The complete guide to raising a kitten: Part 4 – What’s normal and what to look out for health wise

September 02, 2019

So you’ve dealt with your cheeky kitten’s behaviour, but something still doesn’t seem quite right. Should you be worried that your cat is vomiting? Is it a red flag if they seem more tired than usual?

Never fear – we can help you understand what’s totally normal for kitten health and what might need further investigation.

Losing teeth, sneezing and not drinking much: yes, that’s all normal!

Kittens go through all kinds of changes that can startle new owners, but not all of them need you reaching for the vet. Don’t sweat the following:

Tooth loss

Many new kitten owners don’t realise that their fave feline will start losing teeth at around three months of age. This process usually lasts for around 6 months and is absolutely nothing to worry about – most of the time you won’t even notice it.

Infrequent diarrhoea

If your kitten changes diet, a small amount of diarrhoea may be a natural consequence. It’s only when they stop eating or the diarrhoea is persistent that you need to see the vet.

Occasional vomiting or sneezing

If kitty vomits or sneezes every now and then, don’t stress. That’s totally normal. It’s only when the vomiting becomes frequent or constant – or contains blood – that you may need to worry. As for sneezing, a vet check is only needed for persistent sneezing or when discharge is anything but clear.

Seemingly minimal consumption of water

The amount kittens drink depends on how much wet food they eat, so don’t worry if they seem to drink less water than you think they should.

If your cat eats a lot of wet food and minimal dry food, they’re likely to drink less. It’s only if they show signs of dehydration such as lethargy or sunken eyes that you should be worried.

Keep in mind that sometimes you may not even know how much water your kitten is really drinking. Maybe they’ve barely made a dent in their water bowl, but this could just mean they’re sneaking some water from the bathroom or even your water glass when you’re not looking!

It’s actually more concerning if you notice higher levels of water consumption in your kitty than usual, since this can indicate kidney or digestive problems.

Minor dark crust in eyes

In what could be deemed the kitten equivalent to ‘sleep’ (aww), waking up with a slight amount of dark crust in the eyes is standard.

Just keep an eye out if the crust starts to turn to a thick, coloured discharge – that’s a sign of a bigger problem that your veterinarian will want to take a look at.

What to look out for – key signs you might need veterinary help

Obvious changes in your furry one’s behaviour, energy or appetite are the first indicator of a problem and all call for a trip to the vet. Keep any eye out for any of the following:

  • Closed eyelids.
  • Open mouth breathing.
  • Drooling or excess salivation.
  • Any lumps or painful regions anywhere on the body.
  • Excessive scratching anywhere on the body.
  • Areas of unusual hair loss.
  • Scratching of ears, frequent head shaking and ear discharge. This could be an indicator of ear mites or even an abscess caused by fighting, and both would require treatment.
  • Coloured nasal discharge or runny eyes, which are possible indicators of cat flu or an infection. These symptoms call for a visit to the vet where they can be taken care of.

A little more information on cat flu

Similar to a human cold, cat flu can freak out many new owners but it’s actually quite common and can be treated.

If your cat is constantly sneezing and coughing with runny eyes, a runny nose, and ulcers on their tongues, mouths or nose, you can bet they have cat flu.

Once you notice these symptoms, just make sure to get your cat to the vet ASAP as cat flu can cause severe dehydration if left untreated.

Make sure to keep your sick cat separate from any others until they are fully recovered, which usually takes around two to three weeks, as cat flu is highly contagious among felines.

The following situations call for emergency vet attention:

  • Lethargy, extreme weakness or inability to be roused.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Consistent refusal to eat or drink after the first 24 hours in a new environment (failure to eat in the first day your kitten or cat has changed setting is very standard).
  • Bleeding of any kind.
  • Dry mouth or panting, indicating dehydration.
  • Continuous watery diarrhoea.
  • Continuous vomiting.
  • Continuous weight loss.

Remember – your vet knows what’s best. So if you find yourself worried about your kitten and not sure what to do, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and book a vet appointment as soon as you can.

If you’re ready for a dose of fun facts about cats after all this info, stay tuned for part 5 to this series. Don’t forget to keep us updated on your journey at Facebook or Instagram at @rspcasa and #rspcasa.


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