Your cat’s litter box is arguably the best (and worst) part of being a cat owner—it’s disgusting to smell and scoop, but your cat’s 24/7 access to the bathroom means you don’t have to wake up at 3 a.m. to take her on a walk. The bad news is that you may not even know how many trips your cat makes to the litter box on any given day. With dehydration, kidney conditions, and even the rate of litter replacement on your mind, you’re wondering: How often do cats pee?
Cats pee 2-5 times a day, but more than once daily is generally “healthy.” Cats who eat wet food high in water content, drink more than 250ml of water a day or have diabetes pee more often. A cat may not pee at all with a urinary blockage or dehydration—both of which may require medical treatment.
How are you supposed to know if your cat has a clean bill of health or that you’re buying enough litter each month if you’re not even sure how often nature is supposed to call? To learn about how often cats pee (and things that can affect the frequency), read on!
How Much & How Often Do Cats Pee?
While it’s true that the average healthy adult cat will pee 2-5 times per day, your cat being within this threshold doesn’t necessarily guarantee that she has a clean bill of health. For example, a cat making five trips to the litter box but only peeing small amounts each time could have a urinary tract infection (UTI).
So how do you know what’s normal (and what’s not)? Fortunately, one study compared the habits of both healthy and abnormal cats while they were peeing in the litter box—here’s what researchers found:
|Factor||Healthy Cats||Abnormal Cats|
|Frequency||2.1 times/day||2.9 times/day||Duration (Each)||12.7 seconds||11.4 seconds||Cover-Up Time||22.7 seconds||8.7 seconds||Unusual Signs||None||Peeing more often, straining while peeing, vocalizations (yowling) while peeing, blood in the urine, peeing outside the box, peeing in smaller quantities|
Based on this study alone, healthy cats pee less often (2-3 times per day) but in larger amounts (about 12.7 seconds), take longer to cover up their urine deposits (around 22.7 seconds), and don’t display obvious signs of urine troubles (yowling, blood, or pain).
How Often Do Older Cats Pee?
Older cats are more likely to develop conditions like arthritis, petting-induced aggression, and an overactive thyroid. But as your cat gets older, she may also begin to experience three notable changes to her urinary habits:
- Her body is producing more urine. Older cats are more prone to diabetes, renal failure, and hyperthyroidism, all of which have “increased thirst” as a primary symptom. The more your cat drinks to quench her thirst, the more pee she’ll have to output.
- She’s making more trips to the litter box. A cat’s bladder can hold about 20-50ml of urine at a time. So if your cat is drinking more water than usual, she’ll have to make more frequent trips to the litter box—sometimes peeing more than five times a day
- She doesn’t always make it to the box in time (incontinence). Painful conditions like arthritis and age-related renal disease can impair your cat’s ability to make it to the box promptly. Her bladder may leak occasionally, or she may pee elsewhere on the floor.
If your senior cat is without health issues (especially those triggering increased thirst), she may still pee 2-3 times per day. But a cat with diabetes or displaying signs of incontinence may normally pee three or more times daily.
How Long Can a Cat Hold Its Pee?
That depends on how badly the urge to pee hits and whether a cat has immediate access to a litter box. A cat may be able to hold her pee for 24-48 hours when she has to—such as when you’re en route on a plane or a train where you can’t let your cat out to use the litter box.
However, just because your cat’s bladder can hold 25-50ml, that doesn’t mean it’s safe long-term. Allowing your cat to go too long without peeing (usually 24 hours or longer) can cause a dangerous build-up of toxins, a ruptured bladder, or fatal kidney failure. You should take your cat to the vet immediately if she’s gone 24 hours without peeing, and break your travel plans up into comfortable 6-hour chunks to let your cat out to drink water and use the litter box if you can.
3 Things That Make Your Cat Pee More or Less
It’s normal for your cat to pee 2-5 times per day, but that’s assuming all of the conditions are “right,” and your cat is 100% healthy. If you notice your cat is peeing more or less than usual (either in a single day or over a few weeks), here are some possible explanations:
Diet & Nutrition
Both wet and dry food can be nutritious for cats, but the difference in water content between the two types of food is astounding. Wet food is nearly 80% water; meanwhile, only about 5-10% of dry food is water. Additionally, many cats seem to be picky about the taste and temperature of the water they drink—your cat may only drink cold, fresh, and flowing water.
A wet food diet and 24/7 freshwater access can help your cat to pee a healthy 2-5 times a day, while the opposite conditions can cause dehydration and fewer than two pees a day. If you notice your cat is lethargic, not drinking, and not eating, your cat may be dehydrated and require an immediate vet visit to replenish her fluids via IV.
In many cases, a cat will pee more than usual because she has the urge to drink large amounts of water due to a medical condition. Sometimes, your cat may pee less than usual or make more unproductive trips to the litter box.
Here are a few medical conditions impacting urine output and frequency:
- Feline Interstitial Cystitis (FIC): A lower urinary tract disease with no identifiable cause that leads cats to pee more often, strain while peeing (sometimes with blood), and even be unable to pee
- Renal Failure: When your cat’s kidneys push water through quickly without removing waste from the urine, causing an increase in urine that appears paler than normal
- Urinary Blockage: A blockage in the lower section of the urinary tract that completely blocks urine output that may also come with urinary stones
The clearest way to determine if your cat has a medical condition impacting her pee is by comparing her habits. If she normally pees twice a day and suddenly begins peeing five times a day, you may want to take her to the vet. Additionally, if your cat isn’t peeing at all, a vet visit must also be in order.
FIC is one of the more common reasons behind a cat’s unusual peeing habits. The video below will explain a bit more about this condition.
A newborn kitten’s peeing habits are far different than those of an adult or senior cat. Young kittens may pee every couple of hours and require stimulation from their mothers to help them pee. The frequency of urination will level out to 2-5 (usually 2-3) times per day during the adult years—from ages 1-7. And with diabetes, thyroid conditions, and kidney issues being more common in senior cats, older cats may regularly pee 3-5 times a day.
The good news here is that you don’t have to set up a video camera by the litter box or watch your cat as she pees for 24 hours to track her urine habits. All you have to do is count the separate pee clumps in your clay litter at the end of each day.
Two to five fist-sized chunks a day is normal.
And you should document any significant changes to your cat’s peeing and take her to the vet if you notice something’s amiss (peeing more or less often, straining to pee, or peeing larger or smaller quantities).
- Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine: Quantification of Urine Elimination Behaviors in Cats with a Video Recording System
- Fetch by WebMD: Urinary Tract Problems in Cats
- Pet Central: Understanding Senior Cat Incontinence
- ScienceDirect: Cystocentesis
- All Feline Hospital: Traveling with your cat
- Fetch by WebMD: Mistakes People Make Feeding Cats
- Pet Central: How to Help a Dehydrated Cat
- VCA Hospitals: Feline Idiopathic Cystitis