Fading Kitten Syndrome Emergency Protocol

Fading kitten syndrome, sometimes referred as “failure to thrive”, describes a kitten that “crashes”, suddenly becoming ill or unresponsive, even if it was previously healthy. While there are many contributing factors that may cause fading kitten syndrome, two common factors are hypothermia (being cold) and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Many times there are other underlying issues, such as congenital defects, disease, etc. that may not be treatable.

● Hypothermia/Low Body Temperature (<99F) – Feeling cool or cold to the touch, particularly in the
● Lethargy – Inability to stand or unresponsive to touch.
● Labored Breathing – Exaggerated breathing, often with mouth open.
● Excessive Vocalizing – Particularly loud, pained cries combined with any of the above symptoms.

Emergency Protocol: In many instances, a fading kitten will not survive, even with medical
intervention, however, taking these steps immediately will give the best prognosis!

  1. PROVIDE WARMTH – Wrap the kitten in a blanket or towel, leaving only their face exposed. Use a heat source (heating pad) as an extra source of heat.
    ● Make sure the heat source is not directly touching the kitten to prevent burns.
    ● Don’t have a heat source? Put uncooked rice into a clean sock, knot the end and microwave for
    2-3 minutes.
    ● No microwave? Put hot (not boiling) water into a doubled-up Ziploc bag.
  2. INCREASE BLOOD SUGAR – While warming the kitten, apply light Karo corn syrup to the
    gums. If Karo is not available, use pancake syrup or mix equal parts sugar and warm
    water until dissolved. Use a syringe or your finger to place a few drops of the sugar
    source into the kitten’s mouth EVERY 3 MINUTES. If swallowing, feed the kitten a small
    amount of the sugar source. You should see improvement in ~20 minutes if low blood
    sugar is the cause.
  3. If the kitten has not begun to improve within an hour, their chances of survival are often poor. If the kitten does not survive, please know that you have done everything that you could and most likely there are other underlying, non-treatable issues.
Back to Top