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How Long Can a Cat Go Without Pooping? (Answered!)



Reviewed By: Dr. Joel Robertson

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When it comes to cats and their bathroom habits, there seems to be a lot of confusion. How long can a cat go without pooping? What if they don’t go for a few days? Is it normal for them to hold it in for a long time?

In this article, I will be talking about cats and their bathroom habits. So, if you have a cat that hasn’t been in the bathroom for a few days, read on.

Key Takeaway

  • A cat should ideally have a bowel movement every 12 to 36 hours, and it can become a concern if they go longer than 48 hours without pooping.
  • If your cat has not pooped in four days, you should immediately consult a veterinarian as this could indicate a serious health issue such as constipation or an intestinal blockage.
  • The signs of a constipated cat can include straining in the litter box, passing small, hard, or dry stools, loss of appetite, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, lethargy, and changes in behavior.

How Long Can a Cat Go Without Pooping?

How Long Can a Cat Go Without Pooping

Generally speaking, a healthy adult cat should be able to go without pooping for up to 48 hours. Anything surpassing 48 hours should be considered constipation and you should talk to a veterinarian about a possible solution.

There are a couple of things that determine how long can a cat go without pooping including the age of the cat, health condition, and diet. Kittens can hold their poo for up to 12 hours which is shorter than adult cats. This is because they have smaller bladders and intestines, and they haven’t yet developed strong bowel muscles.

Also, the health of the cat can play a huge role in how long can a cat go without pooping. If a cat is sick or has a medical condition that affects its digestive system, it may not be able to hold its poo as long as a healthy cat.

Diet can also play a role in how long a cat can hold their poo. A diet high in fiber will help a cat’s digestive system move along more quickly, which means they’ll need to go more often. Conversely, a diet low in fiber can slow down a cat’s digestive system, which means they’ll be able to hold their poo for longer periods of time.

If your cat is holding its poo for more than two days, there are a few things you can do at home to help relieve your cat’s constipation. Give them plenty of water and wet food to help keep them hydrated.

You can also try giving them some canned pumpkin (not the pie filling) or adding more fiber to their diet with kitty grass or shredded wheat cereal. If those don’t work, talk to your vet about giving your cat a laxative or stool softener.

What Are The Signs of a Constipated Cat?

A constipated cat typically exhibits changes in behavior, discomfort, and physical signs related to difficulty or inability to pass feces.

Straining in the Litter Box

One of the first signs you may notice is your cat straining in the litter box. They may spend a lot of time trying to poop, but not much comes out. This can often be mistaken for a urinary issue as the behaviors can look similar.

Small, Hard, or Dry Stools

If your cat is constipated, the stools they do manage to pass might be smaller than usual, hard, or dry. This is because longer than normal transit times allow the colon to absorb more water from the stool, making it hard and dry.

Loss of Appetite

A constipated cat may also lose their appetite. This can be due to discomfort or a feeling of fullness because their colon is full of unpassed stool.


In some cases, a cat with severe constipation might vomit. This is because the backed-up stool can cause a blockage, preventing the passage of food from the stomach.

Abdominal Discomfort

A cat with constipation might show signs of abdominal discomfort. They might cry out in pain, especially when their abdomen is touched, or they could adopt a hunched posture.


Constipated cats often become lethargic. They may sleep more than usual, show less interest in play, and overall appear to have less energy.

Changes in Behavior

Finally, you might notice changes in your cat’s behavior. They might hide more than usual, seem more anxious, or show other signs of stress or discomfort.

What Should I Do If My Cat Hasn’t Pooped in 4 Days?

How Long Can a Cat Go Without Pooping

If your cat hasn’t pooped in four days, there are a few things you can do. The first is to take them to the vet to rule out any medical issues. Once you’ve ruled out any health problems, you can try changing their food or adding a stool softener.

If those don’t work, you may need to give them an enema. However, this should only be done as a last resort and under the supervision of a vet. Cats usually poop every day. So, if yours hasn’t for more than four days, it’s definitely worth checking out with your vet.

Making sure your cat drinks enough water and changing their diet to wet food will probably solve the bowel movement problem that your cat has.

There are a few different health problems that can cause constipation in cats. One of the most common is dehydration. When a cat doesn’t have enough fluids in its system, it can cause the stool to become hard and dry, which makes it difficult to pass.

Dehydration can also cause an increase in the concentration of electrolytes like sodium and potassium in the blood, which can make it more difficult for the intestine to contract and push stools along.

Also, dehydration can also lead to a loss of blood volume, which can make it hard for the intestines to get enough oxygen and nutrients to function properly. All of these factors can contribute to constipation.

Another problem that can cause constipation is intestinal blockage. This can be caused by a variety of things, including eating something they shouldn’t have (like string or yarn) or having a mass in their intestine that’s preventing the stool from passing.

Lastly, some cats may simply have a slower digestive system than others, which can lead to constipation.

How Can I Stimulate My Cat To Have a Bowel Movement?

You can stimulate your cat to have a bowel movement by ensuring proper hydration, providing a high-fiber diet, encouraging regular exercise, managing stress, giving gentle belly rubs, and in some cases, using safe laxatives or enemas with the approval of a veterinarian.

Canned pumpkin is a good source of fiber for cats. It can help to regulate their digestive system and make them have a bowel movement. Give your cat a few tablespoons of canned pumpkin (plain, not the pie filling) mixed in with their food once or twice a day. You may see results within a day or two.

Pumpkin isn’t just for pies! This fall favorite can also help your cat have regular bowel movements. Canned pumpkin is packed with fiber which can stimulate your cat to have a bowel movement.

Another great food that will stimulate your cat to have a bowel movement is unsweetened yogurt. The probiotics in yogurt will help keep their digestive system healthy and running smoothly.

In fact, you can also try adding a small amount of canned pumpkin together with unsweetened yogurt to their food, as the fiber will help them go too says the Veterinary Emergency Group.

Is Constipation In Cats An Emergency?

If your car is constipated and hasn’t had a bowel movement in more than 48 hours, then it is considered an emergency. Is important to take them to the vet so they can rule out any underlying medical conditions.

If your cat is simply constipated from eating a low-fiber diet, the vet may recommend changing their food or adding a fiber supplement to their diet.

There are a few signs to watch for that may indicate your cat is constipated and in need of medical attention. These include not having a bowel movement for 48 hours or more, straining to defecate without producing anything, crying out in pain while trying to go, or going more often with smaller, harder stools.

The vet will likely give your cat a physical exam and ask about its diet and bathroom habits. They may also recommend some lifestyle changes, such as adding more fiber to the diet or increasing the amount of water your cat drinks. In some cases, medication may be necessary to help relieve constipation.

Cats are notorious for hiding their pain. So, it’s important to be vigilant about monitoring their bathroom habits and overall health. If your cat is constipated, there are a few things you can look for.

One is if they are having small, hard stools or if they are straining to go at all. You may also notice that they are going less frequently than usual or skipping meals. If your cat is displaying any of these symptoms, it’s important to take them to the vet for an examination.

It’s also important to keep an eye on your cat’s water intake. If they aren’t drinking enough water, this could be a sign of dehydration which can exacerbate constipation. Make sure their water bowl is always full and try adding some wet food to their diet as well.


Q: How can I help my constipated cat?

A: There are a few steps you can take to help your constipated cat. Firstly, make sure they have access to fresh water at all times to prevent dehydration. You can also try adding fiber to their diet, such as canned pumpkin or a veterinarian-recommended fiber supplement. Additionally, regularly grooming your cat can prevent them from ingesting excessive amounts of hair that can contribute to constipation.

Q: Should I give my cat over-the-counter laxatives?

A: It is not recommended to give over-the-counter laxatives to your cat without consulting a veterinarian first. Laxatives intended for humans may not be safe for cats and could potentially worsen their condition. It’s best to get professional guidance and recommendations for any medications or treatments.

Q: When should I seek veterinary help for my constipated cat?

A: If your cat hasn’t had a bowel movement for more than 2 days or if they are showing signs of distress or pain, it is important to seek veterinary help. Your veterinarian can properly diagnose the cause of constipation and recommend appropriate treatment options.

Q: What can cause constipation in cats?

A: There are several factors that can contribute to constipation in cats. These include a lack of fiber in their diet, dehydration, obesity, intestinal blockages, certain medications, and underlying medical conditions such as megacolon or pelvic injuries.

Q: Can stress or anxiety cause constipation in cats?

A: Yes, stress or anxiety can potentially contribute to constipation in cats. Cats are sensitive animals, and any changes in their environment or routine can lead to stress, which may impact their digestion and bowel movements.

Q: Can feeding my cat a specialized diet help with constipation?

A: Feeding your cat a specialized diet formulated to promote digestive health may help alleviate constipation. These diets often contain higher amounts of fiber and can aid in regular bowel movements. It’s advisable to consult with your veterinarian to determine the best dietary options for your cat’s specific needs.

Q: What are the potential complications of untreated constipation in cats?

A: If constipation is left untreated, it can lead to more serious complications such as fecal impaction, megacolon, and rectal prolapse. These conditions require immediate veterinary attention and more aggressive forms of treatment.

Q: How can I prevent constipation in my cat?

A: To help prevent constipation in your cat, you can ensure they have a balanced diet with adequate fiber content, provide plenty of fresh water, encourage regular exercise and play, and practice regular grooming to reduce the ingestion of excessive hair. Regular veterinary check-ups can also help identify any potential issues before they become severe.

Conclusion and final thoughts

In conclusion, it is important for cat owners to closely monitor their cat’s bowel movements and seek veterinary advice if their cat goes more than 48 hours without pooping.

While cats may have different bathroom habits, prolonged periods of constipation can lead to serious health issues.

Please take the time and leave a comment below if this article helped you, or you have any additional questions.

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