Urination is an essential bodily function. Every time your cat pees, it eliminates waste and toxins from the body. Urination is also an avenue for cats to eliminate excess water from their bodies. This extra fluid needs to be eliminated so it doesn’t affect their healthy electrolyte balance.
It follows that we can tell a lot about our cats’ physical health by looking at their pee. Everything from the color and odor of urine to the frequency of urination gives us hints to what is happening inside the body. As such, one of the questions owners ask is “How often should a cat urinate in 24 hours?”.
The short answer to this question is around twice per day. However, multiple factors affect urine production, and twice per day is just an average – all cats are subtly different. Sudden changes to the frequency of your cat’s urination though usually indicate an underlying medical condition.
In this article, I look in more detail at the factors that contribute to healthy urine production. I also delve into all the reasons your cat might be peeing more or less than usual. A trip to the vet might be in order, so have a read so you know whether or not you need to book an appointment.
How Often Should a Cat Pee?
According to vets, most healthy adult cats will pee around twice per day. To us humans, this sounds like nothing! But cats have desert ancestry and have evolved to survive in dry conditions. As such, they don’t need half as much water as us and urinate far less frequently than we do.
Moreover, twice per day is just an average. Many cats will pee up to four times every 24 hours and this is still perfectly healthy. All cats are different and their bodies will process fluids at a slightly different rate. Plus, other external factors can change the frequency of urination. Below are just some examples that impact urinary output:
- Weather: If you live in a hot and humid climate, your cat will likely pee less frequently. This is because their bodies are trying to conserve as much water as possible to ensure they remain hydrated within the warmer weather conditions.
- Age: Older cats will urinate more in 24 hours than younger felines. This could be due to an underlying condition or a side effect of medications but is also linked with a reduction in the hormone responsible for concentrating urine that comes with age.
- Bladder Size: The larger your cat’s bladder, the more urine it can hold at once. As such cats with bigger bladders pee fewer times per day than cats with smaller bladders. On average, cats can hold between 150ml to 300ml in their bladders.
- Water Intake: This one is pretty straightforward to understand. If your cat is drinking more than usual, they are going to be pee more often. Some cats hate drinking, whereas others love it. Feeding your cat wet food also ups their water intake and makes them urinate more.
As you can see, there are so many factors that affect urination. If your cat pees twice per day, great! But if your cat has always peed around four times per day, there isn’t anything to worry about. This is just their normal urinary frequency.
İn fact, you shouldn’t be worrying too much about how many times a day your cat should pee. Instead, you should be concerned about why your cat is suddenly peeing more or less than they usually do. Both a higher and lower frequency of urination can indicate underlying medical conditions that need treating by a vet.
Why Is My Cat Peeing More Than Usual?
If your cat is peeing more than usual, there might be some normal explanation. For example, perhaps you have just replaced your cat’s bowls with cordless cat water fountains. Most cats have a preference for running water and so will drink more. The more cats drink, the more they urinate.
The same applies to any cats that have recently transitioned to a wet cat food diet. Wet cat food contains between 70% and 80% more moisture than dry kibble. Therefore, swapping to a wet food diet means your cat should pee more than usual. A cat peeing everywhere all of a sudden could also be a side effect of some medication they’ve just started taking.
However, it is a good idea to take your cat to the vet. The following four medical conditions are all common in cats can all impact normal urination.
1. Stress and Anxiety
Cats are pretty sensitive creatures and they can get stressed pretty easily. Although stress isn’t a medical condition itself, chronic stress can have a big impact on physiological health. Besides, stressed cats aren’t happy and they need looking after from a mental health perspective.
Common signs of stress in cats include increased hiding behaviors, loss of appetite, and being more withdrawn. Yet many owners don’t realize stress can have a big impact on the frequency of urination. Muscle tension increases when cats feel stressed or anxious. This puts tension on the bladder and can make it feel like they need to pee more than usual.
If you have a permanently stressed cat, you’re probably a master when it comes to how to get cat pee out of a couch. That’s right – stressed cats don’t just pee more frequently, but also tend to pee wherever they want. And most of the time this isn’t in the litter box. This is because stressed cats feel the need to “mark” their surroundings to calm themselves down.
There’s also a possibility your cat’s litter box itself is stressing your cat out. Ensure the box is the right size, kept clean, and in the right location. Also, consider using litter for cats who pee outside the box. Wood pellet cat litter can be uncomfortable and most cats prefer a litter that is gentler on their paws.
Diabetes is another common reason why cats urinate more than usual. This medical condition is characterized by high blood sugar levels due to issues with insulin production. The kidneys try to correct these high blood glucose levels by removing the excess sugar through the urine. As such, diabetic cats pee pretty frequently.
Frequency isn’t the only change you will notice in your cat’s urine. You might notice that their pee starts to smell sweeter thanks to the high sugar concentration. Diabetic cats also run the risk of becoming dehydrated as they are losing so much liquid through their urine. To compensate, increased thirst is often observed.
Their appetite is also on the up. Despite your cat eating its dinner, the sugars cannot be used by the body and instead sit in the bloodstream until they are eliminated. Therefore, the body thinks it is starving. Weight loss is also likely as your cat cannot extract the sugar from its diet.
Some cats have enlarged thyroid glands that produce excess amounts of hormone thyroid. These excessive amounts of thyroid speed up your cat’s metabolism. This has impacts around the entire body, including the urinary system. As such, the kidneys produce more urine which needs to be eliminated – so urination frequency increases. Other symptoms are:
- Increased thirst and appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
- Periods of hyperactivity
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Unkempt and matted fur
This condition is known as hyperthyroidism and it is particularly common in older or obese cats. However, cats of any age can develop the disorder. If left untreated the condition can lead to heart and kidney failure, but there are curative treatments out there. Surgery and iodine therapy are both viable options, so speak to your vet.
4. Chronic Kidney Disease
Chronic kidney disease (CKD for short) is characterized by a gradual loss of kidney function. Now, the kidneys play an important role in filtering the blood of toxins and concentrating urine. When they are unable to perform these functions, urine isn’t concentrated at all. As such, your cat will pee more often than usual within 24 hours.
To compensate for the large volume of urine passed, cats with CKD typically have increased thirst. The body is also unable to filter out toxins, which can make your cat lethargic. The loss of important vitamins and minerals through the urine can also contribute to an unkempt appearance, abnormal metabolism, and loss of appetite.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for CKD. However, spotting the clinical signs of this condition early is a must. Once diagnosed, vets can prescribe treatment that limits the number of toxins accumulating in the body and aids hydration. Dietary modification is also prescribed, which your vet will be able to discuss with you.
Why Is My Cat Peeing Less Than Usual?
Problems don’t only arise in cats that pee more often than normal – if your cat is suddenly urinating much less frequently, it’s also a sign to speak to your vet!
Of course, there are normal non-worrisome reasons your cat is peeing less than you’re used to. Perhaps you have just swapped from wet cat food to dry kibble. Or maybe you’ve moved to a different country with a hotter climate. These factors all change how often your cat should urinate in 24 hours and are nothing to worry about. This is just your cat’s way of adapting to their new environment.
However, do read the below sections which highlight related medical conditions. If something is going on in your cat’s urinary system, you need to get it treated as soon as possible.
1. Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary tract infections happen when bacteria travel up the urinary tract and cause inflammation. This localized inflammation makes it very painful for a cat to pee. You’ll often see your cat straining to urinate or yowling out in pain. You might also spot your cat peeing over the edge of the litter box.
Cats with urinary tract infections will also pass a lesser volume of urine per day. It might also appear like your cat is peeing more frequently, but the opposite is true – a common sign of UTIs is when a cat keeps trying to pee but only a little comes out. So, even if your cat is taking multiple trips to the litter box, don’t assume that they are urinating more than usual.
2. Urinary Tract Disease
Although cats can develop urinary tract infections, feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) is more common. This is an umbrella term used to describe a collection of conditions that affect the urinary tract. Below are just a few examples of different causes of FLUTD:
- Bacterial Cystitis: This is where bacteria travel up the urethra and infect the bladder, causing inflammation and impairing function. Peeing less than usual is a common sign of this condition. It accounts for 5% to 15% of all FLUTD, with a higher prevalence in older felines.
- Idiopathic Cystitis: The majority (around 60% to 70%) of FLUTD cases fall into this category. This is where the bladder is inflamed and sore, just as with bacterial cystitis. However, the cause of the inflammation is unknown, making treatment more challenging.
- Bladder Stones: Stones made from certain minerals can form inside the bladder. These stones can irritate the lining of the bladder and cause inflammation. Smaller stones will be passed in the urine, which makes peeing extremely painful and thus infrequent. Larger stones can block the opening of the bladder, further decreasing the frequency of urination.
- Urethral Blockages: The bladder isn’t the only part of the urinary tract that is prone to blockages – the urethra can also become blocked by crystals and other debris. This generally only happens in male cats who anatomically have longer and narrower urethras than female cats. With the urethra blocked, urination becomes less frequent.
- Bladder Tumors: Although unlikely, tumors on the bladder known as neoplasia is a possible cause of FLUTD. These growths can lead to obstruction of the bladder or urethra, causing an inability to pass urine. As such, cats pee less than normal.
Whenever my cat is eating and drinking but not peeing, I always book an appointment with the vet. All of the above conditions are extremely painful for cats. And if left untreated, FLUTD will become life-threatening. Complete obstruction of the urinary tract is considered a medical emergency, so don’t hesitate. Your cat’s life could be on the line!
Finally, your cat could be peeing less than usual because they are dehydrated. When your cat has not consumed a sufficient amount of water, their bodies will cling onto all the fluid they have. Therefore, they will pee far less than they usually do until their water levels are restored.
Other symptoms of a dehydrated cat include:
- Loss of energy and reduced activity levels
- Panting and open mouth breathing
- Loss of appetite or a refusal to eat
- Sunken eyes and dry gums
Dehydration is a pretty big problem in cats, and if you notice your cat is dehydrated you can try to help. However, you should never force a cat to drink water. Instead, you should do your best to encourage it by changing their water bowls.
Below are just a few suggestions:
- Move their water bowls to a low-traffic area
- Make sure the bowls are not near their litter tray
- Swap from plastic to ceramic or stainless steel bowls
- Try whisker fatigue bowls if your cat has sensitive whiskers
- Put water bowls in multiple locations around your home
- Add tuna juice or chicken broth to the water
- Clean the water bowls at least once per week
- Refill with fresh water twice per day
You might also consider swapping your water bowls for a cat fountain. Many cats can be pretty fussy when it comes to drinking and only drink running water. Ceramic cat water fountains and stainless steel cat water fountains are my two personal favorites. Unlike plastic fountains, these materials are durable and don’t leak any funny tastes into the water.
Another option is to feed your cat a wet food diet. This will get more water into your cat without having to force them to drink more. Alternatively, moisten their dry kibble with water. As this will have the same taste as your cat is used to, you won’t have to go through a gradual transition to a new food.
Is My Cat’s Urine Normal?
Knowing how often a cat should urinate in 24 hours is only part of the equation. Say your cat pees twice per day. This is the average urination frequency for most healthy adult cats. However, what if their urine smells funny? What is it is a funny color? These indicate that your cat is not healthy!
As such, it is important not to solely look at the frequency of urination, but also other abnormalities. Below are just a few of the signs that your cat’s urinary health isn’t at its best.
What Color Should Cat Urine Be?
Healthy cat urine should be the same color as healthy human urine. It can range from a clear yellowish color to a more golden hue. However, when urine becomes dark this is a sign of concern. This indicates that your cat’s urine is too concentrated and that they are likely dehydrated.
The problem worsens when you witness bloody urine. In fact, you should call your vet ASAP if you ever spot signs of blood in your cat’s urine. The blood is usually a sign that the urethra or bladder are inflamed, or could result from crystals and other debris damaging the lining of the urinary tract. Blockages can form quickly, so you want to get these treated at once.
Completely colorless urine is also problematic. Even clear pee should have a subtle yellow glow – any pee that looks like water is too dilute and usually indicates CKD or diabetes. Cats with cloudy urine or pee that has floating debris in it also require a trip to the vet.
What Should Cat Pee Smell Like?
Unfortunately, even healthy cat pee doesn’t smell particularly nice. However, normal cat urine won’t be too offensive and its smell should be pretty mild. It is only when urine is left in dirty litter boxes that it beings to smell horrible as ammonia is released into the air.
On the other hand, cats with urinary diseases, infections, or kidney problems typically have nasty strong-smelling urine. If you notice that your cat’s litter box smells a little funky, it might be time to call the vet. Foul-smelling urine is a particular issue in cats with tumors of the bladder or hormonal disorders. Males too seem to suffer from worse-smelling urine than females.
This is all well and good, but unfortunately litter box odors are notoriously difficult for owners to notice. As we live with our cats every day, we become accustomed to their scents. This means picking up on bad scents can be a challenge. Do your best and take your cat to the vet if in any doubt.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
So, how often should a cat urinate in 24 hours? On average, you can expect a healthy adult cat to pee approximately two times per day. However, there is some variation between cats. Some will pee closer to four times each day, whereas urinating just once per day is normal for others.
The frequency of urination is affected by many factors, such as weather, age, water intake, and bladder size. As such, what is normal for one cat is not normal for another. My best advice? Learn what is normal for your cat in particular. This way, you’ll be able to notice immediately if there are any changes to their usual patterns of urination.
If your cat is peeing more or less than is normal for them, book an appointment with your vet. They may have an underlying medical condition that needs treatment. Look for abnormalities in the color and odor of your cat’s urine too. These also indicate something strange is going on, and your vet can help you figure out what.