My little bottle baby, who has yet to have a permanent name, had come down with a bad case of diarrhea this week.

He woke up with it early Monday.  Not a very appealing kind of post but to those of us who love our pets or foster rescued dogs and cats, talking about diarrhea, its consistency, frequency, color, etc. is intensely interesting…or can be. LOL!

Anyway, this was a particularly bad case of the “runs.”  So bad, he couldn’t control it. He had to be quarantined in my soft-sided dog crate.

When you foster it’s always good to have one of these on hand. They’re good for cats because the cat can’t hurt himself on metal bars trying to get out.  Plus they’re darker inside and give cats more of a sense of security.  For the foster/pet owner, they’re cheap compared to a metal dog crate or cat condo.

I took him to the vet and after a fecal and routine exam we went home with directions to give him fluids, amoxicillin, and Kaopectate. The vet didn’t find anything in the fecal

The next day, he was worse…back to the vet.  He had no other ideas.  I asked for a bag of fluids and he told me how much to give him since by now Baby Boy was pretty dehydrated.

By Wednesday, we were at yet another vet who did a full exam, blood work, combo test for FELV’/FIV, and gave him fluids. Sent me home with Albon and told me to continue the Amoxi from the first vet.

I took him off regular cat food and put him on strained meats, you know like Gerber strained chicken, and rice. The good thing throughout this ordeal has been Baby Boy has kept his enormous appetite.  When kittens stop eating (or adult cats) their liver begins to shut down releasing toxins and protein into the bloodstream (according to what a vet told me once).  When that happens, they die.

Still, Baby Boy is not much better. He went from 2.5lbs last week to 1.5lbs.  No vet told me but from past experience with this sort of thing I knew he needed acidophilus, either in pill form or in yogurt so I started that.  Since the Kaopectate wasn’t working, I switched to a tiny sliver of Immodium. That seemed to help.

Well I ran out of Immodium so yesterday I ran to the pharmacy to buy more. While there, next to the Immodium was a natural enzyme product for people who are lactose intolerant. A light bulb went off.

Even though Baby Boy was weaned weeks ago from his bottle and homemade formula, he still liked to have a bottle in the evening.  A mamacat would let her kittens nurse a little while weaning them, so I thought, ‘no harm in that.’  When Baby went for his first shots a couple weeks ago, I asked the vet about Baby’s gas..he had terrible gas. The vet didn’t seem to think it was a problem.

As I stared at the box that said “Dairy Aid”  I saw where it said ‘relieves symptoms: gas, bloating, diarrhea.”  Looking on the back it said the product was NOT a drug, but a natural enzyme, Lactase enzyme, that breaks down milk sugar in the digestive tract.

Then it dawned on me. Many cats are lactose intolerant. I had told the first vet that I was still giving Baby Boy a bottle once a day, more out of comfort than the fact that he needed it.  He was 8wks old after all.  He said it was ok, because kittens can break down cows milk.  Well apparently, Baby Boy had reached the age where he could no longer tolerate cow’s milk.

I bought the product and without consulting any vet AND I DON’T RECOMMEND THAT, BY THE WAY.  Grasping at straws, I gave my kitten a tiny sliver of the diary aid product along with his acidophilus, albon, fluids, and immodium.  Then I put him in his quarantine crate and left for work.  Came home at mid morning to check on him and he was not only better, he came out of his crate and started to play for the first time all week.  That was yesterday.  By evening, his stool had started to improve and he could hold it.

For the first time in a week, he slept through the night without one accident.  That’s him under the baby blanket with his big sister, Crissy. Crissy has been so good with him all week.  She treats him like her own baby even though she’s only four months old herself.  So sweet. She washes him and hugs him.

Today, his stool is much improved and he’s playing like a normal kitten with no accidents.

Of course, I will keep up the Albon, acidophilus, etc. for the duration his vet prescribed.

When I first got him from the shelter, I had him on KMR milk replacement, but it caused severe diarrhea. My vet recommended a homemade formula:

  • 1 cup whole milk,
  • one raw egg yolk
  • 1 tsp Karo pancake syrup

Mix, pour into nurser bottle and warm for 10-15 seconds in microwave until it’s room temperature.  Shake to evenly distribute warm milk. Cap with nipple and feed. There are variations to this homemade formula. I’ve listed some web sites that address homemade formulas and orphaned kittens below. Most suggest 3-4 egg yolks, but my boy did well on this formula.

I questioned the whole milk ingredient knowing most cats are lactose intolerant, but he said he had fed many, many kittens on that formula over the years so I tried it. It worked. The diarrhea left and Baby Boy thrived.  He said kittens can tolerate the cow’s milk.  I had heard of this formula before but with goat’s milk. Anyway, he did very well on it. Until he was weaned.

I’ve done some more online research and found that kittens can tolerate cow’s milk UNTIL they’re weaned.  So that by 8wks most can no longer break down the milk sugar in the cow’s milk.

So the lesson here is, even though your cat  or kitten (weaned kitten) likes cow’s milk, they become lactose intolerant once they’re weaned.  If you are bottle feeding, once your kitten is weaned, leave off the milk. If your bottle baby can handle KMR, that’s the best replacement formula out there and includes the colostrum replacement they would normally get from the mother cat.  However, it’s expensive and if you’re feeding a litter or don’t have the funds, do the homemade formula above after consulting with your veterinarian.

Web sites regarding feeding orphaned kittens: