Fading Kitten Syndrome: What It Is, Why It Happens And How To Prevent It


There is an abundance of feral cats usually born in spring. But even if they’re feral, the kittens can grow up to be loving and wonderful companions if properly raised and socialized. Most of the kittens do get a chance to have a wonderful life all because of foster homes. However, things can turn tragic for these little creatures when summer approaches. It doesn’t matter how hard a foster cat parent has worked to nurture kittens from the start – there’ll be that one condition that takes the lives of these poor babies before their ninth week – the fading kitten syndrome.

The fading kitten syndrome is basically the failure to thrive as newborns. The first six to nine weeks, (though some experts have used 12 weeks) are the most vulnerable for kittens. It is a common occurrence in the offspring of strays as they are more prone to it. For this reason, feline rescuers advocate spaying and neutering of feral and stray cats.

What is Fading Kitten Syndrom And Why It Happens

Fading kitten syndrome is common among offspring of strays and feral cats

Fading kitten syndrome is caused by several factors. Inadequacy by the feline mother is a leading risk factor. Foster kittens are usually at risk since they have been abandoned by their mothers or left as orphans.

But that’s not to say that present feline mothers can’t be inadequate as well. Feline mothers who are around but are inexperienced, stressed, obese or malnourished and unable/unwilling to nurse, can also put the kittens at risk.

Infection is also a common culprit for fading kitten syndrome. Kittens may succumb to life-threatening sepsis brought about by bacterial infections. At the same time, viral infections can also trigger the syndrome.

Trauma, when a kitten is crushed or falls from a height, is also another risk for fading kitten syndrome, along with hypothermia, which happens when the little one gets separated from the group. Hereditary defects, underdeveloped immune systems and hemolytic anemia can also result in fading kittens.

Symptoms of Fading Kittens

  1. Kittens who have an extremely low birth weight.
  2. One that is observed to be less active compared to the rest of the group. Usually the runt.
  3. A kitten that cannot nurse properly means it’s not that strong to suckle the mother cat’s nipple

How to Prevent Fading Kitten Syndrome

Kittens who suffer from health crisis should be treated by veterinarians. They are usually given fluids, dextrose, thermal support and at times, antibiotics. If the kitten starts to recover, it should be given nutritional support and with the addition of deworming medications. The unfortunate thing is that kittens affected by the condition usually don’t survive despite treatment.