Why newborn kittens die or what is fading kitten syndrome?
The number of cats we see on the streets makes us think that cats have no problems with procreation and other complications after birth.
We are sure that animals can die just because they have nothing to eat, or from cold or natural selection.
But if we look around we find that very often kittens are born dead or die during the first 1-2 weeks of life.
It seems that Persian cats are the most common breed, but according to statistics Persian kittens most often die after birth or are born dead.
Unfortunately, those people who breed pedigree cats should be prepared for the fact that about 7% of purebred kittens are stillborn, and the remaining 9% die in the first 8 weeks of life (fading kitten syndrome age). Those cats which are born from common, street (not purebred) cats have a lower mortality rate.
Why do innocent kittens die?
You could think that kittens get infected and die of an infectious disease (allegedly their organism is weak and cannot resist the deadly bacteria by itself) but that’s not the point. Newborn kittens that are fed on their mother’s milk get antibodies to various diseases together with the food.
But there is a percentage of kittens that die between birth and weaning. These babies are called “fading kittens”.
Just today we are going to talk about such a syndrome as “wasting syndrome” or “fading kitten syndrome” and find out why this happens?
What is fading kitten syndrome?
Statistically, about 30% of kittens die within the first two weeks of birth. More than half of them are stillborn.
Sometimes the cause of death is the mother cat’s abandonment of her babies (usually in cases of mastitis). Mastitis is an inflammatory process of the breast that can appear as a consequence of:
- Poor sucking reflex in kittens;
- Excess milk in the cat’s mammary glands;
- Death of born kittens;
- Early weaning of kittens.
But there are cases where kittens die for completely unexplained reasons. This phenomenon is called “Fading Kitten Syndrome” (FKS – Fading Kitten Syndrome or wasting kitten syndrome).
With this syndrome, newborn kittens can die suddenly, or “fade away” gradually.
Usually, healthy and active kittens try to stay close to their siblings and they sleep between feedings. You may also notice that there are some that lie apart, eat poorly, squeak and meow pitifully (sometimes they don’t even have the strength to give signs of life).
Sometimes it’s hard to tell what caused the early death of a kitten, because kitten fading syndrome is very similar to other diseases that are fatal. These can include hypothermia, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and dehydration (excessive moisture loss).
All of these illnesses are associated with unformed mechanisms of body temperature regulation and a weak immune system.
If you add external and unfavorable circumstances, poor hygiene, the death of a kitten can occur very quickly.
Fading kitten syndrome symptoms
We forgot to specify and emphasize that “fading kitten syndrome” is not a disease. Rather, it is a combination of vital signs, external circumstances and symptoms.
You can easily tell the difference between “faders” and healthy kittens in a litter by the following symptoms:
- Note the weight of the kitten, which seems to you to be less than the others. If his body weight is less than 100 grams, his chances of survival decrease.
- The kitten cannot find the mother’s nipple on its own. Or if it does, it cannot hold it in its mouth for long. Consequently, the kitten is not getting the amount of food necessary for normal development.
- Alienation is one of the most important fading kitten syndrome signs. If you see that the kitten is lying away from his relatives more often, he needs help urgently.
- “Faders” very often meow loudly for long periods of time. Their meowing becomes less and less audible over time until it disappears altogether.
- Fading kittens have poor weight gain (less than 10 to 15 grams per day). It is also bad when kittens start to lose weight every day.
- It is worth paying attention to the kitten’s body temperature (it is significantly lower than others) and the color of the mouth. Healthy kittens have a pink mouth, while “faders” have a blue hue.
Fading kitten syndrome cure
However, as we said, the kittens die because they don’t have the strength to drink the colostrum which is excreted by the mother in the first 72 hours after birth. This substance contains a huge amount of vital elements.
So, if you notice the first symptoms early, you need to start fading kitten syndrome treatment right away.
Fading kitten syndrome care
You need to provide a heated space and good nutrition. Such a weak kitten should definitely receive her mother’s colostrum, because it contains antibodies to many diseases and useful substances.
To do this, it should be attached as often as possible to the mother and watch as long as he eats.
If the baby is not strong enough to feed itself, you can give it colostrum and milk substitutes by means of an eye dropper or syringe without needles.
Is fading kitten syndrome contagious?
No, because it is not a disease that results from an infectious disease that is transmissible or easily spread.