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Kittens with URI

R. Rish
December 4th, 2004, 06:20 AM
Until three weeks ago, I knew nothing about URI's in felions. Now that I do, I am a nervous wreck. I agreed to foster a mother cat with her 4 four day old kittens. Got them from the local shelter because they were all due to be euthanized the next day. Two days later, mom developed the URI, which I just thought was a cold, not that big of a deal. Two more days and she looked awful. My vet gave me an antibiotic for her, which I started immediately. The first kitten came down with it the next day and was on death's door by the night. She was 10 days old by this time. She died. The next day, the second kitty showed signs. I took the whole family to the vet. The mom had been on meds for three days, yet she still had a temp of over 106. She and the second kitty were given fluids and I was sent home with a tube to feed this kitty since she couldn't nurse, and all kittens were put on antibiotics. By the night of the next day, the sick kitty died. At this time, I contacted the emergency vets and asked if I should take the remaining two kittens from the mom. I had asked this question of a regular vet's office. They had said no. Finally the emer vets said yes. The stongest and biggest one started going downhill the next day and in less than 24 hours, by the time I got him to the vet Mon. a.m. he had died, leaving me with one kitten. For the past two weeks I have been bottle feeding him, he is on a heating pad and it has been a roller coaster ride. Yesterday and last night he wouldn't eat, so I began tube feeding him again. Thought he would be dead by morning, but he is much better again. The most frustrating part is that no vet has given me all the information that I needed, when I needed it. I did not know that I should be stimulating the second kitten that I was tube feeding to make her potty. I specifically asked twice, if I should take the kittens from the mom, when I had three left and was told no. Most of all, I wasn't told HOW contagious this thing is. The first vet simply said to keep my other cat away from the sick cat. The second vet offered that I should wash my hands before handling my healthy cat. But now I am reading on the internet that my healthy cat can get it if I hold him wearing the same CLOTHES I had on when handling the sick cat, and that it can be contagious for MONTHS! Does anybody have any info on this? I had considered adopting the mother cat and her kitten but I do not want to jeopardize my healthy guy. I also read that there is a vaccination, which I intend to take him in for today, but I don't know how much it will protect him from this cat, how long it takes to go in to effect, etc. Can anyone help me? This will determine whether I keep this cat or not. And if anybody else has this problem - my advice it take the kittens ASAP, get them on antibiotics as soon as anybody shows symptoms, put them on a heating pad and feed them as much as possible. Also, I am not much of a label reader, but kitten formula can't be used after three days. Read everything for yourself, because apparently, the vets don't think they need to give you instructions. :confused:

Lucky Rescue
December 4th, 2004, 08:20 AM
I am so sorry to hear what you've gone through, and are still going through, to try and save these kittens. Thank you very much for that!

In a healthy adult cat, which I assume your other cat is, a URI or rhinotreacheitis, is not dangerous. He may only get a runny nose and/or eyes. The only danger is if the discharge is green. This indicates a secondary infection for which he will need antibiotics. It should pass in a week or 10 days.

He will always retain the virus, just as the mother cat will, but it may never become active again.

All my cat have had this, and none needed vet care. Most shelter cats do get rhino and getting out of the shelter is the best thing for them.

The mother cat was no doubt very debilitated anyway from giving birth and caring for kittens, and the stress of being in the shelter. This is why her URI is so severe.

I did not have my cats vaccinated against rhino and they have so far not come down with it again.

It can be compared to a cold in humans, and is really only dangerous to tiny kittens, old cats or cats who are not in good health to begin with.

I hope you keep the mother cat and good luck with the kitten. Here are a bunch of links on raising orphan kittens.
Orphan kittens (

December 4th, 2004, 08:26 AM
I know nothing of URI,just wanted to tell you,you are a wonderful person for what you have done to these poor cats.
I don't understand why noone gave you the proper instructions on how to deal with this,but I suppose nobody really cared :sad:
Having the kittens die must have been a terrible experience and I wish you luck with mom and the remaining kitten,hopefully they'll live and be able to stay with you and your other cat.
Someone here with more knowledge than me will answer your questions,I am sure,this is a good place to be..
Good Luck :thumbs up
Awww Lucky,I knew you would help!!!

December 4th, 2004, 08:38 AM
I have no experience with URIs, but I would also like to add my admiration and appreciation for what you are doing for these two kitties. You are an :angel:

R. Rish
December 4th, 2004, 10:59 AM
Thank you all so much for the encouragement. I needed it!!!

This morning I went to the pet store and bought the kitten some really good canned kitten food and when I got back he ate some of it off my finger! Then he nursed some from his bottle. I have no idea what was wrong with him last night but he seems to have bounced back (again). I've named him "Will", and the mama is "Ch-Ching" for obvious reasons.

R. Rish
December 4th, 2004, 11:07 AM
Oh, and I didn't forget mom. When I first took her in to the vet she was sooo thin. He estimated her age at 2 years but she only weight about 5.5 lbs. I've been giving her kitten food and a/d canned food and she has put on about 1/2 lb. so far. Her family moved and abandoned her. When she had the kittens, a neighbor brought her to the shelter. Very sad.

December 4th, 2004, 11:52 AM
R.Rish,yes it's very sad,but unfortunately much too common....
Please keep us posted on the kitties,hopefully they'll do well.
The mom most be really thin,one of my cats, a 2-year old,weighs 14,31 lbs..

heeler's rock!
December 4th, 2004, 12:03 PM
God bless you and your ENORMOUS heart for helping this mother and her kitten!!! The world needs more people like you!!! :) :)

As for URI, we recently adopted a cat from the SPCA who had it, then passed it on to my healthy boys. They all got green discharge and had to be on anti-biotics. I asked the vet about the vaccine, and they told me that it takes 3 weeks to go into effect. Luckily, my boys weren't too bad with the infection, but then we found out the stray was pregnant! We made the very difficult decision to have the kittens aborted, due to the fact that she was already so dipleted from being a stray and then having the infection. She was healthy when she was spayed, but we didn't want to take any chances. I really hope your mum and kitten get better soon!!! Thanks again for caring so much!!!! :D

December 4th, 2004, 12:15 PM
:crazy: "Welcome to the board R. Rish"

I know nothing of this nasty sickness, but I to wanted to thank you for making such a grand effort for these wee furrballs. I hope you make out ok :thumbs up :thumbs up ......And I hope you keep them they couldn't get a more loving home :angel:

December 4th, 2004, 12:23 PM

I have experience in hand readring orphan kittens and while they did get URI (I was sooooooo lucky but had a grandmother who had midwived many a barn cat and was a great help (tho she still thought I;d be heartbroken in the end) - my grandmother told me about helping the kittens eliminate once you feed them glop or whatever formla you use. Now there is KMR which is great!!

URI's in a kittens that young is a killer and you should pat yourself on the back that you saved the mom and Will!! Good for you!!!!!

There is lots of info here on kittens:

and Kitten food is great for the mom too since it has so many nutrients she undoutedly needs!

December 6th, 2004, 04:59 PM
Most likely the vets did not immediately encourage you to remove the kittens because they had already been exposed to the infection. After their mom became sick, there was no way to "un-expose" them. It was only a matter of when, and how badly, they would become sick. Also, kittens who are able to nurse are better off on mom's milk than on formula, especially since very young kittens have basically no immune system of their own, and get their only means of fighting off disease from their mom - through her milk, which provides them with a supply of her antibodies. So although it exposes them to a disease it may protect them as well.

Later, the other vet probably agreed that you should remove the kittens only when it became clear that the mom was not able to support them and herself, and they were not all able to nurse on their own. Imagine several large parasites sucking the life out of you while you are trying to recover from a serious illness! At this point, removing the kittens may have saved the mother's life, and you did what you could for the kittens (the vet may even have felt that they were a lost cause). The fact that you've managed to keep one alive is amazing.

Assuming the mother and the kitten recover from the URI, it should be safe to keep them with your other cat. At this point he has probably already been exposed. There are many types of viral URIs, which cannot be treated with antibiotics, but some of which can be vaccinated against. A viral URI may result in a bacterial URI, which is more serious and can be treated. If you were to vaccinate your cat he would be immune within a few days to a few serious varieties of URIs (including rhinotracheitis), but again, he has most likely already been exposed. Most URIs are more like the human cold in that there is no vaccine, but they only cause complications in very sick, weak, or stressed cats (like new mom & kittens). Often these viruses are passed on before the cat or person even starts to show symptoms! So I doubt that your resident cat is in any danger at this point. He certainly won't be once the mom & kitten recover.

I hope this information helps. Best of luck!

R. Rish
December 14th, 2004, 06:48 AM
Just wanted to let all of you who have helped me with your suggestions and advice know that Will and I are continuing the stuggle to reach a healthy status.

Will is now on Second Step formula, which he is lapping out of a bowl (with all four feet in there as well). He is eating canned kitten food fairly well. He has been re-united with him mom, Ch-Ching. Just when I was beginning to think we had turned the curve, I realized that his eyes looked funny. I began putting the ointment that the original vet had given me for the URI on them, but by last Sat. they looked bad so I decided to once again, call the new vet for an appointment, hoping to take him in that day. Unfortunately, they were double booked and so Will couldn't be seen until Monday a.m. at 8:30.

His eyes are infected with a herpes virus and are ulcerated. I looked at them under the strong magnifying viewer that the vet wears and was horrified. The vet has him on Interfuron to boost his immune system and opthalmic triple antibiotic ointment, as well as a pricey anti-viral drop that I got from the drug store. He originally prescribed Vira-a ointment but we learned that it has been discontinued by the manufacturer. I am putting these drops in his eyes every 2 hours and the ointment 4 times/day. Interfuron once daily. The doctor is giving him a 50% chance that his eyes will get better. Everyone keep your fingers crossed for this little guy. He's had a rough life so far.

On the good side, his weight is up to 1 lb. and he is fairly active. The doc said he would have said he was doing great, if it wasn't for this. He can see now and tries to play. Of course he doesn't like having all this stuff put in his eyes. I'm hopeing that this guy can overcome this last obstacle and become just a normal little kitten. IF any of you have had experience in this, share any info you have with me. I was hopeing for a little better than 50/50 odds. The vet said the next two days are critical. As usual, I am feeling bad for not realizing the severity of the problem sooner, and getting him to the vet sooner. I thought it was the URI flaring up again. I took a couple of pictures of him this weekend and will post those ASAP. He really is a cutie.

December 14th, 2004, 07:09 AM
Rish,I am sorry to hear little Will has more trouble,but with you by his side,he has the best are one of the good guys,wish we had more of you :thumbs up
Please keep us posted and hopefully with some goods news.I have no experience with sick kittens,I've been lucky so far,It must be heartbreaking to see a little one sick :sad:
Photos would be great,looking forward to it :love:

December 14th, 2004, 10:09 AM
R. Rish, I believe what you're saying is that the vet gave you even odds only that his eyes would get better, but still felt that otherwise he was doing very well. So basically there is a 50% chance you will have a perfectly healthy kitten with excellent eyesight, and a 50% chance you will have a perfectly healthy kitten with less than perfect eyesight. I wouldn't let that worry you. Now that he has been rescued by you, he will never need to hunt to survive, and his whiskers and nose will direct him to his food bowl just fine. As long as he remains an indoor cat, he can live a long, healthy, and happy life, even if the infection were to lead to complete loss of vision (unlikely). Especially since he is so young, he will quickly learn how to use his other senses to compensate. As you said, he is playful and gaining weight. So please, don't feel bad about not catching the eye infection sooner - it sounds like you are doing everything you possibly can for this little guy. Imagine what his life might have been like without you.

louie's mum
December 15th, 2004, 09:04 PM
u r an absolute angel for doing all u can for will and his momma. this poor little boy has gone thru so much. he's so lucky to have u.
blessings &
:love: to u all

December 16th, 2004, 07:40 AM
God bless you and your ENORMOUS heart for helping this mother and her kitten!!! The world needs more people like you!!! :) :)

Dido!!! :thumbs up I had taken in a barn kitten who was quite ill last year. He had rhinotracheitis as well which also infected my other little girl. Besides his sneezing and runny eyes occasionally he did quite well. He was severely underweight but with TLC, good food and vet care he packed on the weight and got better. My girl has runny eyes now and then (could be from her allergies) but she is well. Unfortunately my little kitten is no longer with me :sad: but had nothing to do with URI.

Keep up the great work and thanks for all of your efforts!!

R. Rish
December 16th, 2004, 08:41 AM
Will Update:

Will had a re-check on Wednesday and the vet said he saw dramatic improvement! He said that he has seen kittens with eyes in similar condition that have shown no improvement in the same amount of time so he was very pleased. I have to continue the every two hour drops (except at night), until at least Friday when he goes back again. He will be on Interfuron for a couple of months. He's getting very ornery about being held to put in the drops. That's ok. He has a right to be. Gotta go...time for drops!