The Cat Care

Fading Kitten Syndrome

Fading Kitten Syndrome: Symptoms, Cause, Treatments, Precautions

Getting home a new kitten or a family of kittens brings us great happiness, but sometimes this joy can turn into instant sorrow due to the “fading kitten syndrome”.

Watching kittens grow into beautiful cats is an amazing experience, but being a cat parent is a huge responsibility that decides whether your cat will grow up to be healthy or unhealthy. 

Kitten fading syndrome is one of the most crucial concerns in a young kitten. You as cat parents must always be on the lookout for any difficulties, issues, and issues experienced by your kitten to ensure they are not suffering internally.

Keep a lookout for kitten fading syndrome, in addition to ensuring sure they are secure, warm, and nourished.

According to the World Small Animal Veterinary Association, this potentially fatal illness affects up to 30% of kittens, and identifying the signs requires a keen eye. 

Fading kitten syndrome me seem like an impossible problem to save our kitten from, but the reality is completely different. At the first stages of fading kitten syndrome, kittens have the highest chance of survival if they get the proper care. Ensuring proper care and well-being of your kitten with preventing and even help kitten recover from the fading cat syndrome.

Information is power, and therefore we are providing you with all the necessary info regarding the fading kitten syndrome. 

Have you brought home a couple of kittens? Or did your beautiful cat just give birth to tiny, lovely kittens? Head down to learn everything you must as a new kitten parent to protect the little one from fading kitten syndrome.

What is fading kitten syndrome?

Fading kitten syndrome is a mysterious problem that isn’t a disease, rather a collection of signs that develop in newborn cats.

Neonatal kittens can exhibit a slew of symptoms drastically, worsening with every day.” It’s caused by a slew of factors, and it has a devastating effect on one’s health. Unfortunately, one of the earliest indicators is the mysterious death of a kitten that is just a few weeks old. In humans, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) has been likened to FKS because of the similarity in symptoms.

At what age do kittens experience fading cat syndrome?

The fading cat syndrome is usually absorbed during the first four to six weeks of a kitten’s life. This is the time period between birth and weaning from their mother. The sad news is that you cannot do anything to prevent the syndrome. The best you can do is keep note of how often kittens eat, how much weight they gain, and how frequently they urinate and defecate every day. 

That way, you’ll be able to notice the earliest indications of danger and get in touch with your veterinarian.

Symptoms of Fading Cat Syndrome

In some cases, the kitten may have signs of fading kitten syndrome. There are a few things to look out for, including:

  • Extremely low weight

FKS kittens are frequently the smallest in their litter because of their extremely low birth weight. They are smaller and less energetic than their siblings at birth.

  • Inability to nurse

After birth, healthy kittens begin to nurse nearly immediately. The mother cat’s nipple is frequently too heavy for a fading kitten to hold and feed. Healthy kittens that are feeding effectively during the first 72 hours after birth get colostrum, unique milk that contains antibodies and nutrients. Colostrum is a rich source of nutrition and antibodies. Passive immunity from colostrum helps kittens develop and flourish until they are old enough to be vaccinated. FKS is more likely to occur if a kitten is bottle-fed and does not obtain colostrum from its mother.

  • Abandonment

Mother cats may discard a weak kitten in favor of her other kittens if they detect a problem with a kitten. In order to save the more healthy kittens, this is an automatic reaction.

  • Hypothermia

Because newborn kittens are unable to manage their own body temperatures, they are at risk of hypothermia (a drop in body temperature). Abandoned or wandering kittens, on the other hand, quickly acquire hypothermia. Felines who are suffering from become drowsy. Instead of healthy pink color, its gums and mouth will be bluish-grey. If no one steps in, this might be lethal very quickly.

Symptoms of the fading cat syndrome condition include, but are not limited to:

  • The inability to keep food down (not eating as much as littermates)
  • Hairless or dull coat
  • Absence of any noises, including meowing.
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Meowing or crying out.
  • Pale/ blue-tinged gums.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Jaundice.
  • Dark red/ brown color urine.
  • Hypothermia/Low Body Temperature (99F) — The sensation of being chilly or cold to the touch, especially in the limbs/extremities.

You may be unable to save the kitten in cases when the kitten’s situation has advanced and becomes more critical. Even if you do everything you can, some kittens may not survive.” 

Cause for Fading Kitten Syndrome

When kitten health begins to diminish in the first few weeks of life, the term “fading kitten syndrome” is used to describe them. It’s aggravating since it’s so difficult to determine the actual root of the problem.

There are several reasons why some kittens become unwell while their littermates are healthy, such as:

  • Belly button Infections (omphalophlebitis)

Inflammation of the belly button is a typical diagnosis in kittens with the disease. The bacteria take the path up from the umbilical cord area, where it was either chewed apart by the mother cat or severed during the procedure.

  • Concerns about genetic predispositions

There may be a genetic component to certain kittens. Some kittens may be able to safely live within the mother cat’s womb, but their health might begin to deteriorate once born. Fading kitten syndrome can be caused by an abnormality in the cat’s heart.

  • Neonatal Isoerythrolysis

In pedigree cats, neonatal isoerythrolysis occurs when the mother cat and her kitten have distinct blood types. In such situations, the antibodies in the mother’s milk will begin to target the kitten’s red blood cells. So, the kitten is healthy, to begin with. But maybe a week after that, the kitten’s health will begin to decline.

  • Toxins

Toxins in the nursery bedding might be absorbed more easily by babies’ delicate skin. Wood shavings, oils, and disinfectant residues in the bedding might irritate or poison the respiratory system or skin. To reduce toxic exposure, avoid using wood shavings or odorous products.

  • Nutritional Causes

Poor nutrition is another important cause of fading kitten syndrome. Bottle-fed kittens receiving insufficient or tainted milk might suffer tragic consequences. Poor calorie intake might affect a mother cat’s milk quality and quantity. 

Can viruses, bacteria, and infections cause fading cat syndrome?

  • Infections

Because newborn kittens lack a completely functional immune system, they are more susceptible to illness. These illnesses are occasionally infectious, which means they can spread from kitten to kitten and make some of them sick and even lead to fading cat syndrome.

  • Virus

In extremely young kittens, common infections such as “cat flu” (Herpesvirus and Calicivirus) can be lethal. Other, more dangerous illnesses, including Panleukopenia, Feline Leukemia Virus, and Feline Coronavirus, can also cause fading and death. These diseases are often transmitted by the queen or other cats in the house, but people can potentially introduce viral particles into the household on their clothing.

  • Bacteria

Kittens can become infected from germs that naturally exist in their environment or those that are present in their intestines. Bacteria frequently enter their bodies through their umbilical cords or any scrapes or grazes that develop at birth. Viral infections can also lead to bacterial infections because the kitten’s immune system is preoccupied with battling the virus, enabling germs to enter.

Bacterial infections in newborn kittens can swiftly lead to sepsis and death, therefore they frequently “fade” if this occurs.

  • Parasites

Young kittens are less likely to be afflicted by parasites, although they can receive worms or other parasites like giardia from their mothers. These parasites normally produce modest symptoms in adult cats, but in newborn kittens, they can cause fading and death.

What is the runt of the litter and can it be a reason for fading kitten syndrome?

A kitten’s usual birth weight is between 90 and 100 grams, with a daily weight rise of between 10 and 15 grams. By the time they are 1 to 2 weeks old, most healthy kittens have gained weight twice as fast as they had at birth. Low-birth-weight kittens referred to as “runts,” may be at risk for a variety of health problems, including congenital anomalies, immature lung development, and a reduced capacity to nurse. Runts are not all doomed to die early, but there are exceptions to the rule. This group of kittens may be able to return to their normal size and development if they are closely monitored and given veterinary treatment.

Precautions of fading cat syndrome?

FKS can be caused by a wide range of variables, making it difficult to devise a single strategy for preventing it. In general, these are some of the measures that should be taken:

  • The mother should be vaccinated and clear of parasites before giving birth. As a caretaker, it is your responsibility to ensure and take the mother cat for her vaccinations.
  • Because of the risk of newborn isoerythrolysis, breeders should do blood tests on the breeding pair.
  • A clean and hygienic birthing environment, as well as minimal handling of the kittens, will help to lessen stress on both the mother and the newborn kittens.
  • To ensure the health of your kittens, take them to a veterinarian shortly after they are born.
  • Check on your kitten frequently, whether it’s a newborn or one you’ve brought home, to see whether it has the symptoms associated with feline Kitty Syndrome (FKS). 
  • Since many of these kittens are too tiny and weak, they may not be able to drink mothers’ milk by themselves. You should be prepared to tube or bottle-feed any troublesome kittens.
  • To keep an eye on the progress of your kittens or litters, use a weight chart. Weight loss in a kitten is an obvious indicator that something is wrong.
  • If hypoglycemia is a problem, we advise screening for dehydration by administering subcutaneous fluids, giving vitamins like B12, and dextrose, and an oral supplement called Nutri-Cal.”

Signs of Fading Cat Syndrome

Kitten fading syndrome’s earliest symptoms are mild. It is recommended that kittens add 10 grams of weight every day. It’s a good sign if you observe that one of the kittens is losing weight, is not gaining weight, or is slipping behind the others. You may keep track of this by weighing them on a daily basis.

Keep a watchful eye on the kitten as well. In some cases, you may observe a kitten that seems to be missing out on activities such as feeding and playtime.

Late signs of Fading cat syndrome include: 

  • Irregular breathing.
  • Severe lethargy 
  • Neck arching.
  • Odd vocalization
  • Gasping for breath.

An expert in veterinary medicine should be called if any of these signs are present. 

A few minor changes may make a significant effect.

Inquire with your veterinarian about the best approach to clean the kittens’ umbilical cords after delivery; they will be able to provide you with a safe disinfectant.

Keep the kittens’ bed or enclosure clean, and use standard excellent hygiene with food and water dishes.

Before touching the kittens, always properly wash your hands.

While the kittens are young, avoid contact with other cats outside the family, since you may unintentionally bring virus particles home on your skin or clothing.

Treatments of Fading Kitten Syndrome

Treatment at Home

Dehydration can soon set in if a kitten isn’t getting enough milk and cuddles from its mother and siblings. A hazardous decrease in her core temperature and blood sugar levels is also possible. There are various treatments that you can do at home to help your cat with the problem.

  1. Warm them up.
  • Make a burrito out of the cat by wrapping it in a towel immediately. The only part of their body that should be visible is their face, the rest should be completely covered by the towel. 
  • Never remove the kitten from the towel to make any adjustments or to check on it. Even if it’s just for a few seconds, every time you bring them out, they’ll become cold again.
  • As an additional source of warmth, place a heating pad on a low setting around the burrito towel. To keep it in place, wrap it around the towel and secure it in place.
  • The burrito may be used as a heating pad in the absence of one by placing a towel in the dryer for a few minutes and then wrapping it around it that way. Repeat as necessary.
  • If the cat isn’t warming up even with the towel, you’ll need to use more heat and rely on something more than your body heat. Because your core temperature is lower than that of a kitten, your own body heat will have no effect.
  1. In order to raise their blood sugar level,
  • Sugar sources: Karo Syrup; Nutrical; warm sugar water, honey.
  • Provide 3 drops of syrup every 3 minutes.
  • If the kitten isn’t eating, try rubbing the sugar on its gums and tongue.
  • Make sure you don’t cross-contaminate by reusing syringes.

Make sure to get your kitten rehydrated and try to feed the mother’s milk.

Treatment at a Clinic

Get your kitten to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Kittens with belly button infections might benefit from antibiotics. It’s possible that medications for parasites or other ailments will also be helpful here.

It’s crucial to keep in mind that kittens lack the physical resources to fight diseases or handle problems. If you’re concerned about fading kitten syndrome, contact your veterinarian immediately. When something goes wrong with a newborn kitten’s health, it can soon become critical. As a result, the most important thing you can do for your kittens is to keep a constant eye on them.

Treatment includes providing supportive care as well as addressing symptoms and getting to the bottom of them.” This treatment for the fading kitten syndrome may include the following:

  • Antibiotics are provided to combat any indications of infection, such as respiratory infections.
  • Dewormers and other drugs are used to treat parasites.
  • Giving supportive care, such as IV fluids to treat dehydration.
  • Using a feeding tube to deliver much-needed nutrients to the kitten’s body.
  •  Plasma treatment to strengthen the kitten’s immune system
  • Vitamins like B12 and iron can help strengthen the kitten’s immune system.
  • If the kitten is hypoglycemia, the veterinarian will give them a 50% dextrose injection to raise their blood sugar.

Euthanasia may be the most compassionate option in some instances, but early action by caregivers can help prevent this from happening.


Fading kitten syndrome is a very problematic issue that can leave you in great sorrow. Preventing your newborn kitten from dying before their time depends on a lot of factors. Being responsible, observant, and vigilant can prevent your kitten from an early demise.

Are some questions still circling your mind? Head down for answers to some of the frequently asked questions by cat parents.


What is the survival rate in the case of fading kitten syndrome?

Cats with FKS have a low survival rate due to the fact that the first thing owners see is a dying or dead kitten. You may not be able to save them even if you discover they need help soon since they are so weak.

Do kittens have a chance of surviving the fading kittens?

What’s causing it is a variable and often the deciding factor whether the cat will survive or not. The survival rate can be improved if therapy is administered immediately after it is detected (for example, by identifying and treating any kitten that does not acquire weight as quickly as the other kittens).

Can cats die unexpectedly?

Occasionally, a kitten will die immediately, but most of the time, the illness will take several hours or even days to manifest itself.

What is “Failing to Thrive” in a kitten?

A kitten’s inability to flourish indicates that it is unhealthy. Generally speaking, a healthy kitten should be robust, active, suckling well, and acting normally. “Failing to thrive” might describe a kitten that does not meet these criteria. Fading Kitten Syndrome can occur in kittens who fail to thrive.

What can you do to save a dying kitten?

Warmth, nourishment, and hydration are the three most important considerations when trying to save a cat suffering from fading kitten syndrome. When a kitten is dying, it is best to take it to the doctor immediately so that these issues may be dealt with quickly and effectively.

What to save a lethargic cat?

In order to get to the bottom of the lethargy, veterinary assistance is required. Only after finding the cause of the issue can you help the cat recover and become active.

Do kittens spend the entire day sleeping?

Despite the fact that healthy kittens can spend a lot of time napping, this should be balanced out with intervals of movement. If a kitten spends most of its time sleeping, it’s best to take it to a veterinarian for an examination.