Kittens are, for the most part, healthy little animals but like babies of all species, they can succumb to diseases and various ailments. It’s not hard to tell when something is wrong. Kittens are usually active and mischievous balls of fluff, and if they become lethargic and don’t want to play, it’s an indicator that there may be a problem.
Here are some common medical conditions that can affect your baby kitten:
1. Vomiting. There are many reasons for a kitten to vomit. In many cases, it’s not serious. Your kitten may have just eaten something that doesn’t agree with him. However, it may also have a severe worm infestation or be infected with a gastrointestinal virus. These viruses can be very serious and may even be fatal. Don’t let vomiting go on for too long before seeing your vet; it can lead to dehydration.
2. Kittens who have a round “pot bellied” appearance, a rough coat and generally don’t look well may also have worms. Roundworm can block the intestines, and hookworm can drink enough blood to make your kitten anemic. Make sure you worm your kitten regularly, as recommended by your vet.
3. We always assume animals have fleas, and often don’t worry too much about them. However, a heavy flea infestation can be a serious problem to a little kitten. Fleas drink blood, and if they drink enough, your kitten will have no energy, and if you look at its gums, they will be almost white. You need to use a flea control product, but be careful – use one that’s safe for very young kittens. Cats are more sensitive to insecticides than dogs, and can become sick if the wrong product is applied. Again, chat to your vet about the best way to control fleas. If your kitten is very ill, it may need a blood transfusion.
4. Respiratory infections are very common in kittens, and can make them quite ill. There are several viruses that cause “cat flu”, and their symptoms can vary. It’s common for a kitten with flu to sneeze and have a snotty nose. The nasal discharge can be clear and watery, or it can become green and mucusy, which indicates there’s a secondary bacterial infection and antibiotics may be needed. Another respiratory virus causes ulcers on the tongue, which are very painful indeed, and interfere with eating. The third common symptom of cat flu is conjunctivitis with a yellow sticky discharge “gluing” the eyelids closed. Cat flu may need antibiotics, but nursing care is very important in helping your kitten beat this disease.
If you believe your kitten is ill, it’s important that you see your veterinarian sooner rather than later. These little souls don’t often have lots of body reserves, and can become seriously ill very quickly. The sooner you start treatment, the sooner your kitten will be back to its playful self.