Is Your Cat Going to the Bathroom Too Much?

posted: 05/15/12
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Is Your Cat Going to the Bathroom Too Much?
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Picture this: While spending your entire Sunday watching reality TV show marathons, you can't help but notice how many times your cat has sauntered past you on her way to the bathroom. As you hear the scratching from her litter box, you try to recall if this is the fourth of fifth time today that she's been in there. You ask yourself if you should be concerned, or just go back to channel surfing.

The answer is it depends. Chuck Miller, D.V.M. and owner of Triangle Veterinarian Hospital in Durham, N.C., says that the average cat will urinate two to three times a day and poop once a day (or less, in some cases). Typically, young kittens go more frequently -- often every time they eat -- but this frequency usually decreases as they get older. According to Barbara L. Sherman, D.V.M. and director of Animal Behavior Service at North Carolina State University's College of Veterinary Medicine in Raleigh, the amount of urine your cat produces depends on the amount of water she consumes, both at the water bowl and in moist (canned) cat food. Cats that eat dry food tend to visit the litter box less often than those that eat wet food.

So, how can you tell if your cat is "normal"? Miller advises pet owners to monitor their kitties' habits over several days to see what their routines are. Also, keep up with your cleaning. Most owners who clean litter boxes regularly are able to spot an increase in the number of "clumps" they are scooping from the litter box.

When you do become more knowledgeable about your cat's litter box habits, and you notice that she's taking more trips than usual, it's time to start paying attention to some other changes, too. Miller suggests focusing on changes in the color or consistency of urine or feces. For example, if there's blood in the urine, that's a sign you should consult a professional.

In some cases, changes in litter box habits can be an indication of medical conditions, food allergies or hypersensitivities. According to Margaret Gruen, D.V.M. and clinical assistant professor at N.C. State University's Animal Welfare, Ethics and Public Policy Program in Raleigh, more frequent bathroom trips in particular can indicate a metabolic disorder, kidney dysfunction or a urinary tract infection. It could also point to bladder stones, crystals or a gastrointestinal tract disorder. If you think your cat could be at risk of any of these conditions, it's definitely worth at least a phone call to your vet.


Gruen, Margaret, D.V.M. Clinical assistant professor, North Carolina State University Animal Welfare, Ethics and Public Policy Program, Raleigh, N.C. Personal interview; conducted March 14, 2011.

McCaw, Michael C., D.V.M. Veazie Veterinary Clinic, Veazie, Maine. Personal interview; conducted March 16, 2011.

Miller, Chuck, D.V.M. Triangle Veterinarian Hospital, Durham, N.C. Personal Interview; conducted March 15, 2011.

Sherman, Barbara L., D.V.M. Director of Animal Behavior Service at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Raleigh, N.C. Personal interview; conducted March 14, 2011.

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