What is Fading Kitten Syndrome?
Fading Kitten Syndrome occurs when 2 things happen:
- Hypothermia (Body temperature gets too low)
- Hypoglycemia (Glucose level goes too low)
I’ve seen this most often in kittens between the ages of 2-9 weeks.
The symptoms of Fading Kitten Syndrome are:
- Lethargy (Little to no energy)
- Low body temperature (Anything under 99.5F)
- Crying (Meowing) incessantly
- No desire to eat
- Weight loss
- Appears dehydrated
You’ve determined that your kitten is indeed in FKS, now what do you do?
- Bring their body temperature up. Get a heating pad and turn on to the low setting. While it is heating up, grab a towel and put it in the dryer for a minute to warm it up. Wrap the warmed up towel fully around the entire kitten’s body, only leaving out the nose and mouth. Find a container or box that’s not too large. You are only placing a towel, heating pad and kitten in there. Get another towel and lay it in the box with the ends hanging outside of the container. Place the heating pad on top of that towel and the wrapped up kitten on top of the heating pad. Take the ends of the first towel that you laid in the box and overlap the top of the container or box so that the kitten is in something that looks like a tent. This is to keep all of the warmth in the box.
- Increase blood sugar. After warming them up, the second most important thing to do is get their blood sugar back up to normal. You will need a Q-tip, Karo syrup, honey or sugary water to do this. Remember the number 3. You will need to place a few drops on the Q-tip and place on the gums of the kitten every 3 minutes. Sometimes it will take a few hours for them to come back to life but you MUST give them whichever sugar you choose to use, every 3 minutes. Not 4 minutes, not 2 minutes, not 10 minutes…….EVERY 3 MINUTES! Also, try your best not to let the sugary mixture go down their throat. At this point they have basically lost their ability to suckle so they could choke.
Get them rehydrated. So you got the kittens temp back to normal and are starting to see some life in them again, fantastic! During this time the kitten has probably become dehydrated, so let’s get some fluids back into that little body. If you have Lactated Ringers and can administer it subcutaneous, that’s great, but a lot of people do not have access to this so what do you do? Get some Pedialyte and a dropper and give the kitten 3 milliliters per pound, per hour until no longer dehydrated. The easiest way to check for dehydration is to grasp the skin between the shoulder blades of the kitten and lift straight up. The skin of a well hydrated kitten will snap right back into place while a dehydrated kitten’s skin will take a while to fall back in to place.
- Try to feed. By this time your kitten is probably hungry. Offer a bottle of warm KMR. If they will not take it, try a little Nutrical and Pedialyte mixed. Sometimes they just need a little help getting their appetites back after such a horrible experience like FKS.
- Heather’s 2 cents. Now this part you won’t usually see in any other Fading Kitten Protocol out there, but since I have started this part, I have not lost a kitten yet! I am by no means a vet or vet tech but I do have many years of “on the job training” when it comes to raising these little guys and have tried many different ways to bring kittens out of Fading Kitten Syndrome. I did A LOT of research into why this happens and what makes a perfectly healthy kitten become lifeless within hours. My answer….Sepsis. Sepsis is the body’s extreme response to infection. It develops when the immune system releases chemicals into the bloodstream to fight infection and causes inflammation throughout the entire body. Chances are that the kitten you are fostering did not get enough of the mother’s immunities (Inadequate Passive Transfer) and because of this; they are not very well equipped to fight viruses, infections, etc.
The final part of my protocol is to give the kitten 0.1 cc’s of Amoxicillin twice a day. I truly feel like this little boost of antibiotics is the key to bringing them out of Fading Kitten Syndrome. I started doing this last part of my 5 step protocol just this year and can proudly say that this is the first kitten season that I have not lost a single kitten.
Raising foster kittens is a very honorable yet difficult thing to do. They are so fragile and need so much of our time and attention to thrive.
I do not ever claim to be the best at what I do and only wanted to share my findings with fellow foster parents. I am a humble person and open to any suggestions someone may have for me. If anyone has something to add to my protocol, I will gladly listen and learn. This may not be perfect but it’s worked for me in this 2019 kitten season. Always remember, some kittens will just not pull through no matter what you do so please do not beat yourself up over it. Good luck to all the foster moms and dads out there! It is a tough job but no doubt a labor of love that I would not give up for the world.