Common kitten diseases

What can be more endearing than playful, happy kittens? To ensure unhindered development of your little darlings, their proud human parents should tackle the most common kitten hood diseases at an early stage.

Round worms

Many kittens will contract intestinal round worms in the first days of their life. The infected mother cat passes the worm larvae with the milk to the kittens. The larvae get through the gullet into the kitten’s intestine where they mature and produce eggs which are excreted in the kitten’s faeces. Kittens and mothers re-infect themselves with the eggs when they attend to their grooming. The larvae hatching from the ingested eggs migrate through the cat’s body to the intestines. Some of the larvae may encapsulate in muscle tissue forming an infectious reservoir which is always activated when the body’s immune system is compromised, for instance in times of stress or pregnancy. The larvae will then continue their migration through the body eventually reaching the teats.

Hookworms

Hookworms are also quite common in kittens. Their eggs are excreted in the faeces of infected animals. The eggs hatch outside and the juvenile worms burrow through the cat’s skin and migrate to the intestine. If the parasites are not eliminated very early on, the kittens fail to thrive, their coat becomes shaggy looking and they have diarrhoea and blood present in their stools. Adult cats are rarely affected to the degree where they show clinical symptoms. However, they as well as infected kittens play an important role in spreading the infection. Worms do not just affect cats, but can also be transmitted to humans. Children in particular can become infected with eggs or larvae when playing in the garden or in fields contaminated with cat faeces. The migrating larvae can cause health problems. The danger of infection of man and animal alike can be controlled by a de worming programme under a vet’s direction. If possible, the pregnant queen should be examined with regard to her worm status and be wormed if necessary. As any larvae living in tissue are not affected by the worm treatment, the kittens and mother cat must be re wormed approx. 14 days after the birth of the litter and in regular intervals thereafter until no more worms are present.

Worm-free kittens have an uncompromised immune system which is necessary so that the kitten can receive its first vaccinations (cat flu, feline parvovirosis, feline leukosis and rabies) at an age of approx. 8 weeks.