How often do cats poop? If you’ve never had a cat before, you might be wondering just that. However, the question that cat parents should really be asking is, how often should cats poop? As is the case with people, those two answers sometimes vary enough to warrant medical attention. Learn more about what’s normal when it comes to cat poop, and when there’s cause for concern.
So, how often should cats poop?
There’s no one-frequency-fits-all solution to this question, but veterinarians’ general rule of thumb is that pooping once or twice daily is considered normal for cats.
Kittens tend to poop more often than adult cats. Other factors that impact your cat’s frequency include diet, activity level, medications or supplements, and underlying medical conditions.
What if my cat poops more than twice a day?
If you notice your cat making frequent trips to the litter box, you should first verify whether your cat is actually “going.” For instance, if your cat is straining to defecate, this could indicate a number of medical issues that warrant a veterinary visit, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). And if your cat is just plain going a lot, it could be a sign of stress and anxiety.
Looking for an easy way to keep tabs on your cat’s litter box habits? Litter-Robot's WiFi-enabled, self-cleaning litter box has a smartphone app that allows you to monitor how often your cat uses the litter box. A spike in litter box activity—whether your cat is urinating more, defecating more, or straining to do anything at all—indicates that a trip to the vet is a must.
What if my cat only goes every few days?
According to Litter-Robot resident veterinarian Dr. Justine Lee, cat constipation can be an uncomfortable, chronic problem in felines. Constipation is more common in middle-aged (8+ years) and senior cats. Left untreated, constipation in cats can lead to an enlargement of the colon—which is difficult and costly to treat.
If you notice that your cat only poops every 2-4 days, strains to poop, or takes an unusually long time in the litter box, make an appointment with your veterinarian. There are many ways to treat cat constipation, including dietary changes and safe laxatives. However, never give an over-the-counter enema to your cat without consulting your veterinarian.
Constipation can be especially dangerous for very young kittens. If you notice your kitten hasn’t pooped in 3 days, get to a veterinarian to check for blockages and other issues.
What does normal cat poop look like?
Healthy cat poop will appear deep brown in color and not too hard or too soft.
Abnormal cat poop might appear as:
- Small, rock-hard, and excessively dry
- Lots of hair mixed in
- Thin, ribbon-like
- Black, tarry, or runny
- Soft, frothy, or mucousy
What if my cat has diarrhea?
Cat diarrhea isn’t uncommon, but it’s also not something to ignore. Diarrhea in kittens and senior cats is especially a concern, as they are quicker to succumb to dehydration. Diarrhea that lasts longer than 48 hours in any cat warrants a vet visit. Some causes of diarrhea in cats include:
- Food intolerances or allergies (cats generally don’t tolerate dairy, for instance)
- Toxic substances consumed (plants, herbs, garlic and onion, etc.)
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Gastrointestinal worms
What if there is blood in cat poop?
Don’t panic if you notice a little blood in cat poop. While it’s not normal, it could simply be an instance of your cat straining too hard to poop. However, if you notice a lot of blood, or if blood makes a regular appearance in the litter box, make an appointment with your veterinarian right away. Blood in cat poop can be caused by the same underlying issues that cause diarrhea, such as IBD, worms, food allergies, cancer, or even a life-threatening bowel obstruction.
How stinky is too stinky?
Finally, one last factor when it comes to cat poop: How stinky is too stinky? Of course there will be some degree of odor when dealing with feces, but anything downright foul or any change in odor (including level of stinkiness) should be brought to your vet’s attention. Extremely smelly cat poop could be a sign that your cat’s diet needs to change or that your cat has some kind of illness or infection.
So, now you have a broad understanding of what’s “normal” when it comes to cat poop. As unpleasant as it can be, you should pay attention to your cat’s litter box habits—including what his poop looks like and how often he goes. When in doubt, ask your veterinarian what should be considered normal in your cat’s case. Every kitty is different, after all!
Cover photo by Tamar Waskey on Unsplash