When a kitten enters your home, it¡s an exciting time for everyone! Regardless of whether you're an experienced or first-time cat owner, it's a time of change. Little cats require special attention. Enjoy every minute because they grow up ever so fast!
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Like small children with doctors, young cats also need to see a vet from time to time. Regular health check-ups are a must and should take place once a year. However, kittens should be taken to the vet more often for basic immunisation against common infectious diseases. Sometimes though, you need to take your cat to the vet with typical “kitten ailments”. One example is diarrhoea, an often underestimated symptom.
From a biological perspective, diarrhoea is a cleaning process of the feline organism, which rids itself of unwanted substances or pathogens. Diarrhoea is therefore a very sensible process, which is generally unsuppressed.
In reality, diarrhoea is anything but pleasant for cats. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, your kitten may just make it to the cat litter box and you will only become aware of the problem thanks to a pervading smell or soft piles of faeces when cleaning the box. Maybe you'll also notice your cat's soiled fur. Or perhaps your kitten even has “accidents” inside your home...
Diarrhoea puts a tremendous strain on your young cat's body, with soft stools meaning that they can soon become dehydrated. Their little body hardly tolerates any oscillations in fluid balance. Whilst mild diarrhoea is not dangerous for adult cats and can often be treated with a bland diet, you should seek out a vet straight away if your kitten is suffering from diarrhoea.
Nevertheless, diarrhoea is often underestimated.
There can be many causes of diarrhoea for kittens:
- Stress: Entering a new home can be unsettling for a young kitten! Saying goodbye to its mother and siblings and getting used to a new environment are often linked to stress. Diarrhoea can be a sign of nervousness and is a plausible factor if your vet is unable to establish any physical causes.
- Change in diet: Your cat received a certain food from its breeder, animal home or previous owner. If you opt for a different variety, the subsequent change in diet can disturb your cat's digestion. Hence, any changes to the variety of food should always take place in several stages. Gradually mix a teaspoon of the new food with the usual one, and you can then replace it entirely with the new food after a few weeks.
- Intolerance: Cats too have allergies. Some cats are sensitive to plant-based additives in their food and others are allergic to certain types of meat or additives. Time and patience are often needed to identify a food intolerance. Your vet can offer you support!
- Infection: Almost all cats will become ill at some point. Acute diarrhoea is often the consequence of a viral infection. These are generally easy to identify via a stool sample. With the right medication recommended by your vet, your cat will soon be fighting fit once again!
- Parasites: Parasites feel at home in the intestines of young cats, so deworming affected kittens and their mothers at an early stage is essential. Nevertheless, young cats often suffer from the presence of worms or single-celled intestinal parasites. Not all worms are the same: along with well-known roundworms and tapeworms, there are also heart and pulmonary worms, as well as single-celled parasites like giardia. Deworming treatments often have limited efficacy, therefore it is important that your vet identifies the type of worm present in your cat's faeces and prescribes a suitable remedy. As well, be aware of the dosage recommendation on the packaging! Often the little bodies of cats cannot tolerate an overdose.
- Intoxication: Feline life is exciting, but your kitten's body doesn't tolerate all plants, fluids and solid substances. Intoxication is a serious matter that can prove fatal. Typical signs are increased salivation, foaming at the mouth and drowsiness. In such cases, you should immediately seek out emergency veterinary attention.
- Foreign bodies: Kittens often try to consume everything that isn't nailed down, but foreign bodies can block the oesophagus and gastrointestinal tract, since the body tries to free them up by vomiting. Like intoxication, foreign bodies in the cat's organism are severe and can prove fatal! Consult your vet immediately.
As you can see, feline diarrhoea can have multiple causes. Depending on the symptoms, causes and severity, there are various treatment options available. Even though owners of adult cats often swear by home remedies, please don't try these out on your kitten. Diarrhoea is a serious matter for kittens, which can seriously dehydrate them and potentially have fatal consequences. Please immediately seek out your vet so your cat can receive the treatment it needs.
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