What is Fading Kitten Syndrome

What is Fading Kitten Syndrome

Fading kitten syndrome, also known as neonatal isoerythrolysis or neonatal anemia, is a condition that affects very young kittens. It occurs when the kitten’s immune system attacks and destroys its red blood cells, leading to anemia. This can be a life-threatening condition if not treated promptly.

The most common cause of fading kitten syndrome is the presence of antibodies in the mother’s milk. If the mother has been exposed to a particular blood type (such as type A or B) and the kitten has a different blood type (such as type AB or O), the mother’s antibodies can pass through her milk and attack the kitten’s red blood cells. This can occur if the mother and kitten have different blood types or if the mother has been sensitized to a particular blood type due to previous pregnancies or blood transfusions.

Symptoms of fading kitten syndrome include lethargy, poor appetite, pale gums, mucous membranes, and weakness. If a kitten is showing these symptoms and is less than three weeks old, it is important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible. Treatment may involve administering fluids and medications to support the kitten’s red blood cell production and transfusions if necessary.

It is important to monitor very young kittens’ health care and seek veterinary care if they show illness. Fading kitten syndrome can be prevented by ensuring that mothers and kittens are not exposed to different blood types and by providing proper nutrition and care.

How does Fading Kitten Syndrome develop?

It is not fully understood why some kittens live to adulthood, and others do not, but in the animal kingdom, it is considered generally “normal” for one or two of the young not to survive. A kitten or two from a litter dying is just as common as no kittens dying at all, according to studies, which places the death rate of kittens up to nine weeks of age in the range of 15 to 30%.

Additionally, the likelihood of one or two kittens passing over the rainbow bridge too soon increases with the size of the litter. Fading kitten syndrome appears to occur more commonly in the following situations:

  • Premature delivery; 
  • mother’s rejection; 
  • if the mother passes away and leaves the kittens orphaned;
  • more than four or five kittens in a litter;
  • extremely anxious mums;
  • mothers who are overweight or undernourished;
  • mothers who are too young or inexperienced;
  • mothers who, because of a medical condition, cannot make enough milk;
  • Defects and abnormalities that are inherited are transferred from mother to kitten.

The “runt” of the litter is also common. Even though these kittens are just as cute and deserving of love as their siblings, who are not runts, they develop more slowly than other kittens in the same litter. Without careful attention, these children are susceptible to fading kitten syndrome.

What Are the Symptoms of Fading Kitten Syndrome?

The most notable characteristic of kittens with fading kitten syndrome is how far behind their healthy siblings appear to be in development. Like human babies, kittens experience developmental milestones such as learning to stand up on their own, opening their eyes, reacting to sounds and lights, rolling over unassisted, etc.

The other (healthy) kittens in the litter will reach those developmental milestones, but the affected kitten(s) won’t.

Kittens who are having trouble and may be experiencing FKS frequently display the following signs:

  • Smaller than the rest of their littermates, not eating or drinking;
  • Not moving much (severe weariness); 
  • Appearing sleepy or disoriented;
  • touchably chilly (low body temperature);
  • breathing that is laborious or slow;
  • minimal heart rate
  • Gum color changes (from pink to white, grey, or extremely light pink); 
  • alterations in bowel or urine patterns, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Some of those symptoms are linked to hypothermia, seen in most, if not all, fading kitten syndrome fatalities.

At what Age Do Symptoms Of Fading Kitten Syndrome Occur?

The first four to six weeks of a kitten’s life are when fading kitten syndrome typically manifests its symptoms. During this time, the mother tends to her young, feeds them, and gradually weans them off her milk. A kitten is most susceptible at this point in its development. They won’t have received a vaccination nor be physically mature enough to protect themselves from anything that could injure them. 

They won’t have grown big enough if they couldn’t acquire enough milk from the mother. Monitoring your litter or kitten with Petcube’s interactive pet camera is a smart idea to ensure your furry pals are all eating and acting as you want them to.

The first four to six weeks of a kitten’s life are often when the signs of any medical issues present at birth but have not yet been identified appear.

What Is the Duration of Fading Kitten Syndrome?

The fading kitten condition persists until:

Either the cause is identified, the appropriate therapy is given, the kitten recovers or becomes healthier, or the kitten regretfully passes away.

A kitten with FKS can recover without human intervention, but this is uncommon. This is the case, particularly when kittens have been abandoned, rejected, etc. In most situations, the kittens will perish if no one steps in.

The process can be relatively swift with some fading kitten syndrome causes, such as sepsis (infection), cold, or trauma. The symptoms appear unexpectedly, and the kitten’s health rapidly deteriorates—sometimes even overnight.

The procedure can be drawn out under various circumstances, such as undetected and unidentified flaws or medical issues. The signs of fading kitten syndrome appear gradually and over a longer time.

These include ailments like: 

  • Immune systems that are still developing; 
  • heart or other key organ irregularities;
  • a variety of viral illnesses, including calicivirus, 
  • panleukopenia, feline AIDS/FIV, and others you can explore with a qualified veterinarian.

How is the syndrome of the fading kitten treated?

Depending on the underlying reason or symptoms, fading kitten syndrome will need to be treated. Initially, the kitten will typically be kept overnight for observation and care. This care will likely include administering antibiotics (to treat infections), plenty of fluids, dextrose IVs, and support to raise body temperature and ward against hypothermia.

When moms have abandoned their young or have passed away and left orphaned, fading kitten syndrome may occasionally be treated with a special formula for kittens. In such cases, kittens are frequently hand-fed for the first four to five weeks of their lives, every two to three hours.

Additionally, diagnostic exams will be carried out, after which choices can be made. Of course, the condition(s) will be treated if it/they can. Humane euthanasia might be the conclusion if they are unable to.

Some kittens will eventually require a specific diet or dietary restrictions for the rest of their life.


Q. Can a kitten beat fade kitten syndrome?

A. Emergency Procedure: In many cases, a deteriorating kitten won’t survive even with medical help, but acting quickly will improve the prognosis! 1. GIVE WARMTH – Cover the cat with a blanket or towel, exposing only its face.

Q. What is the duration of fading kitten syndrome?

A. The first four to six weeks of a kitten’s life—the period between birth and weaning from its mother—is when fading kitten syndrome usually manifests itself.

Q. Can fading kitten syndrome be treated in any way?

A. Although there isn’t a universal treatment for fading kitten syndrome, you can address its underlying causes. This may entail using antibiotics to treat infections, increasing core body temperature to prevent hypothermia, changing one’s diet, taking long-term or temporary medicine, and more.

Final Thoughts

Remember that kittens lack the stamina to fend off illnesses or handle problems. If you have any concerns regarding fading kitten syndrome, speak with your veterinarian soon. Newborn kittens’ health issues might swiftly get worse. Because of this, keeping a close eye on your young cats will help you spot any problems at their early stages.

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