Neonatal Emergencies

What should you do if your kitten begins to fade?

Neonatal kittens are very fragile, and their health can deteriorate in a matter of hours. A common term for these situations is “Fading Kitten Syndrome”. There can be various causes for “Fading Kitten Syndrome” and a carer should act immediately if they notice any of the signs.

Some causes include:

  • Hypothermia  - low body temperature

  • Hypoglycaemia - low blood glucose levels

  • Dehydration - e.g. from diarrhoea/vomiting

  • Anaemia - from flea infestations/intestinal parasites

  • Congenital defects - cleft palate, open fontanelles

  • Lack of colostrum - which kittens receive from mum in the first 24 hours of birth

  • Infections - upper respiratory infections (“Cat Flu”), sepsis, panleukopaenia (“Cat Parvo”) etc.


Signs a kitten may be deteriorating:

  • Reluctance to feed

  • Lethargy/unresponsive

  • Weight loss

  • Vomiting/diarrhoea

What you can do at home:

If a kitten starts to display these symptoms, you must act immediately! It's always best to seek veterinary assistance in these circumstances, however if you cannot get to a vet immediately, you can do the following at home:

  • Assess the kitten’s temperature, hydration and overall demeanor.

  • Actively warm the kitten if hypothermic.

  • If dehydrated, administer subcutaneous fluids - 1ml fluids/30g body weight (this should always be performed by an experienced carer).

  • Apply a small amount of Nutrigel (a high calorie supplement) onto the kittens gums every 20-30 mins.

  • Monitor the kitten closely for any improvement/further deterioration. Take to a neonatal Vet ASAP.

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