How do I care for a sick kitten?

Caring for a sick kitten can be a harrowing experience, as they are very vulnerable at young ages and can succumb to a number of illnesses that take advantage of their weakness. Kittens do not have fully developed immune systems, and they can catch a lot of things that adult cats won't. If your kitten is acting ill, you should take it to the vet immediately. Call beforehand and see if there is anything you need to do in preparation. A lot of vets will want a fresh stool sample to check for parasites. You'll need to have any symptoms in mind to tell the vet.


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Two danger symptoms that you should watch out for with kittens are diarrhea and vomiting. Both can be signs of very serious problems in kittens, and they also tend to dehydrate the kitten, which can kill it even if it has only a minor disease.

Most of the diseases that affect kittens will be respiratory diseases, but they can also get parasites from their mother, feline leukemia, and distemper. You may notice sneezing, coughing, weird discharges from the eyes or nose, anorexia, or eye injuries. All of these are things you should go to the vet about in a kitten. You can't wait it out like you can with an adult cat, because kittens do not fight of sickness as easily and are much more likely to die from a minor illness.

If a kitten is sick, talk to your vet about what you should do. You may want to separate it from its littermates if it is old enough, and this may mean feeding it with milk formula. You don't want the other kittens to get sick as well. Make sure you are feeding it enough for its age and feeding it appropriate foods. Kittens will start eating much more around 2 months old as they hit growth spurts, and sometimes people don't give them the increased amount of food they need. Make sure the kitten is being kept in a warm place, usually a box is good for this, especially when they are younger. Try to keep them out of contact with adult cats - not for the adult's sake, but to keep more diseases from being exposed to the kitten. Adult cats frequently have "dormant" bacteria and viruses - stuff they can live with and have been for years, but it doesn't do anything to them because they have healthy immune systems. Their mother can be an exception, but keeping her indoors may be a good idea too to reduce the risk of getting another infection as she comes into contact with other cats.

Also take the kitten's temperature to make sure it is not getting a fever. You may have to do this regularly if it starts showing that as a symptom, and may need to figure out a way to cool it down with your vet if it gets too bad.

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