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    What Can Go Wrong With My Kitten?

    WebMD veterinary expert answers commonly asked questions about kitten care, including vaccinations, common illnesses, and birth defects.


    Q: What is causing the gummy discharge from my kitten’s eyes?

    A: It’s oftentimes an upper respiratory infection, and that’s a catchall phrase. That can cover things like conjunctivitis, sinusitis, and rhinitis. If your kitten has runny eyes, clean them with a cotton ball dipped in warm water. But if it lasts for more than 24 hours, you should see your veterinarian. Although it’s usually not anything serious, I’ve seen kittens go blind from this when it was left untreated. It’s also more common in younger kittens. By the time kittens reach 16 weeks, it should stop reccurring because their immunity will be built up by then.

    Q: My kitten has fleas. Should I be concerned? Can I put flea treatments on him?

    A: It’s a very important issue. Fleas are bloodsucking parasites. In a great big cat, that’s not particularly serious. In a tiny little kitten, it is. They don’t have a lot of blood, and they’re virtually defenseless - they’re not grooming themselves yet, they barely know how to scratch. These fleas are going to town and the kittens get very anemic and they can die from this.

    There are flea treatments you can use on kittens, but you have to be very cautious. Some treatments meant for older cats can kill a kitten. You also don’t want to bathe your kitten, because it can drop his body temperature. And we don’t recommend using over-the-counter products, because they’re much less effective and much more toxic than what veterinarians have to treat fleas.

    Q: The inside of my kitten’s ears are red and inflamed. What’s causing that?

    A: There are many things that can cause that inflammation, but the most common thing is ear mites. These are bugs that live in the ear canal that look like aliens. Kittens usually get them from their mom.

    They’re very treatable. But it’s important that you have your veterinarian clean your kitten’s ears first. And please don’t try to do this yourself. I’ve seen lots of damaged kittens’ ears from Q-tips and things. Once the ears are clean, your vet will give you medications to put in the ears that will kill the rest of the mites.

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    Reviewed on June 26, 2009
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