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Kittens:Diarrhea, vomiting, limp and listless

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I have been hand rearing six newborn kittens which my sister found at her job site. The kittens were in danger of being ran over by machinery so they were moved and momma cat never came back for them. THey were four days old when they came into my care. Everything went well until the kittens were about 16 days old when I found one kitten, Bailey, limp and unresponsive. I rushed her to the vet(who wanted to euthanize her immediately) and then another vet who saved her life and within the day she appeared to have made a full recovery. None of the other kittens were ill. On day 17 I was unable to find any KMR milk replacer which was what we were feeding, and all the vet clinics who do supply it were put on back order so it was not looking good and because the kittens had to eat I switched them to Pro-bio lac. Shortly after this all the kittens had diarrhea and began to vomit and I had to try and push the fluids on them to prevent dehydration. Finally a very nice lady who does kitten rescue offered me a bulk amount of KMR powdered and we switched them back. After their first meal on KMR (my mom was babysitting them as I was supposed to be going to visit my boyfriends parents) several of the kittens began to have profuse diarrhea and vomit, and became limp and listless. My parents picked my up, and we rushed to the vet where they were given sub-q fluids, tube fed and put into an incubator for the night. That night I got a call that two of my babies had passed away, Bailey and another female Zoey. My heart is so broken over it I can't even think about it. I can't even sleep and feel sick when I eat. I know we are told not to get attached when we try and raise these little creatures, but it doesn't help. They are my babies. THe next afternoon the four remaining kittens were looking up and the vets agreed that the food change likely prompted the stomahc upset resulting in the diarrhea and vomiting causing dehydration and low blood sugar. All night the kittens did well, fed well played and slept. The next morning at 6am-same story. One of the kittens Lexi was limp and unresponsive, her sister Sophie was also very ill and brother Jack was fading fast. We rushed them to the vet, same treatment and they were put into an incubator for the day. I was told that they did not really expect them to survive. They sent me home with the other boy Blaise who was not showing symptoms. However within a few hours he began to have massive amounts of diarrhea and vomit so I brought him back to be kept at the vets with the others(who were now improving) and they were tested for Panleuk, and the test results were negative. We were then sent home with the advice of feeding only on demand and giving them pedialite with their food and after severe bouts of diarrhea and vomiting, which I did. Dispite this after about 12 hours of being fine, Blaise became limp and nearly unresponsive. I had to wait for a drive so I took him next door where the neighbour administered sub-q fluids and then I took the whole litter to the vets. Jack was looking a little less active and a bit listless so they took him back too, and on my request they kept the entire litter overnight because I was afraid the girls would fall ill during the night. Jack, Sophie and Lexi felt much better, but still just ok by this morning, Blaise is in the early stages of recovery. This morning when the e-vet closed they were transfered over to my regular vet and are being treated with sub-q fluids, tube feeding Blaise and bottle feeding the others, all kept in an incubator. They are 22 days old today(3 weeks and one day). They have started them on an antibiotic, I want to say Meta something or other incase the illness is caused by bacteria overgrowth.

Have any of you dealt with this? What are other possibilities of what could be wrong, tests I should ask for or possible treatment options? Right now my heart is just broken and I am praying that the four babies recover and can come home where they belong and I can love them while they grow up into beautiful adult cats, but nobody seems to have any answers. I don't want to bury any more of my babies.

Oh, the babies visited the vet at 8 days old, and at that time were VERY healthy and appeared to be doing excellent.
post #2 of 17
Originally Posted by breakthenight View Post
Right now my heart is just broken and I am praying that the four babies recover and can come home where they belong and I can love them while they grow up into beautiful adult cats, but nobody seems to have any answers. I don't want to bury any more of my babies.
I have no advice, just wanted to say Thank You for trying so hard with these babies..... and offering lots of that they pull through.

Have you/your vet looked into Fading kitten syndrome?
post #3 of 17
Pan Leuk was my first thought, but you had them tested. If it is bacterial it sounds like what I just went through with my big cats, all 7. Started with projectile vomiting, then went to water diarrhea. I could not tell the poop from the pee in the litter box, except for the smell. Mine all stopped eating as well.

One had to have a feeding tube put in It was very scary. I had to bleach and re-bleach everything because the vet said it was some form of infectious diarrhea.

We had to give Baytril and clavamox for 7 days. Plus I gave sub-q fluids everyday as well. All survived, but it was scary.

Lots of vibes for your little ones I do bottle babies and I know how hard it is and how attached we get.
post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
The babies are home with me now. They were fed at the vets at 7pm- cried for food so much I gave them 5mls at 9 to help them settle some, Blaise is still crying, tried the cuddles which worked for a while but I dont want to take him out of the nestbox for too long even for cuddles in a warm blankie. He is hungry but their food intake is being highly regulated :7 to 10mls evry 4 big meals or overfeeding just enough to keep them quite hydrated but help stave of diarrhea. But my babies are so hungry . They look great, active and alert for now. Fingers crossed. Crying is better than limp unresponsiveness.
post #5 of 17
I will say that for all the visits you've had with both your vet and the e-vets, that they would be the ones with the best advice for you right now. The 1 disease that comes to mind when I read your story was panleuk, and you've already had them tested for it. Kittens sometimes fade fast and it is heartbreaking when they do.

I've raised orphaned litters but have not had the misfortune to go through what you are going though. I can only offer to you for all you are doing to keep these babies alive, and major vibes that the remaining kittens pull through.
post #6 of 17
You need to ask your vet, what they are doing exactly, specifics, during recovery time. It sounds like, they recover at the vet, but sometime after you get them home, something goes wrong.

That's not to say it's anybodies fault, but it is possible these little guys may either have a food allergy - and the vet may be giving them something different to you, you may be feeding them a bit too much (which I don't think is the case but you have to rule out everything). Or, could it be something congenital - if there is something wrong with one of their major organs ie kydneys, pancreas (do cats have a pancreas?), liver, they might not be able to stay hydrated or control their blood sugar?

AND the reason they may be getting better at the vet and not with you is that the vet would be constantly giving them intravenous fluids wouldn't they? thus when that wears off, if they aren't able to hydrate themselves properly, they could go downhill fast.

Also, the difference with the vet, is that they would be kept in a warm incubator, perhaps they might have someting wrong where they can't self regulate their temperatures properly? or could it be a reaction to something in your enviroment? I am not saying any of these are the culprit, I'm just saying, you need to discuss all these with the vet and ask yourself and the vet, why do they recover only to go downhill again, and once you work it out, hopefully you will be able to rest easy

If they are allergic to the commercial brands, you may be able to find another brand of kitten milk, or worse case scenario ask the vet how you could make your own - I've heard this is possible, and if worse came to worse, then you could monitor what went into their milk perfectly, and rule it out food allergies if it doesn't help.

Good Luck to you & your babies!
post #7 of 17
I understand what you are going through. I had this same problem with one of my orphaned kittens.

Have you looked at this site for information?

I had to gradually switch mine to "Just Born" brand from KMR. The Just Born was much easier on the digestive system.

Mine got an injection of antibiotic and sub Q fluids. I also used bene-bac.

I fed milk replacer half and half with clear pedialyte no longer than 24 hours.

I fed a smaller amount at one sitting, but fed them every 2 hours. Better at avoiding dehydration. It happens so fast with kittens.

I hope things continue to improve. You are doing a wonderful job with them.
post #8 of 17
Still sending lots of vibes your way. I know the sounds of those little cries. I wish I could be of more help and support. Please keep us posted and make sure to take care of yourself too.

Bottle babies are hard enough, sick bottle babies will wear you down to nothing very quickly. Eat and make sure to sleep between times. Hard to do with 6 little ones.
post #9 of 17
I think Autumn has something here.
It is nothing individual, as it is more or less the same with them all. It is probably something the vet is doing or not doing...

My following question:
The vet is giving them pedialyte. Are you also giving them pedialyte to drink /forcedrink?? Bought or homemade. Common water is no good if they have heavy or long diarrheas / vomits.

Otherwise, there could be a couple of suspects: the giardia parasite. Or some nasty strain of bacteria - such happens. But you are in contact with two different good vets, so they must surely thought about it too.

Lots of positive vibes!
post #10 of 17
Do you have well water? If so, discontinue using it and use bottled only. I had this advice when we had sick puppies a few years ago. Also, make sure any area they have contact with is thouroughly sanitized before and after the babies are in it.
post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 
I brought the kittens canned KMR (pre prepared liquid) to the vet to be fed to make sure they are getting the same thing everywhere(previously vets were feeding what brand and powder/liquid they had on hand), and to make sure no water issue is at fault(contaminated water, water composition differences,ect). I previously had them on powdered formula but now it is only the prepepared liquid KMR. The babies came home with me last night and knock on wood are so far doing great. I am feeding them 10ml per feeding now, and they are DEMANDING to be fed every three hours so that is what I am going with. I have the babies kept at 90 degrees and I am not taking them out for playtime or any more than they have to be taken out which they HATE because they prefer being with mommy and cry for me all the time . As long as they are healthy though, thats all that matters. Someone I know who does kitten rescue and recently lost 12 out of 13 kittens to panleukopenia says the test is not very accurate as I was led to beleive and that it sounds like Panleuk. I hope not, and I hope the babies recovering on their antibiotics is a sign that that is solving the problem. It's been since Sunday night that any of the babies had a new episode *fingers crossed*
Not really sure what else I could possibly be doing here, but trying my best and focusing all my energies on getting these four little fighters healthy again.

*I am feeding pedialyte here, 0.5ml every 6 hours, and whenever the kitten has a bout of diarrhea. The vet at emergency told me to do this. The vets did not do this, they administered ringer's sub-q on kittens in such cases(which is electrolyte banaced).
post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 
Four little ones now, since we lost the other 2 on friday night/saturday morning

The babies are doing well this morning, lots of energy and good appetites. They are being fed every 3 hours now, and they want to take 10mls(of course they would guzzle 100 I think if I let them, not that I am complaining now). Feeding any less than this leaves them so hungry they cry instead of sleeping. They miss being able to be out with me and they cry for attention and all I can do is stick my hand in the box to give them lovins because I am too afraid to take them out of the regulated 90 degree heat. They took their medicine ok though by the looks on their little faces it tastes horrible. 0.5 mls of pedialyte every 6 hours, plus whenever they have diarrhea also. Ive switched exclusively to liquid preprepared KMR because it is easy to bring along if they have to be admited so that they are getting the same food at the vets, and it does not need water which could potentially be a contaminant and vary in composition from place to place. PLease keep my babies in your thoughts.
post #13 of 17
Good luck, I hope the kitties pull through. I had a litter of 6 kittens that came from a feral mama, and only 2 are left - it's so hard losing them and knowing there's not much you can do!

I have no advice for you unfortunately, it sounds like you're doing all the right things.

I also merged your duplicate thread from the Kitten Care section with this one since they were the same topic.

Good luck!
post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 
My baby boy Blaise died at 5am this morning, at only 25 days old. He had to be euthanized because he was so ill. He began to vomit again, became listless. He was given pain medication, sub-q fluids and a shot to settle his stomach at around 1:30ish and was sent home. Around 4:30 my sweet boy started running a massive fever, was completely limp and unersponsive, and vomited aspirating the fluid into his lungs. He was my precious sweet boy, and I am heartbroken.
post #15 of 17
I am so terribly sorry for your loss - they couldn't have received more attentive care, and at least they were loved for all their days here. Prayers for you.
post #16 of 17
Oh dear

I hate to bring this up, it possible that mama cat abandoned the litter because they were unhealthy? My family saw that happen to individual kittens several times, and once to a litter; I think we managed to save about 2-3 of them over the years, including one of the litter (although her growth was stunted, to where at about 6 weeks I thought from her size that she was 3 weeks and really steady on her feet for her age), but mostly, it seemed that they just weren't meant to be.

Play on at the Bridge, kitty-babies.
post #17 of 17

Reading this breaks my heart.  I feel so bad for you and your babies.  The only advise I can give you is that it's extrememly difficult to raise kittens by hand under 4 weeks old and even over 4 weeks can still be difficult because of how easy it is to get fluid in their little lungs and replacement milk just isn't as good as momma milk and momma love.  So what I always do when I rescue is, i set a trap and I put the babies in a small box with a wash cloth or two at the end of the trap, then I wait for momma to come get them out.  So far momma has always come and then I bring them all home and put them in an extra large crate until they have all been vet checked. 

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