Fading Kitten Syndrome – Learn to Spot the Symptoms and Treatment Options

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Adorable kitten sleeping in a basket

The fading kitten symptom affects up to 30 percent of kittens, and the World Small Animal Veterinary Association has confirmed this. It is said that spotting the symptoms can be harder than just identifying a fever. It is extremely important to provide a lot of care and shelter to the kittens during the fading kitten syndrome. It is also important to study how to identify it.

What Is The Fading Kitten Syndrome?

The fading kitten syndrome is not considered a disease, but it is a collection of many signs that tend to develop in neonatal kittens. You can even say that fading kitten syndrome is an umbrella term for kittens whose health has started to go downfall just within the first few weeks of their life. This tends to be frustrating for the kitten parent, as it isn’t easy to pinpoint it.

There are a lot of underlying causes behind why kittens might have the fading kitten syndrome and how it leads to such a rapid decline in their health. However, one of the most unfortunate things about this syndrome is that the unexplained death of a newborn kitten might be one of the fading symptoms.

White kitten sleeping under gray blanket
White kitten sleeping under gray blanket

The major ways to identify fading kitten syndrome symptoms

Here are a few common ways in which you can identify the fading kitten syndrome symptoms:

Belly Button Infections

This is a very common fading kitten syndrome that is caused due to inflammation in the belly button. In this, bacteria tend to travel from a place where the umbilical cord is chewed apart by the kitten’s mother or during the mother’s c-section.

Issues In The Genetics

Most kittens tend to have genetic problems, in which they can easily survive in the mother’s uterus, but once they are born, they might not be able to survive on their own.

An example is that a kitten born with a weak heart or any other such disease might have more chances of getting fading kitten syndrome.

Neonatal Isoerythrolysis

This is a condition that is caused due to the mother cat and kitten having different blood types. This issue is most common in pedigree cats. In this situation, mostly the antibodies within the mother’s milk tend to attack the red blood cells on the kitten.

The kitten starts pretty healthy and seems very fit, but eventually, the fading cat syndrome symptoms begin to show, and the kitten’s health starts to decline.

Striped kitten sleeping on its back
Striped kitten sleeping on its back

At What Age Do Kittens Usually Get The Fading Kitten Syndrome?

The fading kitten syndrome tends to affect the kitten within the first four to around six weeks of its life. This is the time between birth, and the unfortunate part is that there is no prevention.

The best way to make this better is to make sure you track your kitten’s diet and how it eats, how much weight it has started to gain, how often does it litter, and understand the first few fading kitten syndromes.

Recognizing the Fading Kitten Syndrome Symptoms

The first few signs of the fading kitten syndrome aren’t very major. They are mostly subtle and very hard to pinpoint and identify. However, make sure you keep on checking on your kitten’s weight, as a symptom is that the kitten might not gain weight.

If your kitten is losing weight, not gaining weight at all, or has less weight than others means that it might have the fading kitten syndrome. 

A kitten that is affected by the fading kitten syndrome has symptoms like the following:

  • Loss in appetite and not eating as much as the other kittens
  • The hair coat might be dull
  • It might not meow or make a lot of kitten sounds
  • It might experience extreme weakness or fatigue.
  • They might be unable to nurse properly, as healthy kittens mostly start to nurse immediately after birth. A fading kitten tends to be weaker than those stronger kittens who can grasp, suckle and hold on to their mother’s cat nipple for almost 72 hours of nursing.
  • Most mother cats tend to sense the weak kittens and might abandon them for other stronger ones. Hence, it is important to see how often the mother cat seems attached to the kitten.
  • Lastly, it is essential to know that hypothermia, i.e., low body temperature is something that newborn kitten’s experience. This is because newborn kittens cannot regulate their body temperature perfectly and start to depend on their mom to keep them warm.
Two white newborn kittens in female hands
Two white newborn kittens in female hands

How To Treat The Fading Kitten Syndrome And Take Immediate Action?

Kittens tend to get dehydrated very quickly, especially those who aren’t nursing on their mother cat or cuddling with it. In this case, there is a pretty good chance for it to be dehydrated, along with possibilities of dropped blood sugar levels and body temperature.

If you see any of these symptoms, make sure you first warm the sick kitten inside a warm towel and contain its body heath. Moreover, you can use a heating pad on the towel because the heating pad should never be used on a kitten directly.

Woman stroking two cute kittens
Woman stroking two cute kittens

Moreover, if your kitten is tired or weak, make sure you lie down, rub it, and give it a good Karo syrup and honey to boost blood sugar. However, it was predicted that a kitten with low sugar levels might die quickly as well.

Giving The Kitten Sugar Water

In the fading kitten syndrome, sugar water is considered a way to soothe the kittens’ nerves and make it better; make sure you don’t give the kitten this sugar water until it is warm. This is because kittens can’t properly digest it when it’s cold.

You can also syringe a few drops, just like 4-5 percent of sugar water, into the kitten or even try Karo syrup on the kitten’s lips. This helps it control its body temperature just a little.


Conclusively, this article tells you that fading kitten syndrome is a pretty serious condition which a newborn kitten faces. It’s a deadly disease in the kitten world, as most kittens just die without showing any major symptoms.

This is why it is crucial to check on them and make sure you learn about all the ways you can identify the condition.

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