Scooping the litter box is arguably the worst part of your nightly routine — you hold your breath, look away, and shovel it into the depths of your Litter Genie. Not 30 seconds later, the clumps are entirely out of sight, and the horrendous smell is slowly dissipating from the living room. Now you’re left to wonder: Is it normal for cats to poop multiple times a day?
Yes, it is not unusual for cats to poop more than once a day. A cat’s poop should be neither firm nor soft, brown, and pass without straining. Though, your cat may poop more often if she has diarrhea (caused by parasites or food changes) or could go 24 hours without pooping if she’s struggling with constipation.
There’s no need to sift through your litter box to count each dropping that your cat leaves behind. However, knowing how often cats generally poop can help you better track your cat’s digestive health while keeping an eye out for any noticeable health concerns. To learn about how often cats poop, read on!
Is the Frequency of Your Cat’s Pooping Important?
Yes, it is important. A cat pooping once or twice a day is right on track, as it takes a cat’s digestive system about 10-24 hours to poop after eating a meal.
However, the frequency of your cat’s pooping isn’t the only indicator of good digestive health.
For example, your cat may poop twice a day — which by all means is normal — but have bloody streaks in her poop or rock-hard stool. The consistency, shape, and color of your cat’s poop are just as important as how many trips she makes to the litter box.
Healthy cat poop will:
- Be dark brown (not black or clay-colored)
- Have a lack of blood and mucus
- Be somewhere between firm and soft
- Have a log or nugget-like shape
- Not have clumps of hair or other objects within it
Take note of what your cat’s poop looks like and compare it to the characteristics above. If you notice your cat’s poop seems different — whether in its consistency, color, or shape — or changes over time, take your cat to the vet. Her digestive system may not agree with the ingredients in her food, or she could have a medical condition like colitis, gastritis, or an ulcer.
Is It Normal for a Cat to Poop Multiple Times a Day?
Pooping up to twice a day is “ordinary” in cats. Does that mean you should immediately take your cat to the vet if she poops three times over 24 hours? Not necessarily.
For one, plenty of cat food products on the shelves have high fiber content. A high-fiber diet can regulate the bacteria in your cat’s gut, aid in food breakdown, and fast-track the travel of food through the digestive system. As a result, your cat may regularly poop three or four times a day, but in smaller quantities.
The type of food you feed your cat could also make her poop more than usual — and wet food is the biggest culprit. A quarter cup of kibble may have 90 calories and be enough to keep Fluffy full until noon.
Meanwhile, your cat may have to eat half a can of wet food to get the same number of calories. Though canned food is usually 70%+ water, it’s far bulkier than dry food — as such, it fills your cat’s stomach and intestines far quicker and causes her to poop more often.
However, it’s undoubtedly not normal for your cat to poop multiple times per day if something seems amiss, such as the case with diarrhea.
When your cat visits the litter box upwards of three times per day for several consecutive days and presents with runny or liquidy stool, she may have severe diarrhea. Possible causes of diarrhea include:
- A change in diet (slowly introduce a new food over 7-10 days)
- Bacteria or viruses (FIV, rotavirus, and giardia)
- Ingestion of something toxic (chemicals, poisonous plants, or human medications)
- Food allergies (some cats have sensitivities to beef, chicken, and dairy)
Severe diarrhea can cause dehydration and a dangerous loss of fluids. Take your cat to your vet if she also seems weak or is vomiting — your cat may need IV fluids to re-hydrate.
Is It Normal for a Cat to Not Poop Every Day?
On the other side of the coin, some cats poop very irregularly. Is it an immediate concern if your cat hasn’t pooped within the last 24 hours? Not always — there are a few innocent explanations.
First of all, it can be hard to tell which one of your cats pooped in the litter box if you have more than one, so she may have pooped without you realizing it.
Alternatively, it’s not unusual for cats to poop somewhere other than the litter box, meaning she may have left a pile elsewhere in the house — sometimes the litter box is too dirty, your kitty feels stressed, or she doesn’t like where you have the box. And finally, some cats digest food slowly and poop once every 36 hours.
When your cat has gone without pooping for 48-72 hours, she’s pushing the point of constipation — a condition where a cat’s digestive system becomes backed up, absorbs excess water in the colon, and causes hardened feces. As a result, a constipated cat may have dry, rock-hard poop, visibly strain while in the litter box, or have a full-looking abdomen.
Some possible causes of constipation in cats include:
- Hairballs or a blockage of hair in the intestines
- Foreign objects in the digestive tract
- Being obese or overweight (paired with a lack of exercise)
- Avoiding the litter box altogether (intentionally holding it in)
- A diet low in fiber
The longer your cat goes without pooping, the more effort she’ll have to give to eliminate the stool in the litter box. Severe constipation can cause a condition known as megacolon — a dramatic enlargement of the colon resulting from constipation. A constipated cat may also find pooping to be extremely painful.
If your cat is constipated, the video below will show you what to do:
How Often Do Old Cats Poop?
There’s no doubt that a cat’s age plays a role in how often she poops. For example, very young kittens may poop as often as they eat — that means a 6-week-old kitten might poop up to six times per day! As cats age, they require fewer meals. So a 6-month-old kitten nearing adulthood may poop up to four times a day, while a full-grown adult cat will poop closer to 1-2 times a day.
Now, what about older cats?
Senior cats (seven years or older) tend to poop a little less often than standard adult cats. Pooping once a day — or even once every 36 hours — is typical in senior cats. With that said, it’s not surprising that senior cats experience constipation far more often than their younger counterparts.
Some possible explanations behind constipation in senior cats include:
- Lack of exercise
- Nerve problems
- Hernias or tumors
In many cases, senior cats poop less often because they’re having trouble getting to the litter box, walking over to the water dish, or running around during playtime. A high-fiber diet, increased water intake (this is where wet food comes in handy), and even Metamucil can smooth out your senior cat’s digestive system.
Cats are creatures of habit, but there’s only so much a feline can do to control how often she poops. Sometimes your cat may poop once or twice a day, and sometimes she may go a day or more without pooping.
Keep an eye on your cat’s pooping habits and take her to the vet if they seem unusual. For example, your cat may not need a vet visit if she goes without pooping or has diarrhea for 24 hours, but you should consider making an appointment if it lasts 48-72 hours.
- The Humane Society of the United States: Preventing litter box problems
- Pet Health Network: Foreign Body Obstruction in Cats
- PetMD: What Should My Cat’s Poop Look Like?
- Merck Manual Veterinary Manual: Disorders of the Stomach and Intestines in Cats
- Hill’s Pet: Cat Food With Fiber: Why Is It Important?
- VCA Hospitals: Diarrhea in Cats
- VCA Hospitals: Constipation in Cats
- ACVS: Megacolon