose or upper lip; chances are high that the kitten will lick it off. The same approach can be used to teach the kitten to drink from the bowl.
- What size is the bowl you're using? A regular size saucer or bowl may be overwhelming for a tiny kitten as it would probably feel more comfortable walking in it rather than eating from it. Try a small dish with only a spoon or two of food to start (for example, alid of a small jar).
- Try a teaspoon of canned cat food mashed down on a very flat surface (like the lid to a cottage cheese container) so that it becomes easier to comsume. You can also drizzle a teaspoon or so of kitten milk replacer and/or some Pedialyte on top of the canned food. If the kitten shows no interest, try using the finger trick described above.
- Provide some variety. Try offering different brands of cat food, including high quality premium commercial kitten food, holistic food, and natural food. Cats can have their own taste preferences just like humans. The natural foods include raw meat such as diced up raw lamb meat, pieces of raw chicken meat. Raw food offered to cats should always be fresh. Avoid feeding too much raw meat until the kitten is 20 weeks of age (unless the meat is on the bone, for example raw chicken wing). This is important to help avoid certain nutritional deficiencies during growth. A small amount of vegetable matter may be offered. Make sure you're aware which kinds of human food are dangerous for cats.
- If your kitten doesn't eat for 48 hours, consult your veterinarian.
The kitten doesn't pooConstipation can kill a kitten, so it's very important to take actions in due time. Kittens don't need to poo daily. However, if your kitten hasn't pooped for several days, this is a reason for concern.
- Take a warm wet washcloth or cotton ball and stroke in short strokes around the kitten's anus. This procedures has to be done after each feeding as it is similar to what the mother cat would naturally do for her babies.
- Adding fiber to the kitten's diet helps keep eliminating regularly. Bran or psyllium husks are wonderful sources of natural fiber. Pumpkin puree is also great to use to a boost of fiber to the diet. Besides, most cats love the taste. Just mix about a teaspoon or two of canned pumpkin or home-made pumpkin puree in your kitty's food. Alternatively, it can just eat the puree unmixed with food.
- Be sure to keep plenty of fresh cool water near your kitten to keep it well-hydrated. The best way to find out if your constipated kitten is dehydrated is to pinch a small section of skin on the back or sides of your kitten's neck. The skin should be flat within three seconds of you releasing your hold. If the skin stays puckered, your kitten is dehydrated.
- Increasing your kitten's physical movement and playtime can reduce the chance of constipation. Exercise aids the intestinal track in moving food through and out of the body. So, have fun with your kitten and play more together!
- Make sure the litter box is clean, secure, and private enough because cats may refuse to use it otherwise.
- See your veterinarian for chronic cat constipation or if there is no improvement after 2 or 3 days of these home treatments.
The kitten has diarrheaKittens can have diarrhea for a number of reasons including intestinal parasites, viral and bacterial infections, inflammatory bowel disease, overfeeding, dietary changes, feline leukemia, food allergy, fatty diet, poisons, antibiotics, anxiety, hyperthyroidism, cancer, and diabetes. Diarrhea can be acute (lasting about 48 hours) and chronic (long-term). Acute diarrhea can usually be treated at home, but if the diarrhea persists, or if other symptoms accompany it, please see a vet to determine the cause. Here are some of the measures you can take at home:
There is also a number of natural remedies you can try:
- Try Bene-Bac powder, which is available at any good pet supply store.
- Add 3 drops of GSE (Grapefruit Seed Extract) Liquid in the kitten's wet food.
- Give your kitten extra fluids; chicken broth is good, but no soups with onions. Onions are harmful to felines.
- Hold solid foods for a couple days to help the stomach calm down; gradually introduce solid foods back in the diet when the kittens get better.
Avoid the following:
- Edible Clay. You can buy it at health food stores. Calcium bentonite, sodium bentonite, and kaolin are just a few types of clays that can be eaten. Just make sure the label on the clay states it is for ingestion. Clay is known to purify the digestive system. It has also been said to remove toxins, pesticides, and parasites from the body. It can help the digestive tract form more solid stools. Add about 0,5 teaspoon of clay to 0,5-1 cup of water and stir the solution. Give it to the kitten to sip. Make sure the kitten drinks a lot of water with the clay to prevent intestinal blockage.
- Activated charcoal. It adsorbs intestinal toxins and helps the body get rid of poisons that cause diarrhea. A great remedy for accidental chemical and food poisonings. Do not use it for more than 2-3 days.
- Add fiber to the kitten's diet. Mashed pumpkin and sweet potatoes can be great in helping to form solid stool, as well as wheat bran. The old fashioned fiber of wheat bran helps solidify loose stool. Some cats have allergies to wheat products. For those without allergies, add about 1/8 of a teaspoon of powdered bran to your kitten's food. Another good source of fiber is psyllium husks. As well as wheat bran, it can add bulk back into stools and can promote regular bowel movements. Psyllium comes from the plantain plant and is high in insoluble fiber. It comes in pills and powdered form. Mix about 1/4 to 1/8 teaspoon of powdered psyllium to 1 cup of water and have your kitten drink the solution. As with edible clay, make sure your kitten drinks a lot of water with it to prevent intestinal blockage.
- Feed the kitten plain yogurt with active cultures, or add acidophilus powder to the kitten's food.
- Try feeding the kitten soft bland diet rice.
- Do not give anti-diarrheal meds if the diarrhea is caused by an infection. Taking anti-diarrheal meds stops the body from eliminating the infection.
- Keep in mind felines cannot tolerate aspirin-based anti-diarrheal medications.
- Do not deprive the kitten of food for over 24 hours. You can withdraw food for a day to rest the gut, but any longer time is risky because the kitten may develop a problem worse than diarrhea.
- Do NOT use over-the-counter wormers, or other pet-aids that you think will solve the problem.
The kitten's tummy is very bloatedA kitten's belly may look somewhat big and rounded compared to the rest of the body. In most cases it's quite normal, especially after eating and drinking. However, a very bloated tummy may be a sign that something is wrong. The most common causes of a bloated tummy are worms, fluid retention (caused by kidney or liver failure), constipation, overeating, and, unfortunately, even FIP. As long as the kitten is eating, drinking, and going to the bathroom regularly, there shouldn't be a problem. If you notice any behaviour changes or other worrying signs (such as an ongoing diarrhea with blood and mucus), consult your veterinarian immediately.
The second part of this guide can be found here:Please note, we are not vets and the information here is collected from the internet so it may not be 100% accurate.