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Stray kitten died - but why? Paralysis and sudden death

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hi everyone,


So my girlfriend recently started trying to tame a stray kitten. She's been taming cats for years - she's in a very rural area and loves animals - so this wasn't particularly unusual.


She fed the kitten and after a day or two it allowed her to stroke it. At one point it sat on her which was very cute. :)


Today she messaged me in a panic saying she'd gone outside and found the kitten lying immobile on the welcome mat. At first she thought it was dead because it was so still, but she realised that it was paralysed. She brought it inside; she thought it might be the cold so she put in on a hot water bottle, but that didn't seem to help.


We then scoured the internet looking for some way to help it. She can't drive and didn't have access to a car so the vet wasn't an option, unfortunately - I have a feeling that this might have been the only way to save the kitten's life, which is very sobering.


The kitten seemed to be unable to move at all except for opening and closing its mouth, and its pupils dilating. It seemed to be trying to mew but no sound was coming out. Through my internet searches I thought it could be any one of a number of things: leukemia, anemia, hypoglycemia, hypothermia, dehydration or poisoning. She kept the kitten warm to cover hypothermia; she fed her milk to help with dehydration; she tried to comfort her with stroking and music as best she could. She didn't have any kitten formula in the house, or honey or corn cyrup, so it wasn't possible to feed her with anything that might have countered hypoglycemia. 


She also tried to stroke the kitten's bowel area to help her poo or pee - one person online had a similar problem which was helped by this. But that didn't work either.


For this whole time the kitten seemed to be in pain (but difficult to tell since she couldn't mew). Her gums also seemed to be slightly paler than usual - maybe that's significant.


After 45 minutes of frantic messaging, the kitten died. It's worth noting that the kitten was so still and paralysed the whole way through this that my girlfriend's words were "I think she just died - but I'm not sure."


I know this must seem like I'm overreacting but I'd like to know if anyone has any ideas about why she died? And, more importantly, what a cat carer should do if this happens to them. This kitten is sadly beyond our care but if this happens again then I damn well want to know what the right course of action is.

post #2 of 7

My first thought was that a dog left it there, after already shaking it and most likely breaking its neck or back.  A coyote would have eaten it, but a dog would lose interest when it stopped making noise or moving. I don't believe there was anything that your girlfriend or even a vet could have done to save that kitten.  In the future, if she gets a wild kitten to trust her enough to touch it and sit on her, she should bring it into the house immediately.  Kittens do not fare well left alone outside, and I'm sure your girlfriend is heartbroken to lose this little friend.  We're sorry for her loss.

post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the reply - it never occurred to me that it could be a physical/violent injury, which in retrospect was stupid of me. But my girlfriend said that the kitten was inside when she found her (they have a cat-flap) and I doubt it could have crawled inside if it were that poorly injured. Since there's no way for a dog or other big animal to get in, I don't think that's it.


My other thought was possibly the kitten ate something poisonous - there are a lot of farmers in her area so I suppose rat poison is a possibility. But apparently the kitten wasn't even eating solid food, so that's unlikely I guess?


Thanks for the advice about keeping the kitten inside - it's something I will definitely bear in mind in the future.

post #4 of 7

Oh Jamie, that sounds so traumatic for you and your girlfriend.  You must be in shock.  I hope that you can take some quiet time tonight to look after each other.


I know that the natural thing to do in these situations is to ask 'Why?' Why did this happen?'  Because it's so unfair!  The thing is, whatever it was that took your poor kitten, it was very sudden and very severe.  So sudden and severe, in fact, that I doubt there was anything that could have been done to save it, even by an experienced vet.  That degree of paralysis sounds like a stroke or poison, or something equally bad.  


Sometimes these things just happen.  It's awful, but they do.  I am sending huge hugs your way.  

post #5 of 7

So terribly sad about the kitten dying. Very sorry she had to go through this.


I do want to add here, the kitten was dying when she found it already, which is why the paralysis and open mouth breathing, it looks like shallow gasps for air.

This is the norm.


However of course does not explain the initial cause of death, but will likely never know.


Again I'm very sorry.

post #6 of 7

I'm so sorry that this happened. Something similar happened to me. I had a stray in my yard that I fed and cared for for about a year. She nice & would let me pet her, but thats it. One day, I found her paralyzed on our porch. I brought her in & she still couldn't move. We brought her to the ER vet and unfortunately she had a rare genetic disorder that is normally only seen in textbooks. I remember it was neurological & often strikes soon after their first litter. She just had babies a few days before. Unfortunately, I don't think there was much she could have done. I'm sorry that she and you had to go through this. 

post #7 of 7
Hello there, I'm from malaysia. it happened to my kitten as well. We found the kitten at the sidewalk and adopted it. This one day the kitten was paralysed,can't move and only can swallow water. The pupil dilated exactly like your story. The doctor said that she got virus in her body. That causes her to slowly dying. Nothing can cure her. Not even a medicine or vaccine. It was really sad to watch her slowly dying. And the doctor advised to clean the house (bc everywhere she walks will be a virus in that area) and for not adopting a new cat for two months. Other cat that u have in time must get vaccinated.
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