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Dr_Kitty, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 539
Experience:  Veterinarian
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What is the cause of "swimmer" kitten syndrome?

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What is the cause of "swimmer" kitten syndrome?
Hi, this disorder is caused by a congenital problem during development of the sternum, or chest bone, or develop after birth. There are a few different theories on the cause. This website will tell you in a more detailed write- up:

Message me back with more questions.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

These kittens are not flat chested. It is surely nocoincidence that I have two swimmer kittens from different litters with the same father. I have had over the years more than 50 litters and have never seen this syndrome before. Only the hind legs are affected. Is it genetic or an intrauterine infection ? I have found no definite veterinary expanation.

How old are these kittens? Neonates?

If the queens are different and the sire the same, I would expect genetic. This could be a tendon problem, in which the tendons are too short, or too lax, so the kittens cannot bear weight on them.

Here is a list of orthopedic abnormalities and a quick scan through it doesn't reveal to me what you are describing. You may want to read it through a little more closely.

The chances of 2 different queens having uterine infections is less likely. I looked through my info and thought about it, and I can't remember any disease in cats that may cause interuterine infections, unlike Brucellosis in dogs. I may be wrong.....

Message me back with questions and we'll try to figure it out.
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

There was nothig in that link you gave me that is relevant. It seems that no one really knows about swimmer kittens. The good news is that the older kitten, 5 weeks is walking almost normally, and the younger definitely improving. Glad they were no euthanized as my vet advised! Neither will be used for breeding in case of a genetic defect. Thank you.

Sounds like a good plan. They may have had a tendon problem that prevented them from bearing weight and now that they have developed more physically they are able to overcome it. Sometimes we vets don't know it all, and it only takes someone like yourself that is willing to devote time and care to overcome a problem like this.
Hi Judith,

I'm just following up on our conversation about Fearn And Gairloch From 2 Different Litters). How is everything going?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Fearn is almost normal now. Gairloch still has problems on a slippery floor but is managing quite well on a rough surface. But I still have not found out the cause!

You may never know. Glad to know they are improving.