Pet care

How You Can Tell if Your Kitten is Sick

How You Can Tell if Your Kitten is Sick

How can you tell if your kitten is sick? Kittens can fall ill for a variety of reasons but their symptoms aren't always easy to detect.

Diagnosis of sick kittens can be challenging because kittens frequently get sick very quickly. It is not uncommon to hear about a kitten that was running around, playing, eating, and drinking normally in the morning becoming horribly sick and not moving just 4 to 6 hours later. In adult cats this kind of rapid development of symptoms would be uncommon, but it happens regularly with young kittens.

Common Signs of a Sick Kitten

Some common indications of a "sick kitten" include:

  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Less interest in playing
  • Lack of appetite or decreased appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Straining to urinate or defecate
  • Pale mucous membranes
  • Sleeping more
  • Less interaction with you or other pets
  • Weight loss
  • Trouble walking
  • Rapid or difficult breathing

You are the person who knows your cay best, and owners often notice subtle early warning signs that someone else may not detect. If you observe any of the mentioned symptoms or see any other signs that concern you, call your veterinary hospital as soon as possible. In fact, it's worth seeking the advice of a vet even if you can't quite pinpoint what's wrong. That feeling that something is “off” about your cat can be indicative of a health problem.

The safest approach when you suspect your kitten is sick is to have your kitten examined. Once your pet is under the supervision of a veterinarian, the vet may ask additional questions to help localize or diagnose the problem.

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Questions Your Vet May Ask About Your Sick Kitten

For the quickest diagnosis, be prepared to answer some of the following questions:

  • How old is your kitten?
  • How long have you owned your kitten?
  • Where did you get your kitten (adoption center, breeder, previous stray)?
  • What other type of pets do you have?
  • What interaction has your kitten had with other cats?
  • Has your kitten been vaccinated? If so, what vaccinations have they had and when?
  • Has your kitten been exposed to other cats or kittens with feline leukemia, feline aids or a respiratory infection?
  • Has your cat experienced any previous illnesses?
  • Has your kitten been de-wormed?
  • Is your kitten currently under treatment for an illness or disease?
  • When did the symptoms start?
  • When is the last time your kitten was acting totally normal?
  • Are you giving any medications to your kitten (prescription meds, flea control, heartworm prevention, other)
  • Are any other pets in your household ill?
  • Does your kitten go outside or is he/she indoor only?
  • Have there been any recent activities such as boarding?
  • Is a majority of your pet's time spent indoors or outdoors?
  • Have you changed what you are feeding your kitten?
  • What brand of food does your kitten eat, how much, and how frequently?
  • Do you feed table scraps? If so, what and how often?
  • Could your kitten have chewed on and potentially swallowed anything not digestible?
  • Is there a chance your kitten could have had any exposure to electrical cords, toxins, medications, antifreeze, rat poison, etc.?
  • Is your kitten drinking water and keeping it down?
  • When was your kitten's last bowel movement, and was it normal?
  • Is your kitten urinating normally?
  • Have you noticed your kitten experiencing any coughing or sneezing, lameness, or trouble breathing?

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