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Not nursing, diarrhea.

Species: Cat
Breed: domestic shorthair
Age: Less than 3 mon
We have two mom cats with seven kittens each, one litter a week and a half older than the other. JJ is 18 days old and part of the younger litter. He had a bit of diarrhea out of the blue. He is still nursing. Both mom cats will nurse any or all of the kittens at any given time. We have three, JJ included, that are a bit smaller than the others. The one mom cat is the daughter of the other. The "veteran" mom cat cleans the babies backsides, where as the younger one doesn't as often. It has also been very hot in my area, and we try to keep them all as cool as possible. Since his bout of diarrhea, he did nurse once, but his mom didn't nurse him long. Could his diarrhea be caused by the heat or maybe a lack of nursing or lack of bottom care from a mom cat? Would he and the other smaller ones benefit from supplementation of kitten formula?


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Sorry to hear that JJ is not feeling 100%. I do get concerned when a kitten doesn't want to nurse as much as the others. This can often be a sign that they are not doing well.

There are several possible causes for the diarrhea. A parasite is possible. You would expect that all of the cats would have diarrhea if this was the case, but it's possible that JJ is the first one to get sick.

It may be a good idea to deworm the moms with a regular over the counter roundworm dewormer. The babies are actually old enough for dewormer as well.

However, there is also the possibility that JJ has a more serious illness. When kittens are this young, some type of congenital problem is possible, meaning that something may not be formed properly such as intestines or liver. If this is the case then we may not be able to fix him.

It is possible that mom is not nursing JJ properly. However, it's a little strange for her to be nursing the other kittens and not him. Sometimes when a mom decides not to nurse a baby it is because she knows there is a serious problem with him. You could definitely try to put him on the more veteran mom to see if he will nurse off of her.

Ultimately, it would be great to have a vet take a look at JJ and also examine his feces for parasites. There are some parasites that are not killed by regular dewormer.

It is super important for him to eat, so if he won't nurse off of either mom then yes, you may need to get some kitten milk replacer for him.

I hope he does ok!

Dr. Marie.


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

He was nursing off the other mom cat a bit but then she went to get some water for herself. I will get the dewormer this weekend. I also worry about the how the heat is affect the little ones as well as the mom cats. Thank you so much for being here to answer people's questions. I will continue to monitor to see if he has another episode.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

You're very welcome.

Heat alone should not cause diarrhea in a kitten, especially if it is just one who is affected. Unfortunately I am quite worried about the little guy. :(



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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.