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3 week old kitten with diarrhea

June 19th, 2009, 06:23 PM
We are currently caring for an abandoned litter (five 3-week old kittens), and one of them has pretty much consistantly had diarrhea (since we started caring for them), and is turning for the worst in the last 12 hours. Two days ago, we visited a veternarian, who dewormed them, and gave us medicine for conjuctivitis, and an antibiotic. The vet briefly glanced over them, and said that because of the conjuctivitis, he thinks that they have an Upper Respiratory Infection. None of the kittens ever had labored breathing, nor a stuffy nose, or have even sneezed! Every single kitten bounced back (eating normally, playing, purring, etc), and the conjuctivitis is non-existent.

And then this morning, one kitten (with consistant diarrhea) started becoming lethargic (so much so, that it seemed that he was in a coma). He seemed dehydrated, his breathing seemed short, and his eyes glassy. We first started alternating sugar water in a dropper, and regular water... about every 15 minutes. And a few hours later, he became more alert and now is walking around (unsteadily), and we moved on to giving the kitten Pedialite. He just urinated on his own, with a little amount of white mucuous along with it... This kitten used to be the dominant, largest kitten in the litter, and is now becoming the runt. What does this mean?
I personally think that the kitten has always had a problem with the milk replacer, could he have an allergy to it? Does he has inflamed bowels/ intestines? I am very worried that the kitten is not absorbing the nutrients he needs... Should I give the kitten kaopectate? His stools are yellow and runny, is that a sign of a bacteria infection...
My vet basically has stated that because he believes that the kittens have URI, that I should be prepare for them to pass on. :cry:
Should I get a second opinion?

June 19th, 2009, 06:41 PM
Should I give the kitten kaopectate?

Absolutely do NOT give kaopectate. They changed the formula in the US and it now contains bismuth subsalicylate, which is toxic to cats.

His stools are yellow and runny, is that a sign of a bacteria infection...

Yellow stool can certainly indicate bacterial issues,or coccidia. Here is a link to the Rainbow of Poop ( I wonder if some probiotics mixed into the kitten formula would help. You can get capsules from a health food store, like Natural Factors Ultimate Multi (, and you only need a pinch per dose.

Slippery elm bark powder might also be useful (also found at a health food store). Try no more than 1/8th of a tsp mixed with some formula or plain chicken baby food, a couple times a day.

Good luck, and thanks for looking out for these little guys.

June 19th, 2009, 11:46 PM
Is there a cat rescue or shelter that has a mother cat who has just weaned/is weaning older kittens you can put these ones in with to get proper nourishment? Perhaps you can foster a mother cat till these ones are weaned?

:goodvibes: for the little ones

June 20th, 2009, 01:18 AM
Have you tried them on watered down canned kitten food, or like the baby food mentioned above ? I have gotten kittens at 3 weeks to eat solid food, and it seems to be better than having the replacer or cows milk. You may have to put some of it on his face so he licks it off. And it is not too early, because i have seen kittens at 3 weeks nibble on mice that there mothers bring in. Hope he gets better. :cat:

June 20th, 2009, 02:50 PM
Just as a precaution. Please do not give kittens cow's milk. Most cats are lactose intolerant. This can cause a lot of issues with them including diarrhea.

June 20th, 2009, 07:23 PM
do you de poop them yourself after each feeding? At 3 weeks you should still be doing this. You can try and give some watered babyfood but they will still need the kmr, they eye infection is concerning, could be upper resp, or could have been passed from mom at birth. Are you sure they are 3 weeks? or are they 3 weeks but close to 4? Just wondering because you say they play and purr and noticed one walking unsteady, at 3 weeks they still are not usually that steady anyway, just curious as that can change a lot what you can do. Good luck!, it would be best if you could get them to a rescue and have them place them with a nursing mother.

Also, make sure you clean their faces well after a feeding, that can lead to eye trouble to, also maybe the kitten got some milk into his lungs, something that happens sometimes especially if you are new to this, and that could be a cause also..

Dr Lee
June 20th, 2009, 10:37 PM
Absolutely do NOT give kaopectate. They changed the formula in the US and it now contains bismuth subsalicylate, which is toxic to cats.

Bismuth subsalicylate can be given to cats but must be used judiciously. In Plumb's Veterinary Handbook Fifth edition, these are the following quotes regarding bismuth subsalicylate:

" High doses may cause salicylism, use with caution in cats"
Doses for Bismuth Subsalicylate:
"1. Pepto-Bismol: 0.25 ml/kg PO q4-6h; cats are sensitive to salicylates and probably should not receive frequent or high dosages (Cote 2000)

2. For eliminating Helicobacter gastritis infections: Using triple therapy: Metronidazole 15.4 mg/kg q8h, amoxicillin 11 mg/kg q8h and bismuth subsalicylate (original Pepto-BismolŪ) 0.22 ml/kg PO q4-6h. Give each for 3 weeks (Hall 2000)

3. For diarrhea in kittens and young cats: 1-2 ml Pepto-Bismol 3-4 times a day. Refrigeration may increase palatability. (Tams 1999)"

While these doses are present, I do agree that we NEED TO BE CAUTIOUS. For this reason, while I have and do use it in some cats - it is a case by case basis. I would always recommend that you ask your veterinarian first! - for both dose, amounts, etc...

If there is marked dehydration, liver or kidney impairment, etc... it may very well be contraindicated.