Kitten Not Pooping: Why & What To Do

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Kittens should poop at least once per day, regardless of their age. When do kittens start pooping? They begin pooping on their own around three to four weeks of age, which is also when you can begin litter box training. Unfortunately, kittens can't tell you when they're not feeling well, and if they're not pooping, you may only be able to find out by checking the litter box. Like most pet parents, you probably scoop your kitten's litter box once or even twice a day. Paying attention to what's in the litter box (or not in it) can help you determine when it's time for a trip to the vet. 

If your cat isn't pooping, it may indicate constipation. Why your cat is constipated depends on several factors, but a constipated kitten requires treatment as soon as possible because it can lead to worsening health problems. This article will discuss why your kitten is not pooping, how to make a cat poop when constipated, and when it's time to visit the vet. 

What Is Constipation?

While kittens typically poop every day, some don't, so it's important to monitor your cat's litter box habits from the time they're young. That said, a lack of feces or hard feces that are difficult to pass indicates constipation. Constipation is defined as the infrequent or difficult passing of hard, dry feces.1

Since there are a variety of underlying causes of constipation, it can be accompanied by other symptoms, including loss of appetite or vomiting. It's important to remember that constipated cats might still poop. However, they'll find defecating more challenging, and you may even notice them straining to pass stool. Many pet parents will be able to determine when something isn't right with their cat's stool. However, you can also use a cat poop chart to decipher what your cat's poop is trying to tell you. 

Signs of constipation in kittens

Signs Of Constipation In Kittens

Constipation in kittens is characterized by difficulty passing or infrequent stools. Therefore, the litter box may not be completely empty when you clean it daily. However, signs of constipation in kittens include:

  • Lack of stool: The most obvious sign of a constipated kitten is a lack of stool in the litter box. Since most kittens poop once a day, your cat likely has regular bowel movements around the same time. Therefore, if your cat hasn't pooped for more than two or three days, you should consult your vet for the next steps since constipation could be a sign of an underlying disease and can cause further issues.  
  • Dry, hard stool: Many constipated cats can still pass some stool. However, cat poop should be brown in color and well-formed.2 Healthy cat poop has some moisture, but constipated kitten poop may look dry and hard. 
  • Straining to produce a bowel movement: While your litter box might be hidden away, you may still see your cat pass a bowel movement from time to time. When a constipated kitten tries to use the litter box, you may see them straining or crying because it's painful.2

Depending on the underlying cause of your kitten's constipation, you may also notice signs of an underlying condition, which may include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased thirst and urination2

However, taking your kitten to the vet when you notice the signs of constipation is crucial because they'll require treatment for underlying causes to prevent the pain associated with straining to defecate. 

Causes of constipation in kittens

What Causes Constipation In Kittens?

Unfortunately, there are several causes of constipation in kittens. Unfortunately, these are not things you can diagnose without the help of a vet, so you must take your kitten to the vet as soon as possible if you believe they're constipated. Since the causes of constipation in kittens ranges from dehydration to chronic disease, the underlying issue will need to be diagnosed and treated to prevent chronic health issues. Common causes of constipation in kittens include the following: 

  • Stress and anxiety: Stress and anxiety are commonly overlooked causes of constipation in kittens and cats. Kittens in stressful environments or those who have experienced a change in routine can cause a change in litter box habits. In addition, anxiety can cause digestive problems in cats, so if your kitten isn't pooping as they should, you may want to consider their environment. For example, even something like a dirty litter box can cause stress in cats, which forces them to change their potty habits. 
  • Dehydration: Dehydration can result in constipation because the body isn't getting enough moisture to lubricate the bowel movement. Kittens can become dehydrated when they don't have access to water or when they transition from their mother's milk at about three weeks of age, the same age they start using the litter box. In addition, anything that can cause dehydration, such as spending time in the sun without water, can lead to constipation. 
  • Poor diet: Kittens require a proper diet to help them grow big and strong. However, if they're not getting enough essential nutrients like fiber, they may have hard, dry stools. Fiber helps to create bulk in the stool, making it easier to pass. Therefore, if your kitten is straining to poop, you should look at the fiber content of the food you're giving them. 
  • Inflammatory bowel disease: Inflammatory bowel disease in cats typically causes diarrhea, but it can cause constipation due to inflammation in the GI tract. 
  • Nerve problems: Nerve problems like megacolon can cause the colon muscles to not contract properly, forcing feces to accumulate in the colon. Kittens with megacolon have weak colon muscles that don't help feces move through the digestive tract properly, leading to constipation. 
  • Chronic diseases: Several chronic diseases in cats can cause constipation. In these instances, constipation is a symptom of something much more sinister. Therefore, taking your kitten to the vet for diagnosis and treatment is crucial as soon as you notice the signs of constipation because it could indicate an underlying medical problem. Chronic diseases in cats that cause constipation include diabetes, kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, and more.2

What To Do If Your Kitten Can't Poop

While you may think a constipated kitten is nothing to be concerned about, constipation can be dangerous for cats because, like all living creatures, they must pass fecal material regularly to stay healthy. When left untreated, a constipated kitten may experience painful bowel movements, chronic constipation, and other GI symptoms like vomiting and loss of appetite. Constipation can be dangerous for kittens, so here are a few ideas for how to make a cat poop when constipated: 

  • Talk to your vet: If your kitten can't poop, the best thing you can do for them is take them to the vet as soon as possible. In most cases, constipation is a symptom, not the main health issue. However, since there are so many causes of constipation in kittens, you won't know why your cat is constipated until they have an official diagnosis from a professional. From there, your vet will devise a treatment plan for your kitten. If they discover an underlying illness, they'll aim to treat it, reducing the symptom of constipation. 
  • Provide plenty of water: Constipated kittens may be dehydrated, so you should ensure they have enough fresh water to drink daily. You can ask your vet if you're unsure how much water your kitten should drink. However, you can also give your cat a pet fountain to ensure they always have access to water. 
  • Feed plain, canned pumpkin: There are several home remedies for cat constipation, but one of the most recommended by vets is plain canned pumpkin. You can buy it at any grocery store, and it's full of fiber and water to help bulk and soften the stool. 
  • Increase exercise and enrichment: Another home remedy for cat constipation is exercise and enrichment, which can help reduce stress and anxiety while stimulating your cat's GI tract. Everything from stretching to playing can help make passing bowel movements easier for your cat.2 
  • Feed them a new diet: While many commercial cat foods are high-quality and provide your kitten with enough fiber, you should discuss your cat's diet and nutrition with your vet to ensure their food isn't causing constipation. Everything from a poor diet or food allergies can cause constipation in cats, so if your cat is experiencing regular constipation, it may be time to feed them a new diet. Remember, kittens should eat food designed for kittens. Therefore, you should never feed them food for adult cats since it doesn't contain all the nutrients they need for optimal health. 
  • Minimize anxiety: Since anxiety can contribute to constipation and other GI issues, you should reduce your cat's stress whenever possible. Cats like routine, so keeping their daily routine consistent is important. In addition, you should give them a clean environment free from clutter and monitor them for signs of an underlying anxiety problem that may contribute to GI issues. 

Kitten in a litter box

Final Notes

If your kitten isn't pooping, you may wonder when to take them to the vet. There are many reasons why your kitten might be constipated, including everything from stress to a serious underlying disease. Because you won't know what's causing their GI issues until a vet diagnoses them, you should take them to the vet as soon as you notice signs of constipation. Therefore, even if your cat is still passing stool, but it's hard or dry, you should treat the problem before it causes more pain. 

Is your kitten constipated? Consult a Dutch vet. Dutch's telemedicine for pets can help you diagnose and treat a constipated kitten to reduce their symptoms and help them pass bowel movements with ease. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Dutch?

Dutch is an online veterinary pet telehealth service, created by pet parents and board-certified veterinary specialists. We use a science-backed approach to provide pets relief for their everyday physical and behavioral health issues. Dutch connects you with licensed veterinarians over video chat and messaging to help you get care for your dog or cat quickly wherever you are — without the stress or expense of a vet visit. We also partner with pharmacies who can deliver prescription medication (in applicable states only) and over-the-counter treatments directly to your door. Dutch isn’t a veterinary practice or pharmacy, but a company that helps facilitate these services for pet parents to make veterinary care more accessible to all.

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During your video call, one of our licensed veterinarians will talk to you about the symptoms your pet is experiencing, ask you questions, review your pet’s medical history if you’ve provided it, and answer any questions you have. The vet will ask to see your pet and their environment. And they may ask you to perform some simple checks on them if needed.

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In addition to the base membership plan, our veterinarians may also recommend additional medication (Rx and/or OTC) that you will have the option of adding to your plan at an additional cost.