Cat’s Needs: How Long Can A Cat Go Without a Litter Box?

cat litter box

Cats are known to be independent an clean. One of the ways they manifest this is by using a litter box for their bathroom needs.

But did you ever wonder how long can a cat go without a litter box?

Studies have shown that even if a cat has consumed enough fluids and eaten their regular meal, they may go for up to 48 hours without using a litter box. However, this is not ideal. Indoor cats should, in most cases, have constant access to their litter box to relieve themselves.

how long can a cat go without a litter box
Our pet usually uses the litter box once every 18 hours

It’s very important to note that holding in urine or feces for an extended amount of time can lead to health issues, such as urinary tract infections or constipation

How Long Can A Cat Go Without Using a Litter Box?

  1. The Average Duration: On average, a healthy cat can hold it’s urine for about 24 to 48 hours. However, it’s important to note that this is not ideal for the cat. Cats prefer to use the litter box as soon as they feel the need to do it. By forcing the cat to hold it for an extended period, you can cause discomfort and potential health issues.
  2. Factors Influencing the Duration: Several factors can influence how long can a cat go without using a litter box. These include the cat’s age, health status, and diet. Younger cats usually pees 4 to 6 times a day, while some older cats that have been neutered might not pee for up to 72 hours
  3. The Maximum Limit: Anything that exceed 48 hours without a cat using the litter box should be a cause for concern. If the cat has not eliminated waste for more than two days, it’s crucial to consult a veterinarian as soon as possible
  4. During Travel: During travel most cats are able to endure even an eight-hour drive without using the litter box. However, I wouldn’t recommend to tempt fate. If you are planning a long journey you should consider using a travel litter box and making multiple stops for the cat to use it

Understanding Cat’s Urinary and Digestive System

Cats, like humans have a digestive system that processes food and extracts nutrients, and a urinary system that filters waste from the blood and excretes it in the form of urine.

cat using the litter box
Once he feels the need to use the litter box he doesn’t sit and think about it

Typically, a healthy cat will urinate two to three times a day and defecate once a day. However, this can vary depending on factors such as diet, hydration, and age

The Risks of a Cat Not Using a Litter Box

By forcing a cat to hold their urine or feces for too long, can lead to significant health problems. Some of the most scary issues are infections, bladder stones and constipation.

On top of that, they can also develop behavioral problems as the cat is forced to ‘hold it’ she may start to associate the litter box with discomfort, leading them to fully avoid the litter box and find other places to go

  1. Medical Issues: When a cat stops using the litter box, it can be a sign of underlying medical issues that have to be addressed urgently. The most common ones are urinary tract infections, bladder stones or kidney disease and they can cause discomfort during urination, leading your cat to avoid the litter box. If your cat is suddenly avoiding the litter box, you should consult with a vet to rule out any medical problems.
  2. Behavioral Problems: Cats are very sensitive pets, and any changes that you make in their environment can lead to stress and anxiety. This stress can manifest as avoidance of the litter box. If it’s left unaddressed, this can lead to long-term behavioral issues and they won’t use the litter box anymore without a behavioral trainer
  3. Unsanitary Conditions: Without a designated litter box, a cat may choose to do it’s business in various areas around the house. This can lead to unsanitary conditions, as cat urine and feces can contain harmful bacteria and parasites.
  4. Strained Relationship: A cat not using the litter box can strain the relationship between the cat and it’s owner. The cleanup and damage can cause frustration, and the cat may pick up on this stress, further increasing the issue

What to Do If Your Cat Isn’t Using the Litter Box

If your cat isn’t using the litter box, it’s essential to identify the reason. It could be due to a medical issue, or it could be behavioral.

convincing the cat to use the litter box
When he was not using the litter box we tried to guide him towards it to help him

If she keeps avoiding the litter box you should consult with a vet to rule out any health problems.

If the issue is behavioral, consider the location and cleanliness of the litter box, trying to change the type of litter you are using and check for any changes in your home that could be causing stress


Understanding your cat’s litter box needs is crucial for their health and happiness. While cats can technically go up to 48 hours without using a litter box, it’s not ideal or comfortable for them. You should make sure they have a clear path and regular access to a clean litter box at all times.


Can cats be toilet trained?

Yes, with patience and the right tools, cats can be toilet trained. However, it’s important to note that this is not in their natural instinct as they will feel like they need to bury their waste and will be challenging for some cats

How do you know when a cat needs to go to the bathroom?

Cats will often show signs such as sniffing the ground, meowing, and running under the furniture when they need to use the litter box. If you notice this behavior, try to gently guide your cat to the litter box

How often do cats poop and pee?

A typical adult cat will urinate two to three times a day and defecate once a day. However, this can vary depending on factors such as diet, hydration and age.


Ellis, J. J., McGowan, R. T. S., & Martin, F. (2017). Understanding problematic feline elimination behaviors: A comparison of cats with and without elimination behavior problems. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, 19(6), 680–687. Link
This study investigates the factors that contribute to problematic feline elimination behaviors. It provides valuable insights into the reasons why a cat might avoid using a litter box, including medical issues, stress, and environmental factors.

Indre K Williams

Indre K Williams

Indre K Williams (DVM) graduated from the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine in 2015, she brings a wealth of knowledge and a genuine passion for animals to their writing. With years of experience working closely with pets and their owners, she has developed a deep understanding of their needs and behaviour.

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