Hand-Rearing Kittens: Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar)

Symptoms are crying, dehydration, hypothermia, severe depression, muscle twitching, respiratory distress, decreased heart rate and eventually convulsions, coma and death. If not treated, the kitten becomes limp and goes into a coma, suffering severe neurological damage, convulsions and death.

First raise the kitten’s temperature above 34?C (93.2?F). A few drops of glucose syrup placed on the tongue can save the life of a kitten showing signs of hypoglycaemia. Feed a small amount of glucose solution or glucose/electrolyte mixture e.g. 0.5 ml – 1 ml every 30 minutes. Gradually increase the amount given and reduce the frequency. Do not be tempted to make a strong glucose solution – this can cause diarrhea and dehydration. Re-introduce milk gradually, first in a 50/50 milk/electrolyte mixture, gradually increasing the proportion of milk to 100%.

If the kitten is limp and has no suck reflex, gastric tube or subcutaneous fluids are required. Even so, the kitten may not survive due to damage already suffered.

If the hypoglycaemia is due to the current feeding regime, increase either the amount and/or frequency of feeding to prevent re-occurrence.