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Dr Pete
Dr Pete, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 3009
Experience:  Bachelor of Veterinary Science (University of Melbourne, Australia)
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What would you suggest for a 6 wk old, 11 oz kitten who is

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What would you suggest for a 6 wk old, 11 oz kitten who is not gaining weight as he should? What would be the implications of using Strongid at his size?


Can I ask you some questions first

  1. Do you still have access to its littermates? If so how does it compare to them in size and activity/development.
  2. How active is it? Inquisitive? Playful? Or sleeps all day?
  3. Is it just small or does it appear to have abnormal “shape”. eg poor muscle mass, flat chest, pot belly?
  4. Look at its gums. Red, pink, pale or grey?
  5. What type of food does it have? A good appetite?
  6. Has any dewormer been used yet?

Thanks, Peter

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
1. No access to litter mates or mom, kitten was found all alone.
2. Initially Axl was active, inquisitive and playful. When he started coming down w/respiratory illness, he became lethargic. His energy is improving but it is not what it was. He also seems to have a weak, wobbly gait.
3. I think he has an abnormal shape, definitely poor muscle mass and a pot belly. I can send you a picture, if this is possible?
4. It's midnight here in California, and I've put him to bed for the night. Don't want to wake him, I will check gum color in the morning and let you know what I see.
5. I am feeding him a kitten gruel made out of GNC kitten milk replacer formula and Innova cat & kitten canned wet food. I've also added a meal of Royal Canin kitten kibble, but I soak in water first to moisten, and then add a little kitten formula to it. I've also been feeding chicken baby food, Gerber & Beechnut brands. His appetite has never waivered, it has always been good. I weigh him before and after meals, he generally weighs about a half ounce heavier after he eats.
Thank you.
6. No dewormed has been used yet.
Good information....thanks
Yes...can you send a picture. You click thge "paperclip" icon on the menu above the text window and browse to the picture on your computer.
I'll wait for that before answering. Let me know if you have any trouble.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Sorry was a bit delayed, neither the Safari nor the Chrome browser render the paperclip icon! On Internet Explorer now, so here we go, I've inserted 2 photos.....graphicgraphic


Hi again

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:

  1. Worming
  2. Good nutrition
  3. Control and clear the respiratory infection
  4. 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

Dr Pete and 2 other Cat Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank you very much for all the info! No, not overwhelming, it's good stuff. It's helped me clarify the situation. I will check gum color and cleft palate tomorrow and let you know. In the meantime, I will start replacing the kitten milk portion of his food with just food. Innova is considered a "high quality" protein food over here. There is one "cat and kitten" formula. I had thought about FIP, but my thinking was that he probably wouldn't be surviving this type of infection at this point given the respiratory and underweight issues? I understand it's something to keep in mind if worming doesn't clear the pot belly though. I am going to sleep now, 1:45 am here. Need to wake up to feed Axl at 8 am (he sleeps through the night without eating). I don't mind the time zone difference. Thank you for your help!
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Good morning. Checked his gums this morning, they are pale, not grey, not pink. No cleft pallate. Alert and hungry this morning. Eating well. No weight gain. Attempting to get Strongid, can I give at the same time he is taking antibiotics? Thank you!
Hi again
It would be better to see some pinkness in the gums! The respiratory infection may be playing a role though.
Worming him is an important first step. Yes, you can dose whilst on antibiotics but give the Strongid between the antibiotic doses with at least an hour or two separation. The Strongid shouldn't upset him.
Please keep in touch.
Dr Pete and 2 other Cat Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX keep in touch!
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Update: Axl's vet here gave me Panacur as a dewormer. I was planning to use Strongid (as that's the one I am familiar with too), but he said that Panacur may also have some GI anti-inflammatory properties, so I decided to go with that. Axl is on his last dose today (7 day treatment). His weight has gone up over the last 7 days, from around 10.8 to 12.0 ounces. His energy seems to also have improved. I am hoping that this week, being off the Panacur, his weight will continue to increase. Thanks again for your help. I very much enjoyed having you as a part of Axl's team!
Thanks for the update. It sounds great! Panacur is a good choice with it's anti-inflamm effect.
So many of these kittens that start off their life slow end up being the best cats!
Cheers, Peter
Dr Pete and 2 other Cat Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Dr. Pete, we could use another question here regarding Axl. This morning, I noticed a lump to the left of his chest. I thought Maybe it was his heart because he is so skinny. Now I realize that it is a lump under his arm and is definitely not normal. He has an appointment with his vet at 8:45 am, it's almost 10 pm now. I made the appointment today because he started urinating outside of his litter tray (not normal for him) and suspected a UTI. Which seemed to me logical considering the problem I had been having with his ongoing poopy bottom, keeping it clean. He also developed a rash around his mouth and under the base of his tailI which I figured was from stuck on food and poop (my not cleaning thoroughly or quickly enough?). I applied Neosporin today and now the area around his mouth (whisker area) is swollen :( I can imagine the differential diagnosis for this big lump I found under his arm, and we are very on edge at the moment. I will post a picture in the next reply. We would love to hear your thoughts on the situation. Regards, Leigh
Customer: replied 6 years ago.


Axl's got a little way to go yet from the look of the pics...but he'll get there.
Of course I now expect follow-up pictures!
Cheers, Peter
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Did u see my question/comments about the lump under his arm? You can see it in the pic where he's stretching his arms up. Thanks, Leigh
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
It was an abscess. Got drained. He's on antibiotics now.

Hi again Leigh

I’m so sorry I somehow missed your post regarding the lump. But it’s turned out to be an abscess! That would have been making Axl quite sick and probably played a big part in his ill health. The antibiotics should help clean up the rash…but it looks like a “scald” caused by food debris, perhaps from cleaning himself up around his bowel, etc. Vitamin E cream or Aloe Vera cream are good for that….quite safe if he licks small amounts but rub it well in.

Cause of the abscess?....perhaps an immunological weakness with his poor start to life.

I’m away on leave at the moment (3 weeks) but I should be able to log in each day to check on my clients so I’ll watch for any posts from you and try not to miss one again…sorry again.

Please let me know how he continues.


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thanks you, no worries. Yes the abcess was filled with green puss. Even though it was thoroughly drained today, it is filling up again. I'm taking him to the vet again tomorrow.

Thank you for the suggestions of Aloe Vera and vitamin E for his face. I'll give that a try as the neosporin seems to irritate him.

I'll post a progress update tomorrow.
Thanks. We're on the road. Mobile phone!
Important thing with an abcess is drainage! Keep it open. Keep up his nutrition.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Hi Dr. Pete,

Thank you for all your support with little Axl. I have some sad news. He died this morning. I found him on the floor first thing this morning, clearly in pain (he actually cried out in pain when I picked him up) and immediately rushed him to the vet. He died in the car on the way. I've asked for an autopsy and should be getting some news this afternoon. I will let you know what we find out.

Later today my husband will be posting the most beautiful eulogy for him on his Facebook page (yes, little Axl had his own Facebook page and following). If you'd like to see, go to the Facebook page called "ForeverMeow Axl".

It was hard to find him like that. Despite all of his issues, every morning he was bouncy and full of energy with a great appetite for breakfast. It leaves me wondering what on earth happened? Could it have been a reaction the new antibiotics he was given yesterday? I guess I can only just wait to hear the results of the necropsy.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Update. Received call about autopsy results. Axl's intestinal tract was totally covered in caseous abscess material. He also had a couple abscesses in his liver and his lungs. His immune system was walling these areas off, but it was only a matter of time. The vet said there was nothing we could have done for him. That he may have contracted a bacterial infection when he was born, through the umbilicus or shortly after birth. He probably succumbed today from septicemia and the overload of toxins in his system.

The word "caseous" caught my ear as I know this type of necrosis is commonly associated with tuberculosis caused by a myobacterium. I did a little research and learned that there are several types of myobacterium which can affect cats. One type causes tuberculosis in cats, another causes causes leprosy, etc. Do you think a myobacteriosis could have been the culprit here? I feel like I need to know what caused this, even though I may never know for certain. I have been unable to come up with another explanation besides a myobacterium. But I am not a vet and I'm thinking there may have been other things which could have lead to this internal state of abscess? I would love your opinion on the matter. What I wrote above is all the vet here had to offer.

Hope you are having a good leave. I'm sorry to deliver such unhappy news to you.

I'm so sad for you. I'm on my mobile phone again and hard to type. I'll try to log in on laptop at campsite tonight and say more.
Cheers, Peter

Hi Leigh

I feel for you both! It’s very hard when you put so much effort in and particularly with such a young kitten who you felt relied so much upon you. Unfortunately I see this a lot when there’s been a poor start to life. But you need to feel comfortable in having given Axl a good home with lots of affection even for his short life. Quality of life is more important than quantity.

Yes….”caseous” is associated with mycobacterial infection but this bacteria is the least likely cause. Many bacteria produce abscesses that can have this appearance. Streptococcus is one of the most common causes of caseous abscesses in young kittens. The infection is usually introduced through a wound of some sort (it can be a very small abrasion) and the umbilical route is also common. Most probably Axl’s immune system was depleted. He wasn’t going to make it regardless of what was done unfortunately.

So the cause of Axl’s illness may have been of minimal impact on a healthy adult cat but at his age and with his poor start to life there was only one direction for him…sad as that may be.

You must now move on Leigh. There are plenty of kittens out there that need good homes….and there’s no doubt that you can provide that.

I’m unable access Facebook “on the road” but I’ll have a look at your tribute site when I get back to Melbourne in a couple of weeks. In the meantime I should be able to log into JustAnswer each day if you have further questions,

All the best, Peter