How Long Can Cats Hold Their Poop?

How Long Can Cats Hold Their Poop

Your cat’s toilet habits are strongly linked to the place he considers his territory. Take him on a road trip or any other place unfamiliar, and you may soon find yourself in a messy situation. 

Not all cats will have the same reaction when taken on a trip for the first time. Some cats are more relaxed and docile and would rather hold their poop until they feel safe and secure. Others will not be able to control their bladder and bowels, which is a physical, fear-based reaction. 

With that in mind, you might be wondering: how many hours can cats hold their poop? To be honest, there is no concise answer. Every cat is different and so are their reactions to stressful situations such as traveling.

When it comes to handling feline waste, it cannot be denied that cat urine and feces smell really bad. If your cat happens to let go in the middle of a trip, it could really be problematic, not just to clean his carrier but also to remove the obnoxious odor.

To avoid going through this traumatic event, you need to be well-prepared for such emergencies before you start your trip.  

How long cats can hold the urge to poop

Healthy adult cats can hold their poop for up to 48 hours, while kittens can retain their feces for about 24 hours. However, this should not be an excuse not to carry a litter box while traveling. Refusing your feline access to a litter box when needed is cruel. Moreover, no fur parent would want to see their four-legged companions suffering such discomfort.

Your cat’s ability to hold his waste also depends on several other factors. These include:

  • Age
  • Gut and bladder health
  • Diet
  • Infections and blockages in the gut and urinary tract
  • Lifestyle and activity levels
  • External stress, such as moving to a new house

If your cat experiences any of the issues mentioned above, he will likely have more trouble holding his poop and pee.

Avoiding a messy situation while traveling

Anxious cats can feel so terrified that they instantly lose the ability to hold their bowels and defecate right on the spot. This would generally happen in situations such as taking your cat on a trip for the first time. So, before you pack for a journey with your cat, make sure that you are well-prepared to handle this messy situation.

Every cat owner must be aware of the importance of a portable litter box. Even if you are only taking a short trip, having a litter box on hand might save you a lot of inconveniences. You will also need to prepare trash bags and grooming wipes to help your little friend clean up in case he accidentally eliminates his waste before reaching your destination.

Other tips that will save you from a poopy situation are listed below:

  1. If you are on a road trip, consider having a breather and a bathroom break every two to three hours.
  2. Stop feeding your cat about four to six hours before your trip. Instead of a heavy meal, give your furry companion some light snacks just to curb hunger pangs without feeling too full. Otherwise, you will have to deal with a disgusting mess later on.
  3. Never forget the ziplock or disposable bags, grooming wipes, and cat diapers. These are all travel essentials in case your cat needs to go.
  4. Bring sickness medicine for cats. You can call your veterinarian to find out the right medicines to pack. 
  5. Bring your cat’s favorite toys to keep him entertained and distracted while on the road.
  6. Lastly, as mentioned above, always have a litter box on hand. You can choose a reusable, foldable and easy-to clean portable litter box such as the one from Pet Fit for Life, or go for a durable and disposable litter box like the one from Kitty’s Wonderbox for easier setup and disposal.

When you should worry

A healthy, adult cat should defecate once or twice daily. Some cats might poop just once every two days and still be considered normal. The reason behind their irregular bowel schedule could be due to several factors, including your cat’s diet and lifestyle. 

Felines that consume a high-fiber diet will likely eliminate twice a day, while others with poor gut health might take longer to defecate. Moreover, the more food your cat consumes, the more frequently he will visit his litter box. 

Stress can also disrupt your cat’s litter box routine. For example, a cat who is not used to traveling might feel forced to suppress his urge to defecate. Our feline companions are territorial, and if you take them out of their comfort zone, they will feel vulnerable and would rather postpone their litter box visit until they feel safe and comfortable again. 

So, if you have been on a long journey and your kitty refuses to relieve himself, it could just be stress-related and that is completely normal. If you are staying in a hotel, give your cat some private time to relax and acclimatize to the new environment. Gradually introduce him to your room and show him where the litter box is. 

However, if your cat has not pooped for more than three days, you should seek veterinary consultation right away. In most cases, the diagnosis will be constipation which can be easily treated at home with a few dietary changes and some natural remedies.

If your cat shows signs of distress, pain, straining, or vomiting, it could indicate something more serious, such as an intestinal blockage. Your vet will likely suggest surgery as the best option if it does not resolve with the available medications.  

Other signs to look out for are:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Presence of blood in the poop
  • Behavioral changes
  • Changes in the poop shape and color

What to do if your cat will not poop

A visit to the vet should always be your first option if you sense something is not right with your fur baby. Although it can be tempting to resort to alternative home remedies and postpone a visit to the vet to save on costs, not all-natural remedies are safe for your pet. More importantly, only a trained professional can advise on the appropriate treatment approach for your sick feline. Even a simple constipation problem should be checked by the vet to rule out any serious illnesses.

If your vet has confirmed constipation, then he will likely advise you on some medications or holistic remedies to help your kitty recover.

Natural remedies for cat constipation

Natural remedies are often safer with fewer side effects than over-the-counter medicines. As long as your vet approves it, you can choose this route to help give your cat immediate relief.

Some of the natural remedies that are proven to help your cat poop include the following:

  • Canned and pureed pumpkin
  • Ginger
  • Aloe vera juice
  • Probiotics
  • Olive oil
  • Castor oil

Final thoughts

Traveling with your cat involves a lot of preparation, and this includes managing your cat’s waste in the event that he cannot postpone his urge to eliminate it. The good news is that cats provided they are in good health, can hold their poop for up to 48 hours. However, this should not be a reason to force them to hold their waste for too long. Travel essentials such as a litter box, grooming wipes, and trash bags should always be on hand for your cat in case he needs to relieve himself.

If your cat has not pooped for more than three days after traveling, this is generally a bad sign. Have your furry companion checked by the vet for a clear diagnosis, as well as to find out the correct treatment approach. This will also help you rule out any serious concerns such as intestinal obstruction.

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