Kitten Health Problems – An Overview, Symptoms, Causes, and Prevention

kitten health problems

It always appears to be a huge responsibility when you think of bringing a pet in your home. And apprehension increases if you are willing to get a baby pet. For example, your job becomes even harder when you have a kitten to look after. Though they look adorable while rolling around, jumping over the walls, enjoying themselves while playing around, but some kitten health problems can hinder their growth and healthy development. 

Therefore, you need to know about the potential problems of the health of your cuddly friend. Careful behavior will not only keep them safe and healthy, but you will also feel satisfied. Hence, here is a list of some common health problems in kittens and their symptoms, causes, treatments, and preventions.

Kitten health problems

Breeds on risk

Upper respiratory infections

Persians and other flat-faced breeds

Feline Distemper

All breeds

Intestinal worms

All breeds


All breeds

Fleas in cats

All breeds

Ear Mites

No specific breed predisposition


All breeds


All breeds


Himalayans, Persians and other longhaired breeds

Fading Kitten syndrome

All breeds

Feline Immunodeficiency virus

All breeds


White Cornish Rex, White Persian, White Maine Coon, White Manx, and White Devon Rex.

Feline Leukemia Virus

All breeds

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Maine Coon Cats, Domestic Shorthair, Sphynx, Chartreux, Ragdoll cats, and Persians

Feline Infectious Peritonitis

Abyssinian, Himalayan, Bengal, Ragdoll, Birman, and Devon Rex


American Shorthair and Oriental Shorthair Shorthair


All breeds

Kitten Health Problems: Causes, Symptoms, and treatments

Upper Respiratory Infections

It is also known as cat flu. This flu is a common health issue in kittens but dangerous disease, especially if the kitten is a few weeks old. Upper respiratory infections are bacterial or viral infections. It spreads when a cat sneezes or exhales. 

Though sneezing is the main symptom of upper respiratory infections, there are other symptoms such as:

  • Loss of appetite 
  • Clear or yellow/green discharge from eyes 
  • Runny nose 

When you see these signs, contact your vet immediately. Although upper respiratory infections tend to wane after a week, it is difficult to treat viral infections. The treatment is painful because effective anti-viral medications are not available. Some kittens recover entirely, whereas others may become a carrier. In these cases, the disease will resurface later in life.  

Feline Distemper

Feline Distemper is a rare but deadly disease. It is also known as panleukopenia. It is almost untreatable because the virus damages the immune system entirely. Therefore, it is better that you vaccinate your kitten on time.  

Symptoms of Feline Distemper include: 

  • Lack of hunger
  • Vomiting 
  • Severe diarrhea 

The fecal-oral route is the primary source of transmission. Make sure you quarantine your infected kitten so that it doesn’t transmit the virus. Your vet may provide lots of fluids or antibiotics to prevent secondary infections. However, the only option you are eventually left with is to euthanize your cat. 

Intestinal Worms

There are different types of intestinal worms. These worms include whipworms, hookworms, and roundworms. Intestinal parasites can be very distressing and dangerous to your kitten. Infections can absorb all the vital nutrients in the digestive tract, resulting in weight loss and dehydration. Another symptom that your kitten has intestinal worms is diarrhea that may accompany blood.  

Kittens get worms when they ingest fecal matter of an infected cat. Start deworming when kittens are eight weeks old. Kittens recover in about two weeks. However, they are still at risk of re-infection as they can consume eggs they passed earlier. Make sure you contact your vet regularly. 


A coccidia is a group of parasites. These parasites cause a disease called coccidiosis in cats and kittens. It is a contagious disease. Many cats have coccidia but don’t show any symptoms. However, if the immune system is compromised by some means, cats begin to show signs. Moreover, very young, old or sick cats are more at risk. Although it is not a common kitten health problem, you should be careful because there are no vaccines for it. 

Cats may get coccidia when they come in contact with feces or by eating infected animals. Coccidia spores can live for long and can be transmitted easily from one animal to another. 

You should look out for symptoms such as: 

  • Reduced appetite 
  • Dehydration  
  • Diarrhea 

Furthermore, your vet will determine whether your kitten has coccidia or not. Mostly, cats take three weeks to recover completely. 

Fleas in cats

Fleas in cats are one of the common kitten health problems. Your kitten can get the bugs from the environment. But, fortunately, these are easy to treat. Besides, the insects are visible, other symptoms that your kitten has insects are: 

  • Constant scratching 
  • Red or itchy skin 
  • Flea mess on the surface like tiny black dots 
  • Frequent licking 
  • Skin conditions or irritated spots 
  • Hair loss 

It is better to treat your cat early because the bugs can live for more than a year. If not treated, they can cause anemia. For that matter, your vet may prescribe topical medications, oral medications, foams, and powders. Be careful that you don’t use dog medication on your kittens because this can be harmful. 

Ear mites

Ear mites are also one of the common kitten health problems. The reason is that the ear mites are very contagious. These are easily transferred from one animal to another. As the name suggests, these parasites live in the ear canal. The kitten displays signs such as scratching their ears and shaking their head excessively. 

It is important to treat ear mites on time; otherwise, it can be severe. Ear mites can cause eardrum rupture, inflammation of the middle ear, and coordination problems. You can use liquid ear drops or topical medications to get rid of ear mites in kittens. Instead of doing it yourself, it is better to contact your vet. 


Though it sounds similar, ringworm is not related to parasitic worms. Ringworm is a fungal infection that causes skin infection. It occurs in a ring-like pattern of red spots, hence, named ringworm. It is one of the common kitten health problems. Some symptoms are: 

  • Red scaly skin spots 
  • Dandruff 
  • Itchiness, 
  • Patchy hair loss 

Its treatment depends on the severity of the disease. An ointment or a special shampoo can help kitten get rid of the disease. However, in severe cases, your vet may prescribe oral medications. Some homeopathic remedies are also available that can eliminate and also prevent the disease from spreading. Also, make sure that you treat your kitten’s environment to prevent the infection from occurring again. 


Ticks are parasites that suck blood. You can find them beneath a kitten’s skin around its neck, at its head, or paws. Instead of insects, tick comes under the category of arachnids. That is what differs them from fleas. Ticks are visible, and you can see them. You may also be able to see inflammation and redness that tick bites cause. 

It is crucial to immediately remove ticks from your cat because it can transmit bacteria and microbes when they bite. Your cat can catch ticks from another animal or while playing outside. Indoor cats are also at risk because ticks can cling to your clothes from outside. Ticks then attach themselves to your cats. 

You may want to remove a tick yourself, but it’s better that you don’t. Because it may leave, it’s mouth part behind. Yes, this causes more infection and inflammation. Immediately contact your vet if you suspect ticks on your kitten.  


Conjunctiva is a thin mucous membrane on the inside of the eyelids of cats. And Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of this membrane. It is pale, pink in color. Whereas in Conjunctivitis, the layer becomes red, and it bulges from the lid. Conjunctivitis is infectious if bacteria or viruses cause it. And it is non-infectious if something gets in the eye that irritates. Because the condition is uncomfortable, the cat may squint or blink continuously or try to touch the eye. 

If your kitten has Conjunctivitis, contact your vet immediately. Treatment consists of applying eye drops. The eye drops may be anti-bacterial to fight infectious Conjunctivitis. Besides, they may be used to soothe non-infectious Conjunctivitis, so that it may heal faster.  

Fading Kitten Syndrome

Fading Kitten Syndrome (FKS) is not a disease itself, whereas it is a set of symptoms that makes it difficult for a kitten to thrive. Because kittens are vulnerable due to their weak immune system, any minor factor can have huge effects on them. In FKS, kitten’s health declines quickly. Therefore, it is crucial to contact your vet immediately. 

Symptoms of Fading Kitten Syndrome are: 

  • Open-mouth breathing, gasping. 
  • Cries of pain 
  • Extreme lethargy 
  • Pale gums 
  • Loss of muscle tone 
  • Decreased interest in food

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus

As the name indicates, the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus attacks the immune system of a cat. Although the cat may appear normal for years, gradually it’s immune system weakens. As a result of this, many harmless fungus, bacteria, or viruses can cause significant damage to health. And the cat also becomes susceptible to secondary infections. The cat displays the following symptoms: 

  • Fever 
  • Enlarged lymph nodes  
  • Poor appetite 
  • Anemia 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Weight loss 
  • Disheveled coat 

Well, this virus is transmitted through deep bite wounds. Aggressive, free-roaming cats are frequently affected. Kittens rarely get infected from their mothers. However, it doesn’t seem to spread by sharing bowls, sneezing, through litterboxes, and other casual modes of contact. 

Well! The symptoms of this disease occur long after the cat is infected. However, its treatment usually focuses on extending the asymptomatic period or on the secondary effects of the virus. Treatment options include: 

  • Medication for secondary infections 
  • Parasite control 
  • Fluid and electrolyte replacement therapy 
  • Good nutrition 
  • Immune-enhancing drugs 
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs 

Feline Leukemia Virus

One of the deadly kitten health issues is Feline Leukemia. Feline Leukemia virus suppresses the immune system of cats, hence, predisposes them to fatal infections. However, most cats eliminate the virus on their own or can resist infection. This disease is only limited to cats but is transmitted through saliva, blood, feces, or urine. Mostly, the kittens get this disease in utero or through the milk of an infected mother. Otherwise, healthy appearing cats may also be infected and can transmit the virus. 

Symptoms of this disease are: 

  • Enlarged lymph nodes 
  • Pale gums 
  • Yellow color in the mouth and whites of eyes 
  • Fever 
  • Bladder, skin, or upper respiratory infections 

Feline Leukemia has a poor prognosis. Therefore regular veterinary check-ups are essential. Also, make sure that you provide good preventive health care to cats. 

Feline Infectious Peritonitis

Feline coronavirus causes Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP). During the initial viral infection, cats don’t show any symptoms. Cats also develop antibodies against this virus. However, in some cats, the disease progresses into FIP. The adverse condition occurs due to the mutation of the virus. Another reason may be the weak immune system of those cats. Symptoms of Feline Infectious Peritonitis are: 

  • Sneezing 
  • Nasal discharge 
  • Watery eyes 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Chronic weight loss 
  • Lethargy  

Unfortunately, there is no effective treatment of this fatal disease. Treatment usually involves supportive care, such as proper nutrition and care, and alleviating the disease’s inflammatory response. It also involves cytotoxic drugs and corticosteroids. Other options include fluid therapy and blood transfusions. 


Deafness is one of the many kitten health problems. It may be congenital. Or deafness may be acquired as a result of degeneration of ear, trauma, infection, and toxins. Another reason might be toxic or viral damage to the developing unborn kitten or degenerative loss to a kitten in the first few weeks. There is also a specific gene in cats that causes blue eyes, white fur, and deafness. But this doesn’t mean that all blue-eyed, white cats are deaf. 

Some symptoms stand out, such as:

  • Lack of response to everyday noises 
  • Inflammation in the ear 
  • Pawing at the ears 
  • Not woken by loud sounds 
  • Louder than normal vocalizing 
  • Not responding when called. 
  • Frequently startles on sight. 

Treatment of deafness depends on its cause. For instance, congenital deafness is untreatable, whereas other reasons can be treated. Your vet will provide appropriate treatment that will address the cause, restore hearing, or prevent deafness. Therefore, it is essential to contact your vet as soon as you observe the signs. Treatment options include anti-inflammatory, antibiotics, ear mites treatment, or cancer treatments.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Although there are many kitten health problems, Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy occurs mostly in middle-aged cats. Undoubtedly, it is the most commonly diagnosed cardiac disease in cats. In this condition, the muscular walls of the cat’s heart thicken. Therefore, this decreases the efficiency of the heart. 

Although it causes is not identified. But there are certain breeds of cats such as British Shorthair, Maine Coon, Ragdoll, Chartreux, Sphynx, and Persian cats, in which this disease is prevalent. 

Many cats don’t show signs of disease, whereas others may show symptoms such as: 

  • Congestive heart failure 
  • Open-mouthed breathing 
  • Labored or rapid breathing 
  • Lethargy 

The effects and prognosis of this disease vary considerably. However, proper diagnosis and treatment can decrease the appearance of specific symptoms. Regular check-ups can improve the quality of your cat’s life. 


Bacteria cause Hemobartonella. The parasites invade the cat’s body and destroy its red blood cells. This anemia can also cause death. Fleas, ticks, mosquito bites, and contact with infected blood transmits bacteria. Kitten also gets this parasite from their infected mother. Hence, making this disease one of the kitten health issues as well. Cats show symptoms a month later. Or they don’t show signs at all. However, in severe cases, the symptoms include: 

  • Lethargy 
  • Appetite loss  
  • Rapid heartbeat and breathing 
  • Jaundice, 
  • High fever 
  • Pale or yellow mucous membranes 

The treatment of Hemobartonella is not easy. Therefore, it is better to prevent your cat from contracting this disease by keeping it indoors and by using topical monthly tick and flea preventives. 


Anemia in kittens occurs due to a drop in the number of red blood cells or hemoglobin. It is not a disease in itself, but it is the result of some other illness. There are many causes of anemia, such as immune-mediated diseases, genetic defects, infectious diseases, excessive blood loss due to trauma, cancer, condition of the kidneys and other major organs, and bone marrow disease. Certain medications and foods can also cause anemia. 

Symptoms of anemia include: 

  • Pale gums 
  • Black, tarry stools 
  • Lethargy 
  • Rapid pulse 
  • Lack of hunger
  • Weight loss 

Since other factors may also cause anemia, it is better that you try to prevent those conditions. Yes, your care and affection may make it possible to prevent anemia.


As younger cats have a weak immune system, they are more prone to getting various diseases. Therefore, it is better to have information about different kitten health problems. We have enlisted some of the kitten health problems along with their causes, symptoms, and treatment. As a result, here you get a comprehensive guide to treat your pet in case of some problem. All you have to do is to stay proactive and make sure that your cat does not fall ill ever.