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26.09.2021

Kitten diarrhoea giving you a headache? Let's look into solutions

Stress escalates when you’re dealing with a kitten who has runny poo. Unlike adult or senior cats, wee kitties lose weight and get dehydrated pretty easily due to loose bowel movements. There’s no denying that kitten diarrhoea must be addressed as soon as possible to avoid further complications.

Unfortunately, feline diarrhoea is not a simple case of your cat eating something bad. From a minor issue of overfeeding to a life-threatening illness, the potential causes are numerous, so it's crucial to determine the cause quickly.

When it comes to the health and nutrition of your furry friends, don’t let anxiety get the better of you. A calm and rational approach will help you recognise the best solutions and help your kitten. In this informative article, we will analyse:

  • Various causes of diarrhoea in a kitten
  • Proactive solutions to help a kitten with diarrhoea
  • Preventive measures to help protect their digestive and overall health

Learn to make a distinction—how to know if my kitten is sick and down with diarrhoea

Kittens tend to have soft stools in general, which makes recognising diarrhoea an awfully tricky task for new cat parents. If a kitten with chronic diarrhoea is left undiagnosed and untreated, their health can deteriorate rapidly, leading to a fatal outcome in some cases. As unappealing as it sounds, you should peep into your tiny moggy’s litterbox to assess their poo quality, odour, and consistency on a daily basis.

To make sure no feline gastrointestinal problem flies under your radar, you need to pay attention to two types of symptoms:

  1. Stool indicators
  2. Behavioural changes

How to be a genius kitty poo cryptographer—the ultimate guide

To assess the consistency of your kitten’s poo accurately, you must understand what’s okay and what’s not. Thankfully, an everyday poo examination is not overly complicated, and most parents can monitor their cat’s health if they have a basic understanding of what a normal stool looks like.

What’s normal when it comes to kitty poo?

To say it in plain English—ordinary is the ideal. In the following table, we’ll break down the changes you can expect to see in your kitten's poo, depending on the development phase they're in:

Development phase

Poo description and habits

Newborn

Healthy newborn kittens (up to two weeks old) are either dependent on their mother’s milk or bottle-fed. Because of their liquid diet, they usually have poo that:

  • Has a light brown to muted yellow colour
  • Is soft and jam-like in consistency
  • Has a mild smell that is hardly noticeable

If your newborn kitten has diarrhoea, they will poo more than six times in 24 hours. Anything under that is normal

Transitioning to solid food

As you transition your kitten to solid food, their poo becomes thicker and turns a few shades darker. Transitioning kittens are likely to poo about two to four times a day

Weaned off milk

Kittens who are one hundred percent weaned off milk have solid, dark brown poo. Based on the amount of food they eat, they can poo two to three times in 24 hours

A tiny black kitten with their paws sprawled out being held by a woman against a blurred background

My litterbox smells funky, or did you try that horrendous perfume again, hooman?

Source: Helena Lopes

How to know if my kitten’s poo is off—what are the warning signs?

If your kitten has loose stools and poos more than usual, you need to check the colour and consistency. Kitten poo can be a technicolour horror show with not only red flags but green, black, and white ones too—check out this table for details:

Poo shade

Reasons

Green

Did you notice something green in the litterbox? It shouldn't be a problem if the curious kitty decided to try some grassy, leafy food. If you don’t remember your kitten eating anything green, it can be a sign of:

  • A bacterial infection
  • A liver disorder

Black

Black stools may indicate your kitten is bleeding somewhere in the upper digestive tract because when blood is digested, it turns poo black

Red

Red poo is practically stool mixed with blood. It may happen if your kitten is bleeding in the lower digestive tract

Orange

If your kitten poos out orange chunks and has irregular stools, they might be:

  • Experiencing gallbladder or liver issues
  • Having trouble creating or storing bile salts

Bright yellow

Bright yellow poo is a potential sign of a bacterial imbalance in the bowels

Brown with flecks of white

If this is the case, they are probably suffering from intestinal worms big enough to be seen by the naked eye

Grey

Greyish stools may indicate that kittens:

White

White poo is often a warning sign of a severe, life-threatening infection that calls for an immediate visit to the vet

Keep in mind that brown poo with a runny or mucous-like consistency and a foul smell is not normal for kittens either.

Should I care about the poo quantity?

Yes, the poo quantity plays a major role in determining whether your kitten is afflicted with small bowel or large bowel diarrhoea. Here’s the difference:

Small bowel diarrhoea

Large bowel diarrhoea

  • If your kitten passes massive volumes of watery diarrhoea, it’s usually a small bowel variant
  • Your kitten may lose a significant amount of fluids rapidly, which causes accelerated weight loss and other serious health problems
  • To compensate for the loss of fluids, you must give them electrolytes and keep them hydrated
  • If your kitten seems to strain a lot but only passes a small amount of slimy faeces, it’s most likely a case of large bowel diarrhoea
  • This type of diarrhoea is usually caused by parasites or the inflammation of the intestines

My kitten has the runs—what behavioural changes are concerning?

In addition to poo characteristics, you should pay attention to odd behavioural changes that point to gastrointestinal issues in kittens:

  1. Loss of appetite
  2. Nausea after meals
  3. Sluggishness—a tell-tale sign of dehydration
  4. Continual sleepiness
  5. Signs of pain

If your kitten displays any symptom mentioned above besides changes in poo, you should waste no time and rush to the nearest vet clinic.

My kitten has diarrhoea but acts normal—should I worry?

If your kitten has diarrhoea but seems fine, you may not need an emergency trip to the vet. But, you should monitor them closely over the next 12 hours. Gases caused by quick or excessive eating subside within a few hours. In case the loose stools persist beyond a day, it’s always better to consult your vet.

Please be aware that a kitten has a weak constitution and underdeveloped immune system, so it’s hard for them to survive extreme dehydration, which sometimes triggers a multiple-organ shutdown.

Why does my kitten have diarrhoea?

Diarrhoea is a symptom of dozens of feline illnesses. We have listed the common reasons behind runny stool:

  1. Infections—Gastrointestinal infections in young felines can be set off by the following organisms:
    1. Worms
    2. Intestinal parasites
    3. Viruses
    4. Bacteria—Feeding raw chicken or other raw meat can make a kitten’s frail stomach susceptible to salmonella, E. coli, listeria, and campylobacter. An overgrowth of these bacteria can permanently damage the digestive system and even lead to death if left untreated
  2. Dietary alterations—Dietary changes often upset a cat’s stomach:
    1. Shifting to a new brand of cat food
    2. Eating biologically incompatible food, such as cheese, chocolate brownies, tangy fruits, etc.
    3. Consuming prescribed hyperallergenic food (may vary from kitten to kitten)
  3. Reaction to medicines—Diarrhoea is a common side-effect of antibiotics and pain inhibitors in a kitten’s system. Infection-control medications, like Metronidazole, may also temporarily cause soft stools
  4. Exposure to toxins—Many toxic plants can cause diarrhoea
  5. Disease of the digestive tract—Kitten’s sensitive system is prone to:
    1. Metabolism issues
    2. Inflamed bowels
    3. Insufficiency in nutrition absorption
  6. Stress—Similar to humans, kittens can also “lose it” because of psychological or environmental stress. Combined with low vitamin levels and inadequate diet, emotional distress can manifest itself through issues with digestion

If you have a skinny kitten with diarrhoea, you should get their stool checked in a lab for a complete digestive health assessment.

    A white and brown tabby kitten sitting on a pink towel in a brown wicker basket

    Can you jump through hoops for your kitten with runny poo?

    Source: Tuğçe Beşel

    Mild kitten diarrhoea—medicines and treatment options

    Since mild cases of diarrhoea may happen because of abnormal food consumption, they tend to pass once the kitten poos or vomits. You can help them recover by:

    • Introducing a diarrhoea-friendly feline diet to your cat
    • Watching over them like a hawk

    What to feed a kitten with diarrhoea?

    Many vets recommend withholding food for six to 12 hours if your kitten’s diarrhoea is caused by something they ate. That doesn’t mean you should restrict water as well. A kitten’s body is already in fight or flight mode, so water is essential for a speedy recovery. You should not only refill their bowl with clean water every few hours but also make sure they drink it frequently.

    Diarrhoea shouldn't come back after a kitten’s body gets rid of the problematic food. At that point, you should start giving your kitten food that doesn't cause discomfort to their digestive system. Here are some ideas:

    If you’re using over-the-counter (OTC) anti-diarrhoea medications, please consult with your vet first. Many OTC meds in the UK are meant for dogs only and should never be given to felines.

    Severe kitten diarrhoea and vomiting treatment options

    If your feline companion’s health is severely affected, rush to the vet to start an adequate treatment as soon as possible. Depending on the underlying cause, the vet may prescribe:

    1. Intravenous (IV) fluids—Your kitten may need significant hydration and salts, and administering it through IV is the most effective solution
    2. Deworming schedule—If your kitten’s body is infested by parasites, nothing screams “EXTERMINATE” like deworming meds!
    3. Antibiotics—They help control infections caused by bacteria, viruses, or other alien organisms
    4. Hormonal therapy—Hormonal therapy is used in kittens prone to stress and panic attacks
    5. Diet transition—Sometimes, the solution to gut-wrenching problems is something as basic as changing their diet. Most felines have a robust digestive system to support their instinctive need to consume protein-rich meats, and coarse, high-calorie dry food doesn’t do it for them. Shifting from artificial kibbles to an authentic, human-grade meat wet diet can do wonders for sick felines, as it did to our team member’s cat, Sian. Keep in mind that a dry-food-only diet can also cause struvite crystals and cystitis later on 

    How to stop kitten diarrhoea—preventive protocol

    Kitten diarrhoea means sleepless nights for you and your troubled pet. Since some cat parents cannot afford pricey vet treatments, preventing problems is always a better and cheaper option.

    Here are some handy tips to keep kitten diarrhoea at bay:

    1. Give them shots and deworming medicines on time—Thanks to the fantastic breakthroughs in veterinary science, many feline diseases can be avoided with vaccines and medicines
    2. Kitten-proof your living area—Stay educated on what harmless human objects in your kitchen or drawing room can do to your cat, and keep those danger bombs out of their reach!
    3. Monitor your kitten—Don’t forget that your naive and curious furry explorer can swallow the wildest things while playing outside. Keep them in sight during every play-date in the park!
    4. Use food transition tricks—Sudden food changes can shock a cat’s system, causing diarrhoea. It’s smarter to introduce new food to your cat in small amounts to let their body adjust to it gradually. Ideally, you’ll increase the amount of the new food by 10% every day
    5. Invest in quality cat food—Do your feline friend a favour by investing in high-quality cat food
    A white and brown tabby cat eagerly leaning over a teal cube and checking out two cans of Untamed wet food

    Note it down, my dear slave, now go hunt what my heart desires!

    Image (c) Untamed

    Hunting down quality food for your growing kitten is not that hard!

    Many parents stress over which cat food is ideal for their kittens. Younglings need food rich in proteins sourced from meat that supports muscle and bone development. At the same time, it needs to be hypoallergenic to prevent potentially dangerous allergic reactions.

    When reading food labels, prioritise brands that:

    If you need a reliable provider, turn to Untamed. Our food is made with human-grade ingredients only. We use the prime cuts of your kitten’s favourite meat, be it chicken, tuna, salmon, or mackerel, all steam-cooked to preserve the nutrient content.

    A can of Untamed’s toothsome jelly- or gravy-based food is the ideal meal with everything your kitten needs:

    • Essential amino acids like taurine
    • Antioxidants like vitamin E to boost the immune system
    • Minerals and other vitamins blended in a vet-recommended mix

    All you need to do to try our products is click here and tell us what your young cat likes to eat!

    Different platters of quality raw meat, organs, and fish used by Untamed served on a white table

    Real good food that’ll make your kitten say yes to a lifetime of healthy food habits—Untamed knows the drill!

    Image (c) Untamed

    Choose the best food for your kitten—they’ll be grateful for life!

    At Untamed, we craft our food keeping in mind the long-term health of your furry companion. By choosing Untamed for either outdoor or indoor cats, you'll notice they'll have:

    • Seamless digestion
    • Consistent pooing habits
    • Thick and gleaming fur
    • High energy levels throughout life
    • Natural resistance to diseases
    • A slower onset of age-related degenerative illnesses

    Kittens have the disarming cuteness that makes you want to lay the world at their paws. With Untamed, you'll give them a tantalising taste adventure in a well-balanced, tailor-made meal!

    A cream Persian tabby with a bushy tail checking out Untamed wet food served on a teal plate

    There’s nothing to prove here for us—your cat’s bushy tail and happy meows will do the talking!

    Image (c) Untamed

    I want to try Untamed—what should I do?

    Untamed delivers your kitten’s favourite food right to your doorstep. Follow these steps to receive our specialties for felines in no time:

    1. Visit our TRY NOW page
    2. Tell us about your cat
    3. Order your starter pick

    We offer free shipping of cat food for online orders. You don’t have to worry about placing orders repeatedly if you use our cat food subscription service—we will replenish your stock on the same date every month. With a reliable meal plan in place, your kitty won’t have to experiment with different foods. 

    Keeping our environment safe for everyone is important for us, so we use only environmentally friendly packaging.

    You can cancel, postpone, or change your delivery anytime—your (and your feline’s) wish is our command!