Odd behavior in a kitten? List of symptoms, including recent ones


Crazy for Cochins
10 Years
Apr 24, 2009
Tab, Indiana
We had a cute little kitten decide to walk itself into our house about a week ago, and we can't really tell what it's sex is, but it is sweet. But right away we realized that there is something wrong with it. We named it Cody. First, Cody is very slow to respond to anything. Cody walks slow, moves slow, and doesn't react like other cats to noises, movements, or the possibility of getting stepped on. It just sits there. Second, it doesn't meow. At all. Not a peep. It purrs like an engine, but doesn't meow, even if you DO step on it. Third, it shows absolutely no interest whatsoever in playing. Sure, some cats are more playful than others, but ALL cats play to some extent, even my crabby old girl Pepper. Cody doesn't play. Cody eats, but very slowly, and more often than not falls asleep with it's face in the food dish. It's like someone turned out the lights, and now nobody is home. Yes, Cody can hear. I tested Cody's hearing once I first suspected that it might be deaf, but it can hear, it's just slow to react. Today I noticed a new, disturbing symptom- hair loss. There is suddenly a large patch of hair missing from Cody's back. It's quite noticeable because Cody is black. There are no sores or any raw spots that would indicate that it licked itself and caused the hair loss. It's like the hair just suddenly started falling out! I suspected neurological problems, or, due to all the inbred kitties in our town, that it's just a little "redneck" kitten. Cody is about 3 to 4 months old, and is underweight (arrived that way, but seems to have lost weight, despite constant access to food). Has anyone ever seen symptoms like this in a cat before? Could Cody be brain damaged? Could it be inbreeding? The lady next door lets all her cats just keep interbreeding, so there are cats that die early and some born with toes fused, or parts missing. So I wouldn't be surprised at all if that was the case with this cat. But that doesn't explain the hair loss. I don't have a car right now, so I can't just whip this kitten over to the vet as the nearest vet is about 30 miles away. And being in the middle of nowhere, there are no shelters either. We feed all our cats dry cat food, and starting day before yesterday we dusted all the cats for fleas and added an immune booster that is all natural into their food. None of the other cats are acting like Cody. All are healthy, and we had them LONG before Cody showed up. Has anyone had an experience like this with a cat?
It is not unusual for young kittens (tho I don't know what age Cody is) to fall asleep with their face in the food bowl; and I've known and owned cats who were basically non-vocal (virtually no meowing/mewing). So those things would not worry me.

Hair falling out is likeliest to be licking that you don't see happening, or flea allergies, or ringworm/mange/etc, which do not ALWAYS cause broken-looking skin; or something physiological out of whack (see below). I would not worry about it too greatly aside from hoping it not to be something contagious to other pets.

Just being "slow" and not playing, though, is usually a sign of weakness due to sickness. The possibilities are numerous -- malnutrition, anemia from fleas or worms, or a systemic viral or bacterial disease. I realize a vet is not an option at the moment but as soon as you CAN get the kitten examined it would really be an awfully good idea, both to see if there is anything fixable (e.g. lotsa worms) and to see if there is anything that is a risk to your other cats.

Brain damage, from any of a lot of possible causes, is also a possibility but honestly the "neurological" kittens I've known were not just slow, they had obvious tremors or balance problems or difficulties coordinating their gaits. So while I would not rule it out, it would not be my first guess.

Have you checked the kitten's gums to see how pink they are -- pale would be a sign of anemia, compare 'em to your other cats. What kind of weight is the kitten carrying -- malnourished, lacking in muscle mass or muscle tone [floppy], anything noticeably wrong like that? Is he potbellied in a way suggestive of worms? What is his poo like? Any nose or eye discharge, any raspy or odd breathing or anything like that? (e.t.a. have you doublechecked that the kitten is not blind or nearly-blind, by bringing a hand (to test total blindness) or an end-on stick (to test near-blindness) straight directly towards his eye and see if he blinks and/or flinches, i.e. a 'menace test'? Asking because blind cats can be quite slow and deliberate and unplayful.)

Good luck, applause for giving the kitten a home, hope you can get it sorted out okay,

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my first thought and worst thought reading ur post is distemper, my second thought was blindness. for distemper they sit there and just sway from side to side, if that is what it is it is highly contagous and has a high mortality rate. this is the right time of year for distemper to hit. definately get it to a vet asap or call a vet and tell them what he is doing to get advice because if that is what it is then any cats around him not vaccinated r at risk to get it. at the moment the loss of hair i'd not be worried about it is how he is acting i'd be worried most about.
I would first suspect some type of disease or illness that is taking away all the cat's energy and may even be causing a low grade fever. Think about how you act when you are sick with something and then stretch that out to unending since some illnesses cannot be beaten by the cat's own immune system. It could even be something that never goes away. Some illnesses the cat can be a carrier for life or have to keep it maintained with meds. It could also be something that isn't contagious. Our cat just got diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and has to be on prednisone for life. Luckily it's only going to be about $5/month for that.

Brain damage is a possibility. The cat I just mentioned has a few oddities because she was found laying in the middle of the road with a rock indent in her head at about 3 weeks old. She's named Squeaky because she can't meow. She just makes little short one syllable squeak noises like a meow cut off after half a second. She's also a bit adhd and doesn't have the greatest balance. 3/4ths of her attempts to jump miss and she falls off the top of the tv on a weekly basis.

You also might want to consider severe allergies. If you are feeding less than impressive cat food like most people with multiple cats and especially people with multiple cats on farms then odds are there is something in there a cat could be very allergic to. Some cats need better than average quality food. Flea and pest allergies are also not uncommon and the cat may need treated with a flea med monthly even if you don't otherwise notice fleas.

Pretty much the only solution is to go to a vet.

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