- A common problem. The definition of fading kitten syndrome varies between authors. Some would only include kittens <2 weeks old. This article includes kittens up to 12 weeks.
- Cause : a fading kitten the appears to be normal at birth. However, many fading kittens will in fact have had an occult disease at birth.
- Signs :
- Deaths in the first 2 weeks are usually associated with genetic problems or problems acquired in utero or during parturition.
- Deaths after weaning are often associated with primary pathogens, usually viruses.
- Infections in the first few weeks are usually bacterial and secondary.
- Diagnosis : a complete investigation including history, examination, laboratory tests and, sometimes, post-mortem examination.
- Treatment : symptomatic management and nursing care.
- Prognosis : guarded.
- Small size or failure to gain weight. (NB: need to know normal kitten size and be able to weigh the kittens accurately.)
Kittens should be 100 g at birth and gain about 10-15 g/day.
- Decreased activity.
- Decreased vigor in seeking food.
- Decreased vocalization. Although increased vocalization may have been seen earlier in the course of some cases if they were seeking food.
- Low body temperature.
- Low heart rate.
- Anatomical abnormality, eg cleft palate, intestinal segmental aplastia.
- Specific findings, eg musculo-skeletal disease, respiratory or gastrointestinal disease especially in older kittens.
- Normal kittens should have a heart rate about 220 beats/min and respiration of 15-35/min up to 4 weeks of age. After this they are the same as adults.
- Sometimes the primary disease is in the mother. In this case it would be expected that all the kittens were affected to some degree. A full clinical examination of the mother is necessary to start an evaluation of this problem.
- Must always be guarded.
- Deterioration may be rapid and the owners should be made aware of this.
Reasons for treatment failure
- Insufficient resources being available for the intensity of diagnostics and care necessary for a positive outcome.
- Severity of disease.
- Failure to recognize underlying disease.