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How Often Do Cats Poop? What’s Normal & When to Worry (Vet Answer)

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By Dr. Iulia Mihai

cat burying poop in the litter box

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Dr. Iulia Mihai

DVM MSc (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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How often your cat poops depend on several factors, such as activity level, water consumption, age, and general health. That said, most cats defecate once every 12–36 hours. If more than 36 hours pass, your cat is likely constipated. If your cat has several soft/watery stools in a day, they probably have diarrhea.

For this reason, it is recommended to pay attention to your cat’s habits of using the litter box in order to prevent the problems of diarrhea or constipation from worsening.

How Often Should Cats Poop?

Digestion in cats takes an average of 10–24 hours. As a result, most healthy cats will poop once a day. Still, there are healthy cats that defecate twice a day or once every 36 hours.

If your cat defecates more than three times a day or less than once every half day, take them to the vet for an evaluation. Your cat may suffer from diarrhea or constipation, respectively, two clinical signs that are usually associated with gastrointestinal disorders.

The 6 Factors That Influence How Often Your Cat Defecates

Certain factors can influence how often your cat poops.

1. Age

Young cats can poop up to three times a day because they consume more food and have a more active metabolism than adult cats. As they age, cats tend to defecate less. Also, very young kittens do not have complete control over their bowel movements.

cat on a disposable litter box
Image Credit: Mr.Piya Meena, Shutterstock

2. General Health

If your cat suffers from gastrointestinal disorders or other medical conditions, they may defecate more often or less than every 12–36 hours. For example, thyroid problems, intestinal worms, or kidney disease can cause your cat to have loose stools and/or frequent diarrhea. In turn, certain medications, spinal problems, or ingested foreign bodies can cause your cat to become constipated.

3. Water Consumption

If your cat drinks enough water (~4 oz./5 lbs.), they will defecate more often. This happens because water acts as an intestinal lubricant. It also moistens the feces, making them softer, which facilitates their passage through the digestive tract.

cat water fountain
Image Credit: Vershinin89, Shutterstock

4. Activity Level

Your cat’s activity level can influence how often they defecate. If your cat is sedentary, they will have a slower metabolism and defecate less often. Conversely, kittens are very active and can defecate up to three times a day.

5. Diet

If your cat eats more dry food than wet food, they may defecate less than a cat that eats a combination or only wet food. This happens because wet food contains more moisture than dry food.

The quality of the food also matters. Cat food with not enough fiber will not favor bowel movement, and as a result, your pet will defecate less often.

If you suddenly decide to change your cat’s food, they may suffer from diarrhea because their body has insufficient time to adjust to the new ingredients. Therefore, it is recommended to change your cat’s food gradually, within 7–14 days.

a cat eating wet tuna food
Image Credit: Veera, Shutterstock

6. Environmental Factors

If several pets live in the same environment or there are stressful factors (e.g., loud noises, strong smells, etc.), it is possible for your cat to defecate less often. A common situation is when several cats have to use the same litter box. To ensure that your cat has healthy intestinal transit, it is recommended to have one litter box per cat, plus one extra.

Cleaning your cat’s litter tray is vital. Some cats will refuse to urinate or defecate in a dirty litter box, while others will choose to do their business in unauthorized places. Where you place the litter box, its shape, and the substrate that you use can also influence your cat’s bowel habits.

What Does Normal or Healthy Cat Poop Look Like?

If your cat is healthy, their poop will meet the following aspects:
  • Keep its shape; it shouldn’t be too soft.
  • It should not be too hard either. It should have the consistency of modeling clay.
  • Cat poop will always smell, but it should not have an unusually bad smell.
  • There should be no blood, parasites, or mucus.
  • It should be a dark brown color (not clay yellow, gray, black, reddish, etc.)

The size will depend on the size of your cat. Large breed cats will usually have large feces (for example, a Maine Coon cat’s poop is about 4–6 inches long).

Is Your Cat Constipated?

Constipation represents your cat’s inability to pass stool or a decrease in the frequency at which feces are eliminated from their body. If feces remain in your cat’s intestines for longer than normal, the water they contain is absorbed back into the body. This results in a hard and dry stool that is difficult to pass.

The most common causes of constipation in cats are as follows:

  • Dehydration
  • Low-fiber diet
  • Obesity
  • Painful defecation
  • Diseases of the spine or other diseases that cause pain
  • Ingestion of foreign objects leading to intestinal blockage
  • Inflammation of the prostate (in male cats)
  • Side effects of certain medicines
  • Stressful environment
  • Dirty litter tray
  • Multiple pets in the household
Clinical signs of constipation in cats include:
  • Lack of defecation for more than 36 hours
  • Hard and dry stools
  • Straining when defecating
  • Vocalizing when defecating
  • Low appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Multiple trips to the litter box but without elimination
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lack of grooming

Do Cats Poop Out of Revenge?

Although it may seem that cats urinate or defecate in certain places to take revenge on their owners, this is not true. Cats don’t hold grudges because they don’t have the same spectrum of emotions as we do.

That said, cats will defecate (and urinate) outside their litter box due to medical problems, unfavorable conditions in their environment (e.g., a dirty litter box, multiple pets, etc.), or to get their owner’s attention.

If your cat starts adopting this unwanted behavior, a visit to the vet is essential. Do not punish your pet, as you risk causing them even more stress, which can exacerbate this behavior.

When to See a Vet

You should contact the vet whenever there is a change in your cat’s defecating habits (they are constipated, have diarrhea, or eliminate outside the litter box).

Since there are many causes of constipation and diarrhea, monitoring your cat’s behavior is recommended. Based on their medical history, anamnesis, clinical signs, and medical examination, the veterinarian will make a correct diagnosis for your cat and come up with an appropriate treatment plan.

Diarrhea and constipation are considered medical problems only if they last several days and/or are accompanied by other clinical signs (e.g., lethargy, lack of appetite, bloody stool, lameness, stiff gait, etc.). In some cases, they resolve on their own, and your cat won’t need the vet’s intervention. Still, your veterinarian should be contacted whenever your cat has a medical or behavioral problem.

Moreover, cats are known for hiding their suffering well. For this reason, regular check-ups are recommended because the vet can detect medical conditions before they worsen.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Should I Do If My Cat Is Pooping Frequently?

Frequent defecation is considered a sign of diarrhea and occurs most often when a cat’s diet changes suddenly or they suffer from food allergies and intolerances. In these cases, the condition should not last more than a few days. If your cat’s diarrhea seems unstoppable and your pet shows other clinical signs (vomiting, blood in the stool, lethargy, etc.), contact the veterinarian. Diarrhea can lead to dehydration, which can be life threatening.

Is It Normal for a Cat to Pass Stool Every 2 Days?

A healthy cat should have a bowel movement once or twice per day and in some cases, once every 36 hours. However, in other cases, the bowel movements may be less frequent. Factors that can delay your cat’s digestive transit are age, diet, health, water intake, and a sedentary lifestyle. If more than 2 days have passed since your cat’s last defecation, contact the veterinarian.


Healthy cats usually defecate once every 24–36 hours. However, age, activity level, medical condition, diet, water consumption, and environmental factors can make cats poop more or less frequently. If your cat hasn’t had a stool for more than 2 days or conversely, they defecate often and have soft/watery stools, contact the veterinarian. In most cases, constipation or diarrhea resolve on their own. But to ensure that your cat is healthy, a visit to the veterinarian is recommended.

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Featured Image Credit: Mikhail Olykainen, Shutterstock

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