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Ask the Veterinarian/Maggots infested in kittens eyes and insides


QUESTION: About three days ago, my dad found a kitten in our backyard. We believe she's about three Weeks old due to the fact her eyes just now opened. We already own a cat, a westie, and recently-found puppy that's not so little anymore so we're not really looking for another animal or a trip to the vet. Also, my sister is going off to college this year and I'll be going next year, so we don't really have the money to spend on a vet. Anyways, we've been feeding the kitten and she's been doing just fine, but last night we found three more kittens. Guessing their mother abandoned them or didn't make it, they were left in my backyard fireplace. This morning we find they are infested with maggots. Two of them have inverted anuss which are also infested. All three, when they slightly open their eyes, they reveal maggots all throughout their eyes. We have been bathing them and attempting to feed them, but we don't know how to get the maggots off especially out of the eyes without taking them to the vet. Also, if maggots only eat dead  tissue, why are they inside their eyes? Is it possible they could be eating their eyes or blind the kitten?
Thank you so much.

ANSWER: Oh man this is a really bad situation. Maggots on little kittens can eat right through their tissues and invade their abdomens. Then it's goodbye kittens. Yes maggots will feed on ANY tissues, live or dead. That is why they can be so painful, because they eat live tissue as well.

The two kittens with inverted rectums may not make it anyway, due to the reasons that caused this to begin with, which can be a variety of things.

First and foremost Megan do NOT let these kittens be anywhere near your cat! They could all be infected with leukemia, which would explain their very poor condition and the mother being gone. She could have died from leukemia, leaving these poor babies on their own. She could have also been hit by a car of course. You really need to get these kittens tested for leukemia first before you spend a lot of time/money on them. If they are all infected with it, they should probably just be put down, since it is a fatal disease AND is infectious to your cat and any other cat.

Now to try and get rid of these you MUST wash them out by force. These kittens will go blind if they continue in the eyes. And the other kittens, well, unless a vet cleans them out, they probably already have maggots in their intestines.

You will probably have to get a syringe or a soft water bottle with a pointed squirt tip on it to wash these things out with some force from their eyes. You will have to have someone help you do this. One person will have to use the bottle and one hold open the kittens eyes.

You can use a wash rag on their rear-ends but getting them out of them is another story.
When maggot infested animals come into the vets we sedate them and remove them manually- one maggot at a time to make sure we get them all! That sometimes means poking gently up inside of them to get them all out. That is not something you can do safely at home.

Now you can get some of them off this way (washing) but the rest you will have to hand pick them out with tweezers. Someone mentioned using mineral oil on the maggots as it smothers them or is toxic to them, so a drop or two in the cats eyes won't hurt the kittens. Just make sure it's plain mineral oil with nothing else in it.

But the bottom line is that these kittens really need to be seen by a vet. You can't fix the two with the prolapsed rectums and they will continue to get fly-blown if they are not seen and this isn't fixed.

I hope you can help them somewhat but again, they really need to see a vet soon.

"My mom was also wondering why you think they would have leukemia and if the one we found first, that has no signs of maggots anywhere, could have it also?"

Those are both excellent questions Megan.
First of all, their condition tells me that their immune systems are pretty weak. Now this could be to being alone, being abandoned by momma cat or that her milk wasn't very good. Leukemia, and the other viruses like it that are all fatal, FIV, FIP etc. are very common among street cats. It is spread very easily amongst them via biting, licking, breeding, drinking the same water, mutual grooming.

Kittens born to mothers with leukemia are usually born with it as well. It's very rare that this doesn't happen. Which brings up another good point in the second part of your question.

Some kittens might NOT have it, but the only way to tell is by testing two of them. One sick one and the one healthy one.  Maybe you guys just found the first kitten before the maggots hatched and got going on them. It's really hard to say.

That is why it's best to get at least two of them tested and then go from there. If you cannot handle this then I would certainly ask the shelter what they can do.
Unfortunately they are more likely to just have them all put down then take care of them. If you can, get the one healthy one tested first and if she is negative, then you can keep her in the house with your other cat. But she is very young and the test might be a false negative. It's just a gamble at that point whether or not she will have it, as vets recommend testing again at 6 months. If they are negative still then they are leukemia free.

I hope this has a happy ending but it looks rather grim for the maggot-stricken ones...
Please let me know what happens to them. Thanks Megan, and thanks for the nice feedback. :-)

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I guess this didn't really end as I intended when we found them..This morning I kept trying to convince my dad to take them to the shelter and if they put  them to sleep at least they'd be out of pain, and he claimed he tried to but the wouldn't take them. When my sister and I got picked up from school my dad told us two died, the two with the inverted rectums, and when we got home the other one had died too. I didn't look at them because then I'd start crying and that's exactly why I wanted to take them ro the shelter so I wouldn't have to see those poor kittens die.. My dad buried them while we were at dance I guess. Thank you for all of your help though, now I'll know what to do if anything like this happens again..hopefully not. There was just nothing more we could do, they were already so bad. But I have one more question, sorry!! Is it safe to have the healthy kitten in my room (my doors are shut) and when we feed her or touch her just wash our hands and don't let our other cat or dogs come in contact with her? Or could the possible leukemia still spread?
You're welcome! Thanks again for all the help.

ANSWER: Aaww Megan I'm so sorry. I was afraid of this as well. It just wasn't meant to be.

We don't know if the one kitten has leukemia at all, but it is better to err on the safe side than not. It doesn't spread by you touching the cats but it's more by contact between cats, via licking and grooming, drinking out of the same water dish, breeding etc. There is some concern about it being airborne- in other words if a sick cat sneezes on or near a non-vaccinated cat there is the chance it could get it that way.

So yes, clean everything with diluted bleach water, 20 parts water to one part bleach. Was your hands with it as well as any bowl, litter box or hard surfaces that the kitten is on.

If she is in your room it's probably okay as fabric also stops the virus from spreading much.

Your dog won't get anything from her- just your other cat is at risk if she isn't vaccinated or current on her vaccinations.

Those precautions should stop anything from spreading but she still needs to be tested at some point.

I hope she continues to do well and becomes a strong, healthy cat!
Thanks for letting me know what happened. Sad as it is, like you said, at least they are no longer in pain now. :-(

And you are very welcome...:-)

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Oh okay that's good because the kitten and my cat aren't anywhere near each other. And I'm glad the puppy/dog can't get it either because the other day I was experimenting with what the  would do with the kitten and he's about a 6 month old lab/monster pup and he was licking her and being really sweet but then I thought I saw him try to eat her at one point he no longer gets to see her. And can i use anti bacterial soap to wash my handa after or is that not as sanitary? Oh and I have another question about the kitten..really sorry. When we found her her eyes were really crusted over with goopers(i dont know how else to describe them) so i cleaned it off with warm water and she opened her eyes but then everyday i gues because she sleeps for such long periods they get recrusted over..not as bad as before but she cant really open i supposed to clean them off? And her eyes are gray without that normal or does that mean she might be blind. Sorry for all these questions... And we got our other cat from the pound a few months ago so i doubt shes been vaccinated for anything unless they do that at the pound..

Hi Megan,
Yes you need to clean her eyes off. She is obviously recovering from some kind of virus or bacterial infection. She probably needs some antibiotic ointment for her eyes. Clean them off with a warm, wet washrag gently and then that's when you would put in the eye ointment you get at the vets.

Washing your hands alone is probably fine. I really doubt if the puppy was trying to eat her, but if his is being rough then yes, wait until she is bigger before they can play.

I'm sure she must have pupils, but they could be very small due to her eyes not feeling well. They contract their pupils to mere pinpoints at the sight of bright light or if they are feeling very sensitive to light from infection.

As far as your other cat, they BOTH need vaccinations and a vet visit if the other one had none at all. Most shelters DO vaccinate their cats and test them for leukemia. They would be sorely remiss if they adopt out a cat with a fatal virus.

Let me know how she grows and does.

Oh Megan,
I am sorry to hear this. It's not "all for nothing." You learned a lot during this and everything and anything you learn is a valuable tool for you all during your life.
You learned something very valuable here, among other things you learned compassion for others.
Never forget that. You did the best you could Megan and at least she had a warm bed and someone who cared about her.
It's very sad that she didn't make it but it was meant to be what it is.
Don't beat yourself up over what "could've, would've, should've."

Thank you for letting me know and again, I am sorry. I am sorry because it hurts you as well. Take care of yourself ok?


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Jana Connell RVT, CVT


PLEASE READ BEFORE SUBMITTING TO ME: I am NOT a vet and do NOT diagnose diseases. That is only for a licensed Veterinarian to do. I will give you suggestions and steer you toward calling your vet for help. You can call the vet's office and talk to the technician there or the vet at times. Don't be afraid to call them! If you have a serious issue with your pet please post it to one of the veterinarians in here- I will tell you the same thing in my answer. IF your pet is injured or in an emergency situation, CALL YOUR VET- Do not wait and post in here. Just call the vet's office and get them in to see the vet right away. Critical treatment time is lost if you seek answers here when you should have your precious pet at the vets!! Don't sit at home waiting for an answer when your pet is critically ill or injured!! I can answer most questions about small animal and wildlife care as well as small animal nutrition. I can also answer questions about all phases of dental care for small animals. I DO NOT answer questions about birds (unless it is wildlife or songbirds) or HAMSTERS/GERBILS/CHINS/GUINEA PIGS/REPTILES/FROGS/RABBITS/PET BIRDS OF ANY KIND so please submit these questions to the appropriate sections. I, as well as other experts in here, do NOT do homework questions- that is for YOU to do! Please respect these rules for all of us. Thanks!


I have over 35 years experience in the field of veterinary medicine. I specialized in small animals and did wildlife rehab for over 25 years, mostly raptors, squirrels and opossums. I am a Small Animal Nutritional Consultant with 6 certificates from Hills Pet Foods, CNM and Purina. I also specialized in Small Animal Dentistry which is a field I truly love.

Audubon,World Wildlife Federation, American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians.

Licensed with California and Oregon, RVT and CVT. Certified Veterinary Dental Technician Have over 550 logged hours of Continuing Education Credits(that means I keep up to date!).

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Nominated for Expert of the Month for the last 5 years.

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