Dear VetBabble: Understanding Feral Behavior and Early-Age Disease in Kittens
Question: Is it Possible for a Kitten to be Born with Rabies, or Acquire it at a Very Early Age?
As a pet owner, it’s absolutely normal to worry about the health of your newly found furry friends, especially when they display unusual behavior. If you’ve recently rescued two little stray kittens and noticed one of them frequently growling, hissing and acting skittishly, it’s reasonable to wonder if this could be due to something perhaps as serious as rabies. Rabies itself is not something a kitten can be born with, but it can be contracted early on if the mother cat is infected and transfers it through licking her young.
Understanding Frightened Feline Behavior
If your kitty seems excessively hostile or scared, it’s quite possible that this is primarily due to having lived life on the streets as strays. However, it’s also crucial to rule out any health-related causes. It’s worth remembering that socialization plays a pivotal role in a pet’s behavior. New kittens, especially those rescued from the streets, often take some time getting used to their new environment and human family. We have a useful guide on Socializing Your Cat that might help you through this process.
Understanding the Mother Cat and Newborn Kittens
Pregnant cats, often called queens, can pass on infections like rabies to their kittens through grooming, as mentioned earlier. You may find more information on what queens undergo during pregnancy and after giving birth in our article, Queens and their New Kittens: What to Expect. The article also provides valuable insights into how newborn kittens, especially strays, might behave and how their mother’s health and behavior can influence them.
Special Care for Rescued Kittens
If your kittens have indeed been orphaned and you’re stepping in as their main caregiver, their unsettling behavior could be a consequence of the hard life they’ve had to endure. They will need special care and attention during these formative weeks, and while this may seem daunting, our guide on How to Take Care of Orphaned Kittens provides an excellent resource to help you through it.
Possible Health Concerns and Rabies in Kittens
While kittens cannot be born with rabies, it’s worth knowing the signs and understanding what to expect if your pet is carrying this or other diseases as we cover in our article on Pregnancy in Cats: Advice and What to Expect. Rest assured, however, that rabies is relatively rare and it’s more likely that your kitten’s behavior is attributed to something far less serious.
To conclude, feral behavior in kittens can be quite normal, particularly if they’ve been rescued from the streets. However, it’s always advisable to consult with a vet should you have any concerns about their health or behavior. The key is to provide them with a safe and loving home, to be patient, and give them time to acclimate to their new environment and to you. Remember, love works wonders on scared little fur-balls!