How Many Times Should A Cat Go To The Litter?


There is no one size fits all answer for how often a cat should use the litter box. Frequency of litter box use depends on several factors like the cat’s age, health status, diet, and environment. Kittens will need to use the litter box more often than adult cats. Senior cats may need to visit the litter box more frequently. Certain medical conditions can also increase litter box use. The setup of the litter box, type of litter, and location can impact how much a cat uses its litter box. While each cat is unique, on average, a healthy cat will use the litter box around 5-10 times per day for urination and 1-2 times a day for defecation.


Kittens need to eliminate more frequently than adult cats because they have smaller bladders that can’t hold as much urine (1). Newborn kittens cannot use the litter box at all and need to be stimulated by their mother to go to the bathroom. Kittens start to gain control over their elimination around 3-4 weeks of age and should begin using the litter box consistently by 8 weeks old (2).

At 8 weeks old, most kittens will need to eliminate after each meal, which is typically 3-4 times per day. So an 8 week old kitten will likely need to use the litter box 3-4 times a day. Some kittens may need to go more frequently, up to 6 times a day. It’s important to provide easy access to an appropriately sized litter box during this stage (3).

As kittens grow between 2-6 months old, their bladder control improves and they won’t need to eliminate quite as often. They may go from needing to use the litter box 4 times a day down to 2-3 times per day. But kittens still have small bladders and higher metabolism so they continue needing to eliminate more often than adult cats.


Adult Cats

Adult cats often need 2-3 toilet visits per day if healthy. There are several factors that can influence how often an adult cat needs to use the litter box:

Diet – Cats eating wet food tend to drink more and need to urinate more frequently than cats on an all dry food diet. Make sure your cat’s food has adequate moisture.

Health Issues – Diseases like diabetes or kidney disease can cause cats to urinate more. Cats with arthritis may have difficulty getting to the litter box. Check with your vet if your cat is straining or visiting the box more.

Litter Preferences – Some cats dislike scented litter or litter that is too coarse. Having multiple boxes with different litters can help finicky cats. Auto-cleaning litter boxes may startle cats.

Try to stick to one type of litter and avoid sudden changes. Spot clean boxes daily and replace litter weekly. Place litter boxes in quiet, easily accessed areas of the home.

Senior Cats

Older cats often need to use the litter box more frequently due to medical conditions like kidney disease or arthritis. As cats age, their kidney function declines, leading to increased urine production and frequent urination. Arthritis can also make it difficult for senior cats to get in and out of the litter box, so they may not be able to “hold it” as long.

According to veterinarians, senior cats should go to the litter box at least 2-3 times per day for urination. They may need to defecate 1-2 times per day as well. Any noticeable increase in litter box usage, such as going more than 3-4 times a day, could signal an underlying medical issue that requires veterinary attention.

To help senior cats use the litter box comfortably, use a low-entry box with shorter sides or a cut-out entrance. This reduces strain on stiff, arthritic joints. Scatter extra litter boxes around your home for easy access. Scoop daily to keep things clean. Consider using attractant litters or cat-friendly laxatives if constipation is an issue. Monitoring litter box habits and consulting a vet can ensure quality of life for an aging cat.

As per the Spruce Pets article “Litter Box Problems in Senior Cats Explained (With Tips to Help),” conditions like hyperthyroidism and diabetes often lead to increased thirst and urination in senior cats Providing easy access to the litter box can help minimize accidents.

Medical Issues

Many medical conditions can cause cats to need to use the litter box more frequently. According to the Cornell Feline Health Center, a number of disorders like kidney disease, diabetes, and digestive issues can lead to inappropriate elimination outside the litter box [1]. Some common medical conditions that may increase litter box use in cats include:

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs): Bacteria in the urinary tract can cause inflammation and a persistent urge to urinate. Cats with UTIs may visit the litter box frequently and strain to urinate. UTIs require veterinary treatment with antibiotics [2].

Diarrhea: Intestinal issues like parasites, food allergies, or gastroenteritis can cause loose stools and diarrhea. Cats with diarrhea will need to use the litter box more often [3].

Constipation: Dehydration, lack of exercise, and some medications may cause constipation in cats. Constipated cats strain to defecate and have infrequent, difficult bowel movements. They may frequently enter the litter box attempting to go [3].

Monitoring litter habits can help identify potential medical issues early. Consult a veterinarian if litter box habits seem to change suddenly or dramatically.


A cat’s diet can have a big impact on how often and how much they need to use the litter box. Cats who eat a diet high in moisture and water content will tend to produce more diluted urine and larger volumes of stool. This means they may need to visit the litter box more frequently. On the other hand, cats fed a dry food diet take in less water and will produce more concentrated urine and smaller amounts of stool. These cats may only need to use the litter box once or twice a day.

According to the Pet Food Experts blog, “Cats on a high water content diet typically have better urinary health and make more frequent trips to the litter box” (source). A cat eating mostly wet food will need more frequent access to the litter box to pass the additional urine volume. Dry food diets, with lower moisture content, lead to more concentrated urine and less frequent litter box trips.

Cats with urinary tract issues like bladder stones may benefit from a prescription wet food diet recommended by a vet. The high water content produces dilute urine, allowing stones to pass more easily and preventing new ones from forming (source). So in this case, more frequent litter box usage would be expected.

Overall, a cat’s diet and hydration level directly impacts how often they need to use the litter box. Pet owners should feed a balanced diet appropriate for their cat’s health needs and ensure fresh water is always available. This will help the cat maintain normal and healthy elimination habits.


A cat’s hydration status can have a significant impact on their need to urinate. Well-hydrated cats will produce more dilute urine and need to visit the litter box more frequently. Dehydrated cats produce more concentrated urine and may not need to urinate as often. According to a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, increased water intake leads to increased urine volume and lower urine specific gravity in cats (Buckley, 2011).

Ensuring cats have access to fresh, clean water at all times is important. Cats generally do not drink enough water on their own, so their water intake should be monitored. Some ways to encourage hydration include feeding wet food, adding water to dry food, using fountain water bowls, and placing water bowls throughout the home. Providing increased water viscosity, such as broths or gelatin water supplements, can also increase voluntary water consumption in cats (Hall et al., 2021).

Dehydration is a serious health concern for cats. It can lead to bladder and kidney problems. Signs of dehydration include lethargy, dry gums, sunken eyes, and skin tenting. If a cat is showing signs of dehydration or not urinating normally, a veterinarian should be consulted right away.

Litter Box Setup

The location where you place your cat’s litter box is one of the most important factors influencing how often your cat will use it. Cats prefer litter boxes that are in quiet, low-traffic areas of the home like a laundry room or bathroom. Avoid putting boxes in busy areas like the kitchen or living room where the cat may feel too exposed. Make sure the box is a comfortable distance away from the cat’s food and water bowls, but also easily accessible. Once you pick a good litter box location, avoid moving it unless absolutely necessary as this can confuse and upset the cat.

Keeping the litter box extremely clean is also vital for encouraging regular use. Scoop waste out of the box at least once a day, and change the litter completely every 1-2 weeks. Use gentle soap and hot water when washing the box – avoid harsh chemicals that may deter the cat. Finicky cats may refuse to use dirty boxes, so stay on top of cleaning and disinfecting. You can use odor eliminating litter or baking soda in the box to help control smells.

The type of litter used can also impact frequency of use. Clumping litters are popular since they make cleaning easy, while scented litters help mask odors. But some cats prefer natural, unscented litters instead. Get your cat used to the litter at a young age, and watch their preference. Provide at least 1.5 inches of litter in the box so they can dig and bury. Ultimately, observing the cat’s behavior and finding the litter they like best will lead to good litter box habits.


Stress & Anxiety

Stress and anxiety can have a big impact on a cat’s litter box habits. Events that may seem minor to us can actually be very stressful for cats. Things like changes to their routine, environment, social interactions, or diet can all lead to anxiety. According to the ASPCA, stress is one of the most common causes of litter box problems in cats.

When a cat is stressed or anxious, they may start urinating or defecating outside of the litter box. This is because the scent of their waste makes them feel more secure and comfortable. By spreading their scent around the house, they are trying to reinforce their territory and regain stability.

Some common stressors that can increase the frequency a cat needs to use the litter box include:

  • Moving to a new home
  • Introduction of new pets or people
  • Loud noises like construction or parties
  • Changes to their normal routine
  • Conflicts with other pets

To minimize stress for your cat, make changes gradually, stick to regular schedules, provide hiding spots, use calming aids like pheromones, and give them plenty of love and attention. Reducing anxiety will help maintain normal litter box habits.

When to See the Vet

Changes in your cat’s litter box habits, especially inappropriate elimination, can sometimes indicate an underlying medical issue that requires veterinary attention. Here are some warning signs that warrant a visit to the vet:

  • Straining or signs of pain when trying to urinate or defecate
  • Urinating frequently but only passing small amounts
  • Blood in the urine or stool
  • Sudden increase or decrease in frequency of urination or defecation
  • Loss of litter box training in a previously trained cat
  • Accidents outside the litter box in multiple locations
  • Excessive licking or irritation around the genitals
  • Appearing to have difficulty or pain when trying to enter litter box

Cats often hide illness very well, so changes in elimination habits may be the only obvious sign of an underlying problem. Some common medical causes include urinary tract infections, kidney disease, diabetes, arthritis, cognitive decline, and gastrointestinal issues. If you notice any of these red flags in your cat’s litter box habits, schedule an exam with your veterinarian right away to identify and treat the cause.

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