Sick kittens?

The following are common medical issues you may encounter as a foster parent with your mother cat and/or kittens. This information is not meant to be extensive, just to give you an idea of what common ailments may look like and how they might be resolved. This is not a substitute for the expert advice of our shelter Veterinarian. 

Everything you need to know about "kitty colds"

All about conjunctivitis and how to treat it

Soft or runny stools? Here's the diarrhea 101

Learn how to tell your kittens are dehydrated, and more

Not a worm, a fungal infection!

Panleuk, what to look for

Constipation in Kittens

Fading Kitten Syndrome and protocol

General Health Concerns: What to do

Any and all health concerns need to be reported to the appropriate C.A.R.E. staff right away.

Examples of general health concerns (this is not a complete list, these are just some of the most common health concerns):

  • Not eating or drinking regularly
  • Not eating or drinking enough
  • Weight loss
  • Failure to gain weight
  • Diarrhea or loose/soft stool
  • Constipation/not defecating daily
  • Sneezing
  • Clear ocular or nasal discharge
  • Weight loss

Steps to take to report any signs of illness:

  1. Please contact the appropriate C.A.R.E. staff using our Support Contacts page.
  2. If your kitten/s starts to show ANY signs of illness, loss of appetite, loss of energy, etc., please start monitoring their daily health on the monitor chart supplied to you, labeled “Daily Health Monitor Chart”. Our Vet Tech and Veterinarian will need to reference these sheets if we need to perform an exam.
  3. Please take clear, up close photos of any discharge coming from eyes or nose, any injuries, or any other visible ailments to send to our medical staff.

Urgent Health Concerns

If you notice any of the symptoms listed below, please call the appropriate C.A.R.E. staff IMMEDIATELY, utilizing our Support Contacts page.

  • Diarrhea coupled with weight loss
  • Diarrhea lasting more than 48 hours
  • Straining to urinate or defecate – this can be life threatening, especially for male cats! 
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Not gaining weight or losing weight for more than 3 days
  • Lethargy/weakness – kitten seems sleepy all the time
  • Bleeding from any part of the body
  • Sneezing and/or congestion with green or yellow discharge from the nose and/or eyes
  • Coughing, wheezing, or heavy breathing
  • Mucous or blood in the stool
  • Paralysis
  • Extreme change in attitude or behavior
  • Temperature too low (below 98ºF) or too high (above 104ºF)

How to take a kittens temperature


Thoroughly clean the end of the thermometer with alcohol. Then, put a little lubricant on the end.  Have a friend hold the kitten for you or wrap him in a towel like a burrito to keep him still. Support the hind end while the thermometer is inserted in the rectum. Insert the thermometer ½ inch into the kitten—s rectum, enough to cover the metal tip.  Keep the thermometer in until it starts beeping, then remove and clean with alcohol. Normal kitten temperatures are as follows: newborns 97-98F, 2-4 weeks 98-100F, 4+ weeks 99-102.6. 

  • Use distractions – kittens will almost always struggle while their temperature is taken
  • Put some food in front of them if they are eating
  • Use a sock to cover their head and front legs
  • Bob their heads
  • Blow on their head or face
  • Tap on a glass or metal object
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