We need to consider a lot of possibilities with this kitten. Being abandoned by the mother can sometimes mean that there is a problem with a kitten with the mother sensing this and directing her attention away from it and towards the other kittens. This is of course the concept of “survival of the fittest”. But that doesn’t mean that a poor developer cannot be raised to be a healthy and long-living adult.
It’s impossible of course for me to make any truly accurate diagnosis without the benefit of an examination. However the fact that the kitten is reasonably bright and responsive and that it has a good appetite is a comfort. We always need to consider a congenital abnormality of some sort in “stunted” kittens. Some of these are pretty obvious to owners as well as vets. In many cases the kitten will appear abnormal rather than just small. Cleft palate is a common problem and your vet should have checked for that but you can do so too….just look at the roof of the mouth, if there is a cleft palate it will be obvious. My asking about the gum colour is that it can sometimes suggest issues like heart/lung problems and anaemic issues. Yes…please let me know about that when you can. At 6 weeks of age many deeper congenital abnormalities can be harder to diagnose, sometimes requiring blood testing and imaging but we wouldn’t be thinking about that at this stage.
There is no doubt that the respiratory infection will be having an impact even if it’s not the primary problem. Fighting infection saps energy that would normally be applied to growth and development. Hopefully as we see the infection controlled and cleared Axl will start to improve.
Worming is the very first thing we need to do. Roundworm infestation is one of the most common causes for ill-thrift in kittens. Faecal examination will sometimes be negative in young kittens. As the worms may not have reached maturity. Classic signs are pot belly, weakness but with a good appetite. Stool quality can vary but we will often get diarrhoea. If Axl’s mother was of questionable history then that increases the possibility of worms being a problem. I always instruct my kitten owners and cat breeders to worm for roundworm every 2 weeks from 2 weeks of age. This should be continued up until 3 months of age and then I usually recommend monthly worming until 6 months of age. Pyrantel pamoate (eg Strongid) is absolutely suitable at this age. So worm Axl straight away, following the dose instructions on the package. The liquid form is most suitable at this age.
Diet is very important. At 6 weeks of age he should be eating a balanced kitten formula (canned or dry). No need for milk (except as a treat) or other supplements. I’m not familiar with Innova, it may very well be a fully balanced diet….it’s difficult to keep up with the wide variety of commercial diets (remember that this is an international forum). However Royal Canin kitten foods definitely meet the recommended standards for kittens. The only other thing I might recommend is that you could obtain a “recovery formula” from your vet. Royal Canin manufacture a version. This is a high energy ration used to boost recovery from illness. It could be mixed with the normal kitten formula perhaps as 25% of the total. If you prefer to feed the kibble still that’s no problem…just mix it with the recovery formula.
There are a few less common infections that might need to be considered, mainly bowel parasitic problems (not worms) but we will usually have a diarrhoea problem so no need to consider that yet.
I’ve just had a look at the pictures….thank you. Yes, definitely pot-bellied. Pot belly can relate to worms as I discussed but it can also be a fluid accumulation. In the latter case there can be some serious implications (eg Feline infectious Peritonitis). If the Strongid doesn’t effect an improvement quickly I’d suggest you have the vet see if there is fluid there using a needle. The fluid can then be examined to determine its source.
Hmmm….so I’ve said a lot! I hope I haven’t overburdened you. But the gist of what is happening here is that we need to follow certain steps:
- Good nutrition
- Control and clear the respiratory infection
- Then start to investigate further if we’re not satisfied with the progress.
Please contact me back if you require any clarification or have further questions and let me kniow about the gum colour. Remember that I’m in Australia so there’s a time zone issue.
Kindest regards, Peter