Last Updated on: July 29, 2020
As well as being uncomfortable for your kitten, constipation can cause more serious issues if you don’t treat it right away.
Don’t worry, though — this article will help you figure out what to do!
We’ll look at how to tell if your kitten is constipated, as well as the main reasons that this can happen.
Luckily, there’s a range of things you can do to help, both at home and at your veterinarian’s.
Before we get started, we’ve written the contents of this article to be aimed at kittens over a month of age, who can now poop on their own. Kittens younger than this will usually still be with their mama cat, and she will be helping stimulate them to poop.
Constipation Symptoms in Cats
As mentioned, the first sign you’ll probably notice is that you haven’t had to clean out your kitten’s litter tray for a few days.
Kittens poop anywhere between one to six times per day, with some kitties only pooping once every 24 hours. It’s a good idea to make a note of your kitten’s regular schedule, so you can make a mental note if their poop pattern seems to have changed considerably from the norm.
You might also see your kitten in the litter box, straining to poop without any results. If they do manage to poop, it may be much drier and harder than usual.
A good indicator is that your kitten’s poop should be wet enough for the litter in the box to stick to it. If not, that’s a sign that the poop is too dry.
Other symptoms that your kitten might show signs of include:
- Lack of appetite
- Change in their drinking habits
- Weight loss
- Walking stiffly
Constipation Causes in Cats
So, what causes constipation in kittens? Here are a few of the main issues.
- Some kittens can become dehydrated as they’re weaned from their mother’s milk onto cat food. If a kitten is already weaned onto and is eating dry food but doesn’t drink enough water, this can lead to constipation.
- Intestinal obstruction. We all know kittens love to play. Sometimes they accidentally eat a toy or something they’ve found in the house. A feather, small rubber ball, or even a hair tie can cause problems if eaten by your kitten. A foreign object like this can block your kitten’s intestines, leaving them unable to poop.
- If your kitten doesn’t manage to cough up a furball, it can get lodged in their intestines and cause an obstruction.
- Chronic diseases. Hyperthyroidism, diabetes, and kidney disease can all result in constipation. Your veterinarian will run checks if they suspect any medical condition to be the cause of your kitten’s constipation.
- This is a condition where a kitten’s intestine is larger than normal. It’s caused by defective muscle tissue within the colon. This will affect your kitten’s ability to poop properly.
There’s a wide range of possibilities for treating your kitten’s constipation at home, but before attempting any of them, we recommend speaking to your veterinarian first. They can rule out the presence of a congenital defect or medical condition that may be causing your kitten to become constipated.
They might want to physically examine your kitten or take X-rays. Palpating your kitten’s abdomen and listening to the sounds of their gut can also help your veterinarian determine what’s causing constipation, as well as how best to solve it.
Once that’s complete, they may recommend home remedies to start with.
- Cats don’t have a high thirst drive, so think of how you can increase your cat’s water intake. Switching to wet food makes a big difference. You can also add a water fountain, as many cats prefer drinking from a moving water source. Offering your cat flavored water using something like tuna juice or meat broth, in addition to their regular water, can also work.
- Add dietary fiber. Sometimes a lack of fiber in your cat’s diet can cause constipation. Try adding a spoonful of canned pumpkin to your cat’s regular meal and see if that makes a difference. You can also try bran or psyllium husks, but always discuss which dietary fiber to add with your veterinarian first.
- Check your cat’s diet. If your kitten is suffering from allergies due to their diet, this can sometimes cause their intestines to become inflamed. This can lead to constipation as well. If you and your vet suspect that this might be the case for your kitten, sometimes a change in diet can help clear the problem up. Bear in mind that it can take up to 12 weeks for any ill effects from their old diet to take effect. Some cat foods are now being formulated that are designed to help cats who suffer from constipation.
- De worming. Intestinal worms can cause blockages, which may result in constipation. Make sure your kitten has been wormed regularly, and if not, speak to your veterinarian about setting up a worming schedule.
- Check kitten formula. If your kittens are orphaned or being bottle-fed, check that the formula is suitable for kittens, that it’s freshly made every time you need it, and that it’s stored correctly.
- Encourage movement. Encouraging your kitten to exercise can stimulate their intestines. Playing with toys and getting your kitten up and running around is a great idea at all times! You can also try manually moving your kitten’s back legs by laying them on their back and gently bicycling their legs in a circular motion for a few seconds at a time.
- Give a belly massage. You can give your kitten’s tummy a gentle massage, which sometimes helps their intestines to move that poop along!
- Increase the number of litter boxes. We all know that our kittens can be fussy creatures. If their litter box is somewhere they don’t approve of or you’ve changed to a different type of litter, they may choose not to use their box as much as they should. Consider adding extra litter boxes in other locations, as well as making sure that the litter you’ve chosen is approved by your kitten.
- Reduce stress. Both kittens and cats are prone to becoming stressed quite easily. If you’ve changed their routine or moved to a new house, this can cause them to become stressed and anxious. This, in turn, can lead to constipation. Speak to your veterinarian about ways to reduce your kitten’s stress levels. Pheromones, herbal supplements, and medications are all possible options.
At the Veterinarian’s
If none of the above treatments work, your kitten may need to spend time at the veterinary center. Your veterinarian will likely discuss the use of one of the following procedures with you:
- Subcutaneous rehydration. Your veterinarian may inject fluids under your kitten’s skin. This will rapidly help them rehydrate.
- Mineral oil mixture. Another option is to give an oral mixture of mineral oil and lactulose. This combination helps lubricate your kitten’s intestines and potentially help any blockage pass through more easily.
- This involves inserting fluids directly into your kitten’s intestine via their rectum.
- This is a procedure that requires your kitten to be anesthetized or sedated, depending on the method that your veterinarian uses. Manual deobstipation involves the poop blocking your kitten’s intestines being broken up and removed manually. Alternatively, medical deobstipation is when your kitten will be given a continuous infusion of a solution designed to help break the poop down over 12-24 hours.
We’re sure that one or more of these remedies will kick-start your kitten’s colon into behaving as it should. Once your kitten’s constipation is solved, be sure to keep an eye on how often they’re pooping so you can make sure they’re in the very best of health.
Featured Image Credit: Max Baskakov, Unsplash
Joanna is an experienced vet working in the UK. She has written about pets and pet health for many websites, blogs, and pet magazines and loves to help owners understand their pets through her writing.