Please help, 7 week old kitten very sick but we don’t know what’s wrong

Caroline Stephens

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First signs of illness started 2 days ago, when his appetite decreased and he lost about 20 grams as of that morning. He showed less interest in the wet food and his mother is not allowing the kittens to nurse much.

Yesterday, the diarrhea started - liquid. Later on, he vomited and we took him to the emergency vet. They gave fluids and an anti nausea injection and sent him back home, still not eating unless I hold the wet food right in front of his face for him to lick. Still, he’s getting minimal nutrition.

This morning he was more lethargic, dehydrated again. Took him to the vet and they did a day hospitalization for him. No fever, no parasites in fecal (plus he’s been dewormed), and negative panleuk test. We picked him up, he looked better and more alert.

Now, he’s home, still has diarrhea. Not interested in eating, and will only lick some off my hand. Very lethargic, still losing weight.

I don’t know what to do. I worry the emergency vet won’t feed him, just give fluids and he’ll continue deteriorating and losing more weight & strength. Still, he’s probably headed back there tonight,

Anyone have any ideas what this could be? The vet today was baffled and I’m so worried and stressed.
 

silent meowlook

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Hi. The emergency vet should make sure he eats. If you are concerned, just ask them. You can even bring food for him. but they should be able to supply him food. Have they seen the Mother cat or the other kittens.? Or just this one? Don't bother answering. Just get him back to the vet. These kittens are extremely fragile and you don't want to wait.
 

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First signs of illness started 2 days ago, when his appetite decreased and he lost about 20 grams as of that morning. He showed less interest in the wet food and his mother is not allowing the kittens to nurse much.

Yesterday, the diarrhea started - liquid. Later on, he vomited and we took him to the emergency vet. They gave fluids and an anti nausea injection and sent him back home, still not eating unless I hold the wet food right in front of his face for him to lick. Still, he’s getting minimal nutrition.

This morning he was more lethargic, dehydrated again. Took him to the vet and they did a day hospitalization for him. No fever, no parasites in fecal (plus he’s been dewormed), and negative panleuk test. We picked him up, he looked better and more alert.

Now, he’s home, still has diarrhea. Not interested in eating, and will only lick some off my hand. Very lethargic, still losing weight.

I don’t know what to do. I worry the emergency vet won’t feed him, just give fluids and he’ll continue deteriorating and losing more weight & strength. Still, he’s probably headed back there tonight,

Anyone have any ideas what this could be? The vet today was baffled and I’m so worried and stressed.
How old is this kitten? About 6-8 weeks? What country are you in? {7 weeks, I see now in the title]

I dont know what is happening. But I have some practical advices.

What you must do, is to give him pedialyte; best bought flavorless for small children... Homemade may do too.
Such a pedialyte contains both lotsa of good salts, and glucose sugar....

He needs extra salts / electrolytes, because he is loosing them with diarrhea.... And glucose sugar gives some calories for free,
so the pedialyte will keep him alive for a while, even if he doesnt eats.... Give as much as you manage... No risk of overdosing, because the salts and glucose sugar are the same concetration as in body fluids.
Its no remedy, but it will buy you precious time...

If you dont have pedialyte, nor real glucose sugar, you can always put a droplet of WHITE CARO Syrup on his gum, under the lip; Repeat now and then.
it gives energhy and extra glucose to his blood sugar. I bet its low!

And do forcefeed him; with pedialyte and with wet food slurry... You may add a little salt into this slurry if you dont have pedialyte.
Use a needleless syringe, and forcefeed him....

A knowleable vet would probably help you with tube feeding to the stomach; but I know many vets dont know the technique.
Its quite difficult for a new be.
Hand feeding with a syringe is usually good enough.


Be sure the kitten is warm, ie do warm him up actively.... A heat pad, or IR warming lamp... I bet he has low body temp being that sick.
You can massage him with tops of your fingers, stroke him with palms... It feels nice for him, and helps somewhat.
 
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StefanZ

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ps. If you can get raw goats milk, use this too.... Goats milk is a very nourishing and easy digested supplement.... Raw goats milk
is some times used as a remedy by itself, in conditions and problems with digesting / stomach, belly...

Im not promising this will help, but cant hurt, may help.
 

Sarthur2

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How is the kitten today? Pedialyte fed through a syringe is excellent. Also try Gerber turkey or chicken meat baby food on your finger. Kittens tend to love it.

Not sure what this could be, but if it’s viral I’m hoping it will pass soon and not be contagious to the others.
 
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Caroline Stephens

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The veterinarians are all baffled by this, and so am I. If anyone has any ideas on what this could be, please let me know. I will make a timeline including symptoms below. Kittens were 7 weeks at first symptom onset in kitten 1.

Monday (March 27th): One of my two kittens had some diarrhea. Pure liquid, terrible smell. It smelled viral, if anyone knows what I mean by that. By the afternoon, he wasn’t eating and he’d vomited white liquid (possibly mothers milk) so we took him to the emergency vet where he received fluids and an anti-nausea injection.
Tuesday (March 28th): Tuesday morning he was still having diarrhea, still purely liquid, so we took him back to the vet, where he was hospitalized for dehydration. No fever. Negative panluekopenia test. Negative parasites but dewormer was administered anyway.
Wednesday (March 29th): Still hospitalized, on IV fluids. Still no fever, no desire to eat, diarrhea still just as severe. They switched him to a digestive friendly food, added FortiFlora, added psyllium husk — no effect. Only improvement was increased energy - he seemed more alert.
Thursday (March 30th): Still hospitalized but began eating a little on his own. The day vet said I could bring him home rather than take him back to the overnight emergency vet, but I took him back for an extra night on fluids since the diarrhea was still so bad.
Friday (March 31st): Brought him home. Still had diarrhea. Through the day, he ate and drank normally but went downhill through the night as he became dehydrated again without the IV fluids.
Saturday - Sunday (April 1st-2nd): Rushed back to emergency vet in morning. Very cold (temp around 94.5 Fahrenheit), moderately dehydrated, lethargic and limp. Stabilized some throughout the day, but crashed on and off all day Sunday. Glucose dropped sporadically, as did body temp. Became excessively lethargic. He’d lost more weight, still had the diarrhea. Another panluek test negative, CBC showed somewhat high white blood count, broad spectrum antibiotics were administered.
Monday (April 3rd): The vet tried everything during the day - warming pads and warming meds through IV, IV liquids and oral liquids, antibiotics, etc. He kept crashing and we finally had him euthanized to prevent prolonging suffering.

Today, Wednesday April 5th, my other kitten has developed diarrhea and I’m terrified. Still waiting for a test panel on the diarrhea sample from kitten 1 to come back and hopefully it’ll provide some answers, but if any of you have an idea what this may be, please let me know.
 

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I’m so sorry! You did your very best. Sometimes these things happen and we just don’t know what causes the failure to thrive. RIP sweet kitten! :angel:
 
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Caroline Stephens

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Still waiting for some tests to come back, and hoping they will reveal what happened - especially since his brother now has some diarrhea too so I am worried.
 

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Still waiting for some tests to come back, and hoping they will reveal what happened - especially since his brother now has some diarrhea too so I am worried.
Hang in there. This sounds terrible. I never personally had to deal with something like this.

My cat showed up outside very sick, and was SUPER sweet right from day 1, but he was a survivor and made it. I'm so sorry that your kitten wasn't.

I know that my saying that doesn't help you... I just don't know what else to say.
 

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I am so sorry you are going through this. The only other thing that came to my mind - as just noted above - although, all the symptoms, at least initially, don't match, is FIP. Nonetheless, it might behoove you to start antibiotics now rather than later with this second kitten as a precaution since they weren't started earlier with the first kitten.

Why is it taking so long on the fecal testing? Can you elicit some interest from the vets in consulting with a vet university? They often experience things that are uncommon for many vets to see in their entire careers. The records/testing can be provided to them as a starting point.

Have you had the mama checked out too? It is possible she passed on something to the kittens that she, as an adult, could overcome/withstand.
 
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Caroline Stephens

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I'm very sorry to hear about the loss of one of your kittens and the other kitty becoming ill. 😿 I was just curious if the vet thought it could be FIP since it is more prevalent in kittens and young cats. Here is a good description of the disease:
Feline Infectious Peritonitis
The vet said the symptoms don’t quite match, but that it could be a possibility. The pending test will show if the coronavirus that can cause FIP was present in the kitten… but even if it was present, that doesn’t mean the illness was FIP. Luckily I have a great vet, and she says if it came back positive and my other kitten started with symptoms, she’d refer me to get the new FIP treatment that’s had some success.
 
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Caroline Stephens

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I am so sorry you are going through this. The only other thing that came to my mind - as just noted above - although, all the symptoms, at least initially, don't match, is FIP. Nonetheless, it might behoove you to start antibiotics now rather than later with this second kitten as a precaution since they weren't started earlier with the first kitten.

Why is it taking so long on the fecal testing? Can you elicit some interest from the vets in consulting with a vet university? They often experience things that are uncommon for many vets to see in their entire careers. The records/testing can be provided to them as a starting point.

Have you had the mama checked out too? It is possible she passed on something to the kittens that she, as an adult, could overcome/withstand.
My vet doesn’t think it was FIP but hasn’t ruled it out. She didn’t want to start antibiotics on kitten 1 because she said it can worsen diarrhea and make intestinal problems more severe, but maybe now with kitten 2 the benefits would outweigh the risks? I’m not sure but will discuss it with her.

The normal in-house fecal test was negative for all parasites. This was a special one - PCR panel for diarrhea I think - that had to be send out and given time to grow bacteria cultures. Should be back any time now.

My vet was actually going to refer me to an out of state vet university with kitten 1 but he was too unstable to travel. Once again, maybe that would be an option with this kitten.

Mama cat has tested negative for parasites at various points, and has always been healthy. I’ve never had any other testing done on her aside from a genetic testing - feline optimal selection test - all clear.

At this point, I am thinking maybe kitten 2 is actually healthy. Maybe I just fed him too much. he is late at weaning… just recently am I starting to make him eat mostly wet kitten food. Going to be keeping a close eye on him.
 

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I am so sorry that you are going through this. Your vet sounds absolutely awesome. It is very, very frustrating to have no clear answers.
My adult disabled daughter was hospitalized an encephalitis for a week last summer. With no obvious answers in house and the 5 nearest larger medical centers diverting new cases, the attending doctors ultimately gave 3 antibiotics and 2 antivirals and finally her fever broke, her blood sugar levels and pulse rate returned to normal. She left the hospital unable to dress or feed herself, etc, but has made a recovery. To this day, no tests ever gave answers; we dont even know if the infection was viral or bacterial.
 
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Caroline Stephens

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I’ve got a positive update! My kitten pooped normal today, no diarrhea! Never thought I’d be so glad for solid poop.

Still keeping a close eye on him, of course, but tentatively hopeful his previous diarrhea was just a fluke and everything will turn out all right with him.

Still waiting on test results. Will update when/if I get answers.
 

cmshap

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I’ve got a positive update! My kitten pooped normal today, no diarrhea! Never thought I’d be so glad for solid poop.
Haha, I've had the experience of feeling stoked because of poop.

When I initially took in Willy, he had digestive problems and had chronic diarrhea. It was actually getting on the wall near the litter box, because he'd start going as he was running to the litter box, and wouldn't completely make it.

That was awful to deal with. So when we finally got the problem figured out and I saw a normal poop, I was super excited. 😂
 
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Caroline Stephens

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Update: my remaining kitten is still perfectly healthy - no diarrhea or other symptoms. I really think that tiny bit of diarrhea was just due to dietary changes.

Test results came back. No parasites again - he’d already been tested for those twice. Negative for almost everything. Positive for feline coronavirus but apparently that’s very common especially in multiple cat households. This is the virus that can mutate into FIP, but the vet still doesn’t think that’s what happened.

Unfortunately, it looks like I won’t be getting any definite answer. The vet thinks maybe he just got struck with the virus at a vulnerable time and his immune system couldn’t fight it off, and the diarrhea and weight loss just made him weaker.
 

cmshap

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Unfortunately, it looks like I won’t be getting any definite answer. The vet thinks maybe he just got struck with the virus at a vulnerable time and his immune system couldn’t fight it off, and the diarrhea and weight loss just made him weaker.
Glad to hear your remaining kitten is doing well.

Having the above theory, however, is still helpful. That sounds like a reasonable theory to me, although I'm no vet. But I know that kittens can be extremely vulnerable at certain stages, and if something goes wrong, it can snowball into other health complications.
 
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