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Trying to save a sickly kitten

Discussion in 'Cat Health and Nutrition' started by MrMiyata, May 15, 2014.


  1. MrMiyata

    MrMiyata PetForums Newbie

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    Hi everyone.

    Mgirlfriend and I are taking care of an abandoned newborn kitten, about 2.5 weeks old, maybe abandoned at birth. For the last 4-5 days or so he seems to have been developing what might be pneumonia, clicking when breathing, coughing and sneezing, and occasional gurgling noises, getting steadily 'scarier'. He still seems to be strong, (for a 2 week old kitten with a cough and a gloopy eye) able to crawl and cry out as well as ever.

    I'd suspect it might be pneumonia brought on by aspirated milk formula when feeding. We've been careful, but there are times it might have gotten into the lungs accidently. It could also be a side effect of another illness, but from the sounds coming out of the kitten, I suspect pneumonia in some way.

    We have taken him to the vet, of course, but the problem is, I am in China, where caring for animals is not a big business. We've been to many vets and even the best two we've found, with veterinarians trained in vet colleges overseas, say he is too small and there is nothing they have that can be given to a cat that young. The only advice is about how to look after him while waiting for him to heal by himself.

    My girlfriend is extremely attached to the poor kitten, having spent the last 2.5 weeks carefully feeding, warming and taking care of business, but she doesn't want to risk trying any treatments that might hurt him themselves. I, in a way, agree, but I also have heard in my research into what to do that young kittens are sometimes given antibiotics to treat illnesses when they haven't gotten any colostrum. I feel there must be something that can be done to give him a little boost in helping himself get better.

    ---------------------
    So, the question is, what can we be doing? Any kind of information would be valuable, whether something we can ask the vet to do that they might not have thought of, changing some conditions in the apartment, or even something we can do at home, like mixing something into his milk, having him inhale something, or doing a rain dance which summons all phlegm out of kitten lungs.
    ---------------------


    In case it matters, here is the extra background in case you want more information, or just like reading.

    I'm living and working in China and, having a bit of a soft spot for animals, took in stray kitten maybe a little over a month old who needed a home. I've raised a kitten back in Australia before and although younger, this one was not too hard. She is now about 3 months old and happy and healthy at home, though a bit too fond of sucking on hands and feet when sleepy.

    I apparently inspired my girlfriend who was already an animal lover to take in her own stray, about 2.5 weeks ago. This one, however, was a definite newborn. He started opening his eyes on the 7th day we had him, so we can guess it was only in it's first day of life when she found him. He was near some bins in the street at and the vendors nearby told her that it had been there the whole time they had been there, with no other cats to be seen. When she brought him in he was as cold as ice and I feared he wasn't going to last too long, but we got him to a vet in the morning and were taught how to feed him and got some pet milk formula. The next 2 weeks we watched him get stronger and open his eyes.

    There was another scary moment at about the 6th day when for about 24 hours he seemed to lose all strength and life, until he suddenly and rather rapidly recovered to full strength, and volume.

    Also, his eyes have taken it in turns to become swollen and puss-y looking since opening them. Honey dissolved in warm water seems to banish this for a while, but it's back again now and then. Never looks too serious since the first time.

    We've been keeping the older cat separate from the kitten for the most part, though it's not always easy to stop a cat going where it wants to go.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Sophiebee

    Sophiebee PetForums VIP

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    Hi, im sorry i have no advice, but there are lots of members experienced with young kittens who will hopefully offer some information. I just wanted to say how lovely it is that you are trying so hard for this little baby, he sounds like a fighter and i so hope he pulls through.
     
  3. Ang2

    Ang2 PetForums VIP

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    I have nursed many kittens through flu, and its not an easy task. I would suggest you try and get one of those hand held steamers - you know, the ones that take the creases out of your clothes. I found this a great help to hold kittens under the steam every hour to clear their breathing. Is he still feeding ok?
     
  4. MrMiyata

    MrMiyata PetForums Newbie

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    Thanks for the support Sophie. I am trying so hard for him, but when this gets made into a movie, my girlfriend and the cat himself will get top billing over me as the heroes of the story. She really is tireless, and Diamond, as she's called him, is such a trooper. Doesn't even seem to know he's coughing up his lung, or let it slow him down.

    I'm back from work and told he's still eating just as normal, Ang, waking up every few hours, hungrily drinks a few mils of formula, then chooses the most comfortable place to sleep and begins the cycle again. If it weren't for the breathing problems and coughing that go on during that cycle he'd be perfectly fine.

    Would anything which gives off steam do as well? Hold the kitten in the steam cloud unless his breathing sounds better?
     
  5. carly87

    carly87 PetForums VIP

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    I'd say that holding him in the steam cloud would be to hot for him. Tiny babies don't regulate their temperatures very well at all, so you could run the very real risk of over heating him. Better to take him into the bathroom and put the water on hot, then sit in the steamy room with him. This will only work if he is congested, and will do nothing if it's aspirated formula.

    Synulox antibiotics can sometimes be given to tiny kittens, but for the most part, your vet is right. if he has aspirated formula, there is little you can do other than this antibiotic treatment, care and love. Make sure you feed him slowly to avoid further aspiration. I would also encourage him to begin eating gloopy solids at 3 weeks so that you can cut out the milk feeds ASAP.

    I really wish you all the best with this little boy.
     
  6. MrMiyata

    MrMiyata PetForums Newbie

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    We've been really quite careful with feeding, although neither of us have hand fed a baby animal before, which is why I think we may have made a mistake at some point.

    The vet said they had nothing which could be used with a cat this small, and my girlfriend is paranoid about killing him with the side effects, so care and love are the last weapons left it seems.

    3 weeks old is coming up soon, how can we make and feed the gloopy solids to him? Should milk still be involved afterwards too?


    As an update of sorts, nothing has changed, either for better or worse. The cat's health seems to have levelled out. The lungs still sound scary and gurgly and he coughs fairly often. On the other hand, they're not getting worse, from any way we are able to see, and he doesn't seem to have been told that he should be acting sick. Fingers crossed that it only goes up from here.
     
  7. OrientalSlave

    OrientalSlave Shunra Oriental Cats

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    I think he can have Synulox drops. He can't have tablets or an antibiotic injection as he's too small.

    NOAH Compendium of Animal Medicines: Synulox Palatable Drops, Powder for Oral Suspension - Dosage and administration

    There are lots of recipies online for 'kitten gloop' - use Google.

    He will still need milk. Weigh him each day to see how he is doing. A cheap digital kitchen scale that weighs in grams is ideal.

    PS if his eyes are still sticky he can have eye ointment. Fuciderm is a common first choice and his eyes should be better in a day or two - if not he needs a different ointment. That happened to me last year with Lola's kittens and when the vet switched to a different ointment they were better almost overnight. Of course you MUST to finish the course.
     
    #7 OrientalSlave, May 17, 2014
    Last edited: May 17, 2014
  8. MrMiyata

    MrMiyata PetForums Newbie

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    Ok, bit of an update.

    The kitten, now renamed Lemon, has been breathing a little better, or maybe it just sounds like that because he's only breathing through his mouth now. His nose is now running and frequently blocked, so he often has his mouth open for breathing. There isn't much coughing now, but plenty of sneezing.

    He is no longer eating as much as before, rarely actually drinking by himself, which led to a bit of dehydration when checking his skin. After we discovered that though, we've begun forcing a bit more eating by dripping milk onto his tongue with an eye dropper. He swallows this willingly, and his skin is back to normal.

    Eyes have recovered after changing eye drops.

    He remains spirited in the time he is awake though and it seems, to my inexperienced in looking after newborn cat eyes, that he has a chance at pulling through.


    We've been unable to get any medicines for him though, seems it's not sold around here at all. We give put him in a steamy shower when we can, but the benefits don't last for long. Is there anything that we can be doing to ease his breathing and clearing his nose?
     
  9. Britt

    Britt In love with Roucky

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    It's not easy to give you other advice than what was said before. Did you see a vet?
     
  10. Lulus mum

    Lulus mum PetForums VIP

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    No advice to give -just wanted to say that I really admire what you and your girlfriend are doing
    I hope that there is a happy ending-
    if not you have done all you can for this little soul.
    hope others with more experience than me will offer you support and advice

    God bless you for your kindness -my heart goes out to both of you and little Lemon too
    Maureen
    PS Have just seen the photo you posted-isnt he absolutely gorgeous!!!!
     
  11. cats galore

    cats galore PetForums VIP

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    i wish you all the best with this little one. You are dealing with such a difficult situation without having the access to the antibiotics that he needs. I've recently saved a little one who had the clicky noise on her chest and was getting weaker and weaker. I didn't think she had a chance to be honest, neither did the two vets that i saw. it appears she had swallowed some amniotic fluid at birth which caused her problems. Thankfully as she got bigger she got better and is thriving now at 4 weeks old. I really hope you can get the same results with your little one too x
     
  12. spotty cats

    spotty cats PetForums VIP

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    I could post you some meds but not sure how long it would take to get from Aus to China, probably 3-7 days, or if it would even get through quarantine.
     
  13. MrMiyata

    MrMiyata PetForums Newbie

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    Yes, we have been to see several vets a few times but almost all of them have offered no help or advice at all, and even the ones who help and seem to care about the animals say they have nothing medicine or method to help him. Pet care is not a big business here.

    Thanks for the offer of sending medicine, but you're probably right about the delay and customs.

    Once again, thanks to all the people helping and well wishing, Lemon's breathing has greatly improved. After you all let me know that kittens can indeed take medicines, I got family back in Australia to ask the vet there and was recommended to get some medicine which we could use for him at the pharmacy. Still sneezing and coughing on and off, but no clicking noises and no longer seems like he's struggling to breathe through his mouth, or at risk of choking. It's like he has a moderate cold or flu and recovering.



    Now... :( for the bad news. As we fix one problem, it seems like another surfaces. Lemon is one month old today, but still extremely small, barely grown from the photo of 2 weeks ago. More worryingly, he seems to be losing weight rapidly. He is very thin, we can see his ribs and leg bones and his movements are weaker. Appetite has dropped and we've had no success with getting him to eat out of a small dish, even lap up formula. He only drinks a few ml from a syringe then refuses more and the rest we have to drop on his tongue drip by drip to get him to swallow. He's also been able to do his business without help for a few days, but now he seems constipated, struggling for a while to get even a little out. If we try to help like before during this time he "closes up" for a while. Any stool which he does get out is pale yellow to white in colour. (It's previously always been brownish orange/yellow, not the healthiest colour, but then, he's not the healthiest kitten.)

    We will try to get back to one of the (more) useful vets again when we can, but seeing as how they are a fair distance away and often just shrug their shoulders and say "Too little, nothing can be done", I'm hoping I could get some advice again from here.... again! All three of us are waiting to hear from you.:crying:
     
  14. catcoonz

    catcoonz PetForums VIP

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    what colour are the kittens gums.

    if white or pale this is anemia (sp) does the kitten have fleas?

    you need frontline spray if it does, antibiotics, fluids to give via injection and a recovery food.

    Wish you was in the uk.

    can you get nutridrops where you are?
     
  15. ForeverHome

    ForeverHome PetForums VIP

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    Never underestimate the power of care and love. The resilience of cats is amazing and the fact you're both giving so much for this little one will give him the bets possible chance of growing up. Even if it was not meant to be, he will have had a chance he wouldn't have had without you.

    Best vibes from me and my lucky cats who despite their little issues had an easy start in life up to your little fella.
     
  16. dagny0823

    dagny0823 PetForums VIP

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    Does someone have one of those kitten gloop recipes handy? That might help. I'm trying to remember where I just saw it posted again.

    Since he's so small and underdeveloped, he just might need more in the way of calories, any calories, and fats just to get some weight on him and interest him in food. I think as kittens get weaker, they lose interest in things that make them stronger. Otherwise, some sheep or goats milk (not cow) will help. Full fat yogurt. Chicken or fish ground or mashed into a gruel with some milk. I'm remembering something about egg yolks being good. I'm hesitant to suggest some kind of baby cereal since cats don't really digest grains, but since there are grains in conventional kibble, I don't suppose it would hurt him and might just add some weight to him. My cats go wild for pork and shrimp--again, maybe mash or grind up fine and mix with some milk or yogurt and give it to him on your finger. He's probably constipated more from dehydration than anything. When we had kittens in danger, our old vet suggested Pedialyte--one of those electrolyte replacement things for human babies. Syringed in. Oh and broth. I syringed chicken and beef.

    Is there a way to post some antibiotics, maybe wrapped in some t-shirts or towels to get them through customs? I'm so unfamiliar with international shipping I could be suggesting something completely crazy, but I'm just thinking if it were to xray as something innocuous then it could possibly get through.

    Little Lemon is truly a fighter and bless you for working so hard with him. I cringed when I saw there was an update and my heart soared when I found he was still kicking and fighting. I'll keep wracking my brain for ideas for him.
     
  17. dagny0823

    dagny0823 PetForums VIP

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    Here's a link with a number of recipes for kitten gloop. I was thinking that since you're in China and not every ingredient might be readily available, maybe this will help you cobble something together.

    2 day old abandoned kittens? [Archive] - Pets-n-People

    Forgot to mention that keeping him warm is really really important.
     
  18. ForeverHome

    ForeverHome PetForums VIP

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    Sorry just a quick side question, why is mayonnaise so good? Intrigued as Molly goes crazy for the stuff!
     
  19. MrMiyata

    MrMiyata PetForums Newbie

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    I haven't seen nutri drops around. Having just researched them, it seems like they're not sold in China.

    Gums look a normal pinkish colour and there's no sign of any fleas or insects. They should be easy enough to spot, they'd be almost bigger than the kitten!



    I should also mention in case it helps, his abdomen looks bloated in comparison to the rest of his body which is rather skeletal at this stage.
     
  20. MrMiyata

    MrMiyata PetForums Newbie

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    Typed that up before those latest replies and somehow it didn't send until a lot later.
     
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