The postmortem findings in 274 kittens were reviewed. The kittens were grouped by age at death: perinatal (<one day), neonatal (one to 14 days), preweaning (15 to 34 days) and postweaning (35 to 112 days); 203 (74 per cent) of the kittens were postweaning and 38 (14 per cent) were preweaning. Infectious disease was identified in 55 per cent of the kittens, and 71 per cent of the infectious disease was viral and detected significantly more frequently in rescue shelter kittens than in kittens from private homes. Twenty-five per cent of all kitten mortality was due to feline parvovirus (FPV). During the neonatal and preweaning periods, the main viral infections were feline herpesvirus and calicivirus. Feline infectious peritonitis caused the death of 17 kittens in the postweaning period. The rescue shelter kittens were significantly younger than the kittens from private homes (median survival 49 and 56 days) and were more likely to have FPV. The nonpedigree kittens were significantly younger than the pedigree kittens (42 v 56 days), and the pedigree kittens were significantly less likely to originate from rescue shelters. There was no significant difference between the age distribution of the male and female kittens. No diagnosis could be found in 33 per cent of the kittens, and this failure was correlated significantly with the submission of tissue samples as opposed to the whole carcase.
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