6 day old kittens feeling constipated…Any tips?

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This topic contains 3 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  jcat 5 years, 6 months ago.

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    Hey Everyone,

    I’m new here and took a look around for this issue in the forums but couldn’t find anything specific to this issue. You all seem like very trustworthy sources and friendly cat lovers so any help is much appreciated!

    I’m currently fostering 3 orphaned kittens that are about 5-6 days old. We’ve had them for a little over 3 days now and have already been through the non-pooping crisis with 2 of the kitties. I tried everything from warm/wet cotton balls to stimulation with a thermometer, but the only thing that finally did the trick was an enema. It took 1 enema for one kitten and 2 enemas for the second kitten (spread out over the course of a day) and they finally had a bowel movement!

    The problem I am having now though is that the enema didn’t necessarily fix whatever was causing them to be constipated in the first place. It’s been nearly 24 hours since they all last had a bowel movement, so I’m wondering if there are any tips or tricks to help them through the constipation – changing the dilution of the formula, belly rubs, etc.?

    I’ve fostered kittens this young before but they always had their mothers. I’ve also bottle fed before, but not with kittens this young…So I’m fairly experienced with kittens, just not with this specific situation. Aside from the constipation question, any advice on pooping in general with kittens this young would be helpful too! Such as, how often should they be having a bowel movement, can you feel the tension in their stomachs to know when they “should” be about to have a bowel movement, things like that…

    I could write a novel for you guys on all the details of their situation, symptoms, etc. but didn’t want to overload you all! That being said, just let me know if you need any other details 🙂

    Thank you!!



    Hi, Shortysil, bless you for fostering. Yes, click on the pink tags for poop and constipation for suggestions, are you using powdered KMR? It’s very good but it does seem to have a constipating effect on young kittens. But bear in mind that they don’t have to poop every day, though by the third day I would be getting worried. However at this stage they are using most of the nutrition in the food to grow. You can help by diluting the milk with more water or pedialyte, adding a drop of vegetable oil to the formula (eg olive, soya bean, rice bran or whatever’s to hand), switching to canned liquid formula, switching to goats milk (canned, in the baking section of Walmart), stimulating them with the triangle method or running comfortably warm water over their little bottoms. I would start by diluting the formula a little more and/or adding a drop of vegetable oil. But again, 24 – 36 hours for a bowel movement is fairly normal.

    Here is the home-made pedialyte recipe: http://www.dailykitten.com/chat/topic/31106

    Here is the triangle method: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufFWLmpIu08

    For more general information, this set of videos on Youtube is invaluable, there is a ‘chapter’ on pottying. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctfhMJUdxZA



    Hey JCat,

    Thank you so much for your advice! Regarding the stimulation, I have tried everything from warm/wet cotton balls, moving in a circular motion, squeezing water from the cotton balls, running warm water over them from the tap (they didn’t like that one though and made a huge mess!), a thermometer, and unfortunately the triangle method as well. I had heard that 24 hours is normal for a bowel movement, but did not know that it was normal for them to go 24-36 hours (we’re currently at the 36 hour mark again with no second bowel movements, after another enema last night). For the first 36 hour period, the enema was the only thing that did the trick.

    I am using powdered KMR, so I will try diluting it a little more (maybe 1:3 instead of the 1:2 that it calls for?) The shelter that I am fostering for provides all the food for their fosters, which they continue on the same brands when they go back to the shelter, so I’m not sure if I will be able to use the home made pedialyte recipe. However, I hadn’t heard of adding a bit of oil to the formula, so I think I can give that one a shot! A contact of mine in the foster community recently told me to try adding a little bit of Karo syrup to the formula to soften their stool – have you had any success with that?

    One last question…They are estimated to be 6-7 days old, but are weighing in at 5-6 ounces while drinking about 5-10 mL per feeding on a 2-3 hour schedule. From the research I’ve done, it seems like it’s time to move the schedule to 3-4 hours (and to be honest I could really use that extra hour of sleep!), but will this agitate their constipation/digestive issues even more with less frequent/larger feedings?

    The set of videos you linked to is also new to me, so I will be sure to watch each and every one! Thank you again, so much, for your help!!



    Hi, Shortysil, I haven’t personally used Karo syrup to soften their stools but I imagine the theory behind it is the same as adding a little vegetable oil (or mineral oil or hairball solution, which are also sometimes suggested), i.e. to lubricate kitty’s digestive tract to help things pass more smoothly through. So I imagine it would work in the same way.You could also try sieving the formula before you give it to them, though I’m not sure how much that actually helps (so if you find out, let us know!) To be honest, with such young kittens, I would try the most conservative and least invasive solutions first, and I would give them a little more time before I started to get really worried (i.e. on the third day without pooping is when I would start to worry).

    These websites are also really great for general information:





    The last one has a feeding chart. The amount they can take in at each feed depends on the size of their little stomachs so I’d tend to go by size rather than by age in days, as you don’t know what their mum’s nutrition was like during pregnancy. So at five ounces, I think I’d still be going for six feeds a day and take it down to four when they reach 7 oz. But if you know how much they are taking in at each feed, you can probably work out how many feeds they need a day, i.e. if they are taking in 14 ml/cc at each feed, you could cut it down to 4 feeds, so long as they each got 56 ml/cc per day in total. As the website says, a kitten needs approximately 8 cc’s of formula per ounce of body weight per day. The video chapter on feeding also has a food chart.

    As a general rule, little and often is best. If they were feeding from their mum, they’d be basically feeding on demand.

    It’s great that you’re fostering for an organisation. Don’t forget you can also ring them for advice, they should be supporting you as much as they can. They may also have a ‘tame vet’ you can call. Keep checking back for more advice from experienced foster mums and let us know how you get on!

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