What Is Fading Kitten Syndrome And How To Care For Fading Kittens

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Approved By: Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM

Certified Content. This article has been fact checked and verified by our veterinary adviser.

Fading Kitten SyndromeA health complication called the Fading Kitten Syndrome (FKS) has a group of symptoms capable of causing a neonatal kitten’s health to fail, experiencing many difficulties in thriving. As a caregiver or parent, this syndrome is one of the many cat diseases you will need to anticipate.

If ever you are certain that this isn’t the case of a fading kitten syndrome, you may check on other complications your cat or kitten may be facing through our cat lover’s guide to common cat diseases.

The failure to thrive in newborn kittens, or neonatal kittens, is known as the Fading Kitten Syndrome.

Even when FKS is not at all a disease, it still poses a series of life-threatening symptoms that trigger a strong decline in the kitten’s health. The decline can move too quickly, and because of this, it may lead to death without a chance for intervention.

What age does fading kitten syndrome happen?

The syndrome can occur from the time a kitten is born up to 9 weeks of age. Unfortunately, affected newborn kittens can decline quickly and perhaps die when no intervention is made.

Therefore, once you recognize this syndrome in your kitten, you need to act immediately and seek the proper treatment!

Let us learn to effectively support these kittens through dire health situations.

We can begin to tackle this by learning about the signs, and as well as learning to see those signs in which can be the actual symptoms of this syndrome. Gathering as much information will be enough to have a planned way ahead of time so that you know where to go for help even at the most inconvenient time.

Symptoms of fading kittens

If you’ve consistently observed these symptoms, need not delay! The best course of action to take will be to bring the kitten to the vet immediately.cute kitten

You must know these signs of a kitten with Fading Kitten Syndrome:

  • The presence of pale gums
  • Observable lethargy even at a cat’s youthful phase
  • Cries of pain
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Kitten breathing fast
  • Loss of muscle tone in the face and body (developing a triangular-shaped face)
  • Looking frail
  • Loss of weight
  • Decreased interest in food
  • Dehydration
  • Low body temperature
  • Hyperthermia/Hypothermia

The causes of Fading Kitten Syndrome

Fading Kitten Syndrome

Handling your kitten’s health complication will entail learning about the causes that might have triggered it. After all, learning about the causes of fading kitten’s syndrome is one of the first few things to consider before administering any treatment. Once you know the cause, the right method of treatment will be able to address that.

Fading kitten syndrome can occur for a variety of reasons, even one’s failure to raise kittens can be a factor. The causes can even include any environmental factors, parasitical experiences, viral or bacterial infections, as well as congenital defects. The two main causes of FKS are hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and hypothermia (cold body temperature) so these are the two areas we focus on when dealing with a fragile kitten.

However, due to the premature nature of a neonatal kitten’s body, the immune system may have difficulty in coping, even seemingly small factors can trigger a domino effect.

For instance, what might start as a small bout of diarrhea can quickly result in dehydration and hypothermia, causing vital bodily functions to fail. Any number of factors can trigger the fading kitten syndrome, but the important thing is to recognize the symptoms and to intervene immediately.

Even seemingly small factors can result in a domino effect of symptoms. This is because of the fragile state of both the neonatal kittens' body and the immune system.

Can kittens survive fading kitten syndrome?

Recognizing the symptoms and acting immediately is a smart move to survive it because it can be a challenge to trace the original cause of the Fading Kitten Syndrome.

Owners and caregivers of fading kittens should not wait until their pet is in a deep crisis. Trust that these early signs should be compelling enough to take action immediately.

Finding an emergency vet who has an accumulative experience in caring for cats or specializes in feline pediatrics usually increases the chances of survival for the kitten.

The medical attention needed for a neonatal kitten happens to be a specialized focus area in the veterinary profession.

What Is Fading Kitten Syndrome And How To Care For Fading Kittens 1A general vet can determine any treatable diseases such as illnesses in the respiratory function of pets, internal and external parasites that thrive on them, and are licensed to prescribe an antibiotic medicine, supplement or dewormer that can fight the root of the disease.

As for the case of fading kittens, they possess some secondary symptoms that must be addressed through supportive, medical care. Anyone who’s elected as a caregiver should at least be able to determine secondary symptoms of Fading Kitten Syndrome, which are: both dehydration or hypoglycemia.

It’s true that those who frequently care for kittens have the advantage of responding to circumstances should any health conditions arise. These caregivers also have advanced knowledge and experience in caring for kittens.

Because of their involvement in caring for the kittens, there might be a moment or two when they’ve catered to a fading kitten.

While there may be medical intervention administered by a vet, other forms of care such as feeding your kitten through a tube to facilitate nutrition may support their life in the middle of experiencing this syndrome. A skilled tube feeder can bypass the kitten’s mouth and distribute the food straight into the stomach. Fluid therapy also provides enough hydration to keep a kitten’s body to function well.

Hypoglycemic kittens have been observed to recover quickly with a small dose of IV fluids. The kitten can go through plasma therapy from a feline blood donor. Through plasma therapy, the kitten is provided with immune support and metabolic proteins that were lost due to this syndrome. These kittens need vitamin B12 and iron supplement administered as they combat the Fading Kitten Syndrome.

Being fully-trained in performing these lifesaving skills and under the supervision of a veterinary professional, will be essential in approaching neonatal kittens' medical complications to avoid further problems.

Treatment options for Fading Kitten Syndrome

Fading kitten syndrome is not a disease as it expresses a set of signs and symptoms. So, the best thing to do is to treat each specific sign and see how the kitten’s immunity will respond to that. You may consult a vet right away should you notice any form of abnormality in a newborn kitten.

Administering treatment on kittens with the fading kitten syndrome will need to address both the cause of the syndrome and the secondary symptoms that came along with it. We can learn about the severity of the syndrome thorough examination and diagnostic testing.

From the results of testing, a vet can see which secondary symptoms the fading kitten has.

These would typically be either dehydration or hypoglycemia. The two symptoms are usually addressed through supportive care.

When complications become too advanced, the vet is responsible for prescribing medicine or a powerful form of intervention to treat the secondary symptoms, preventing malnutrition in cats, as well as dehydration, and hypothermia which the fading kitten likely experiences.

How foster parents and rescuers can help fading kittenssleep kitten

If you are a kitten’s caregiver and parent, you can definitely lay your kitten’s chances of surviving the syndrome. Caregivers can give kittens with Fading Kitten Syndrome the best chance to live by anticipating all the possibilities. For both rescuers and foster parents, learning advanced care techniques, knowing how to read the early signs, monitoring newborn fading kittens, and establishing a good working relationship with a vet should help improve your kitten's status. All these can create the circumstance to take action and plan ahead of time!

Here are a few practical steps to take whenever we care for a kitten with this syndrome:

Step one: Keep your kitten warm and cozy

Even when kittens have enough heat source from the one you’ve provided them with, some extra heat is necessary for them to survive. You will need to establish an additional heating source for the kittens, but you don’t necessarily apply the heat source directly onto the kitten’s body, since this can create some serious burns or overheating. The safest thing you can do if you’re unsure of how to approach this matter is to wrap the kitten around with a warm pad.

You can do this by using a heating pad, placing a towel over the pad to keep the heat from coming in contact directly on the skin of your pet, then you can settle your pet kitten on top of this covered heating pad and finally wrap the kitten up in “burrito” style to keep them cozy and comfortable in it. However, you gotta make sure that it doesn’t get too tight for your kitten to breathe.

Step Two: Revive your kitten’s blood sugar levels

feeding kittyOnce a kitten’s body is no longer cold to the touch, including the pads of their feet and ears, you can now commence the second step.

With a deep bowl, you can fill it in with sugar water or maple syrup. The mixture should have a thick consistency, but watery enough to distribute to the kitten. You can give this mixture in two ways, depending on your kitten’s convenience:

  • You can rub it directly onto their gums with your finger, especially when the kitten is unresponsive or ceases to swallow the mixture. Forcing in the mixture down their throat might cause a potential choking. Instead, you can focus on applying the syrup directly onto their gums or tongue so the kitten can consume it at their own pace. Otherwise, you can just try making 3 drops into their mouths with a needle-less syringe.

Set a timer for no more than 3 minutes to remind yourself to apply the syrup in their mouths. In case if your kitten is extremely lethargic, you will need to do this for every two minutes.

Final thoughts on caring for fading kittens

Indeed, caring for a kitten with Fading Kitten Syndrome isn’t an easy thing to do as fading kittens will require a lot more supportive care than healthier ones. However, kittens are a part of the family, so they ought to have the same medical attention as much as we, humans, receive. So we need to do everything in our power to help our baby survive!

Can kittens survive fading kitten syndrome?

Fading kitten syndrome is not a single disease. It can have many underlying causes, many of which lead to rapidly declining health, or even death, without immediate intervention. Caregivers can help kittens with fading kitten syndrome by monitoring for its signs and acting quickly when treatment is necessary.

What age does fading kitten syndrome happen?

The effect of MDA will usually begin to fade when the kittens are three to four weeks of age but varies between individuals and will depend on the amount of antibodies present and the amount absorbed.

What is failure to thrive in kittens?

Fading Kitten Syndrome (FKS) is a set of symptoms that cause a neonatal kitten to fail to thrive. While FKS is not a disease in and of itself, it is a series of life-threatening symptoms in which the kitten's health quickly declines, and may lead to death without immediate intervention.

Can runt of the litter kitten be healthy?

Extremely low birth weight: Kittens that develop FKS are often the runt or smallest one of the litter. They have a low birth weight and are not as active as their litter mates. Unable to nurse properly: Healthy kittens are able to nurse almost immediately after birth.

  • Updated April 30, 2020
Mary Nielsen
 

A huge animal lover, born and raised around dogs, cats, chickens... Self-educated pet care nerd. Currently parent of three adopted cats and one small mutt. Animal adoption advocate. Loves a good book (about animals) and playing the piano.

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