or Connect
TheCatSite.com › Forums › Our Feline Companions › Cat Health › Need help! - 10 day old Kittens diagnosed with Pneumonia (Long - Sorry...)
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Need help! - 10 day old Kittens diagnosed with Pneumonia (Long - Sorry...)

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thanks to all who read this and I hope that your day has gone better than mine.

I share my house with two cats, a Calico female and a black male short hair cat that have been wonderful companions over the past 14 or so years. I've drug them from one coast to the next, sometimes by plane, sometimes by car and they've never quite shredded me as a result.

But this post isn't about them though they both have had their share of health problems, this post is about my girlfriends cat who became hers one night when she ran through the open door into her apartment and quickly won her heart.

Her cat is about 8 months old and was very skinny when she arrived, having lived outside for about two months after escaping from it's previous owner. My girlfriend named her Saphira and we watched over the past two months as the cat returned to health, played, learned to interact with my g/f's 8 and 3 year old and found creative hiding places when she needed to get away from them etc... About 3 weeks ago I remarked that Saphira was getting rather rotund and that I thought she might be pregnant. My g/f kind of laughed and countered that she didn't think Saphira was old enough...

...sure enough 10 days ago Saphira gave birth to a litter of four little ones underneath the 8 year old's bed. We scrambled to make a more suitable nest for her (a card board box with the top cut off and several towels atop a heating pad), carefully pulled the bed apart and relocated the newborn kittens. Saphira seemed to like this at first but the next morning must have felt that her nest was threatened as she moved them under a different bed.

I spend afternoons with the cats as Saphira is kind of a flighty mother and needs a bit of encouragement to let the kittens nurse. That afternoon my task was to build a new nest (a cardboard box with the top on but with a window cut through the front to simulate the darkness and closed in nature of under the bed) and relocate the kittens. This was extremely nervewracking as the kittens were all of two days old and I was really afraid I would accidentally hurt them as I moved them. I managed to move all of the kittens without incident, showed Saphira the new nest and gently urged her to lie down and nurse.

Saphira approved of this new nest and has not moved the kittens since but as the days have progressed all of the kittens seemed to have intermittent trouble breathing and all exhibited a behavior which I can most easily describe as "hacking up a hair ball". Also over the past 10 days Saphira has been much more vocal, chirping at us or my g/f (if I'm not there) then walking over to the nest, chirping at it then walking back. It's taking a lot of human intervention to get her to go in and nurse the kittens.

We noticed this happening a bit more frequently over the past few days and made an appointment with the vet my cats see today. The vet did a quick examination of Saphira and gave her a clean bill of health.

The same cannot be said for the kittens - the vet has told us that they all appear to have either pneumonia or distemper and are in various stages of the disease. She has given us antibiotics to syringe feed to the kittens twice daily, told us that it may help if it is pneumonia but if it is distempter than there's nothing to be done. She did vaccinate Saphira for distemper in the hopes that she would pass along the vaccine to her kittens through her milk.

My questions to you the reader of this post is what can we expect in the coming days if it is pneumonia? What can we expect if it is distemper? I very much want to help the kittens get better (my calico was diagnosed with thyroid disease a year ago and I opted for a thyroid ectomy rather than putting her to sleep as I felt she had more life to live) but I also want to know what signs to look for that they are not and what the likelyhood is that they will get better with the help of the antibiotics if it is pneumonia.

On a happier note, we were able to give each kitten the antibiotics tonight without much fuss (sooooo much easier when they are little and don't have teeth) and put them back in the nest with Saphira who licked each of them and let them nurse at will. The little ones still have a good appetite and are getting bigger and seem stronger each day.

Apologies for the length of this, my first post. I'll try to be more brief next time.

post #2 of 14
Hey Chris....I can't really address your questions...but wanted to offer my sympathy. I am fostering a mom cat with 2 week old kittens...2 are healthy but 1 has a very bad upper respitory infection. The vet has me giving clavamox 3 times a day and I just starting feeding her KMR since she is about 1/3 the weight of her sisters.

I would also highly recommend getting Saphira spayed once she has weaned these kittens.

My thoughts are with you.

post #3 of 14
Pneumonia in kittens is quite serious. They need to eat and if they don't feel good or they get all congested they will not eat and they will fail fast. Distemper is also serious and there is no cure- young kittens succumb quickly if it is distemper. The mortality rate for kittens with pneumonia is high I am sorry to say. Just keep them warm and do the best you can. That is all you can do.
post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks to both of you for the replies. Saphira will be spayed once the kittens are weaned and adopted or have passed, whichever fate brings. I'll hope and work for the best but be ready for the worst... Sigh...

Thanks again.
post #5 of 14
Chris...same here....I'm hoping the little girl I'm fostering makes it..but I'm also prepared in case she suddenly fades.

Here's wishing your little ones make it.

post #6 of 14
I got through pneumonia with Dushka as a very young kitten, but it was touch and go. Check that Saphira is giving them enough to eat, as she may reject them if they get too sick. I would ensure that you have all hte materials in the house ready to feed them if you have to take over fast - ingredients for kitten glop, syringes etc. Good luck with them - I hope they make it.
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
I was at my g/f's house at lunch and found the kittens all doing reasonably well. I took each of them out of the box and placed them into a separate box to give them their antibiotics. The calico was the most stubborn (go figure - she's going to be a little heart breaker if she makes it) and I had to lie down, put her on my chest and gently work the syringe into her mouth.

The process of giving them the meds resulted in a flurry of grooming by Saphira as each kitten was placed back into the nest. She laid down and let them suckle for about 5 minutes then gently stood up and stepped out for some kibble. I coaxed her back in right before I left and smiled as I watched three of the four kittens make their way to mom and begin powerfully treading away on her stomach while making slurping sounds.

Am a little concerned about the fourth little one as he didn't seem to be all that interested in crawling all the way around mom for the second feeding and didn't seem to do much more than bite the nipple the first time but I think we'll take him out of the box later tonight and lay him on his mom's belly to see if he'll nurse a bit better if he doesn't have to contend with three siblings.

From a developmentat perspective the kittens have started taking their first, very wobbly steps. It brought great joy to my heart to watch the calico and the gray kittens both take several hesitant steps towards mom before plopping down on their tummies and crawling the rest of the way. The bigger kittens still seem to be pulling themselves along but are trying to stand as well...

Anyway, thanks again for all the help and the prayers. I know this could go either way but am thankful that all of you are there.

post #8 of 14
You are doing a great job. I know how cliff-hanging and worrying it must be. Good luck.
post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 
Since we've started giving the kittens antibiotics orally we have noticed improvement in the kittens breathing and have not seen reoccurances of the coughing/hair ball hacking up.

Three of the four kittens are doing markedly better. The fourth, the orange and white male kitten who looks very much like his mom, seems to be struggling. Comparing photos from four days ago he looks, if anything, thinner than he was. While the other kittens are taking their first steps he's struggling to stand and has a rear leg which tends to fold under him when he does. He's not as strong as the others and regularily gets bumped off his nipple when all of them are nursing. When this happens he seems to get confused and tends to crawl away and go to sleep even if he's only nursed for a few moments.

We're trying to give him some one on one time with his mom every morning and night so that he can get some quality nursing time but we have to put him on the nipple several times before he'll latch on. He does eat but we have to kind of coax him into doing it by gently stroking his back.

I've gotten optimistic about the chances of three of the four kittens... Just worried about this one little guy... Hopefully we can get him through this, get some weight back on him and get him back to where he's strong enough to contend with his siblings.

Am adding a photo to this post so that you can see the little ones

post #10 of 14
Aw they are so sweet. Sounds like you are doing a great job.
post #11 of 14
I would be feeding this one that is not doing well, every two hours by bottle. Feed KMR or Kitten Glop and then put him back with mom so she can clean him up. If she isn't inclined to lick and stimulate him, put some kitten glop on the base of his tail and hopefully she will be encouraged to lick him so he can pee and poop. But I wouldn't put him on her nipples with no kittens there, simply because it doesn't sound like he has a nipple with his mark on it. He will instead encounter his other siblings mark, and instinct will tell him to stay away. Kittens knead around the nipple when they nurse to leave their scent- and if you take them off a nipple and put them on another, they will fight to get back to their own nipple. It sounds to me like you could lose this little one if you don't intervene quickly. Please go to www.kitten-rescue.com to find out how to properly bottle feed a baby kitten-

Good luck!
post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 
I haven't posted an update in a while so here goes:

The kittens all seem to be doing fine from a breathing perspective (I haven't heard anything other than a very infrequent sneeze) and all are nursing, even the little orange and white boy. The larger orange boy is by far and away the most curious and seems ready to explore the larger world outside which awaits him. He never puts up a fuss when held and has tried several times to pull himself over the lip of the window in the nest...

The Calico is probably going to hate being held when she grows up as each time we pick her up to give her the medicine she freaks and splays all of her legs out and upwards as though you'd picked up a frog with it's rear end in your palm... She does look at us with those wonderful eyes of hers and I am certain that she will rule whatever roost she goes to in short order.

The Gray one is curious but much more shy than her siblings. Even the orange and white boy cat is more interested in us humans than she is most of the time. Still I would say she'll be a sweet kitten but perhaps the kind that mostly lives under the bed like my male cat, Loki.

All this desire for exploration in the orange male has prompted my girlfriend to add an addition to the box they were living in... She's cut the window down to the bottom of the box, cut the top off of another, smaller box and taped the two together so that they can come out and explore a little.

At just a little over two weeks old I think it's a little early but she'd already done the work on the other box by the time I arrived this evening. The box that they were in was starting to get a little small for Saphira to lay down and comfortably nurse all of the little ones so I guess it makes sense. The new digs will be large enough for a small litter pan but, according to the kitten calendar, they're a few days away from that.

Fortunately I have one more large cardboard box which I will take over tomorrow if there's any problems with the mother cat feeling that they're not protected enough from my girlfriend's 8 and 3 year old. Still I worry that my girlfriend will find that Saphira has moved the kittens again and said as much. I know, I'm probably being over protective of them...

The little orange and white boy still isn't standing as well as the other kittens and I'm really worried that at some point in his short life something managed to break one of his back legs or pull his hip out of socket. The leg in question folds inwards at a very unnatural angle when he extends it, making the shape of an backwards L (it's his rear right leg if you're looking at him from the back). Imagine if your foot could turn inwards at a 90 degree angle and your knee could follow suit and you'll get a pretty good mental image of the way he walks... The other leg does alright but he's not strong enough to hop on it yet as a cat with an amputated or hurt leg might...

It's hurts me to watch him walk and I know it frustrates him as I'll watch him take one or two reasonably good steps then lose his center of gravity or get bumped and just fall over without a cry or a whimper... The worst part of it for me is that the day I had to extract them from under my girlfriend's bed I remember one of the male cats being hard to grab gently and, while I can't remember if it were the larger orange one or the orange and white one who's having trouble walking, I do remember getting the leg in question caught kind of akwardly in the carpet... I was honestly as careful as I could have been but feel that I am probably responsible for his leg getting hurt...

Am curious if anyone has seen a kitten with a rear leg like this and whether or not it got any better as they grew older or has any ideas as to what might be done? I really don't want to think about taking him to the Vet again in a week or so when the others are walking and he still can't to find out that there's nothing that can be done...

*sigh* they're all so cute and precious in their way that all I want is for them to have a chance to live healthy and normal lives. The medicine certainly seems to have helped them overcome the first obsticle in their lives and I'll keep my fingers crosses that the little orange and white one just needs a little more time for things to mend and will walk more normally as time goes on regardless of the cause.
post #13 of 14
I can understand your reluctance but I would take the little one tot he vet as soon as possible. If there is something wrong then the earlier it is sorted the better - it may need a splint on it to straighten it out and if you wait till the bones are really hard and set incorrectly then there may be noth9ng that can be done. Get him an Xray to check it out.
post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 
Just wanted to let all know that I took the orange and white kitten to the vet with his brother for companionship on Tuesday.

The vet was kind of stunned that all four of the kittens were still alive and doing well. She listened to both of the boys lungs and didn't hear any signs of the pneumonia. Both weighed within the range that they should for their age.

She took a look at the orange and white kittens back legs and decided that he was born with a defect in both legs. She said that he might get better as time went on but that he'd probably never walk or jump as gracefully as his siblings.

Over the past few days the orange and white kitty has made great strides (pun somewhat intended) in his ability to walk. He still falls over more than the other kittens but his back legs are getting stronger, he's nearly as playful as his siblings and I'm not as worried about him as I was. From what I can tell he's going to be rather bowlegged but if his muscles can build enough strength I think he'll do ok in a quiet house where he's the only pet.

*smile* If all goes the way it has been going we'll have four adorable kittens for adoption in about 8 wks. If anyone's in the St. Louis area...

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Cat Health
TheCatSite.com › Forums › Our Feline Companions › Cat Health › Need help! - 10 day old Kittens diagnosed with Pneumonia (Long - Sorry...)