Complications in Infant Kittens

Problems develop fast. Learn to correct low blood sugar & hypothermia.



My cat just had kittens 2 weeks ago and one died yesterday. I found him off by himself moving slowly and crying. It broke my heart. I didn’t know what to do for him. Any ideas? The other 6 kittens seem O.K. but I’m worried that it might happen to another one.


Dr. Nichol:

That is so hard to take. Being a part of the excitement of raising babies is great until you have a disaster. I will give you an understanding of what works in many cases.


First and most important be sure not to blame yourself. There can be many reasons why young puppies and kittens die in the first few weeks. Sometimes there are birth defects, but infections, dehydration and failure to take adequate nutrition are also common causes. In fact only 70% of puppies and kittens survive to weaning age. But like most disease states, knowing how to recognize a problem early can make all the difference.


So here are the common early signs: Crying, slow activity, diarrhea, and isolation from the littermates. Once you notice any symptom like these move quickly. Start by putting a small amount (4-6 drops) of 50:50 honey : water or Karo Syrup on the baby’s gums. We do this because most sick babies under the age of 16 weeks have low blood sugar as part of the problem. Next warm the little guy up. You can do this many ways but what’s best is to put the little rascal in your shirt right next to your skin or on no fewer that 3 layers of towel on a heating pad set on low. At this point if he starts to move a little fast you’re on your way but you must get some real food into that tiny tummy or his blood sugar will plummet even lower after that first dose wears off. The best real food for kittens is KMR; for puppies it’s Esbilac. Your veterinarian has them.


If the baby gets even more active you can heave that big sigh of relief but you still need one more thing from your veterinarian-a diagnosis. You need this because these things seldom happen all by themselves. If the cause is not corrected it can occur again to the same kitten or to the entire litter.


There is nothing like saving a life. It’s my favorite part of my job. But please don’t feel badly about the kitten who died. By asking for help you have learned to save another. Thanks for writing in.