4 wk old orphan kitten with diarrhea, no vet – advice please

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This topic contains 8 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Tan Chia Huei 1 week ago.

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    Hi all, sorry I’m about to launch into a lot of detail about my kitten’s pooing habits – not sure what could be relevant and what not. Skip to last paragraph for pressing questions please.

    I’ve been fostering a kitten for three weeks now. I think he’s coming up on 1 month (teeth are in, playing, wobbly walking). He was found in the engine of a car that had just driven several km! The car owners had heard meowing from the day before, so he’d probably been left unfed for at least 24 hours. After half a day on an emergency milk/egg/oil recipe, we started him on kitten formula, and he did his first poop after a day and a half. His poo stayed liquidy for the next few days, so I thinned out his formula a bit with extra water per the formula instructions. His poops soon became nice and firm. But then after a few more days they got drier and drier, and he was straining to get them out, so I went back to the regular formula proportions, thinking he maybe needed it a bit richer now that he was older. Big mistake. Within a day, his diarrhea was back. I went back to thinner formula after a day, but the diarrhea only got worse. He started farting and doing little poop splotches in his blankie. Meanwhile he started to look a bit scrawny and underfed. I (probably stupidly) thought a bit of solid mousse kitten food mixed into his formula would help solidify things, but it’s only made them worse – after 2 feedings with the formula+food his diarrhea looks like it has mucous in it. It’s not constant – more or less once after every feeding. But really stinky and bad looking and preceded by little kitten farts, and causing him a lot of distress while coming out.

    His poor little bum’s become so red and sore he can’t bear for me to stimulate him (I’m treating it with olive oil), and though he can more or less pee on his own, he walks around after every meal kind of squatting and looking like he’s struggling to poo but with nothing coming out. Then awhile later it’ll just drip and splooch out of him uncontrollably while he screams. I’ve been keeping him as clean as I can with dampned tissues, but had to give him a warm bath yesterday and again today (with baby safe dish detergent).

    He’s still walking, eating voraciously (too voraciously?) and playing, and besides not looking as plump as one might want (he currently weights 308g/just under 11 oz) seems healthy enough. But I keep reading horror stories about kittens who “faded fast” after getting diarrhea and that’s made me want to take a proactive approach.

    Alas, my wonderful vet is out on maternity leave – she’ll hopefully be back within a week… hopefully. The only other vet in my area doesn’t know what to do with him. I’m in a not very animal friendly country without all the testing equipment your vets may have, and deworming will have to wait till my good vet gets back (I’m not 100% sure he’s a month yet anyway).

    In the meantime, I thought I’d at least replace the water in the formula with pedialyte, as recommended elsewhere online, but turns out the local version comes in strawberry flavour only. I found another one that has the basic pedialyte ingredients BUT with the addition of rice flour. I’ve read here that rice flour could do him some good. But elsewhere I read that rice was bad for them, and I don’t want to further irritate his stomach! Alternatively, I found a recipe for homemade pedialyte on this forum from someone called jcat, containing sugar, salt and baking soda. But I’m terrified to follow any DIY advice without some assurance the source is reliable.

    So, should I a) do nothing and pray he doesn’t start fading until my vet gets back; b) thin out his formula even more (I’ve dropped the solid food entirely); c) give him a bit of plain Greek yogurt with live culture (I read somewhere that’s good, but again, would it just make things worse for an unweaned kitten? How about Kefir, would that work? It has very little lactose in it); d) try the homemade pedialyte; or e) try the store-bought “pedialyte” which includes rice flour? Also, given he’s been otherwise healthy for almost 3 weeks, is there any chance he has feline panleukopenia? I didn’t think of it earlier and my other cats have had a good sniff at him and his pee-soaked tissues, and now I’m worried they might catch it if he does.

    And (sorry, but) could you please give me some assurance you know what you’re talking about (from experience or qualifications) and aren’t just giving advice based on your common sense? Lastly, in case my vet doesn’t get back soon, can anyone definitively tell me what kind of dewormer I should be using on a month old kitten and in what dosage? I’ll try to find an equivalent here (though my vet often has to resort to prescribing human meds :/).

    Thank you!!

    – A worried cat mom.



    You have come here looking for advice and reassurance and hopefully we can help you. I have hand reared many kittens, but each case is individual and really requires trial and error sometimes. We are not vets here, but have experience with methods we have used. You can trust Jcats recipe for homemade pedialyte.

    I am not going to recommend any OTC wormer, as some are very harsh and not good for your kitten. There is no way I could say if your kitten has any communicable disease–these are all questions that you need a trusted veterinarian to ask.

    I am going to post a link for you on kitten diarrhea. You might find some help in there. Sometimes adding plain pumpkin (canned with no spices) will help to form up poop. Goat’s milk yogurt is also full of probiotics and a lot lower in lactose, which can cause diarrhea in cats which is why we never recommend cow’s milk to feed. Goat’s milk itself is a great alternative to formula and I have used it on my last two kittens with success.

    My concern for your kitten is that he could have parasites–worms, or the one celled type called coccidia which attach to the intestine wall. That requires a different type of medication which the regular dewormer won’t kill. The vet can take a fecal sample and test for it. I don’t really think that his diarrhea is food related or how much water you add or don’t add. I would put some vaseline, desitin ointment (like for babies) on his little butt (it’s safe if he should lick it) to provide a moisture barrier should he leak to protect his tender skin. You can use a damp washcloth to clean him, and baths won’t hurt him either as long as you make sure he is good and dry afterwards. You can use a blowdryer on low to make sure it’s not too hot.





    Thank you for the advice kittyzee (and yeah, reassurance!) This is the second time I’ve raised a newborn kitten, but it’s the first time things haven’t gone smoothly. I’ve started him on jcat’s pedialite + formula for now. He held it in for almost four hours after the last feed so fingers crossed we’ll see some improvement until we can get him to a vet who knows what they’re doing.

    Will read up your links in the meantime and get some goat’s milk yogurt tomorrow (THAT we have aplenty round here). Will update. Thanks again!



    I’m checking in, Kass. How are you and your boy doing?



    Thanks for checking in! I tried adding an update a few days after my original query, but either my Internet or the forum was acting up and it wouldn’t post. Glad you reminded me to try again. All continues to be well, Honda is growing and doing perfect poops in the litter box. We’ve just started him on slurry (a bit late due to the diarrhea).

    Below is the detailed update I tried posting previously. Maybe it’ll be of help to others, though of course what worked for me may not be the right solution for you.

    The homemade pedialyte worked to make him less dehydrated, but soon after posting, I began to see white bits in his diarrhea, kind of like bits of curdled cream. Alarming, but a decent vet could not be found until a couple of days later (I got everything from “he’s too young for medication” to “try switching straight to solid food”!).

    In the meantime I switched from formula to goat’s milk with a smidge of live culture goat’s yogurt mixed in. He liked it a whole lot better than the formula (lots of purring). Magically, within two feeds, he stopped having cramps and did his first solid poo in a week. He then went almost 48 hours without pooping, but did finally and has been regular (once a day) ever since.

    So… maybe the second container of formula (same brand, but bought from a different store than the first) had been stored improperly? Or maybe the probiotics in the yogurt worked wonders?

    When we took him to the vet a couple of days later, the vet wasn’t 100% sure from looking at the “curdled” diarrhea sample I’d saved from before what it was, but gave him anti-parasite medication to be safe (which I continued for three more days at home – don’t know what it was but it got all frothy at his mouth).

    Besides that and a case of dermatitis from the diarrhea/rubbed area, his temperature was fine and he seemed healthy. The vet decided not to give antibiotics unless the diarrhea returned.

    For the dermatitis (his skin was red and irritated looking, with dark scaly and peeling patches) the vet told me to dab it twice a day with a mixture of one part betadine to four parts water, which dried it up within 4 days.

    Conclusion: from now on, I’ll be feeding foster kittens goat’s milk, not formula (thanks kittyzee)!



    WOW, thank you so much for coming back and giving an update. It makes me feel so good to know that the advice I give has helped someone!! I was so afraid of switching my kittens over from KMR to goat’s milk, but it worked wonders for me too. I really think it’s the probiotics that makes the difference. Many times adult cats LOVE the goat’s milk yogurt and look forward to it as a treat. Probiotics never hurt anyone…feline or human!!

    Interesting on his dermatitis…maybe he was having a reaction to the formula and it showed up on his skin too. Anyway, glad he is clearing up and feeling better…which means you are feeling better also!

    You never said which brand of formula you used, but a word of caution–the HARTZ brand we have found to be very unreliable and I have seen a website dedicated to users that have lost kittens and have posted horror stories after using it.



    You were a huge help – for morale as well as advice! Honda and I thank you 🙂

    The formula was called Lactopet by a brand called Tafarm. I think they’re a local (Greek) brand, so unlikely others will come across it – but if you do, proceed with caution. Though the first batch seemed OK.

    The vet did say the skin issue might be a fungal infection (though he was unsure), and separately that the formula could have been spoiled by (among other things) some type of fungus (again just guessing) – so maybe the two were related?

    Even if the formula was OK, I’m a lot happier giving something natural if it’s available!

    The goat’s milk I’m using is full fat bio lightly pasteurised (expires after 3 days), and it’s available from the regular supermarket here.



    That’s wonderful you can easily get goat’s milk and the yogurt there. Here in the states you can get the fresh, and the concentrate in cans and the powdered too. I prefer the powder, it mixes up really well (and smells so good once it’s mixed) and I only mixed what I needed for a day at a time so no waste!


    Tan Chia Huei

    hi everyone, i’m kinda having a similar problem and looking for some answers! I have a 3-week-old kitten, I picked him off the street in Malaysia as he almost got run over by my car. No mum or other kittens in sight and he kept insisting on running on the street even when I put him on the shop pavement. So I took him home… On the day I took him home, he did a super nice toothpaste poo and a lot of it. Started him on a powdered milk replacer on the first day and he didn’t poo at all the first 2 days. We also had to dilute the milk replacer 0.5:2 instead of 1:2 as he threw up when I made it at the 1:2 as per instructions. We took him to the vet after his vomiting, and he just advised to dilute the milk more, and clean his swollen sticky eyes regularly with natural tears eye drops. He is also very underweight (less than 200g, but the vet said he ought to be about 3 weeks old based on his baby teeth, open eyes and walking ability). He was sneezing as well when we first found him.

    He then starting having diarrhea on the 3rd day which was green, and had a really sore bum by the 4th day and was in pain. There was drops of blood possibly from how sore he was. He also had diarrhea that had curdled milk in a yellow sauce. On the 5th day I decided to look for fresh goat’s milk as recommended on this forum. Yesterday (day 6) he finally made some semi-solid poo! In between, he still gets diarrhea though. He normally knows how to look for his litter box already (such fast learners they are!!), but if he has diarrhea, he can’t control it and has accidents while sleeping (he will cry to warn but too late!). I even saw a little bloody mucus in his diarrhea this morning and that got me really worried. How long till I see better tummy performance on the goat’s milk? It is now day 8 and 48 hours on goat’s milk but only semi-positive results. I’m also concerned about the nutritional content of goat’s milk. I see it is around 3% protein. Based on the milk replacers, I need to feed him around 8+g of protein a day. The goat’s milk is around 0.03g/ml, and the maximum we’ve been able to feed him is around 15ml/feed x 7-8 feeds per day, which is only 4.8g protein at the most! How do I get him sufficient protein? I’m nervous about switching back to milk replacers as his diarrhea hasn’t even gone away yet. I offered him some kefir on my finger but he smelt it and turned away! Not a fan! Should I already attempt some pumpkin to stop the diarrhea?

    Otherwise he has amazing appetite, and constantly cries for food (we used to stop at around 10ml because we were afraid he would throw up again but now let him drink to his heart’s content and so far so good). Im quite sure his diarrhea is from the sudden diet change, as before I took him home he had really nice poo. I feel really bad about taking him away from his mum but I guess leaving him by the shops he would almost surely be run over by a car….

    Thanks for any further tips!!!

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