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When Do Kittens Start Pooping?

Cat into blue tray

If you’ve just adopted a kitten or stumbled across a litter in your backyard, congratulations on becoming a parent! You’re in for a lot of fun soon. You will most likely have many questions regarding kittens (especially if you are a first-time kitten owner), though.

One of the most common questions about kittens is “When do they start pooping?”. It’s a great question to ask because the answer is important. Here we’ll answer that question, plus a few other common questions about kitten bathroom habits.

When Exactly Will My Kitten Start Pooping?

Most kittens cannot poop (at least on their own) until after they’ve crossed the three week old mark. If they are still with their mother, she will stimulate them so they are able to pee and poop, but if you are playing the role of mama cat instead, you will need to take over this task (we’ll cover how below!). Around the 4-week mark is when you can typically expect your cat to be able to start pooping on its own.

Kitten poop
Image Credit: Stefano Garau, Shutterstock

How to Get Your Kitten to Poop

Helping your kitten to poop isn’t very complicated, thankfully. There are just a few steps you need to follow:

  • Wet a washcloth or cotton ball with warm water — just enough to get it damp.
  • Usually, a mama cat would use her tongue to get her kittens to poop, so you will replace that with the washcloth or cotton ball and gently rub around your kitten’s genitals, abdomen, and bottom in circles.
  • Keep doing this until your kitten poops but keep an eye on them to make sure they aren’t experiencing any discomfort.
  • Once your kitten has pooped, clean them up if needed.
  • Do this after each feeding.

If your kitten doesn’t poop every time after eating, it’s okay — not going once or twice won’t harm them.

How Often Should Kittens Poop?

Young kittens will usually go to the bathroom after every meal, but this will decrease the older they get. So, if you’re feeding your cat several times a day, you can expect them to poop roughly the same number of times. As their digestive systems become better equipped with dealing with food and waste, they should only poop once or twice a day. Always keep an eye on your kitten’s bathroom habits — you want to make sure their stool looks consistent and well-formed.

smelly cat litter box
Image Credit: catinsyrup, Shutterstock

Diarrhea

If your kitten is experiencing diarrhea, the cause could be one of many things. It may be because of a new brand of food that their stomach isn’t quite used to, or it may be that you’ve given them cow’s milk, an item they can’t digest. Both will cause temporary diarrhea and can be easily fixed by taking away the milk or getting them slowly used to a new food by mixing it with their old one. However, there are other causes of diarrhea that are more concerning, such as parasites and worms, viral and bacterial infections, and environmental stressors (like moving to a new home). These will cause longer periods of diarrhea.

If diarrhea lasts more than a day or two, you should visit your vet. Diarrhea can cause a kitten to dehydrate rather quickly due to its small stature.

Constipation

On the flip side, your little one might be having a hard time going. If your kitten hasn’t pooped for two to three days, it may be suffering from constipation. As with diarrhea, this could be caused by a variety of issues such as parasites, a blockage from eating something they shouldn’t have, dehydration, or an improper diet.

If you haven’t seen your kitten go in the past couple of days, you should get them a vet so they can find the cause of the problem. And an extremely important note, do NOT try giving your kitten an at-home enema — you might end up killing them.

Cat pooping in cat litter
Image Credit: Mariesacha, Shutterstock

What Should Kitten Poop Look Like?

Finally, it’s vital to know what your kitten’s poop should look like so you can identify if any problems arise. For kittens three weeks and under, stools should be brown (but may occasionally have a yellowish tint) and primarily firm. As they get older, their poop may become a lighter or darker brown (depending on what they’re eating), but if it’s brown and firm, all is well.

When your kitten’s poop shows up in other colors is when you should be concerned. Below is a quick rundown of what different colors of poop mean.

  • Contains mucous (clear, white, or yellow and slimy) – indication of bowel irritation, possibly from a parasite
  • Black (may contain clots) – indication of upper GI tract bleeding
  • Red (as in actual blood) – indication of bowel irritation and/or an infection
  • Orange – indicates that there is bile in the stool, which could be a result of an issue with the gallbladder or liver
  • Green tinged – indication of a bacterial infection that is severe
  • Yellow – indication of overgrowth of bacteria
  • Grey – indication of too few probiotics or overfeeding
  • White – life-threatening, take kitten to the vet immediately

And as far as consistency goes, as mentioned above, your kitten’s poop should be firm (if it’s a little soft, it’s still in the range of normal). Any other consistency means you should take your kitten for a check-up.

Final Thoughts

Kittens are a blast to have around the house, but it’s essential to be well-informed of their needs before getting one. You should be aware of when they’ll reach certain milestones, so you know what to look for in the case something goes wrong. As long as you’re prepared, though, your kitten should be healthy and well for a long time.


Featured Image Credit: Stefano Garau, Shutterstock

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