Why does my kitten suck at life?
February 9, 2006 1:51 PM   Subscribe

Why can't our 4 month old kitten use the litterbox without getting poo all over himself?

Additional question: I know it's not good for him to be bathed too often, but how about rinses? He's pretty good with water, so would it be acceptable to just rinse him off when he gets messy?
posted by BuddhaInABucket to Pets & Animals (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Have you observed the defecation process? How is he getting poo all over himself? Is the poo loose? Is it spraying out of his tuchus or coming out in a normal, solid poo-unit? Is the poo just around his rump or all over him? Does he play with the turds? Etc. More details please.
posted by By The Grace of God at 1:59 PM on February 9, 2006

Kittens take a while to gain a cat's gracefulness -- and four months is a pretty tiny (and probably adorable!) kitten. Stumbling around in the unsteady footing of litter coupled with the (maybe) *ahem* looser nature of baby kitty poo might make for a mess...

Unless, like BTGoG suggested, the poo mess was limited to the boo-area. Then it's probably something else, though it could be something as simple as squatting too far.

Dunno -- IANAKitty.
posted by penchant at 2:05 PM on February 9, 2006

Is the kitten long- or short-hair?

(Also: "baby kitty poo". I just wanted to post that again.)
posted by ereshkigal45 at 2:08 PM on February 9, 2006

If the kitten was taken away from its mother too soon, it might not have been shown toilet habits by the mother cat, and thus be a little slow at figuring things out. (Kittens ought to stay with their mothers till eight weeks old.)
posted by zadcat at 2:10 PM on February 9, 2006

Keep baby wipes on hand, and use those. (and I would follow a wipe with a wet washcloth too, just so the little guys wouldn't ingest too much of the wipe chemicals.)
posted by lilboo at 2:30 PM on February 9, 2006

He's short-hair, I don't know how old he was when taken from his mother (we got him from the pound a month ago), and he definitely, definitely thinks of his litterbox as a great big fun playing area, for reasons I can't begin to imagine. He typically gets it all over his back paws and tail.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 2:36 PM on February 9, 2006

also: is baby kitty poo (that is so much fun to write) looser by nature? We were worried something might be wrong with him.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 2:38 PM on February 9, 2006

Zadcat probably has it. Also, depending upon where he was when he learned about the litterbox, he might have had a less-than-your-ideal situation, and so he's unfamilliar wiht Buddha's-Litterbox-Paradise. Ours were convinced that closet=litterbox for a while, precisely for this reason. Long-haired babies have a much harder time of it; if you want, you can trim the fur around his rear end if the long-hairedness is the problem. Otherwise, a warm wet washcloth will do fine, and if he gets really gross, bathing him isn't the end of the world, either.

In my experience, the baby kitty poo will get better as he gets older. Even our cat with the normal stomach had some really . . .. loose poo . . . for a very long time. It's normal AFAIK, you just don't want to have any bleeding.
posted by Medieval Maven at 2:41 PM on February 9, 2006

And yes, penchant, he's super duper adorable, at least when he's not covered in poop.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 2:43 PM on February 9, 2006

I adopted a pound kitty last summer and struggled for some time with this problem. (Previous AskMe question here.) In my case, the mess was related to loose stools arising out of giardiasis. The vet finally put him on Metronidazole for a week, and that cleared up the problem. In the last couple of weeks, though, it seems to have recurred. I think maybe the other cat is a carrier. I just started my cat on this and will see if it does the job or if more antibiotics are called for. Regular rinses did not seem to do him any harm, though, and it did condition him to not fear water (useful for when he gets bigger and then makes a mess). If his stools are loose and extremely stinky, you might get him tested for parasites, although be warned that they do not always show up in the fecal screening.
posted by amber_dale at 2:50 PM on February 9, 2006

Our cat (previously discussed on AskMeFi) used to get poo *everywhere* when she was little. She'd somehow get it on the wall, like, four feet above her litter box. I don't even know how that's possible. Her kitten poo was definitely looser than it is now. We noticed that changing her food helped a little bit. (Wet food gave her the runs for some time; she can only just now eat it without issue.) So just give her some time; she'll get better at it and her system will calm down.
posted by web-goddess at 3:14 PM on February 9, 2006

Or him, rather. I tend to think of all cats as female since mine is.
posted by web-goddess at 3:15 PM on February 9, 2006

I just popped in to say that this picture is hilarious.
And a cat I used to have had the same whisker issue.
posted by like_neon at 3:24 PM on February 9, 2006

This happened to my cat all the time when she was a baby. They actually sell "kitty wipes" which I used to clean her up. I gave her one bath when it was just ridiculous. I got her from a breeder and she left her mom at 3 months, so she wasn't taken away early. It just seemed to be a while before the cat cleanliness thing kicked in.
posted by jdl at 3:49 PM on February 9, 2006

I think the real question is "after I posted this picture in an AskMe thread about my cat getting poop all over his back-end and paws, will anyone ever agree to eat at my table again?" :)

You may have to play mama cat and build some habits, primarily him getting out of the litterbox when done. I'd avoid doing anything to discourage him from getting IN the box but I think if you observe him finishing his business you're pretty safe in lifting him OUT.
posted by phearlez at 3:58 PM on February 9, 2006

Do cats like treats? I assume they do. If so, and if you ever observe the kitten getting in or finishing his business, have a treat readily available and reward him with it. This is a common technique for training dogs, and we did this to train our dog to use a litterbox, so it's worth a shot with the cat.
posted by MrZero at 8:40 PM on February 9, 2006

I buy my cats really good cat food, but the younger one still had problems with loose and messy stool until I switched to something much simpler (and more expensive), that essentially just had chicken and rice in it. The messy issue was a combined loose stool/clumsy cat problem.

Also, if your litterbox is covered, you might do better to uncover it, at least temporarily, or to get a bigger box. Both of those things should help with clumsy problems. Honestly, litterboxes are generally too small anyway. I used to buy shallow rubbermaid containers. It never smelled, as I generally cleaned the litterbox twice a day anyway.
posted by digitalis at 12:43 AM on February 10, 2006

The solution so far has been more-frequent cleaning of the litter box, along with treats and toys to lure him out as soon as he's done, so he has less opportunity to stick around and get messy. I'll probably by some kitty wipes for when he messes up. Thanks everyone!
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 6:38 PM on February 10, 2006

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