To raise a healthy, happy kitten, you must educate yourself on what to expect from your pet. That means knowing not only how often the kitten should eat, but how often the kitten's bowels should move. If you ignore your pet's potty schedule, you risk missing signs of bigger health issues, such as a blockage -- and that risks your kitten's life.
From birth until about 21 days old, kittens lack the ability to poo on their own. Typically, the mama cat stimulates digestion and urination for the kitten after each meal. If you're caring for an orphaned kitten, you must take the mama cat's place by gently rubbing the kitten's behind with a soft cloth. The kitten should poo each time he eats -- nine to 12 times per day.
Once kittens gain the ability to defecate on their own, the frequency of their bowel movements varies depending on the quality of their diet and how often they eat. Low-quality foods packed with fillers, such as foods that consist mostly of carbohydrates and grains, lead to more frequent bowel movements. High quality, meat-based food produces fewer bowel movements. Since growing kittens have bigger energy requirements than adult cats, they tend to eat frequently and defecate more as well. Place your kitten in his litter box after every meal if he's still learning to use it. He may not poo every time, but he should go at least one or two times every day.
Healthy Bowel Movements
A kitten who has frequent runny bowel movements or dry, hard irregular ones, should visit a veterinarian as quickly as possible. Signs that your kitten may be having problems include the presence of blood or mucus in the stool, straining to defecate, meowing as if in pain while in the box and loss of appetite. The color and consistency of stool can also signal a problem. Stool that's too soft or hard, yellow, black or anything other than firm and brown, indicates the possibility of a problem regardless of the regularity of bowel movements.
If your kitten doesn't defecate at least once a day, or if he has diarrhea, a trip to the veterinarian is in order. If your kitten's bowel movements are infrequent, a blockage may be the culprit. A mass of roundworms can cause it, as can the ingestion of small objects, such as buttons, ribbons or toys. This is life-threatening if left untreated. Parasites are a common illness for kittens. Tapeworms, giardia and hookworms can cause diarrhea that leads to dehydration, which is also life-threatening. Deworming medications administered by a veterinarian should help when it comes to parasites. If a blockage occurs, surgery may be necessary.
- ASPCA: Newborn Kitten Care
- PetEducation.com: Carbohydrates as Energy Sources in Cat Foods
- The Well Cat Book: The Classic Comprehensive Handbook of Cat Care; Terri McGinnis, D.V.M.
- PetEducation.com: Diarrhea in Cats
- Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: Gastrointestinal Parasites of Cats
- Photo Credit BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images