FKS: An Introduction to Fading Kitten Syndrome

Fading Kitten Syndrome, otherwise known as FKS, affects twenty to forty percent of all domesticated cats. FKS does not only refer to one condition, but a variety of health problems that can arise very early in a cat's development. These problems can start when the kitten is still a fetus, during the birth process or during the cat's nursing stage. Fading Kitten Syndrome is usually due to a birth defect, and if the defect is going to cause the kitten's death, it usually happens before the kitten is twelve weeks old. The first seven days of a kitten's life are called the neonatal period, and neonatal mortality is the most common type of FKS.

Birth Defects and Injuries during Birth

The most common cause of Fading Kitten Syndrome is birth defect, due to the mother being given an improper diet during pregnancy. Birth defects can also be the result of a spontaneous mutation, but mutations can also be caused by exposure to intense electromagnetic radiation, or certain toxic chemicals.

Some cases of FKS are caused by physical trauma associated with the birth process. While it's very uncommon for a kitten's blood type to be different from its mother's, it can happen and can result in the mother's immune system causing damage to the kitten while it's still developing in the womb.


Since the immune systems in very young kittens have not had time to fully develop, infections that would not constitute a serious threat for older cats can cause death in young kittens. These infections can be multi-cellular parasites, bacteria, viruses or fungi.

Problems with the Mother

Another rare cause of Fading Kitten Syndrome is neglect of the kitten on the part of the kitten's mother. If the mother has a hormonal imbalance that causes it to forget or not care enough to nurse its kittens, the kittens can die of starvation.

Treatment of FKS

  • If a case of Fading Kitten Syndrome is caused by parasites or pathogenic disease, treatment of the infection can save the kitten. Vaccine boosters can be administered to prevent infections from taking hold in the first place.
  • If the cause of FKS is malnutrition, an immediate change to a more appropriate diet may be able to save the kitten's life, as long as the problem was identified early enough. If the kitten has subsisted on an inadequate diet for too long, even an immediate switch to a more healthy diet will be too late.
  • If the mother's blood type is different from the kitten's, Fading Kitten Syndrome can be avoided if the kitten does not nurse from the mother.
  • Even if a kitten has only nursed one time from a mother who does not have the same blood type, there is nothing that can be done to save the kitten. Therefore, it's extremely important to check for this problem early.
  • If FKS is caused by a birth defect or physical trauma, it's usually impossible to treat and the kitten will die.

Fading Kitten Syndrome is very sad for mother cats and their owners, and is common because very young kittens are so delicate and vulnerable. To maximize the probability of your kitten's survival, check for possible causes of FKS as soon as you can, because early detection is the key for effective treatment.