Kittens make a lot of adorable noises: meows, purrs, and chirps. One of the less enjoyable cat sounds is that “scrape-scrape” in the litter box post-potty break.
Still, it’s an important one. And if you haven’t heard it in a while, you may have a constipated kitten on your hands.
Wondering what to do? In this guide on how to make a kitten poop, we’ll be looking at seven ideas for treating and preventing constipation in your furry feline friend.
#1 Make Their Litter Box Area More Inviting
Within minutes of bringing a cuddly kitten home from the store or shelter, you’ll notice something—cats are very particular. From toys to food, part of learning how to raise a kitten is to understand that felines can be fussy about every aspect of their life. And that includes the cat's litter box.
When your cat won’t poop (even when you’ve already followed all the steps on how to litter train a kitten), sometimes all they need is a comfortable litter box experience. We’re not saying to add scented candles and some mood lighting (although that sounds pretty nice), but when you choose the location of your kitten’s litter box, think about how sensitive they are to sound and movement.
As natural-born hunters, felines are on high alert 24/7. By giving your cat a safe, secluded place to do their business, you increase the chance of having poop to clean up later. That may not sound like a win, but in this case, it is.
Placing several litter boxes throughout the house, using a super-absorbent kitty litter to reduce odor, or changing your kitten’s box can also make them more likely to go.
#2 Switch Up Their Diet
It’s a fact: What goes in influences what comes out, and your kitty’s diet may be affecting their ability to poop.
Certain nutrients can help cats along with their business—just like in humans. To make your constipated kitten poop, you can try:
- Introducing more fiber to their diet – Foods like carrots, pumpkin, and rice all contain moderate amounts of fiber to help your cat with their constipation. For picky eaters, you can sprinkle a cat-safe fiber supplement like Metamucil or Vetasyl over the food. A high-fiber diet isn’t always the answer, but it can be beneficial.
- Adding foods with probiotics – Probiotics are bacteria that regulate gut and intestine health. Because those locations are where the “magic” happens for bowel movements, keeping them healthy can help your kitten poop. To that end, look for cat food brands that include probiotics.
Changing your kitten’s diet can be a short-term solution to a milder case of cat constipation. But if the problem persists, you may want to try other tactics or visit your vet.
#3 Encourage Exercise and Weight Care
Running on a full stomach is never comfortable, but sometimes it’s necessary to move things along. If you notice your kitten hasn’t gone to the litter box in a while, see if you can have them skitter around on the hardwood.
Movement encourages intestinal peristalsis—a fancy way to say “the muscle contractions that push food through the digestive tract.” If you can convince your constipated kitten to chase their favorite toy around, you might be able to clear their constipation.
Exercise is also important from a weight management perspective. Obese or overweight felines are more prone to inflammation of the intestines or inflammatory bowel disease, which can slow the digestive process. Learn more about healthy cat weight.
#4 Keep Your Kitty Hydrated
One of the root causes of feline constipation is dehydration, so keeping your kitten hydrated throughout the day is crucial.
Here are some ideas for sneaking some extra water into your kitten’s diet:
- Keep several full water bowls throughout the house
- Pour a splash of water in with their food
- Opt for wet food instead of dry kibble
- Leave the toilet seat up for a quick drink (just remember to flush!)
- Use a cat water fountain to keep water fresh, filtered, and appealing
In more severe cases, you may need to administer subcutaneous fluids to keep your kitty hydrated. Think of an at-home IV drip for dehydrated cats. However, be sure to check in with a vet before using subcutaneous fluids.
#5 Give Them a Massage
On the topic of water, you might also find success submerging your kitten in a warm bath. Try filling the sink and dunking your cat’s stomach and bum into the water. While your cat is submerged, you may find it helpful to stimulate their belly and bum with a little massage.
A rubdown can be beneficial on dry land, too. Making bicycle motions with your cat’s legs can help with constipation, but more fussy kitties are unlikely to respond well to that tactic. Instead, try a gentle tummy rub to move things along and bond all at once.
In the case of newborn kittens (around 0 to 3 weeks old), stimulation is not only recommended—it’s required. Massaging a kitten’s bum with a damp towel simulates the licking and cleaning normally performed by a mother cat.
#6 Use Kitten-Safe Laxatives
Your local pet store should carry some over-the-counter laxatives for cats. In most cases, kitten-safe laxatives are a sort of “last resort” before taking a trip to the vet.
It’s worth noting that laxatives generally work by redirecting water to the intestines to soften stool. If your kitten is dehydrated, this reallocation of water can make things worse, so you should always ask your vet if you have any concerns.
#7 Turn to an Expert
When home remedies and tips don’t do the trick, it’s worth asking a professional. In this case, you’ll want to head to a trusted veterinary clinic.
Vets know how to make a constipated kitten poop. Depending on how serious the blockage is, your vet may suggest:
- Medication – Prescription medications like lactulose (a hyperosmotic laxative) may be necessary for a moderately constipated cat. Other medications, such as promotility drugs or lubricant laxatives, are also helpful.
- An enema – Introducing fluid into a kitten’s back-end with a catheter can help them finally pass stool. Vets may spray warm tap water, a saline solution, lactulose, or mineral oil to resolve your kitty’s constipation.
- Manual deobstipation – Obstipation is one step further than constipation. When this more intense condition occurs, your vet may need to manually remove any intestinal obstruction from your kitten’s colon. In rare cases, this process could involve surgery.
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How to Recognize Kitten Constipation
Because cats usually do their business “behind closed doors,” catching signs of kitten constipation isn’t always easy.
A normal poop schedule for a cat is about once every 24 hours, although twice a day isn’t unusual. If you believe it’s been more than a day since your cat has gone, start looking for other indications of feline constipation.
Signs of a constipated kitten include:
- Loss of appetite
- A tendency to hide
- Difficulty jumping
- Stiff movements
- Entering and exiting the cat litter box several times before going
- Sounds of pain or discomfort while in the litter box
- Firm or dry stool
Keep in mind that some of these symptoms are also indicators of other medical conditions. If you’re ever unsure, check in with a vet.
When to See a Veterinarian
Mild constipation lasting up to 36 hours can often be resolved at home. However, if it’s been two or three days since your kitten last had a bowel movement, it’s probably time for a visit to the clinic or animal hospital.
Finally, remember that newborn kittens need stimulation to excrete feces. In the first few weeks of a kitten’s life, the mama cat encourages urination and defecation herself. A visit to the vet is only necessary if you can’t make your newborn kitten poop after stimulation.
Causes of Kitten Constipation
Your vet will likely be able to tell you the cause of your kitten’s constipation. With that said, it’s helpful to understand some of the potential reasons behind your cat’s tummy troubles. Here are some of the most common causes of constipation.
#1 Stomach Obstructions
We all remember that old saying about cats and curiosity, right? Kittens are notoriously mischievous—and sometimes their curiosity extends to eating things they shouldn’t eat.
While you probably don’t need to be worried about a fatal outcome when your kitty swallows a toy or an elastic band, you can expect a case of constipation.
Hairballs can also lead to a blockage. Regularly brushing your kitten—especially if they have long hair—can keep constipation at bay.
As mentioned, dehydration (also known as excessive thirst in cats) is the main cause of constipation in young kittens. Because cats have a relatively low thirst drive, they tend not to drink until they really need to.
With that in mind, making water intake as easy as possible is highly recommended. Wet foods and water fountains work for most kittens.
#3 Chronic Diseases
In rarer cases, constipation can be a sign of a larger issue, such as a chronic disease. Reach out to your vet if your cat demonstrates any unusual symptoms.
Intermittent cases of constipation shouldn’t be cause for alarm. But if your kitten frequently has trouble pooping, there could be something more problematic at play. A vet should be able to identify the cause of chronic constipation and come up with a treatment plan.
Make Litter Box Time Better for Everyone
Regardless of why your kitten won’t poop, one of the easiest deterrents to rule out is an unpleasant litter box. By switching to an absorbent odor-free litter like PrettyLitter, you can make sure your kitten isn’t avoiding their box due to the smell.
PrettyLitter makes kitty bathroom breaks better for you, too. Not only will you have an easier time cleaning up, but you can also monitor your cat’s health through the color of the litter. Health issues are noticeable sooner, and blood is much easier to spot.
Find out more about the benefits of health-monitoring kitty litter and make the switch today.
MSCPA. Feline Constipation. https://www.mspca.org/angell_services/feline-constipation/
Merck Veterinary Manual. Disorders of the Stomach and Intestines in Cats. https://www.merckvetmanual.com/cat-owners/digestive-disorders-of-cats/disorders-of-the-stomach-and-intestines-in-cats
Merck Veterinary Manual. Constipation and Obstipation in Small Animals. https://www.merckvetmanual.com/digestive-system/diseases-of-the-stomach-and-intestines-in-small-animals/constipation-and-obstipation-in-small-animals
ASPCA. Inside Scoop on Cat Poop. https://www.aspcapetinsurance.com/resources/inside-scoop-on-cat-poop/
CatHealth.com. Thirst Drive in Cats. https://www.cathealth.com/behavior/how-and-why/2598-thirst-drive-in-cats