All Kittens should be weighed AT LEAST ONCE DAILY. Any weight loss should be reported immediately.
Due to the unknown history of the animals in the shelter, the animals are susceptible to and are potential carriers of many infectious diseases, including intestinal parasites, bacterial infections, and viral infections.
While the shelter thoroughly checks and treats all animals upon arrival to the shelter, most illnesses have an incubation period, meaning they can begin showing signs after arrival to their foster home. Please observe animals carefully and note any changes in their behavior or habits. If you notice any of the following symptoms, contact the foster team immediately. Do not attempt to treat any illness or parasites on your own. Always contact firstname.lastname@example.org so we can provide any medication needed.
Coughing or sneezing
Watery, goopy, red eyes
Lack of appetite or refusal to drink water
Ongoing diarrhea lasting more than 12 hours
Blood or parasites in stool
Sudden hair loss
Itchy dirty ears
Many of the above can either lead to or accompany dehydration, a serious condition marked by diarrhea, vomiting, and/or loss of appetite. To check for dehydration, pinch the animal’s skin gently. If the skin springs back slowly, taking more than one second, your animal is dehydrated and you should contact KHS immediately.
Healthy poop in bottle fed babies will be brown to yellow in color and will become browner as their weaning progresses. Good kitten poop should be fairly solid. If it looks like a miniature cat poop or soft serve ice cream, it’s a good poop!
Poop is a very important indicator of health in a kitten. Monitor the color, form, frequency, and smell to remain aware of any changes that could indicate a health problem. If you suspect illness, collect a stool sample and contact KHS for veterinary support.
Ongoing diarrhea is very serious and requires veterinary support as soon as possible. Diarrhea can be fatal for kittens if it lasts more than 24 hours, so please contact KHS if your kittens have loose and runny stool.
Upper Respiratory Infection (URI)
URIs are common and caused by contagious viruses and bacteria. Look for signs of:
Symptoms can be alleviated by placing kittens in a steamy bathroom to break up congestion. Crusty, inflamed eyes should be kept clean with a warm, wet compress, and treated with an ophthalmic antibiotic.
If you notice any of these symptoms, please contact the foster team immediately.
Kittens are highly susceptible to GI issues from stomach parasites to stress-induced diarrhea. While common worms are treated with routine dewormer, some kittens have additional internal parasites such as coccidian or tapeworms. Contact us so we can help diagnose and provide treatment.
Kittens have sensitive skin, which can become irritated or infected. Scalding from urine or fecal matter can make the skin near the genitals a raw red color. Irritation should be kept clean with warm water, and protected with a topical cream like Aquaphor. If concerned about other skin complications, contact KHS for veterinary support. Ringworm is also common in kittens, especially during the months of July and August. Ringworm typically appears on the tips of the ears, tail, around the eyes or on the paws, but can show up anywhere on the body. If you see any hair loss on your foster kittens please be sure to let foster staff know.
All kittens over four weeks old are treated with Advantage Multi by KHS before they go to a foster home.
Foster kittens should NEVER be flea-dipped, flea-powdered, or flea-collared. These products are toxic, and can even cause adverse reactions in adults. If you notice fleas on your kitten, we can treat them with a mild flea preventative. You can also give them a bath with Dawn dish soap and keep their bedding clean to prevent and eliminate flea infestations.
The spread of disease can be greatly reduced by practicing thorough, frequent hand washing hygiene before and after coming into contact with your foster animal. You should also clean and disinfect items frequently. Soaps and detergents are cleaning agents that suspend dirt and grease and break up organic matter, but do not necessarily disinfect. Disinfectants are chemical solutions that kill germs. Bleach is a common disinfectant. When bleach is diluted to a ratio of one part bleach to 32 parts water, it makes a great solution for disinfecting surfaces.
Some conditions that can spread to humans are:
Rabies is transmitted through a virus carried in saliva. Signs of rabies include personality and behavioral changes, loss of coordination, difficulty swallowing, seizures, and death. Rabies is fatal, and there is no cure in humans or animals. All animals at KHS over the age of 4 months old are vaccinated for rabies.
Almost every puppy is born with roundworms contracted from its mother. These worms can be transmitted to people, especially children. Most infections in people are mild and display little to no symptoms, but cases can be more severe. The puppies feces should be removed and disposed of daily, and everyone who handles the puppy should wash their hands frequently, especially children who tend to put their hands in their mouths often.
Ringworm is not a worm at all, but a fungal infection on the skin. It can be difficult to diagnose in animals because the lesions can vary in their presentation. Some animals can carry the fungus in their coat without displaying symptoms. In people, the classic lesion is a raised, red ring.
Occasionally, an otherwise healthy kitten will suddenly stop thriving. They will stop growing, socializing, begin to lose weight, and may continuously cry. When this happens, they fade quickly. Even with medical intervention they may not survive longer than 48 hours. There is no cure for this condition.
Animals do, sometimes, die in foster care. If this happens, contact the foster team for support and assistance dealing with the deceased animal.