This week I had the challenge of a lifetime: How to cure my seven-week old kitten of what I thought was weaning diarrhea. I have kept cats for 30 years, nurturing babies to adulthood, taking in strays and nursing them back to health. This time nothing I did worked.
I tried everything: the first rule was to supplement it’s mother’s waning milk with KMR Formula. I bought a nursing bottle with several nibs and a cleaning brush at Petland Discounts. I fed the kitten every two hours at first, and also made sure she had lots of water (given with an eyedropper), two eye dropperfuls, twice a day. Each feeding was 2 oz. of KMR, the bottle warmed in a cup of water in the microwave. I was careful to make sure that the formula was not too hot, by testing it on my wrist. Sometimes she didn’t want it, so I had to grasp her gently, by the back of the neck and gently nudge the bottle against the side of her mouth. Usually, she took it once it was in. When she didn’t, I had to try again until she did. When she pulled away, it was the sign that she’d had enough and needed a breather. I was also careful that none “went down the wrong way”.
I also supplemented her KMR by adding some lactose intolerant power to her formula, in case she was unable to drink her mother’s milk. Kittens often become lactose intolerant as they approach full weaning.
This helped a little too, but her loose stool continued. I was told that a little anti-diarrhea medication added to the formula might also be good. I followed a vet’s direction that I found on the web for dosage.
After 3 days, the diarrhea seemed to be decreasing. I added Chicken baby food (chicken and water only) to her formula, a little at a time. This helped too, but she was still weakening. I tried serving the chicken at separate meals, and she ate that too, warmed, with gusto.
Unfortunately after 4 days of constant nurturing, she was found on the carpet in the morning (only 3 hours from her last feeding) gasping for breath. I had no choice but to take her to the vet.
Thankfully, even though the vet announced that she had a “very poor prognosis” and offered to “put her to sleep”, the kitten is doing fine. Now here’s the clincher: the kitten had a septic joint in its right back knee. Apparently it may have gotten scratched, or flea-bitten, or bitten by one of the other kittens or cats. Because she messed her self so often, the cut became infected. This, plus the loose bowel movements, brought her to the very brink.
The vet put her on oxygen, an IV D5W, an antibiotic, and will worm her when she’s fully recovered. Until then, samples of the fluid from the joint and her bowels will prove what the real cause was for her debilitation.
What have I learned from this? That if you see a kitten in any sort of distress form more than 2 days, it must be taken to a vet before anything else happens. I could have saved myself a lot of misery and pain as well as saving the kitten from annoying forced feeding, if I’d just gone to the vet sooner.
Keep in mind that most vets will not start treatment without a down payment of some sort, so be aware.
Kitten are resilient creatures, and can bounce back from the brink, but not without a vet’s loving treatment.