As a first-time cat parent, you may ask, “How often do cats poop?” For some, it may sound funny to even ask this simple question.
However, the truth is, it’s great that you asked because cat poop – its appearance, consistency, color – as well as a cat’s bowel movements can tell a lot about his health.
How Often Do Cats Poop?
There is no universal consensus regarding the normal frequency of a cat’s bowel movement. And several factors can affect how often a cat poop. However, veterinarians’ general rule of thumb is that a healthy cat should poop at least once a day.
If your cat poops more than that, it doesn’t mean that something is wrong with him. Aside from the frequency, you also need to check the appearance of his poop. And we’ll talk more about cat poop warning signs that you need to watch out for below.
How Should a Healthy Cat Poop Look Like?
A cat’s poop should have a normal brown color (deep brown), and it should look and feel not too soft, yet also not too hard. Additionally, its smell should be bearable. If it’s extremely stinky, then, your cat may need to change his diet or he may have an underlying medical condition that needs to be addressed.
If your cat’s stool is watery, then, he is more likely experiencing a bout of diarrhea. And if your feline friend’s poop is hard as a rock, then, chances are he is having a health issue.
Factors That Influence How Often They Go
Knowing the normal frequency of a cat’s bowel movement is not enough. You should also understand the things that affect how often your cat defecates. Below are just some of them:1.
1. Cat's Age
Most cats will poop once every day. Generally, young kittens poop more often than adult cats, usually between one to four times per day. Healthy kitten poop also has a normal dark brown color, and it has a paste-like consistency and should look soft, yet firm.
On the other hand, older cats, especially senior cats, may have lesser bowel movements. An older cat may experience dry, hard feces that are challenging to pass due to illnesses like kidney failure, which causes him to become dehydrated. Arthritis is another significant factor that can affect a senior cat’s ability to squat or even reach the litter box in time.
2. Cat's Diet
Cats that are fed low-quality food are more likely to have more frequent bowel movements because most of the ingredients that they consumed can’t be used by their bodies. Similarly, cats that are fed too much food may also have more frequent and/or larger bowel movements.
Changing your cat’s food abruptly can also lead to more frequent bowel movements since it often causes diarrhea. Hence, as a general rule of thumb when switching cat foods, you need to do it gradually over a week. You can do this by mixing a small amount of the new food with your cat’s current recipe. Increase the portion of the new food more and more each day, while decreasing the portion of his old food.
Aside from an abrupt change in your cat’s diet, one more common reason for diarrhea and increase frequency of defecation is a food allergy. Hence, you need to be observant of your cat's reaction, especially whenever you are feeding him anything new.
Water is crucial for sustaining regular bowel movements. Dry food-fed cats may have drier feces and more constipation. Make sure your cat is getting enough water, and if you've been feeding him only a dry diet up until now, talk to your vet about switching to wet food.
3. Activity Level
Less active cats might not go to the bathroom as frequently as cats who exercise every day. To promote healthy motility, regular exercise can be beneficial.
4. Underlying Medical Conditions
Some medical issues may have an impact on how frequently your cat poops. The frequency of your cat's bowel movements over the day can be directly impacted by problems including inflammatory bowel disease, constipation brought on by hairballs, blockage, megacolon, parasites, hyperthyroidism, arthritis, and other medical disorders.
Additionally, obese or overweight cats may also have constipation or lesser bowel movements. This is something that you may want to discuss with your vet, so, he can start your cat on an appropriate nutritional program.
Ask your veterinarian about potential side effects, such as altered bowel patterns, if your cat is taking prescription medications or supplements.
6. The Environment
The way your cat eliminates can be affected by a stressful or unhealthy environment. Stress may contribute to constipation. For instance, to avoid having to use a dirty or unattractive litter box, your cat may make an effort to hold her bowel movement.
In addition, if your cat has been ambushed inside the box, she may defecate outside or away from it as a result of social stress. You might not immediately notice where he chooses to poop, leading you to believe that he isn't defecating as frequently as he actually is.
What Should I Do If My Cat Is Constipated?
A cat with constipation will either have to strain a lot to poop or won't be able to pass on any waste. If it only occurs sometimes, there is no need for you to be alarmed.
However, you should talk to your vet if it happens to your pet more frequently, so he can provide medical advice, perform some tests, and he can start your cat on certain medications if needed.
Below are some of the reasons for cat constipation:
- Over grooming, which causes a buildup of hair in your cat’s gastrointestinal tract
- Kidney problems
- Low-fiber diet
- Spinal cord problems or pain
- Feline Megacolon – This is a condition when a cat’s colon gets too big and it can no longer squeeze, resulting in dry, hard, and large stool.
- Intestinal blockage caused by foreign objects such as bones or strings
- Colon problems, such as narrow places or tumors
Your veterinarian could advise incorporating more fiber into your cat's diet, such as adding canned pumpkin to his usual food, to help him relieve constipation. He may also advise you to switch to food that is simpler for your pet to digest. Additionally, medications that aid with hairballs may be beneficial.
You should monitor your cat’s water intake and activity level. It’s best if you can get him to drink more water, and be more active, to help the waste move through his body more seamlessly.
What Happens If My Cat Has Diarrhea?
There are numerous causes of cat diarrhea, which makes it a prevalent health issue. It can occasionally occur and disappear quickly. Sometimes it can return repeatedly or last for days, weeks, or even months.
Bouts of diarrhea that lasts for 24 to 48 hours are most likely not going to be a problem unless you have an elderly cat or a kitten. Your cat could become seriously dehydrated if it goes on for too long, though.
Below are the common causes of diarrhea in cats that you need to watch out for:
- Sudden changes to a cat’s diet or food allergies
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Intestinal Parasites (e.g. worms)
- Pancreatic Disorder/s
- Food allergies
- Consumption of toxic substances (e.g. certain herbs, plants, garlic, onion, etc.)
- Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)
Consult your veterinarian to determine the cause if your cat has diarrhea that persists for more than a day or two. Call your veterinarian right away if your cat's stool is red or black, or if it comes with a fever, vomiting, loss of appetite, or body weakness.
Depending on what is causing your cat's diarrhea, a specific treatment may be required. To reduce inflammation, some cats will need prescription drugs like metronidazole or prednisolone.
Probiotics or a deworming treatment may be required for some cats. If your vet finds out that your cat has a food allergy or intolerance, colitis, or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), he may start your cat on a special diet. And he may need to stay on this prescription diet for life.
Moreover, you should also avoid giving your cat dairy products, such as milk or yogurt, because most cats cannot properly digest them. Also, as mentioned earlier, when transitioning to a new wet or dry food, make sure to do it gradually, so your cat’s digestive system can have enough time to adjust to the new ingredients.
Cat Poop Warning Signs to Watch Out For
Normal cat poop will appear dark brown in color; it is firm and formed, yet not hard, and it doesn’t have an extremely stinky smell. If your cat’s stool is watery, or hard as a rock, and you have other unusual observations, chances are you may have to trust your gut instinct.
Nonetheless, be vigilant in noticing the following warning signs that can indicate a more serious health problem:
- Presence of blood in the stool – If you notice a blood-tinge stool even once, you need to take your cat to the vet immediately.
- Thin- ribbon-like stool
- Black, tarry, or runny stool
- Soft, frothy, or mucousy stool
- Too much hair on the stool
- Diarrhea lasting for more than 48 hours
- Constipation lasting for more than 72 hours
If you notice your cat straining while defecating, you have to ensure that he is really straining due to difficulty pooping, rather than urinating. Constipation can be uncomfortable for cats, but urinary obstruction is a medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention.
Moreover, if you notice your cat pooping a string, dental floss, or other similar items, don’t attempt to pull it right away without assessing the situation. In most cases, you can gently pull the item out of your cat’s butt.
However, you should not force its removal. If you can feel even a bit of resistance, stop pulling it right away. Instead, take your cat to the vet. You can cut the protruding portion of the string before transport to prevent it from getting tangled around something.
Why Is My Cat Pooping Outside of His Litter Box?
If your cat suddenly starts to poop outside of his litter box, it can be his way of telling you that he doesn’t like the recent changes in his environment or routine. Your cat may be telling you that he hates it when you leave him alone while you are at work. It may also be his way of showing his disapproval of the presence of the new pet in the house.
Below are other common reasons why your cat is defecating outside or near his litter box:
- Your cat’s litter box is small or big for his size. Litter box issues can arise if your cat finds the box difficult to fit into or feels restricted while inside. He may also have issues pooping inside the box if it is too large for him.
- The litter box may be dirty, or it is located in a busy location. Cats love having some time alone, and this is especially true while urinating or defecating. Hence, you need to place his litter box somewhere quiet and out of the way. Make sure that your cat knows the new location of his box.
- Your choice of cat litter can also be one of the reasons. Cats may favor particular brands of cat litter and may avoid using the litter box altogether if they don't like it. If you need to switch brands, you can do it gradually by introducing the new litter little by little just as you would when transitioning to a new food.
- There are not enough boxes for all of your cats. There should always be one more litter box available than there are cats in the household. Your cat will have options for a clean, comfortable environment in this manner.
Your cat’s bathroom habits, poop, and pee can all tell something about his health. That’s why, it’s perfectly normal for us, cat owners, to be inquisitive and vigilant about our cats’ bowel movements.
If you have any unusual observations, or if you notice any of the above cat poop warning signs, contact, or visit the nearest vet right away for proper assessment and medical intervention.
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