Fading kitten syndrome

May 16, 2024 | ASK OUR VET, Cats

Fading Kitten Syndrome (FKS) is a condition that affects newborn kittens, typically within the first few weeks of life. It is also known as Kitten Mortality Syndrome. It refers to a kitten’s failure to thrive during the period between birth and when they wean from their mother or a bottle. This period lasts about four to five weeks, when a kitten is most vulnerable to sickness.

Fading Kitten Syndrome is typically fatal, but recognising the symptoms can help you to understand when to get veterinary help.

Fading Kitten Syndrome: the causes

These are usually a combination of factors including poor nutrition, genetics and infection.

  • Trouble during birthing
  • Lack of maternal antibodies (cells that help protect kitten’s immature immune system)
  • Bacterial or viral infections
  • Parasites
  • Malformations present at birth (e.g., heart defects, gastrointestinal defects, brain defects, lung defects)
  • Low birth weight
  • Trauma
  • Maternal neglect
  • Malnutrition

Genetics can also play a role. If a mother cat has a blood type that differs from her kitten, her maternal antibodies may attack the kitten’s red blood cells, causing anaemia that can lead to fading kitten syndrome.

What are the symptoms of Fading Kitten Syndrome?

Kittens may appear healthy at birth but soon become weak, lethargic and lose weight. They may also have difficulty nursing or show signs of infection.

Kittens that fail to meet normal developmental milestones may be experiencing FKS. Some of these milestones include:

  • Ability to turn over from their back by day 3 after birth
  • Ability to support themselves on their feet by 2 weeks of age

Other symptoms include:

  • Making distressed sounds (whining or crying) even after feeding
  • Lethargy and lack of appetite
  • Poor suckling reflex
  • Inability to gain weight
  • Laboured breathing
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhoea
  • Nasal or eye discharge

Treating FKS

If your young kitten is behaving oddly in any way or failing to thrive it is essential to get him or her to the vet as early detection and veterinary care are crucial. Treatment may include antibiotics, nutritional support, and fluid therapy. Unfortunately, even with treatment, some kittens will pass away.

Can FKS be prevented?

It is often not a preventable condition, however ensuring the mother’s health and nutrition during pregnancy is vital to begin with. Ensure she is fully vaccinated and has been protected against parasites.

It is also essential to provide a clean environment for your mommy cat and her newborns, and keep a close eye on the kittens. If you’re at all concerned about a kitten’s health or behaviour, don’t hesitate to ask your vet for advice.


Related posts

Perianal fistula in dogs

Perianal fistula in dogs

Perianal fistula, or anal furunculosis, is a serious medical condition that most commonly affects German Shepherd dogs, but may also occur in other pure bred or mixed breed dogs and is especially common in unsterilised males of middle age. Perianal refers to the area...

read more
Pet insurance a must in summer

Pet insurance a must in summer

Pet insurance may seem like a luxury until you need it, especially in the Western Cape where snake bite becomes a real danger in summer and anti-venom costs sky rocket. Snake anti-venom now costs around R3 700 a vial. Puff adder and cobra bites require between three...

read more
Plants that are poisonous to pets

Plants that are poisonous to pets

Plants that we grow in our garden can be deadly to our pets but when we buy them, there's no warning tag so we asked Dr Nico du Preez of EberVet Country Animal Clinic to identify the most dangerous and to tell us what to do if our pets should eat them. Listen to his...

read more
Rabbit virus is highly contagious

Rabbit virus is highly contagious

Rabbit owners are warned not to remove their pets from their own properties and to be vigilant about disinfecting as Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV) sweeps through the country. This disease is an acute and fatal disease of domestic and wild rabbits and hares...

read more

Explore more

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This