What is Fading Kitten Syndrome?

We all claim that we love our pets, and we make every single effort to make sure they stay healthy and live longer. But when you do so much yet something goes wrong, it can be a heart-wrenching experience.

Just like any other pet, cats too need a lot of attention and care as they require human companionship and pampering, and this pampering is catapulted when it comes to kittens. Raising kittens may sound very exciting and adventurous, but it requires a sense of responsibility. As you make all the little efforts to ensure your kitten is well-fed, warm, and safe from all the diseases, you need to be especially  on guard for “fading kitten syndrome”.

Read: Can Cats Get Down Syndrome?

What Happens in Fading Kitten Syndrome?

In medical terms, fading kitten syndrome takes place when mainly these two things happen:

  1. The temperature of the kitten’s body gets excessively low, i.e. “Hypothermia”
  2. The glucose level of the kitten gets excessively low, i.e. “Hypoglycemia”

Fading kitten syndrome, if compared to the human disease, can be related to the SIDS  (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) that occurs in human babies leading to unfortunate sudden death of an apparently healthy infant. It is also known as “Cot Death”.

What Are the Causes of Fading Kitten Syndrome?

The fading kitten syndrome sometimes can occur because of different underlying diseases and issues that are difficult to be treated. But usually, this syndrome occurs due to a number of reasons and diseases such as “congenital defects”, “parasites”, “bacterial or viral infections”, “belly button infections”, “human error in raising kittens”, and sometimes the environmental factors and genetic issues too.  

Because neonatal kittens have weak immunity, a very small disease can easily turn into something deadly disease. Normal diarrhea can lead to hypothermia which can contribute to the fading kitten syndrome.

From all the available information, we can understand that any factor or a number of factors can lead to this syndrome, and sometimes it is not in our control to prevent the occurrence of this syndrome. But yes, figuring out the symptoms rather than searching for the causes can help you save the life of your kitten as you would be able to intervene during the initial stages of the condition.

Read: Can Cats Have Autism?

Fading Kitten Syndrome Symptoms:

The initial symptoms of fading kitten syndrome are very mild  and sometimes hard to notice, but keep an eye out. Some of the fading kitten syndrome signs are mentioned below.

Weight Loss

You must weigh your kittens daily, and if you see that any of the kittens is not gaining weight or losing weight as it grows days older. It is the key symptom of Fading kitten Syndrome and you must look for its treatment. A kitten growth chart may help here.

Read: Kitten Growth Chart

Not Mixing With the Litter

Another red flag is when your kitten is not mixing with other kittens or avoids playing with her siblings. In such a case, the kitten might have fading kitten syndrome.

Lack of Nursing

When you see that one of your kittens is left out in nursing as the mother cat pushes it away and nurses other kittens, it can also be a symptom of fading kitten syndrome.

Less Elastic Skin

Less elastic skin of a kitten as compared to the litter is also a symptom of fading kitten syndrome. The less elastic skin of a kitten is a sign of dehydration in the kitten.


Lethargy is one of the key symptoms of this syndrome. When you see your kitten with little to no energy, it indicates that your kitten has fading kitten Syndrome.

Lack of Interest

Lack of interest in different activities, sleeping alone, and shying away from the litter is another symptom of fading kitten syndrome.

Loss of Appetite

When your kitten has lost its appetite, consider it a red flag. Chances are that your kitten has the syndrome.

Dull Hair

Dull hair of a kitten shows that she lacks an adequate amount of nutrition in her body. Since malnutrition can cause fading kitten syndrome, dull hair coat can also be one of the symptoms.

Read: Signs of Sickness in Cats

Less Meowing

When you notice that your kitten is making fewer meowing sounds than the litter, it is another sign of fading kitten syndrome. Similarly, if your kitten has stopped responding to you, her litter, or any change in the setting, deem it a sign of the syndrome.

Weakness and Fatigue

You can easily notice weakness and fatigue on the face of a kitten with fading down syndrome. The kitten begins to look haggard and weak. In addition, labored breathing of a kitten with her mouth open is also one of the syndrome’s symptoms.

Low Body Temperature

Lastly, the low body temperature. Anything below “99.5 F” in kittens is a symptom of fading kitten syndrome. 

That said, keep in mind that if it is only one of the above symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the kitten has the syndrome. There will be a combination of symptoms.

When you begin to notice such symptoms in your kitten, you need to hurry up and struggle for its treatment. The best option is to bring her to a vet without waiting for another moment. A quick treatment in such a case becomes a necessity as fading kitten syndrome can lead to the death of the kitten in no time.

Fading Kitten Syndrome: Treatment and Protocols

Where the clinical treatment of the syndrome can be very frustrating, you can follow the following tips and techniques side by side to treat the fading kitten syndrome.

Control the Body Temperature

As we have already discussed, a kitten with fading kitten syndrome will have low body temperature. All you need to do is to bring the body temperature up.

For that, you can turn on a heating pad. Then, take a towel and wrap it around the heating pad. Once it’s nice and warm, take the towel and now wrap it around the whole of the kitten’s body (except for the kitten’s nose and mouth). Repeat it a number of times. This will help in bringing the body temperature of the kitten up.

Another way to raise the kitten’s body temperature is to take a small cardboard container, put the heating pad on with the minimum temperature, place the towel on top of it, and cover the top of the container to make it look something like something a tent. Once ready, put your kitten inside that box and let it stay inside for a while.

But make sure that the heating pad’s temperature is minimum, a towel is placed at the top of the heating pad, and the temperature is comfortable enough for a small kitten so that the she not harmed or burnt in any way. This will help in keeping the kitten nice and warm, resulting in a normal body temperature.

Blood Sugar

The second key symptom of fading kitten syndrome is the low level of glucose. After bringing the kitten’s body temperature up, bringing your kitten’s blood sugar up is the most important thing you can do to save your kitten. What you can do to bring the blood sugar level of the kitten up is that you can take a cotton swab or an ear stick, also known as a Qtip, and cover it with honey.

After that, you can place that ear stick to the kitten’s gums for a while, ideally for 3 minutes. But to do this technique, you must be very careful as your kitten can choke too if this mixture of sugar or honey goes down the throat of your kitten.

Read: Distemper in Cats: Symptoms, Causes, and Prevention


The next thing to do is to rehydrate the kitten. Give them some fluids that are suggested or prescribed by the vet for dehydration.

Take the Causes of the Syndrome in Notice

Now you need to take the causes of the syndrome in the notice. If there are any infections such as belly button infection or diseases and even parasites, you need to cure them as soon as possible. Call your vet or take your kitten for examination to get the perfect cure for such issues. Antibiotics can help the kitten fight the diseases, but don’t give any medication unless prescribed by the vet.

Also, remember that through the treatment of these infections and diseases, you can automatically bring the immunity of your kitten up.

Nurse Them

As already mentioned in the article, a cat mother pushes the kitten with fading kitten syndrome away. When you notice that, make an extra feeding bottle for the kitten with the syndrome and add some warmth to it. This can help in bringing the temperature of the body up as well as in feeding the kitten. Keep in mind, only properly nursed kittens turn into healthy cats!

Get the Veterinary Care

Fading kitten syndrome or other serious condition, it is very important to get your kitten treated as soon as possible. The advantage of taking your kitten to a vet is that it can also address the underlying diseases and infections in the kitten. Proper examination and diagnosis can save the life of your kitten!

Fading Kitten Syndrome Age

The highest mortality rate of kittens is said to be during their first week of life. Fading kitten syndrome affects the kitten around the 2nd to 9th week after birth, which is when they wean from their mother after birth.

Is Fading Kitten Syndrome Contagious?

No, fading kitten syndrome is not contagious as it occurs due to different underlying issues such as infections and diseases.

But keep in mind that when a kitten’s condition becomes too advanced, its chances of survival become very less. In such a condition, usually, the late signs of syndrome begin to appear, such as trouble in breathing, extreme lethargy, etc. Consult your vet immediately in such cases.

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