Cat sitting in litter box

Key takeaway

Cats typically have one healthy bowel movement per day, but how often a cat should poop depends on many factors, including their age, activity level, water intake, and general health. Paying attention to your cat's bathroom habits can help you prevent constipation and diarrhea from getting worse.

Pet parents need to know everything about their pets, including how often they poop. You can learn a lot about your cat's overall health by making sure they’re going to the bathroom regularly and checking out their poop. While you may not want to spend too much time staring at the litterbox, taking the time to look at your cat's stool can help you uncover potential health problems early on.

So, how often should cats poop? This article will provide an answer to this question and help you learn more about your cat’s stool.

How Often Should Healthy Cats Poop?

The general rule of thumb is that cats should poop once per day, but cats may poop more or less than that. This can be perfectly healthy and normal. That said, there are a few different factors that can impact how often cats use the litter box, including:

Factors that influence how often cats poop

  • Age: Like human babies, kittens poop more often than adult cats. These frequent potty trips are often due to a change in diet. Moreover, kittens don’t have full control of their bowel movements until they're older.
  • Activity level: Exercise can speed up your cat's metabolism, making it easier for them to poop.
  • Water intake: Water acts as a gut lubricant, which can help constipated cats go to the bathroom. Additionally, drinking enough water every day can help your cat have regular bowel movements.
  • Diet: What your cat eats can affect how much they poop. For example, your cat’s kibble may not provide enough fiber, which can lead to less frequent bowel movements. Additionally, changing your cat's diet too quickly can cause diarrhea.
  • General health: If your cat has an underlying health condition, it can affect their ability to defecate. For example, hyperthyroidism, worms, and kidney disease can cause cat diarrhea, among other problems. Additionally, supplements and medications can impact how often your cat goes to the bathroom. Some medications may make your cat constipated, while others can upset your cat's stomach.
  • Environmental factors: Cats may not want to defecate in some environments, especially where there may be another cat using the same litter box.1 Additionally, cats may poop less often if their environment is dirty or if they've had a bad experience with a particular litter tray.1

While the frequency of your cat's bathroom habits can point to underlying health problems, it's also important to understand your cat’s stool. If your cat's poop has changed in color, consistency, odor, or frequency, it can signify an underlying health problem. If your cat has had strange-looking stools for more than a few days, schedule an appointment with your vet.

How Often Should Kittens Poop?

Kittens poop more often than adult cats. However, if your kitten has diarrhea, it can be a cause for concern. If you've recently changed your kitten's diet, they may not have had time to adjust, which can cause diarrhea. However, contact your vet if diarrhea persists for more than a few days.

Frequent Bowel Movements

If your cat is pooping more than normal, it can indicate diarrhea, an upset stomach, or an underlying health condition.

Frequent, loose stools can be a sign of cat diarrhea

Cats can pass stool more often due to a number of reasons, including:

  • Diet: Changing your cat's diet can upset their stomach. Additionally, if your cat is overeating or eating low-quality cat food, they may develop diarrhea.
  • Allergies: Food allergies can cause your cat to take more trips to the litter box.2 If you believe your cat has a food allergy, it's important to consult your vet. They can put your cat on an elimination diet to determine the cause.
  • Food intolerances: Cats can have intolerances to many common ingredients in cat food, including fish, beef, and milk.2
  • Colitis: Colitis is a health condition that causes colon inflammation and irregular bowel movements.3
  • Bacterial infections: Bacterial infections from eating raw meat can cause bloody stool and lethargy in cats.
  • Parasites: Parasites in your cat's stomach or intestine can cause irregular, frequent bowel movements. If your cat has parasites, you might be able to see them in their poop.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease: Frequent bowel movements can also be caused by inflammatory bowel disease caused by a virus or by food allergies.
  • Anxiety: Stress can cause loose and frequent bowel movements in cats and a lack of appetite.
  • Toxins: Your cat's body will react to toxins by trying to get rid of them as fast as possible in the form of vomiting, diarrhea, or both. If you believe your cat has ingested a poison, take them to the nearest veterinary clinic as soon as possible.

Cats can also have chronic diarrhea that can last up to three weeks, so it's important to make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible if your cat's diarrhea doesn't subside within a few days. Cat diarrhea is not an emergency in some cases, but in others, it could indicate a serious health concern.

Infrequent Bowel Movements

While sometimes cats poop more than usual, other times they go to the bathroom less than expected. Cats that defecate less than average are most likely constipated. You'll know when your cat is constipated since they'll use the litter box less frequently and may strain when trying to pass stool. Other signs of constipation in cats include hard, dry stool and absent evacuation of the bowels.4

Infrequent bowel movements can be a sign of cat constipation

If you notice your cat is straining or making noises while trying to use the litter box, it can be a sign of constipation. Ensuring your cat can easily pass stool is essential because infrequent bowel movements can lead to a more severe form of constipation known as obstipation.

Cats can be constipated for a number of reasons, including:

  • Dietary issues: Your cat needs fiber in their diet to have healthy bowel movements because fiber can bulk up the stool and soften it so that your cat can easily pass it into their litter box.5 If your cat's food is low in fiber, consider switching them to a diet that's higher in fiber so they can pass stool without straining.
  • Lack of water intake: Cats need to stay hydrated to stay healthy. If your cat isn't drinking enough water, their stool may harden and become more difficult to pass. If you notice your cat is constipated, try getting them to drink more water to lubricate their intestines.
  • Medications: Some medications can cause constipation. If you're giving your pet vitamins and supplements for cats, you should let your vet know in order to rule them out.
  • Lack of activity: Moving more can help your cat pass stools more easily because exercise stimulates the digestive system.5 If your cat isn't getting enough exercise, they might have hard stools and strain when defecating.
  • Health conditions: Some health conditions can affect your cat's ability to poop, causing your cat to poop less frequently.

If your cat hasn't had a bowel movement in a few days, it's important to call a vet. They may recommend fiber or cat laxatives to help your cat remove toxins from their body.

When to See a Vet

Pet parents should speak with a veterinarian whenever there's a change in their cat's bathroom habits, especially if there are signs of constipation or diarrhea. Only a vet can diagnose constipation or diarrhea in cats and provide an effective, safe treatment plan. There are many causes of abnormal bowel movements, so monitoring your feline and their litter box habits is important.

Keep in mind that Cat diarrhea and constipation are not immediate medical concerns unless they last for a few days or longer and are accompanied by other signs of illness, such as blood in the stool, vomiting, lethargy, and even lameness.

Vet holding cat

However, you should always see a vet if you have a concern, even if you believe there's nothing medically wrong with your cat. Visiting a vet can help catch medical illnesses before they worsen and give pet parents peace of mind.

Cat Poop Frequency: FAQs

How long can a cat go without pooping?

Cats can go up to two days without pooping. However, if your cat is constipated for more than two days, you should schedule a vet visit as soon as possible because constipation can lead to serious health problems, such as colon enlargement.

Is it normal for a cat to pass stool every 2 days?

A healthy bowel movement for cats typically occurs once per day. Still, some cats can have less frequent bowel movements depending on their age, general health, activity level, and water intake. However, you should speak to a vet if your cat hasn't been able to poop in more than two days, especially if they're experiencing other symptoms.

What should I do if my cat is pooping frequently?

If your cat is pooping frequently, it's likely a sign of diarrhea. Cat diarrhea is common among cats who have recently had a diet change or suffer from food allergies. However, your cat's diarrhea should not last more than a few days. If your cat is having uncontrollable diarrhea and experiencing other symptoms, such as blood in the stool, see a vet as soon as possible.

Final Notes

Paying attention to the frequency of your cat's bowel movements can impact their health and wellness. Most healthy cats have a healthy bowel movement at least once a day, but how often your cat poops can depend on several factors, including their age, general health, anxiety, allergies, and more. If you're worried about your cat's bathroom habits, it's always best to consult a trusted vet.

Dutch can help you understand why your cat is pooping too much or too little and develop a treatment plan for your cat. With televet services, you can speak to a vet in the comfort of your own home and ensure your cat is taken care of. Whether your cat suffers from allergies or anxiety, a Dutch-affiliated vet can help you today.

References

  1. International Cat Care, 6 Oct. 2019, https://icatcare.org/advice/constipation-in-the-cat/.

  2. “Why Does My Cat Have Diarrhea (Causes & Treatment).” Dutch, https://www.dutch.com/blogs/cats/cat-diarrhea.

  3. Defarges, Alice. "Colitis in Small Animals - Digestive System." Merck Veterinary Manual, Merck Veterinary Manual, 26 Oct. 2021, https://www.merckvetmanual.com/digestive-system/diseases-of-the-stomach-and-intestines-in-small-animals/colitis-in-small-animals?query=Colitis.

  4. “Can I Give My Cat a Laxative? [How to Help a Constipated Cat].” Dutch, https://www.dutch.com/blogs/cats/cat-laxative.

  5. “Cat Constipation: Symptoms, Causes & Treatments.” Dutch, https://www.dutch.com/blogs/cats/cat-constipation/.