6 Health Issues to Watch For in Young Kittens

6 Health Issues to Watch For in Young Kittens

Health & Safety

Bringing a new kitten home can be a very exciting time although you may also be feeling a little anxious - especially if you it's the first time you've owned a cat. There's a lot to organise and buy so you know they are safe and have everything they need. However, being cautious when you get a new kitten is a good thing because there are several common health complaints which you need to watch out for, six of which are listed below.

1. Feline Distemper

Otherwise known as panleukopenial, feline distemper is a very serious condition which can prove fatal to kittens and adult cats. The virus attacks a kitten's immune system so violently that it's virtually impossible to treat successfully. There are vaccines which have to be routinely administered to kittens and cats because the virus can be easily passed on from one cat to another through their faeces and just a tiny amount of contaminated stool if eaten can do a lot of damage to a young kitten.

The symptoms to watch out for are vomiting, a total lack of appetite and terrible diarrhoea which is typically very pale and full of mucus. When it comes to treating feline distemper, kittens need to be isolated and hospitalised as quickly as possible to prevent the virus from spreading. Vets will then treat the kitty with antibiotics which they administer to reduce the chances of a secondary infection taking hole. Kittens have to be put on lots of fluids if they are to survive, but sadly most kittens with the condition are often put to sleep.

2. Intestinal Worms

There are various intestinal worms which affect cats in some very unpleasant ways. There are roundworms, whip-worms, hookworms which can make a little kitten very ill indeed. Some worms burrow into the intestinal wall causing kittens to suffer from a severe bout of diarrhoea which often contains blood. Kittens with a heavy worm infestation will lose weight quite dramatically, they will also lose a lot of condition and their normal development will be affected too. Kittens pick up worms when they accidentally ingest eggs found in another cat's faeces and even their own.

The symptoms to watch out for are weight loss and diarrhoea. When it comes to treatments, you need to ask your vet for the best wormer remembering that it's usually at around 8 weeks old before young kittens can be wormed safely. They recover pretty quickly once they have been wormed, but you need to watch out they don't get reinfected if they eat their own faeces after having been wormed.

3. Upper Respiratory Infections

Upper respiratory infections can be fatal to kittens and this includes conditions like feline herpes virus and feline calicivirus. Upper respiratory infections in cats can be caused by either a virus or bacteria which are all airborne, in short kittens and cats inhale the viruses and become infected. If not treated immediately upper respiratory infections often prove fatal when seen in young kittens.

The symptoms to watch out for are typically sneezing but kittens can also have a horrible yellowish discharge from their eyes and they have nasty runny noses which makes it hard for them to breath. They lose their appetites which makes the conditions even worse because they very quickly go down hill. When it comes to treating upper respiratory infections in young kittens, you would need to get them to the vet as soon as you can, especially if they are not eating or drinking. However, this type of infection is really hard to treat due to the fact there are no effective anti-viral medicines available.

Should the kitten make it through an infection it usually takes around 5 to 7 days with the symptoms getting progressively weaker. The problem is that upper respiratory infections like feline herpes virus can stay dormant in the kitten's body which means they might well suffer from the condition when they are older.

4. Fleas

If you notice your kitten is scratching a lot, you need to check they haven't picked up any fleas. If you can't spot any of these annoying creatures on your pet the chances are you will come across some of their droppings which are horrible black specks that turn red when they are dampened.

The symptoms to watch out for as mentioned above are excessive scratching but if there's a real infestation, your kitten may even suffer some hair loss especially around their back ends. When it comes to effective flea treatments there are plenty on the market. However, you should ask your vet to recommend the best one to treat kittens. Once treated with the right product your little friend will soon be rid of these pesky and irritating creatures! Make sure you treat their cat beds and any areas where your kitten spends any time too!

5. Coccidia

Coccidia is another horrible intestinal parasite which infects kittens when they ingest contaminated faeces. There's no vaccine available but luckily, this is one condition that is not that commonly seen in kittens although it can happen.

The symptoms to watch out for are diarrhoea, kittens lose their appetites and become quite dehydrated. However, your vet would need to take a faecal sample to confirm whether they are infected with coccidia. If they are, vets can treat the condition and kittens do recover although the treatment can last for around 3 weeks with vets taking further faecal samples to be sure they are clear of the parasite.

6. Ear Mites

Cats and kittens catch ear mites much in the same way as they catch fleas although ear mites are much harder to spot because they are literally microscopic in size. However, you will notice a lot of debris in your kitten's ears and there's typically a nasty smell too.

The symptoms to watch out for are excessive ear scratching and kittens will shake their heads a lot which can be a real problem if they burst a blood vessel which is extremely painful. There are some very effective ear drops available that clear up ear mites very quickly although you would need to treat your kitten a couple of weeks later to make sure the mites have not reappeared.


Kittens are adorable little creatures that grow into lovely adult cats. Making sure they have a great start in life is crucial to their overall well-being.. Feeding your kitten good quality food is essential because it helps kittens develop a strong immune system and this helps them fight off all sorts of infections or illnesses so much better.

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