How Often Should a Cat Urinate? – Whats Normal and When You Should See a Vet
How often should a cat urinate in 24 hours? The ancestors of our furry little housemates originated in the hot dry regions of Iraq and modern-day Iran, Turkey and Syria. Water was a scarce commodity, so their bodies developed ways to avoid dehydration. As a result, many cats urinate as little as twice a day but for most of our domesticated descendants two to four is average.
How often your cat visits the liter box depends on how much it drinks and if it eats moist food or dry. Heat and humidity also has an impact of how often cats pee. Also, the size of the cat and age plays a part. In general, they tend to drink more in the summer months resulting in more frequent urination.
Medical conditions can also play a part
Diabetes is the most notable disorder that causes a cat to drink large amounts of water and excrete vast amounts of urine. Other conditions include:
- kidney or liver disease
- bladder infections
- thyroid disorders
It’s important to know your kitty’s litter box habits so that you can spot potential health problems. Some cats routinely urinate five times a day but for others that would be a sign that something is wrong.
If your fur baby normally visits the box once or twice a day but begins going to it four times every day for a week or more it’s time to call the vet.
Sometimes a cat will hold their urine if their box is dirty.
A 10-pound cat will usually produce about half a cup of urine in 24 hours depending on how much it’s drinking.
Cats need from 3.5 to 4.5 ounces of water per 5 pounds of body weight each day. So a 10 pound cat will drink between 7 to 9 ounces of water daily.
Keep track of how much your cat drinks in a day
If you feel your cat is drinking more than usual or you just want to find out how much it is drinking in 24 hours, pour a cup of water into it’s bowl in the morning, then measure how much is left in the bowl each night. If the cat drains the bowl before night, measure another cup into the bowl. Note how many times you’ve had to refill the bowl. This would be easy if your cat eats dry food but if it eats canned food it gets a little trickier.
A can of cat food contains about 70 to 80 percent water. So, your cat may get 3.85 to 4.4 ounces of water from a 5.5 ounce can. That makes up about half of their water requirements for the day. It’s safe to say if your cat is consistently drinking more than a cup of water per 10 pounds of body weight, you’ll want to take it to a vet for a checkup.
If your cat is urinating a lot you might feel you should limit your cat’s water consumption since you’re cleaning the box more often. Never limit water before consulting your vet. If your cat becomes dehydrated it could have serious repercussions. Refill the cat bowl as often as necessary.
When You Should Call the Vet
Possible urinary blockage
If your cat is making frequent trips to the litter box take your cat in to the vet for blood work. This could be a sign of diabetes or a thyroid disorder. If your cat is going to the box often and seems to be in pain, waste no time in calling the vet. This is a sign of partial or a full blockage of the urethra which is the tube that brings urine from the kidneys to the outside.
This tends to occur more often in male cats since their plumbing is a bit more complicated than their female counterparts. The obstruction is usually due to mucus, puss, small stones or crystals (calculi) that travels down from the kidneys.
Although the cause is not well understood, diet or viral infections might be important factors. Less often the blockage is due to scarring, cancer, or some type of trauma. At one time vets believed it was due to early neutering but that has been proven untrue.
If there’s evidence of a possible urinary blockage treat it as a medical emergency.
Take your cat in to see the vet immediately. A urine sample will be taken to test for infection and x-rays to see if stones are present in the kidneys or bladder and if there is narrowing of the urethra.
If he is diagnosed with a blockage, sedation or general anesthesia will be given and a catheter will be placed in the urethra. The blockage will be flushed out, and also the bladder to remove any remaining gravel. The catheter is usually left in for a few days to keep the urethra open. When swelling subsides it will be removed.
Sometimes stones must be removed from the bladder surgically with a cystotomy. If the urethra is repeatedly blocked it can be made wider with a perineal urethrostomy or ‘’PU.’’ This usually ends the problem once and for all.
Medication, including pain meds, and a special diet will often be prescribed following surgery.
Possible Urinary tract infection (UTI) or Feline interstitial cystitis
When a female goes to the box frequently and strains or cries out in pain it’s usually a Urinary tract infection (UTI) or Feline interstitial cystitis. This is not to say that only females can get these disorders, they’re just more common in females. The cat may or may not leave bloody urine in the box. Sometimes they won’t go to the box at all because they associate the box with pain. Your cat may urinate just a very small amount five or sex times a day. Your vet will take a urine sample to check for infection and do some bloodwork to check for kidney disease/failure, or diabetes. X-rays or an ultra-sound will be performed to check for trauma of the urinary tract or cancer.
If you notice that your cat makes very few trips to the litter box and leaves only a small amount of urine, this usually means only a small amount of urine is being produced by the kidneys. While kidney disorders, low blood pressure, trauma or problems with the liver can be to blame, usually dehydration is the cause and, just like us humans, it can happen in hot weather.
Other causes are vomiting, fever, diarrhea, heatstroke, and sometimes diabetes. Be sure the cat has plenty of fresh water available. A fountain bowl is a novel way to get cats to drink more and they love it. If kitty doesn’t resume normal urine output after hydration call your vet. Dehydration is serious and the vet needs to give it fluids under the skin.
Other reasons that your cat isn’t producing any urine may be obstruction due to infection. Or the kidneys may not be functioning, and this is a major symptom of acute kidney failure from kidney disease, ingestion of something toxic—perhaps a plant or chemical—or congestive heart failure. Always seek a vets advice when any of these conditions are suspected.
The Benefits of Prescription food
Often a change to prescription food will get your cat back on track and promote normal kidney and urinary health. Your vet will prescribe it and you can get it from the animal clinic or pet stores.
It may be temporary, or your cat may need to remain on it for life. Your pet’s life can be extended sometimes by many years. Some prescription food is low in protein and phosphorus to slow the progression of chronic kidney disease.
There are special foods that will treat diabetes and often keep your cat from needing insulin therapy. The same is true of thyroid disorders, as there are foods that can minimize the need for thyroid medications. Diet plays a big part in urinary blockages due to crystals (calculi). There are a variety of cat foods that will lessen the chances of this from happening again or prevent it from happening in the first place.
A decade or two ago kidney and urinary tract disorders often resulted in a pet’s life cut tragically short. Today with innovative diagnoses and treatments our cats can live normal healthy lives even with chronic kidney decease or urinary tract disorders, as well as, diabetes and thyroid disorders. However, careful observation of what is normal for your cat and picking up on any deviations of the norm will keep beginning problems from becoming emergencies and keep emergencies from turning tragic!