Kittens like all living things can become ill. When your kitten isn’t feeling well, it’s not all that difficult to figure out that something’s just not right.
A strong indicator that your kitten may be unwell is if she starts acting lethargic and doesn’t want to play as usual, since kittens, by nature, are usually full of high energy and comical mischief. The following are a few of the most common medical ailments that can affect the health of your kitten.
1. Vomiting: There are a variety of reasons why a kitten may vomit. Vomiting in kittens can be relatively common and in most situations is not a serious problem. The same as humans, your kitten may have just eaten something that didn’t sit well with her or eaten a bit too much. However the vomiting may be due to a more serious issue such as a bacterial infection, a gastrointestinal virus or even a severe parasite infestation. These types of ailments can be life-threatening and require immediate attention. Prolonged vomiting, loss of appetite or diarrhea and can all lead to dehydration rather quickly so don’t let it go on for too long.
2. Worms: Kittens who have symptoms of lethargy, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, anemia, abdominal bloating or lack of appetite may also have worms. Worms are a common danger. For instance, hookworms can cause malnutrition and anemia, and roundworms can cause intestinal and respiratory tract blockages which may lead to infection and pneumonia. Before infestations lead to serious health issues, it’s very important to worm cats and kittens regularly, as your vet recommends.
3. Fleas: Immediate action should always be taken to remove these parasites. Fleas multiply very quickly and a heavy infestation on a kitten can be a serious problem. It’s a known fact that fleas drink blood. If they drink enough, younger kittens can become anemic as the fleas feast on their blood. They will have no energy and their gums will look almost white. Be sure to always use flea control products that are safe for kittens. Cats have a greater sensitivity to insecticides than dogs, so if you use the wrong product they can become sick. Your vet can advise you as to the best way to control a flea infestation. Your kitten may need to have a blood transfusion if she is very sick.
4. Respiratory Infections: Respiratory infections are a common occurrence in kittens. Most of the time, these infections are a nuisance but not life threatening. However, upper respiratory infections can be potentially serious. Several types of viruses cause what are commonly referred to as “kitty colds” and their symptoms can vary. Common symptoms of these “kitty colds” are sneezing, runny nose and/or eyes, cough, and fever. If the nasal discharge is green and mucus like, this indicates that there is a secondary bacterial infection present and a course of antibiotics may be needed. Another respiratory virus can enter the cells of the lung, and attack the tongue, mucous membranes, and even occasionally the tip of the nose causing serious ulcers. These ulcers are very painful and can interfere with the kittens eating. Another common symptom your kitten may have is conjunctivitis, an infection of the eye. Conjunctivitis causes a yellow and sticky discharge that “glues” the eyelids closed.
If a kitten is sick enough to stop eating and drinking, a stay at the animal hospital will be necessary. Supportive care is given while their immune systems fight the disease. Dehydration, large amounts of nasal discharge, ulcers in the eyes or mouth, and high fever are all indications that your kitten is very sick and needs immediate veterinary attention. If you have even the slightest doubt that your kitten is ill, get her to your vet now rather than wait. Kittens can become seriously ill in a relatively short period of time so it’s very important not to delay treatment.
One of the most important ways you can help manage feline upper respiratory infections is by appropriate vaccination.