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Dr. Deb
Dr. Deb, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 10869
Experience:  I have been a practicing veterinarian for over 30 years.
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Hi, I picked up an orphaned street kitten two days ago.

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I picked up an orphaned street kitten two days ago. It is 4 weeks old and very underweight. Yesterday it stopped eating and today it developed terrible diareaah. I took it to a vet and he said it had bad worms and gave it de-wormer. He also injected it with glucose.

Tonight the cat is no longer moving. It has trouble breathing and has become desperately skinny. We live in a country with no 24-hour vet service and are worried the cat might die overnight.

Grateful for advice. The vet today suggested that we inject it with water and sugar ... should we do this?

Hello K, I'm Dr. Deb and will do my best to help you today.

I'm so sorry that this little kitten is having such problems.
I do have a few questions to ask about her first if you don't mind:

1. Can you tell me the color of her gums?
2. Are you able to take her temperature?
3. Is she alert enough to swallow what you're feeding her?
4. What are you trying to feed her?

There may be a slight delay after I receive your answers since I have to type up a response to you. Thanks for your patience. Deb

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The kitten has pink gums. We stopped feeding her at 1430 UK time today and started trying to give her water (with dissolved sugar) about 20 minutes ago. She isn't alert enough to know that we're giving her fluid ... I think she may know be in a coma/unconscious. Earlier on we fed her a mixture of royal canine kitten food mushed up with water and baby powder (advised by vet).

Thanks so much for the additional information. Pink gums are normal which is good.

I know this must be absolutely heart breaking for you but it sounds as if this little one might not make it, unfortunately:(
This doesn't mean that we shouldn't try, of course, but I just want to be realistic about the outcome.

The most common causes of illness in a kitten this young are:
1. Hypothermia (temperature is too low). Kittens at 4 weeks of age should be able to regulate their body temperatures but ambient temperature should be about 80 degrees. If you have a thermometer, you can check her temperature (normal is between 100 and 102.5). If it's low, then put her on a heating pad wrapped in a towel; don't put her directly on the pad since she can become burned. Or, fill water bottles with hot water, wrap in a towel and place her next to them.

2. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). I don't typically inject glucose under the skin since I'm concerned about abscess formation. I'll do this with regular fluids but not those with glucose in them.
You can rub honey or pancake syrup on her gums every several hours which might be helpful if low blood sugar is her problem.
Or continue dissolving sugar in water but not too much since this might contribute to diarrhea issues.
Just be careful about aspiration pneumonia if she can't swallow or is unconscious. It will be very, very easy for the liquid to enter her lungs rather than her stomach.

3. Dehydration
You may not be able to replace enough fluids by just giving her oral liquids; usually these little ones need a catheter or the fluids can be given under the skin.
But you can continue to try...just be aware of the aspiration issue.
One other option would be to gently squirt liquid into her rectum; how much will be absorbed is unknown but at least you don't have to worry about aspiration.

4. Oxygen deprivation.
There's not much you can do about this since she would need to be placed in an oxygen tent.

I'll be wishing you the best with this little one but I don't want to be overly optimistic. It sounds as if you may lose her despite your best efforts. I truly hope I'm wrong about this, though, and I hope you'll continue to keep me posted about her. Deb

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for your help - will keep trying.


Much appreciated,



You're more than welcome. Please keep me posted about this little one; I'd very much like to know how she fares.
Even after you've rated (if you do, of course), we can still continue to communicate at no additional charge to you.

I'll be hoping for the best for her and sending positive thoughts her way:) Deb
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