Is Your Kitten Sick? Distinguishing Illness From Fatigue

For most cat owners, seeing their kitten sick is unsettling. With their small developing bodies, kittens are susceptible to a number of potentially life-threatening illness, disorders and accidents. At the same time, growing kittens require significant amounts of rest for proper growth, hormone regulation and cell repair. The need for excessive sleep combined with vulnerability to ailments and injuries can make it difficult to tell when a kitten is ill or just fatigued. Here are some details on kitten resting habits and information on distinguishing between kitten sleepiness and sickness.

Natural Causes of Fatigue

If your kitten's eating and drinking, and bathroom routines are consistent, her extreme sleepiness may be a part of her normal growth patterns. Adult cats spend between 13 to 18 hours a day sleeping, but kittens need even greater amounts of rest for proper development. Essential growth hormones are released in a kitten's body during sleep. Rest also helps strengthen a kitten's immune system and allows damaged cells to be repaired or replaced. Sleep is a time for kittens to regain valuable energy lost during play and exploration.

Although general sleepiness is common, kitten vaccinations can cause young felines to appear fatigued and lethargic. Many animal care experts believe this tiredness is especially common after a kitten's first round of vaccinations. Kittens may also react to various forms of cat medicine like dewormers and anti-flea products. Small bodies often need time to recover from the introduction of vaccines and drugs into their growing systems. Stress can also contribute to kitten exhaustion, particularly if your pet has undergone a dramatic change like moving to a new home or visiting the veterinarian.

Fatigue Related to Illness

Despite a kitten's natural need for rest, excessive sleepiness combined with other signs can suggest a health-related problem. Fading Kitten Syndrome (FKS) describes a number of problems that can afflict kittens, particularly as newborns. FKS kittens typically display symptoms like lethargy, weakness, a lack of appetite, low birth weight, poor coordination, difficulty breathing and vomiting. Such kittens frequently suffer from prenatal illnesses or develop conditions soon after birth. Among the most common disorders are viruses: Feline Infectious Peritonitis, Feline Leukemia Virus, feline distemper, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus and Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis; and parasite-related conditions like roundworm, fleas, hookworms, tapeworms and mites.

Fatigue can also affect kittens who are malnourished or suffer from an undetected birth defect.

With their rapid growth and development, kittens can seem to transition to adulthood quickly. This kind of change requires young cats to devote a majority of their day to sleeping. But when a kitten's sleepiness coincides with a sudden loss in appetite, weakness, or other symptoms, it may signal a condition requiring medical attention. Familiarizing yourself with your kitten's sleeping habits and other routines can help you distinguish between necessary rest and underlying illness.