Weaning diarrhea in kittens: what I learnt this year at the NAVC

 I think I already told you guys that I like to kick-off the year by attending to the North American Veterinary Conferences, good place to gather knowledge and see the new innovations in the field of veterinary medicine that could be helpful in breeding medicine.

This year I attended to a talk on diarrhea in kittens. This is a topic we already discussed on our blog, so don’t hesitate to take a look at some of our previous posts. Since it was a shelter medicine topic, infectious causes – like Giardia, coccidia, trichomonas,…, which are also very common in breeding catteries- were discussed. But this is not what caught my attention.

 

  • Weaning diarrhea in catteries: often a challenge

As you know weaning diarrhea can be challenging cases to manage. Must admit this is something I like about these cases, when we work on them with your veterinarians, we know there are plenty of different factors to consider. There is no unique solution, but we have to come up with a bunch of measures that together, will help resolve the condition at the cattery level (see slide below).

The speaker mentioned something about nutrition that I found interesting. She mentioned that kittens that were weaned too early or for which weaning was poorly managed were more at-risk of developing diarrhea. That is something we previously discussed in our previous blogs. But she added one question to the discussion: “are the kittens still suckling the mother?”.

 

  • How suckling can interfere with weaning

She indeed explained that when kittens start eating solid or semi-solid food, this will lead to enzymatic modifications in their digestive tract. They indeed start producing sucrases (generic term to designate enzymes that allows digestion of carbohydrates). But at the same time, this production inhibits the functioning of other enzymes, the lactases, which participate in milk digestion. She suggested that during weaning, kittens could therefore a kind of lactose intolerance if they were still suckling their mother.

Her suggestion was therefore really simple: in case weaning diarrhea occurs in your kittens, part of the measures to take is to be sure that kittens are no more suckling their mother. This will prevent the potential development of this “lactose intolerance”.

Very simple tip, but I guess in some situations it could definitely help!

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