Rescued feral kitten keeps throwing up

Andrea_Lucky

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Hi there. We rescued a kitten a few days ago, he was covered in fleas. We took him to the vet, got him on flea meds, dewormed, and had him tested for pathogens. He was negative for FeLV/FIV/Heartworm, and the fecal test showed only coccidian oocytes, which the doctor said was noninfectious to cats and probably from eating poop/dead animals. He is estimated to be 8 weeks old, but very malnourished and the size of a 6 week old kitten.

Anyway, the first 1-2 days he ate ravenously, then his appetite tapered down. On the first day he started flea meds (oral capstar), on the 2nd day was dewormed and got revolution plus for fleas, and on the 3rd day started him on probiotics prescribed by the vet. The 3rd day is when his appetite really went down, and that evening he threw up (very liquidy). I thought perhaps he was eating his litter (Feline pine clupming litter), since it was the color of the litter and he kept sitting in the litter box (I never saw him actually eat any of it). On the 4th day he has thrown up twice more (this time thick and clumpy, like cat pate food).

We have been feeding him Wholehearted pate cat food (mostly all-stages chicken-liver), but have also let him try the adult cat pates which are more liquidy, and gave him some dry kitten food (Wholehearted Salmon). He has also had some squeeze-pack type cat treats.

We are very worried and I may take him to the vet again today or tomorrow, but am looking for more advice from people with experience with kittens, especially rescued feral ones. Thanks!
 
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Andrea_Lucky

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I realized my post is missing a few details.
After he threw up the first time, I thought perhaps he ate the litter, and switched him to Feline Pine pellet litter immediately. I am unsure if the Feline Pine clumping litter can cause an obstruction. Also, at that time, I began leaving dry cat food with him always, so in case he feels the need to scavenge, he will eat that and not the litter.

So, we are worried his throwing up could be one of several possibilities: 1) eating the litter/ obstruction, 2) bad reaction to one of the many meds we started him on, including the probiotics, 3) overeating, 4) some other pathogen the vet has not tested for, or 5) just normal kitten throw-up, not a medical problem.
 

fionasmom

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You are very kind to have rescued this kitten and certainly stepped up to the plate to have him treated by a vet. He had Capstar, Revolution Plus, and was dewormed. That is a lot to be done at once and I would wonder if he is having a reaction to that. I don't strongly suspect that he is eating his litter. It is not normal for him to be throwing up like this, and especially as he is tiny, I would get him back to the vet. Of the 5 possibilities you mentioned are secondary to the overriding fact that he is taking a downturn and I would definitely get him back to the vet. Did he have any vaccinations at the same time?
 

kittychick

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I'm glad you found us here! :welcomesign: It's a great site with lots of people who are willing to offer advice (since 9 x out of 10 someone - or lots of "someones" - have gone through what you're going through), lend an ear or offer a shoulder. It's been a godsend for me - - I hope you enjoy it too!

Is he the little teensy guy that's your avatar? If so - how adorable!

First of all - a big YEAH to you for saving this little one! Sounds like he really needed saving, poor thing. I personally, though I know money's tight for lots of us (especially right now), would get him right back to the vet. In general, I don't mess around very long when they're that little. Things can go south so quickly when they're tiny. I'm certainly not trying to scare you - - I'm just saying I personally would get him to the vet asap (today or tomorrow if possible). All the things you suggested as being an option for what could be causing the vomitting are certainly logical. Between our "own" kitties and all that we've fostered (probably near 150?) we've had multiple cases of starvation/malnourishment, and often that drive to eat themselves sick doesn't go away. My avatar ("Bowie") was horribly abused and a definite starvation case - - he became a "failed foster" and despite being with us now for almost 10 years, he STILL will literally eat himself sick.

I've also had lots of little ones who were litter eaters over the years (most of mine have been orphans, w/no cat mom to teach them not to eat litter). Another reason I don't use clumping litter with teensy ones.

But, that said, there are still SO many things it could be (all of your options you noted are absolutely possible). And so since he is so tiny - if you can, I'd absolutely call your vet & explain what's happening and that you'd really like him to be seen asap. And I'd take in a sample of what he's throwing up if possible, and take a list of what all he's eaten/taken (like the probiotics) so the vet can make a more informed decision on what's causing it.

Keep us posted on what's happening to the little one!!! (and we all love pics!).
 

kittychick

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I saw fionasmom fionasmom come in and answer right as I was posting. I too worry a little about having so many things thrown at him at once (Capstar, etc) since it does make it harder to pin down if there's a reaction to something (and also mean to say that yes - Feline Pine - like almost any litter - can cause real problems if too much is ingested).

I think it's a GREAT sign that this little one has someone who's so observant and caring. Fingers crossed all's ok!
 
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Andrea_Lucky

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Thank you fionasmom fionasmom and kittychick kittychick ! I did take him to the vet today (he is literally still there getting some treatments), and here are the results:
- He is negative for parvovirus, has normal range blood glucose levels, but is slightly anemic. Since he is not having diarrhea and has passed a stool since the first incident (when I thought he might have ate the litter), they think an obstruction is unlikely, but if those things start happening and the vomiting worsens, to rule it back in as a possibility. They gave a bunch of supportive care advice, and he is being treated with some subcutaneous fluids, vitamin B12, cerenia, and famotitidine (all to help with the hydration/nourishment), and will send him home with some high-calorie stew cat food to eat. They advised to feed him high calorie foods (supplement with KMR milk substitute), and whatever he likes to eat, small meals every 2-4 hours. Otherwise, we are to monitor his vomiting, stool, pee, eating, energy levels and alertness, and if he does not start to improve, and definitely if he gets worse, to bring him back.

Unfortunately, despite all these tests, we still do know really know what is causing this, and can only definitely rule out parvovirus, though there are still other viruses he could have. I really hope it was due to all the treatments we threw at him over the past few days, and that he will get his mojo back soon.

Overall, the vet said she is "on the fence" about whether he will make it or not. She says she has definitely seen kittens in much worse condition, but it is very easy for them to make a turn for the worse when they are this little.

To answer a few of your other questions -- he has not had a vaccine yet. We had an appointment coming up in 2 days, but are pushing it back to next week.

And yes, he is the kitten in my avatar picture!

kittychick kittychick -- its amazing you have fostered so many cats over the years! We actually rescued a stray mother cat and her 5 kittens back in March and still have mother cat and 2 of her kittens with us (about 13 weeks old now, we are keeping all 3), so we are also working on introducing the new baby to the others.

Anyway, thank you so much!
 

fionasmom

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This is just my opinion, but I would not throw a vaccine in there just yet and I am not, by any means, an anti vaxxer. There is still a lot unanswered about this kitten and his prognosis is guarded. You are doing everything that you can for him and I am hoping that what he needs is a lot of supportive care in order to pull through. Please keep us posted about his progress and keeping fingers crossed that he will be okay. He is really an adorable little fluffball.
 
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Andrea_Lucky

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Thank you fionasmom fionasmom ! Yes, we are definitely holding off on the vaccine until Lucky improves.

Update: Last night, Lucky had a mushier stool, so now I am worried that he is starting to have diarrhea. His appetite is very small, though he still seems alert and likes to wander around, and mews/cries for us sometimes. I'm considering now having him examined for an obstruction (since his symptoms seem to be worsening)-- if there is an actual treatment for that which he can bare. And I keep going back to his positive coccidian oocyte fecal test -- the vet's lab report says "These eggs are not parasitic in this species. The eggs are passing through secondary to predation or coprophagy" and when I asked the vet about it, they doubled down that it was not a concern -- but then I have read quite a few posts and web articles that this IS a problem and could cause the symptoms we are seeing -- so I'm quite confused. My other suspicion remains the other treatments he had from the vet since he was eating ravenously and not vomiting before then -- they guessed his age was 8 weeks based on his teeth, but if he actually was under 8 weeks of age and we gave him the Revolution Plus (for kittens 8 weeks+), what would be the side effects? Anyway, I will be calling the vet again today to find out what we should do next.
Thanks to anyone for any advice!
 
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Andrea_Lucky

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Ok, I found this info on the web about coccidia, so maybe what Lucky has is one of the species that infect other animals but not cats (hopefully this is reliable information, but it does answer my question is so):

Coccidia are microscopic protozoan parasites that infest and damage the cells lining the intestinal walls (small intestine and sometimes large intestine) of kittens and puppies and, occasionally, adult dogs and cats. There are many species of protozoan parasite that come under the general heading of'coccidia' and which may be able to cause disease in animals. The common dog and cat speciesinclude: Isospora (Isospora canis, I. burrowsi, I. ohioensis and I. neorivolta in the dog and Isospora felis and I. rivolta in the cat);Hammondia; Besnoitia (cat only) and Sarcocystis. Wild animals (e.g. opossums, kangaroos, wallabies, birds) and livestock (e.g. calves, piglets, poultry) have their own coccidian parasite species, including: Eimeria, Sarcocystis and certain Isospora species.

Coccidiosis in dogs and cats and other animals.
 

shadowsrescue

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Here is an older thread about coccidia with some links to come good info. Coccidia in kittens

Last year my son adopted 2 7 week old kittens. Both had coccidia. Lots of vomit and terrible diarrhea that was so smelly. He used Albon for 2 weeks along with S. boullardi. Both got better after a week.
 

kittychick

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Poor baby!! I'm glad he's got someone who cares about him so much bc he's obviously got quite a bit going on. Not horribly unusual in feral kittens - - the vast percentage of feral kittens don't survive past a few months bc they're exposed to SO much with no medical care. And they often have inexperienced moms - or their mom will even have another litter almost immediately, giving the earlier litter less of that critical time with mom. So while this is, I know, so difficult to go through, please know that - regardless of the outcome - you've given this little one probably his only shot at surviving. The anemia alone from all of the fleas and/or ticks can often be a fatal issue for one so tiny.

Good thread suggestion from shadowsrescue shadowsrescue on coccidia - - definitely worth looking over (you've got two really informed and kind members advising - shadowsrescue shadowsrescue & fionasmom fionasmom are chock full of great advice!).

And yes - - we've fostered sooooo many over the years! Fostering is SO rewarding but tough - -- - we usually take in ones that need lots of socialization (like most of our TNR kittens) or medical help, so we tend to have them longer and get really attached. We're on a "foster break" as we lost a tiny foster this past Christmas (only our 2nd foster loss out of all of those kitties :sniffle: but doesn't make it any easier). We had him for about 2 months, but he never put on any weight despite trying every type of test and supportive care possible. He left this world weighing almost exactly what he came to us weighing - despite being at an age where they normally are putting on measurable weight almost daily. And they never did determine what it was other then "a fever of unknown origin" (helpful diagnosis, eh?). If you can - I'm a big believer in monitoring weight, so I'd highly recommend getting a small digital kitchen scale to weigh him on daily. They're not that expensive (plus it can actually also be used in the kitchen!), and weight is such a good indicator re: health. Especially in the early months. Kittens can take such quick turns - - so I like having another way to monitor if things are headed the right way.

Is the vet one you've used before? I only ask because if you feel like you're not being heard, you might consider a second opinion. Obviously, if you're comfortable with the vet I'd stay, since you don't want to waste alot of time getting a new vet familiar with your little one and his issues. I've learned to voice my opinions and ask alot of questions. After all, they have the degree, but you're the one spending 24/7 with the little one!

We too have had our fair share of kittens with coccidia - and my experience with it has been that often coccidia kittens have SUPER stinky diarrhea. But obviously that's not always the case and wouldn't use that alone to rule coccidia in or out (plus I'm not a vet - - -I just semi-play one online :lol:). Did you take in a fresh stool sample or did the vet at least take a swab? Coccidia is at least pretty easy to rule in or out - and to treat.

Flea treatments can definitely have side effects - sometimes very serious ones - but obviously he had to be treated for fleas.

I honestly - if things are headed the wrong direction - I wouldn't hesitate one second to get him back in. If you do get him back in - I'd suggest that when you call to make the appointment you note that you're really worried and have questions. Most vets will then set aside a slightly longer appointment for you. Take his lab results and ask questions - tell the vet you're concerned about the numbers and ask for more of an explanation. Don't be afraid to ask ANYTHING! Anymore, since often my mind is going a million miles a minute out of worry while at the appointment, I set my phone out and record what's said at appointments so I can go back and listen again when I'm home.

You're obviously doing SO much for this little one - - - and he sounds like a fighter! We're sending positive vibes your way. :vibes:
 

kittychick

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Meant to also say (I know - how can I possible have MORE to say?!?!?) - - you mentioned having other kitties (yeah for you for rescuing!). I'd keep him separated from them (especially the young ones) for the time being if possible until you know what's going on.

Stay strong - - -you're doing so much for him.
 
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Andrea_Lucky

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Thanks you kittychick kittychick , IndyJones IndyJones and shadowsrescue shadowsrescue for your responses. Lucky is with the vet again, and they have given several options.

1 is to treat for GI pathogens including coccidia which he may have but were not tested for. Albon and Clavimox.

2 is to do IV fluids, which can come out to hundreds to thousands per day (I cant even get a quote from the emergency vets who do this since the vet we are at is not open 24 hours and only does daytime IV. This vet can do them by day (8am - 7pm max, but its already too late today for that to be worth starting with them unless we transfer to a 24-hour hospital).

3. Another possibility is to do an x-ray to look for an obstruction, but the doctor thought surgery in his condition would be very risky, and so the only reason to do an x-ray would be to rule that in or out.

I am honestly torn about what to do, and thinking our best option is to do the antibiotics route + supportive care. Has anyone had experience with giving antibiotics to kittens who are this sick -- can't keep anything down? Will it even work or just make him worse?
 

shadowsrescue

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Can you look up bone broth? It is very nourishing and helpful for sick kitties. You can make your own, but it takes time. Most pet stores these days sell it. He might lap it up.

The Albon is nasty and needs to be syringed into the mouth. I would follow it up with something yummy such as Gerber stage 2 baby food. It's in the glass jars with the blue label. Sell in the US for around $1 per jar. Ingredients are turkey/chicken, water and modified food starch. I get only the chicken or turkey. Cats love it.

You can also syringe water for him. Youtube search for how to do it. I have dealt with really sick cats and had to syringe feed and force feed fluids.

You are in my thoughts. Kittens can survive this. Keep trying and do what you can. You have given him so much already.
 
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Andrea_Lucky

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Thanks shadowsrescue shadowsrescue & IndyJones IndyJones . I will definitely look up bone broth and baby food, and I watched some videos on syringe feeding to make sure I am doing it properly.

As for Lucky, the plan we came to with the vet was to give him the Albon and Clavimox antibiotics plus at-home administration of 10ml of saline subcutaneously every 8 hours, to help with his hydration (they also did some injections of fluids, Vitamin B12, cerenia, and famotidine yesterday at the vet), plus recontinue the probiotics we had started a few days ago and then stopped when he started throwing up.

The vet also gave us some foods for him: i/d and a/d, a tube of Nutrical, and Churo (an appetite stimulant snack). His appetite is non-existent right now, so I am basically down to force-feeding him by syringe. So far have tried some of the foods from the vet and KMR kitten weaning food. He is still drinking water on his own though I'm not sure its enough, so I may try syringe feeding him water too - thanks shadowsrescue shadowsrescue !

I really hope the antibiotics help, and that it is something like coccidia (and that the lab that originally said the coccidia he has was a non-cat species, was wrong). The other possibilities remain that he has an obstruction, or some other condition, perhaps a virus, or "failure to thrive". It's rather frustrating to do treatments without an actual diagnosis.

So far, he hasn't thrown up since yesterday before I took him to the vet, but he has eaten so little also.

Going through this makes me realize how blessed we are that the stray mother cat + 5 kittens we rescued a few months ago were always so healthy and thriving.

Anyway, thanks again to everyone for you advice & support.
 

fionasmom

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I am glad that you are doing the fluids at home. There was no reason to pay thousands (and I wondered about that) for a procedure that can be managed by you. You are doing everything that you can for him. He is on a lot, but there are also prescription appetite stimulants if the vet thinks that would help, like mirtazapine.
 

IndyJones

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Subcutaneous fluids are much different from IV fluids. It's fairly easy to do subcutaneous fluids because you don't need to find a vein.

Hopefully he stays still long enough to get the fluids in. If they squirm sometimes the needle pops out and fluid goes everywhere. I've done the fluids before on a 20 year old terminally ill cat and she got squirmy after a while.

Just make sure you dispose of used needles properly maybe get a cheap needle container from the pharmacy. Garbage won't take them.
 
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