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Blood Groups - Feeding Tubes - Frog Legs

Blood Groups

41 % of British shorthair cats have A - 59% B

Until just a few years ago, the consequences of mating cats with different blood types were ignored and simply referred to as Fading Kitten Syndrome.

Since then several studies as to the effect of different non-compatible blood types have been done. This has resulted in a new insight:

Feline Neonatal Isoerythrolysis

or in short F.N.I.

What is F.N.I.? A new disease?

Yes it is, but one you can not cure with pills, potions, cremes or injections. Still it is very distressing if it happens to your kittens.

What does it actually mean?

F = Feline or cat

N = Neonatal or newborn

I = Isoerythrolysis

the destruction of red blood corpuscles

which results in the death of the kitten.

That there are several different blood groups amongst humans is common knowledge. Due to extensive research over the years, we now know almost everything there is to know about the different human blood groups.

For example, how the different blood groups are divided over the human race:

blood type A: 42 %
blood type B: 14 %
blood type AB: 7 %
blood type O: 37 %

We also know that with blood transfusions, only blood of the same type can be given, if not the red blood corpuscles dissolve and a life threatening situation arises.

Besides the blood group (A,B,AB,O) another very important factor is what is called the Rhesus Factor. 85 % of the white human race has got this rhesus factor while 15 % does not. Not having this rhesus factor could have very significant consequences when e.g. the mother is Rh negative (has no rhesus factor) and the father is Rh positive. If the mother should get pregnant with a child having Rh positive blood and if somewhere during the pregnancy or childbirth some of the child's Rh positive blood gets into the bloodstream of the Rh negative mother, the mother's body will recognize the Rh factor as foreign and will form antibodies against it. During a following pregnancy of a Rh positive child, the mother's body will reject the child with a miscarriage or deformed child as a result. If the mother, however, is of a Rh positive blood type and the father a Rh negative, the problem does not arise.

The blood types of all kinds of species has been the subject of studies and the specific characteristics are well known, but in the case of cats little research had been done. It is only in the early 80's that research on feline blood types was initiated in Australia and somewhat later in America, France and Germany.

For the time being, this has lead to the following conclusions:

- The passing on of blood types with cats follows Mendel's laws of inheritance. This does not mean,

however, that the coding system is the same as that used when representing the genotypes influencing colour and how these are passed on etc. In the latter method of coding, a capital letter stands for a dominant gene and a small letter for a recessive gene. For coding blood types only capital letters are used with an added note saying whether A or B is dominant.

Nb. the capital A does in no way refer to the A of Agouti and the capital B is not the B of black.

- The blood plasma of cats contains natural antibodies against different blood types, while with most other species, humans included, antibodies are only formed after the blood has been in direct contact with a non-compatible blood type or other factor (e.g. Rh factor). Which means that during the first contact no reaction will be shown, while a second contact with the same non-compatible blood type or factor will produce an incompatibility reaction.

- With cats, so far, three blood types have been distinguished.

Blood type A, which is formed through the following pair of genes: A/A or A/B where the A is dominant and suppresses the properties of B.

Blood type AB is rare and little is known about it as yet.

Note: AB is a totally different blood type than the combination A/B.

Blood type B is formed through the B/B genes.

When does incompatibility occur?

1.Blood transfusion after e.g an accident, operation etc.

If the wrong blood type is used during the blood transfusion a fatal shock could occur (A donor / B receiver). Your vet will certainly have had previous experience with other animals. Most important, however is to remember that cats do not build up antibodies after first contact like most species (e.g. dogs), but have an inbuilt defence consisting of antibodies against the foreign blood type.

2.Pregnancy ??

Various opinions can be heard on the effects of incompatibility and what exactly happens during pregnancy. One publication states "that antibodies get into the fetus' or newborn's blood stream" while another proclaims "that when a mother cat with blood type B is pregnant with kittens type A, nothing will happen during pregnancy as the antibodies of the mother could never penetrate the placenta, which acts as a natural barrier.


The first mother's milk (colostrum, foremilk) contains various antibodies to protect the kittens against infections and diseases, but it also contains, in case of incompatible blood types, antibodies against different blood types, which means that if mother and kittens have a different blood type, the kittens receive antibodies in the mother milk against their own blood type.

We will only consider point 3 further, as that is our prime concern as breeders, and because that is the only situation we can actually do something about for the time being.

How does it work this passing of blood types?

Female: ----Male: ---Kittens:

A = A/A - A = A/A - A = A/A

A = A/A - A = A/B - A = A/A of A/B

A = A/A - B = B/B - A = A/B

Female: ----Male: ---Kittens:

A = A/B - A = A/A - A = A/A of A/B

A = A/B - A = A/B - A = A/A of A/B en B = B/B

A = A/B - B = B/B - A = A/B en B = B/B

Female: ----Male: ---Kittens:

B = B/B - A = A/A - A = A/B **

B = B/B - A = A/B - A = A/B ** en B = B/B

B = B/B - B = B/B - B = B/B

Only the kittens marked ** will show signs of intolerance, that is when the mother cat has blood type B (= B/B) and her babies are of type A (=A/A or A/B). As the above outline shows the stud plays no direct role in the reaction, except for fathering blood type A kittens.

- What does this incompatibility reaction consist of?

Because of the presence of anti-A-anitbodies in the colostrum of a type B cat during the first couple of days after birth, kittens receive through the colostrum antibodies against their own blood type. As a result the red corpuscles of these type A kittens are destroyed. This process is called F.N.I.

How is F.N.I. diagnosed?

The birth will, provided there are no other problems, just go as normal.

The kittens suffering from F.N.I. will

- die almost immediately after birth without outward sign of illness

- will be very weak, showing no desire to drink

- will drink less and less as days go by

- will develop jaundice

- will become anaemic etc.- some of these kittens survive but after a couple of weeks the tip of their tail might die off

- some of these kittens drink and grow up and will, sometimes, only develop a slight form of anaemia

Is there something you can do against F.N.I.?

Yes there is, at least if you know the tricks of the trade.

Prevention is far better than cure. By only breeding type B with type B, the problem would not arise and the need for determining blood type would be unnecessary.

When breeding type A with type A, it would still be necessary to have the blood type of the offspring determined as a cat with type A could be pure A/A but also A/B. The latter type could cause problems with the offspring.

B type kittens should be selected as for A type kittens it could be almost impossible to eliminate the recessive B (when of A/B type) out of the bloodline, it could be passed on for generations to come.

Blood type B could be compared to, for example, a long hair factor .

If we were living in the U.S.A., things would be so much simpler. A vet would simply order a RapidVet HF#105 at DMS by phone, fax or e-mail and this would enable him to determine the cat's blood group in just 2 to 3 minutes.

However, In Europe, the knowledge on the different blood groups of cats is extremely limited and most vets do not know what to do. "Oh no, not again" is the reaction of my vet every time I bring up the subject. At least they now know it is possible to have your cat's blood type determined at E.V.L. in Woerden, and that is as far as their knowledge goes.

*Note: addresses can be found at the end of the article.

What European vets and universities seem to ignore is how wide spread the problem is and the rate it is spreading.

American statistics and discussions on the BSH-list on Internet show the following percentage for blood type B cats (in the U.S.A.):

20% Abessynian

16% Burmese

59% British shorthair ( in the U.K. - 58,7%)

43% Devon Rex

20% Persian Colorpoints

24% Persian

15% Scottish Fold

22% Somalian

To state the obvious, F.N.I. is not a contagious disease, so please do not panic and do not rush your blood type B stud to the vet for castration.

He takes no part whatsoever in the ensuing effects, namely F.N.I. However, should a stud be imported from France to the Netherlands and afterward exported to the U.S.A. and provided he is in large demand, then you can imagine that the blood type B would be passed on to a large number of offspring, spread over three different countries.

In England, the idea to eliminate the problem by putting all B type studs on the inactive register took hold. The underlying idea being, that if breeding with them was no longer be allowed, the problem would disappear in time.

But what if, as in the U.S.A. 59% of cats are of type B and only 41% of A? Put all A's in the inactive register?

Should you through experience with previous nests or through recognizing the symptoms whilst reading this, suspect your cat might be a type B cat, please do not take any chances. Remove the kittens right after birth from the mother for the first 24 hours.

A BSH-breeder was once told by her vet when confronted with this problem: "it occasionally happens with pigs too and the only solution is to remove the piglets from the mother.."

It may sound cruel to deprive your cat of her newborn babies, but remember it would be much and much worse if one kitten after another would die and she would be left with nothing to "mother". However she would only have to miss her kittens for a few days.

After diagnosing the problem, in theory you could have

- your cat's urine tested

- the mother cat's blood type determined

- the blood types of the kittens determined through the afterbirths.

These are however still very much theoretical solutions as most vets are completely ignorant of the problem. And those who are not, where do they live? Can they do the tests themselves or do they have to send it to the university for analysis? How long does that take? And most important of all, how long do you have before the kittens die? The most effective and easy way to address the problem is to remove the kittens from the mother and keep them in a warm room, tucked in with a warm water bottle.

Removing the kittens from the mother does have certain consequences. If and when the mother can, or better said, may not feed herself, you will have to find an alternative way of feeding them.

- Maybe another nursing cat?

That is not a very commendable solution as long as you do not know the blood type of the foster mother. It could be possible that this cat is also a type B cat with only type B kittens. It would only make the problem worse!

So,you will just have to do it yourself. For about three days you will have to feed them every 2 hours, day and night.

This may prove not to be as simple as it sounds, although using Lactol, K.M.R. could prove to be a help. Still, there are risks involved besides the burden of having to prepare the milk every two hours without lumps in it, to avoid the teat clogging up. If the hole in the teat is too big the kitten could choke and could get fluid in the lungs with all the subsequent problems .

Previously another magazine suggested in an article about blood groups problems a very interesting solution: " artificial feeding, administered by your vet, using a feeding tube.

Although "in theory" this would be a very good alternative, there are quite a few practical problems that arise. In the best case your vet at least has some knowledge of how to go about it, has the right kind of feeding-tubes at hand and is able to show you how to do it and mostly what to look out for. In any case, your vet should be able to tell you the maximum amount per feeding, which would limit the feeding visits to every 4 hours, up to six times a day. With a bit of luck, you could even stay at home in the middle of the night, but that all depends on your vet's experience with these matters.

My vet lacks any experience whatsoever and regularly refers his clients to me when confronted with this problem (one time a doctor with a litter of 8 pups).

The only sensible solution is to learn how to use the tube yourself, as is set out in the article below on the feeding tube.

Please, do not panic. From experience, I know (the first few days with my heart in my mouth) that once you've learnt the ins and outs and you know how it works it's really not too bad, although some "experienced" breeders may accuse you of torturing your pets etc. If and when you are able to feed the kittens with the tube yourself it might even be possible to leave the kittens with the mother. By force-feeding them with enough food, their little system is "rinsed" and the antibodies contained in the mother milk have no change to start their destructive work.


Tjerk Huisman ©1998
Updated April 2000


Note: this article was written a few years ago and after consulting with the University of Utrecht by phone, the article was sent to them. Although they had committed to check the story out, add to it where needed, correct where necessary and add a comment, so far they have never responded.

Through the Internet and especially the BSH-discussion group a lot of information has come forward, so I feel I should no longer withhold the information I have gathered over the years. The information contained in this article agrees with most other articles about feline blood groups.

The rules for inheritance of blood types are probably more complex than those set out in this article. More information on this topic is unfortunately not available at this time.


Dr. Susan Little DVM, DABVP (Feline), Bytown Cat Hospital, Ottawa, Canada

Denise G. Darmanian, Vice President, DMS Laboratories - Flemington N.J.


European Veterinary Laboratories,
P.O. Box 198,
Tel: xx 31 348 412549
Fax: xx 31 348 414626
DSM Laboratories, Flemington, NJ / USA
More information on Internet:
In Europe the RapidVet test sets are being sold by:

Postfach 50,
CH 8702 Zollikon.
Sanofi Ceva GMBH
Kanzlerstrasse 4D
Tel : 00-49 211 / 9659700
Fax : 00 49 211 / 9659742
Sanofi Santé Nutrition Animale,
F 33501 Libourne Cedex,
Jorgen Kruuse A/S, telephone:, contact: Dr. Lotte Davies
Clinivet OY, telephone: 358.9.685.22.88,
contact: Dr. Suvi Pohjola-Stenroos
Indian Herbs Gmbh, telephone:,
contact: Dr. Dickie



Blood Groups - Feeding Tubes - Frog Legs


How to use the feeding tube with kittens

A lot of us will recognize the problems concerning extra feeding / bottle feeding with kittens. Others, who so far never were required to do it, might just stumble across this problem before long. Bottle feeding might be required with "orphaned" kittens, kittens born with a caesarian section which can cause the production of milk to fail or obstructs the mother-child relation, underdeveloped nipples which makes it impossible for the mother to feed her kittens, too large litters, acute infection of the womb, problems related to blood type (e.g. a blood type B mother with A type kittens) or for any other reason why a mother cat cannot feed her newborns (sufficiently) herself.

Just imagine. Sterilizing bottles and teats, a strict feeding schedule, all the hassles of clogged up teats, or teats that were accidentally punctured too widely, and not to mention the alarm clock that wakes you up every 2 to 3 hours for feeding. Have you ever considered what could happen if those little kittens or one of them refuse to be bottle fed, or if one had decided to just take his time drinking the necessary amount of milk in order to stay alive and grow. In that case, just forget all about the alarm clock, as by the time you have finished round one, you are 1 ½ hours later and have just enough time left to prepare the next round of food. In short, a murderous schedule, especially as all other regular activities at home just go on. You can imagine a breeder's anguish when after all his effort and care, one of the kittens choke and gets fluid in his lungs and no longer wants to eat, constantly crying his little heart out while having more and more trouble breathing. It will try to leave the nest in his panic and finally dies at the edge of the box or basket.

Taking all this into consideration, one can say that bottle feeding young kittens is a very exhausting and scary job.

Another and safer way of feeding very young kittens is by feeding tube. This method was introduced about 15 years ago in The Netherlands by the American professor Bill Klein at a veterinary conference in Amsterdam. Our vet, present at the conference, became very enthused by this method and set out to learn how to do it. Afterwards he shared his knowledge with dog and cat breeders who visited his surgery with their feeding problems. In short, there are only advantages to using a feeding tube:

- the danger of choking is reduced to almost nothing

- no more messing around with milk that ends everywhere except where it belongs

- hungerstrikers are deprived of their life threatening weapon

- feeding measures and more important feeding schedule can be monitored much more easily.

A schedule between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. with feeding every two hours and the first and last measuring 4 grams, the others 2 grams, should do nicely, even after reductions for the secretion and the lack of nightly feedings.

In short:

- you can have your much needed night's rest

- one feed a day could be skipped provided the previous and next one are increased in quantity.

- slow eaters can eat as slowly as they wish. In the meantime you are giving them the required nutrition and can return them quickly to the warmth of the nest.


Note: should you decide to go and get a feeding tube after reading this article, don't throw away the bottles and teats as yet. Tube feeding is recommended for very young, weak or ill kittens who don't have enough strength to suck up sufficient milk, and who, on vet's orders, need extra food. For older and stronger kittens the normal feeding bottle will suffice.


What is a feeding tube?

Enclosed illustrations already explain most of it. It is a thin (1,5 mm to 2 mm) see-through tube, approx. 50 cm long that is used to transfer the mother's milk surrogate straight into the kitten's stomach.

KMR, other ready made substances or non glogging liquids (also see note 2) are recommended.

For a small amount you can buy a feeding tube at most vet's.

1 - Feeding tube (size 1,5 to 2 mm)

2 - Short strand of colored tape to attach to the tube at about 8 cm from the bottom up.

3 - A rounded, closed top.

4 - At both ends an opening of approx. 1,5 mm.

5 - A red or green cap

6.A matching pair of plastic syringes with contents of minimum 2 ml. A large size is preferred as it gives you a better grip.

7 - take care the kitten doesn’t wriggle too much in case the tube slides out again.

Using the Feeding Tube.

It is recommended you consult your vet before using the feeding tube. There could be any number of reasons either with the mother or the kittens why they are not gaining weight. In those cases using a feeding tube might worsen the situation and might even threaten the kittens' life.

Should the vet advise you to give extra food, than the feeding tube could be a tremendous help.

This is how you do it:

-spread a big, soft towel on the table.

-put a small receptacle close at hand, but big enough to enable you to suck up the milk easily into the syringe.

-KMR or something like it (2) should be brought up to body temperature and kept like that while feeding.

-Fill one of the syringes

- before filling the syringe with milk, suck up 0,5 ml of air into the syringe, (*

- then add 2 to 4 ml of milk.


-the tape, previously attached to the tube, indicates up to where you should insert the tube. With normal fully grown kittens of about 100 grams, it will be aprrox. 8 to 9 cm.

-insert the empty syringe - piston completely depressed - in the other end of the tube.

-now remove the kitten from the nest and best just lay it on his belly on the towel. You should be able to insert the tube now, gently and evenly. Most times this will go without a problem, although the kitten might struggle. Don't panic if it does not work the first time and don't try to force it down. Just stay calm and try again.

It might help to lift the right / left front leg of the kitten with the thumb of the hand in which you are holding the kitten. Almost as a reflex, the kitten will swallow, taking the tube down.

(* try it first with 0,5 ml of air. Best is to try it out first in the wash basin or so. Fill the syringe as indicated, insert the syringe in the top of the tube and empty the syringe. When the syringe is empty, except for the 0,5 ml of air, there should still be some milk left in the tube. By injecting the air into the tube, the remainder of the milk flows out of the tube.

- Should the tube be empty before, than 0,5 ml of air is too much and in that case you would inject air into the kitten's stomach.

- Should there still be milk left in the tube, than 0,5 ml of air is too little.


Do not try to insert the tube in one go. But first insert approx 5 -6 cm and than try to very gentle create a vacuum. If you have got a vacuum or feel pressure, you know you indeed have inserted the tube in the gullet. The gullet is flexible like a balloon and will be sucked against the opening of the tube. Than depress the piston of the syringe slightly to relieve the vacuum. (*

* Best is to try it out with an empty, fully depressed syringe which you close off with your thumb when trying to fill the syringe with air, you will the skin of your thumb being sucked against the opening.

- you can find a cat's stomach behind the lungs, halfway down the trunk

- Trachea / Windpipe: is firm (not flexible) has rings of cartilage

- The Gullet is soft and flexible like a balloon.

Should you on the contrary feel no pressure when trying to create a vacuum, than you have inserted the tube into the windpipe as the rings of cartilage prevent the wall of the windpipe being sucked in. In that case gently remove the tube and reinsert. The chances of this happening are minimal, as even for expert vets it is very difficult to insert a tube into the windpipe even when it is needed.


After relieving the pressure of the vacuum, you can insert the tube further down, up to the marking. Remove the empty syringe and replace with a filled one. Empty the syringe gently and evenly in to the tube, as described above. After the syringe is empty, slowly remove the tube for the first 2 to 3 cm, For the last 6 cm remove the tube while gently sucking up air, and that just in case a drop of milk is left dangling at the end of the tube and gets accidentally into the windpipe when removing the tube. By sucking in some air you prevent any milk left in the syringe to get into the windpipe where windpipe and gullet meet each other at the back of the throat.

Note: it is advisable to rinse the tube and syringe with boiled water after every use or even boil them.

And that is all there is to it. The kitten is fed with the right amount of food ( 2 to 4 grams). It all sounds very complicated, but all is quite simple in practice. After the first few times, it will take you only a minute to feed a kitten

Hold the kitten steady in one hand to prevent the feeding tube form moving too much, change the syringes with the other hand.


How does the kitten feel about all this?

That is a different questions, but he won't enjoy it, that is for sure. But sometimes there just is no other option and it feels save that while being fed he can scream all he wants without the chance of choking.

Not enjoyable is the right word as it definitely does not hurt.

On top of that, several of the kitten's senses and functions are not as yet fully developed, e.g. they are still blind and can not walk. This appeased to e.g. a baby giraffe who stands up on his own four feet almost right after birth, and that is a necessity as he needs to be able to accompany his mother on her journey.

At the Diergaarde Blijdorp zoo they once experimented with tube feeding a baby giraffe (using a garden hose as a tube) and as the giraffe was completely with it, it was a nightmare for the animal.

Don't let people upset you with their hear-say stories, or people who say you mistreat animals or people who say that kittens fed by tube became people haters. All nonsense! Most kittens are just happy to have their little tummies filled and will start purring as soon as they are able to.

Yes even with the feeding tube down their throats.

A lady vet living in North Holland (somewhere near the Afsluitdijk) will most probably react with" .. Curse, curse, that I should learn all this in a cat magazine." At least, that was how she reacted after reading the article on blood types.

Let it be a comfort to her and maybe even your vet, there are a lot of vets who don't know how to handle tube feeding. Years ago, our own kittens were guinea pigs, when we got a new vet who wanted to learn how to do it. Although she learned, she still sometimes refers some of her problem cases to us.


Tjerk Huisman © 1998


1 Feeding Tubes

From experience we have learned that the ones referred to as feeding tubes - see below - are the best. Don't let them rub you off with a so called catheter, valve rubber, rubber feeding tube or some other "good brand"

Feeding Tubes:

Manufactured by: RÜSCH A.G. / D-71394 KERNEN - GERMANY

Sizes #1 / Yellow-Cap 1.5 mm / Cat No. 22400
to be used the first 2 - 3 weeks

#2 / Green-Cap 2.1 mm / Cat No.unknown

For elder kittens and puppies bigger sizes are available.

The "Rush" feeding tubes can only be ordered through your vet.

2 Food

There are all kind of different brands e.g. KMR (= kitty milk replacement), which is an excellent canned American product (ready made liquid) which can be bought at many vet's.

Besides KMR there is a wide variety of powered milk products.

The following recipe gives also great results and is being used for over 20 year by the Feral Shelter Organization in Alkmaar. And best of all, the ingredients can be bought at your local supermarket.

1 soup spoon PROTIFAR (Nutricia)
1 tea spoon grape sugar
200 ml normal full milk
shake well until all lumps are gone
Add 2 soup spoons of cream and mix again.

Some will say that this recipe is not well balanced as certain nutricients and / or vitamins are lacking. A vet's response to that was that the first objective is to keep the kitten alive during those first few days / weeks. There is plenty of time for nutricious and varied food later.


Should your vet prescribe medication for the kittens, ask for a liquid form. Otherwise try to dissolve it in a bit of water, than do as follows:

-remove the piston from the syringe.

-hold it a little askew with the nozzle pointing down.

-carefully add one or two drops of the medicine, so the medicine does not run out of the syringe through the nozzle.

- replace the piston holding the syringe nozzle up this time

- let the medicine run over the piston

- press the piston in the syringe until 0,5 mg of air and medication is left

- add the required amount of milk and shake well.


Blood Groups - Feeding Tubes - Frog Legs


This is a condition one sometimes sees with kittens, a few weeks old. Often one does not know what to do about it.

The hind legs of such a kittens are bowed which makes it nearly impossible for the kitten to move around, the only means in which he can, is by dragging his hind legs. We have done a little survey amongst people on Kattenned.

Is it related to only one breed?

No, it is not! It can happen to Persian, Somali, Abyssinian, Brits etc.

Is it hereditary?

No and there is even no official name for it, although it can happen to cats and dogs.

With piglets, there is something similar and is called "Myofibrilar Hypoplasie Syndrom". Also with sheep there is a similar conditions where the treatment consists of taping the legs as show on the picture with the kitten.

According to a Canadian vet, specialized in cats, the cause is unknown, but a viral infection before birth is thought of to cause a kind of Dystrophy of the muscles.

A shortage of vitamins (E?) might be the cause according to other vets, due to the body having problems with absorbing certain parts of the food.


What can be done about it?

There is no real treatment known, but taping the hind legs

can ameliorate it and helps preventing the "flat chest" one often sees with these frogleg kittens.

Some vets believe that adding extra vitamins etc. to the milk is to no avail, others recommend vitamin E, calcium, or extra food, e.g. KMR. Dr Suzan, a Canadian vet whom some of you may know, states that the condition gets better on its own, even without any special treatment. A conclusion our own survey - 10 answers - supports.

Except for those kittens, of course, that were put down by the vet as being diagnosed to be handicapped for life.

Mrs. Christina Josemans who breeds Somali / Abbesinian, wrote "a vet who puts a kitten down for this reason? I sure would like to meet him so I can personally punch him on the nose, and tell him a few truths. I think it's high time he takes a few refresher courses."

Thanks to:

Suzan Meijer, Cathy Krouwel, Christa Josemans, Annet Wouters, Hans en Liedeke Visser etc.