How Long Can Cats Hold Their Poop?

How Long Can Cats Hold Their Poop

If you’re planning a long journey with your cat, it’s natural to wonder; “How long can cats hold their poop?”

The last thing you want is a messy accident while they’re in their carrier. It’s not just poop you need to worry about. You don’t want a cat urinating in their box either as the smell of cat pee is really unpleasant.

If done my fair share of traveling with my cats over the years. As well as moving home and going through some other traumatic events that led me to ask the same questions, so I think I can help!

How Often Is “Normal” for a Cat To Poop?

Let’s start with the basics. Under normal conditions, a cat will have a bowel movement at least once a day.

There are a few factors that weigh into this, such as how old your cat is, how active they are, what their diet is like, and so on.

But a healthy cat will typically poop once a day, and urinate between 3-5 times.

I currently have a senior cat (that’s the polite way to say she’s 21 years old!), and she still poops in her box once a day but urinates as many as 10 times.

This is normal for an elderly cat. It’s also a good sign, as not peeing for 24+ hours is usually an indication that something is seriously wrong.

Related Is your cat pooping where they shouldn’t be? Read this.

How Long Can Cats Hold Their Poop?

If you’re planning a long trip with your cat, toilet stops are tricky – if you’re even able to make them that is.

Cats do not travel well. They tend to get stressed by almost any form of travel unless they’ve been brought up traveling on a regular basis.

The first thing that happens is they become withdrawn and defensive. They then stop eating, drink, pooping, and typically just lay down or back up into their box and sulk.

If your cats are anything like mine, you can stop for toilet breaks as often as you want – they won’t go.

They’ll wait until they are comfortable at their end destination and poop when they’re good and ready.

So, how long could that be?

Well, I know for sure my cats have gone at least 48 hours without pooping before because they were stressed from moving.

I discussed this with some other cat owners while researching this post, and some said the same. I didn’t find anyone who said their cats held it for longer than 48 hours, which is a good thing as its cause for concern.

If you know your cat hasn’t had a bowel movement within 48 hours, they may have become constipated.

Mine have been constipated a number of times over the years. I wrote about how I used olive oil to treat constipation here as a home remedy if you’re interested.

Any more than 48 hours – traveling or not – and it’s best if you call your vet and ask for advice. When cats don’t poop for days their stool effectively backs up and causes a blockage which can lead to other health complications.

How Long Can Cats Hold Their Pee?

How Long Can Cats Hold Their Pee

It’s much more important from a health perspective that cats pee on a regular basis. This is where it gets tricky when traveling long distances with a cat because 48 hours without peeing could be fatal.

According to, if a cat doesn’t pee for 24 hours they can become ill from toxins being retained. If they pass 48 hours, they can die.

It’s that serious.

This is why it’s recommended you don’t let your cat drink a lot before traveling. The good news though, as gross as it is, is that most cats will pee in their box rather than hold it too long.

It’s the opposite for poop, cats are able to hold that a lot longer without the same serious health concerns so they generally will.

Can Cats Hold Their Poop Overnight?

If you’re wondering how long your cat can cross their legs purely because you want to keep your cat in overnight and they don’t have access to a litter box, the answer is; yes, cats can hold their poop overnight.

Eight, twelve, however many hours you call “overnight” is easy for healthy cats to wait to poop.

I’ve lost count of the number of times mine have been trapped in a room overnight or not had access to their litter box for one reason or another. They’ve never pooped outside of their box (thankfully), they always wait until they can go in their box.

A house-trained cat will also do their best to make you aware they need to go to their box, too. If they’re trapped in your bedroom, you can expect either a paw to hit your face or your cat to meow and scratch at the door to get out.

RelatedHere’s how many litter boxes you need for the number of cats in your home.

In Summary

Traveling, overnight, leaving your cat unattended… whatever the reason, hopefully, you now have better peace of mind knowing your cat will be able to hold their poop and pee for a long period when necessary.

Just be very careful to help your cat settle in as soon as possible and recommence regular bowel movements. It’s potentially dangerous to their health to go more than a day without peeing, and more than two days without pooping.


Image credits – Photos by Manja Vitolic and Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

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