Just last night, he was a ball of energy running around in your living room; he was dizzying with his crazy racing about and you even had to scold him when he started to climb the screen window to try to capture a fly on the ceiling… Yet this morning, you wake up to find your kitten is apathetic. He refuses to eat, prefers to sleep and seems uncomfortable. Worse still, he becomes congested, has difficulty breathing and his eyes are red and swollen. No come to think of it, you remember having noticed that the last few days his eyes were rather watery and that you heard him sneeze two or three times at meal time
Your kitty caught a nasty cold!
Why and how did he catch this?
There is a whole range of microorganisms capable of causing a cold in an animal and this is valid for humans as well! The population is a reservoir of hundreds of viruses and bacteria more or less pathogenic, striking when conditions allow (stress, fatigue, overpopulation, cold season, vaccines…) Cats, like humans, have an immune system that allows them to fight off common diseases. Most of the time, in an adult cat there are no complications. On the other hand, kittens are much more vulnerable since their immune system is immature (according to their age, environment and general condition). There can be complications especially when the kitten has contracted several infectious agents at the same time. Imagine a young child who suffers from the flu and then a bacterial infection triggers pneumonia. And if, to top it off, this child caught a gastroenteritis, what would you say? Yes, you would probably say: “Poor kitten! ”
To help your pet, you don’t have to know all the possible viruses or bacteria, as this quickly becomes overwhelming and since the treatment for you kitten will remain substantially the same regardless of the infectious agent. But, the breeder must at least be knowledgeable enough to know which are likely to affect your baby. Your breeder knows more than you do about the conditions that may potentially affect your kitten; He can also recognize certain symptoms of diseases that he knows are possible in his cattery since he has a history, a testing protocol and past test results. He should be able to quickly tell you if your kitten’s condition requires the care of a veterinarian.
Your kitten may have also contracted the disease in your home if you have other cats, even if they have no symptoms. This factor complicates the management of diseases in breeding since there will always be healthy carriers of certain infectious agents, in your home or at the breeder’s, whether they have been sick or not. In any case, it is important to inform your breeder of your kitten’s condition, so that he may continue to gather data relevant to his breeding program. He may ask you to do a specific test to learn a little more or perhaps he can tell you what information to give your veterinarian to quickly provide the appropriate treatment to your kitten.
Whose fault is it?
Does the fault lie with the breeder? Yes, No, Maybe.
The answer may be yes, if this breeder has too many animals living together. A healthy cattery will have its cats kept in small groups, to prevent the spread of disease. A breeder who continues to produce in an epidemic situation without taking corrective action is not a breeder of choice.
Yes also, if the cattery is infected with diseases and the breeder does not try to get rid of them. It takes financial investments to keep a cattery healthy. A breeder who thinks only of his profit at the expense of health does not deserve your trust. Although most of the afflictions are without great risk, some viruses can be recurring and attack your cat repeatedly over the course of his life. Nothing very pleasant, especially when it could have been avoided.
The answer is no, if the cats in the cattery possess a good general state of health and if the kittens are protected as much as possible from risky contacts with cats that are disease carriers. Zero risk does not exist. There are viruses and bacteria everywhere and these are essential for the preservation of a good immune system!
What should you do?
Just like for our human children, we wish the best for our baby cats and when disease strikes, we rush sometimes too quickly to the doctor. Often, we are told to go home and wait for the fever to drop, or to come back in two days if it does not go down. It’s a bit the same for your kitten because a simple cold without superinfection will cure itself. However, your veterinarian will be able to provide you with some supportive products (eye drops, dietary supplement, antibiotics if needed). In more serious cases, the veterinarian may carry out additional examinations to provide more effective treatments.
Also, when your kitten is sick, let his general condition guide you. If he is eating, going to the bathroom, breathing well and symptoms are not getting worse; you can wait a few days and follow the evolution of his condition. Providing pureed food can help him eat more easily and isolating him from other cats in the house can be a good idea to keep his stress levels to a minimum and allow him to rest, while reducing the risk of contamination to others. However, you should consult as soon as possible if your kitten is no longer feeding, has difficulty breathing because it is too congested, is wheezing or seems out of breath. Also consult your veterinarian if his condition seems to stagnate for several days without showing signs of improvement.