How Long Can Cats Go Without Peeing?

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A cat can go for 24-48 hours without peeing, with the average feline holding it for about 36 hours. While it isn’t ideal for your cat to do this, it isn’t necessarily harmful. However, going past 48 hours should be a concern, and you should consult your vet.

Some years back, I took one of my girl cats to relatives, a 10-hour drive. The kitty didn’t use the litter until we reached the destination (about 30 minutes after we arrived).

The incident left me wondering:

How long can cats go without peeing?

Some cat parents report their kitties going for almost 48 hours, even after providing litter boxes. This begs the question:

When should you worry?

Read on to learn.

Why Can’t My Cat Pee?

A change in the frequency of your cat peeing is usually a combination of several factors. The simplest and the most common reason cats pause peeing is a change in routine.

Cats are creatures of routine. Anything that disrupts your kitty’s daily routine can induce stress or anxiety and alter its urinating habits.

Other times, cats don’t pee because of serious underlying conditions.

While there are several reasons why your cat can’t pee, let’s focus on the most common and probable ones.

FLUTD (Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease) Or Cystitis

One possible reason your cat won’t pee is infection by FLUTD or cystitis. These two conditions affect cats’ urinary systems. 

A cat with FLUTD or cystitis has an inflamed bladder that gets irritated and swollen whenever it urinates. The irritation can cause discomfort that discourages your cat from attempting to pee.

Your feline might also have problems emptying its bladder because of the irritation during urination. The inflammation can lead to spasms of the bladder muscles, further hindering normal peeing.

Kidney Or Bladder Problems

Another reason your cat isn’t peeing may be kidney problems. The kidney filters waste and excess fluid from the blood to form urine. When a cat’s kidney isn’t functioning correctly, urine production can be affected.

The most common kidney problems in cats are:

  1. Kidney stones
  2. Bladder stones

Kidney and bladder stones form when mineral deposits accumulate in the kidney or urinary tract. 

Dehydration is the primary cause of these conditions, which causes minerals to crystallize and form stones in the urinary tract. 

The crystals can:

  • Irritate the bladder lining
  • Inflame the bladder
  • Obstruct urine flow

Obstruction of urine flow can cause discomfort and pain when your cat wants to pee. The pain can discourage your kitty from peeing even when pressed. In a worst-case scenario, the crystals can completely prevent your cat from urinating.

Injury or Trauma to the Lower Back Affecting the Bladder

Injuries to the lower back, especially in the spine region, can damage the nerves that control the bladder function. 

The nerves signal the bladder when to contract and release urine. If they are damaged, your cat may lose control over its bladder function.

If the bladder overfills and your cat cannot empty it, urine might leak back to the kidney. Such a scenario can be lethal.

High Stress and Anxiety 

Cats are sensitive creatures. And when they experience stress or anxiety, it can manifest in various ways, including changes in their urinating pattern.

There are many stressors that can make your cat not pee, but we want to highlight the most common ones that could be the culprit.

  • Being boarded or kenneled: Placing your cat in an unfamiliar kennel or boarding facility surrounded by new animals and scents can induce stress and delay your cat’s pee.
  • A move to a new home: Cats are territorial, and shifting to a new home can disrupt their sense of security and familiarity. The new environment, smell, and layout can be overwhelming, leading to stress-related peeing issues.
  • The addition (or absence) of a new family pet or person: Introducing a new family or pet member can change the social dynamic within your household. Your kitty might feel threatened or anxious and respond by delaying its pee.
  • A change of diet: Nearly all cats are sensitive to diet change. A sudden change in food can cause digestive upsets and stress, which can manifest as urinary problems.
  • A change in the daily schedule: Cats thrive on routine. A disruption in your kitty’s daily schedule can lead to stress and affect their urinary habits.
  • Medication: Some medications may have side effects that impact a cat’s urinary habits. Check the potential side effects of the drug if your cat’s peeing pattern has changed since you started administering it. 

Some medications that have urinary side effects in cats include:

  • Diuretics
  • Steroids
  • Some antibiotics
  • Chemotherapy drugs
  • Painkillers (especially non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)

However, not all cats experience the same side effect, and severity can vary from one kitty to the other.


Hydration level is a huge determinant of your cat’s ability to pee. While cats can go without water for long, dehydration occurs when your kitty loses more fluid than it takes. The condition leads to a decrease in the overall volume of urine.

Your cat reacts to dehydration by producing concentrated urine to conserve water. The concentrated urine is more likely to form crystals in the urinary tract, cause obstruction of urine flow, and induce irritation in the urinary tract during peeing. All these can discourage your cat from urinating.

Besides, concentrated waste products in the urine can irritate the bladder’s lining and cause inflammation and discomfort, making urination painful for your cat.

Dehydration increases the risk of developing urinary tract infections (UTIs) because concentrated urine promotes bacterial growth in the urinary tract.

Pro tip: Before jumping to the conclusion that your cat is not peeing, understand that sometimes indoor cats might urinate somewhere in the house outside of the litter box, particularly in hidden and sheltered corners.

What Happens to Cats If They Stop Peeing?

If your cat doesn’t urinate for enough time, they’ll quickly become affected. If a cat’s bladder reaches the limit of the amount of urine it can hold, urine might go back into the kidneys.

The urine backflow can prevent vital organs from operating properly. If not addressed, the condition can quickly become lethal.

Pro tip: If you have an outdoor cat, they might be peeing elsewhere outside the home. If you suspect they have urinating problems, keeping them indoors for several hours and monitoring them might help you rule out the possibility.

How To Ensure Your Cat Is Peeing The Proper Amounts

If your cat struggles to pee, you can try a few things at home to help it out. You can:

Encourage Regular Toilet Habits

  1. Keep the litter box clean at all times: Cats are known for their preference for cleanliness. Your cat is more likely to use a clean litter box than a dirty one. 

A dirty litter box can be off-putting for your cat, causing them to avoid it and potentially hold their urine. Holding urine can lead to discomfort and urinary issues over time.

Scoop out waste from your cat’s litter box to create an inviting and hygienic environment for your cat to urinate. 

If you’re busy (and nearly everyone is busy), you can pick a self-cleaning litter box from Omega Paw. The litter box turns the not-so-enjoyable poop-cleaning task into an enjoyable experience.

  1. Ensure your cat always has access to a suitable bathroom area: Giving your cat easy access to the bathroom area can make it more comfortable to use whenever necessary, encouraging your cat to pee more frequently.
  1. Provide enough litter boxes: If your cat is in a multi-cat household, offer multiple litter boxes so every cat has their own, plus a spare. For example,  three cats need four litter boxes.

Cats are territorial about their litter boxes. Having enough ensures that each has a suitable place to pee. The spare litter box gives your cats the option if one box gets soiled or your cats prefer one box over another.

  1. Keep food and water bowls well away from the litter box: Felines instinctively avoid peeing near their food and water sources. Placing the litter box far away from the food and water bowl area distinguishes eating and a place to pee. 

Separations can reduce aversion to using the litter box and promote proper urination habits. 

  1. Feed regular small meals rather than one large meal a day: Feeding your cat small meals throughout the day can help maintain your cat’s hydration levels and urinary health. If you’re feeding your cat wet food, it’ll get enough fluid to support proper kidney function and urinary tract health.

Encourage Good Hydration

Proper hydration maintains your cat’s overall health and encourages them to urinate regularly. However, cats have a low thirst drive compared to other pets, and you should take proactive steps to help with proper urination.

Some ways to encourage good hydration include:

  1. Provide water from cat-friendly sources. Some cats prefer flowing water. If that’s the case, invest in cat water fountains or distilled water if the cat refuses tap water. Water movement can encourage your cat to drink more and pee the right amount.

Pro tip: Even if your cat understands that the water bowl is there to drink from, cats can be notoriously picky about where, how, and when they drink. Some cats will only drink if the water is moving, bubbling, or running in some way but will refuse to drink from a “stagnant” water bowl. 

You can get an automatic cat water fountain to encourage your cat to drink.

  1. Mix dry kibbles with an equal quantity of water. Since cats have a low thirst drive and mainly depend on water from the food, you can moisten your kitties’ food to encourage hydration.
  1. Provide multiple water bowls and clean them every day. Place water bowls throughout your home to make it convenient for your cat to access water from various spots.
  1. Try a drinking fountain designed for cats. Cat drinking fountains mimic flowing water, which can be more attractive to cats than stagnant water in a bowl.
  1. Switch to wet wood: Introduce wet food into your cat’s diet to increase moisture intake. Canned cat food is 75 to 78% water compared to dry kibble which has a 10 to 12% moisture content. Introducing it to your cat can help with hydration.
  1. Flavor the water. Some cats are more likely to drink water if you flavor it with chicken or tuna broth. However, ensure the broth shouldn’t contain harmful additives like onion, garlic, or too much salt.

Consult Your Vet if Your Cat Has Special Needs/ Injury/Trauma

If your cat has had an injury discouraging it from peeing, visit your vet. The professional will assess the injury affecting the urinary system and address the issues that need immediate attention.

The vet will also manage the pain affecting your cat’s willingness and ability to urinate to ensure your cat is comfortable and not avoiding the litter box because of discomfort.

When Should You Worry? When to Consult Your Vet?

You should be concerned about your cat not peeing enough if you notice any significant change in its urination habits or any of the following signs.

  1. Your cat avoids the litter box and goes without peeing for over 48 hours.
  2. The kitty is visiting the litter box regularly and producing very little. The behavior could indicate urinary tract issues, such as blockage or infection.
  3. Your cat’s urine has an unpleasant and strong odor. Strong-smelling urine indicates the presence of concentrated urine, infections, or other urinary problems.
  4. The feline can’t control its bladder. If your kitty can’t control the bladder and is leaking urine, it can be a sign of urinary incontinence or a severe issue that requires immediate attention.
  5. Larger consumption of water. While you want your cat drinking water, excess water consumption can be a symptom of kidney diseases, diabetes, or urinary diseases.
  6. Your cat spends more time in the litter box or is straining in the litter box. The behavior might indicate urinary discomfort or pain related to the urinary system.
  7. The cat is crying in pain when trying to urinate. Vocalizing in pain while attempting to urinate indicates that your cat is experiencing discomfort or pain related to their urinary system.
  8. The urine contains blood. Hematuria, or blood in the urine, is a concerning sign. The condition can be caused by various issues, including urinary tract infections, bladder stones, or more severe conditions. 
  9. Loss of appetite: A cat experiencing urinary problems may lose its appetite due to discomfort or pain. A decrease in food consumption can also lead to dehydration.
  10. Vomiting. Vomiting can dehydrate your cat and interfere with its urination habits. Dehydration can concentrate the urine and make it more difficult for your cat to urinate properly.

How Long Can Cats Go Without Peeing? Final Word

While your cat can go 24 to 48 hours without peeing, it isn’t good if it doesn’t urinate as frequently as usual. Your cat should pee 2-4 times a day.

Regardless of how often your cat urinates, consult your vet whenever you notice changes in your cat’s urination habits. The vet will help you rule out any underlying issues and recommend the best action.


How do I know if my cat has a UTI?

Signs of a urinary tract infection (UTI) in cats can include frequent urination, straining to urinate, blood in the urine, urinating outside the litter box, and vocalizing in pain while urinating.

What should I do if my cat is peeing outside the litter box?

If your cat is urinating outside the litter box, consult your vet to rule out medical issues. Otherwise, you should:
1. Clean the mess.
2. Clean the litter box more often.
3. Address territory issues.
4. Consider changing the litter box location.
5. Reduce cat conflicts if the kitty is in a multi-cat household.
6. Change the type of litter box.
7. Offer more litter boxes.
8. Reduce your cat’s stress.

How many times per day should a cat pee?

Cats typically urinate 2 to 4 times daily, but it can vary based on diet, hydration, and individual cat differences.

How do you know if your cat has to go to the bathroom?

Cats may exhibit signs like restlessness, pacing, digging in the litter, or frequent visits to the litter box when they need to urinate.

What are the symptoms of a cat with lower urinary tract disease?

Symptoms of lower tract disease can include straining to urinate, blood in the urine, urinating outside the litter box, frequent urination, and vocalizing in pain.

Can cats hold their pee overnight?

Cats can typically hold their pee overnight. However, how long they can hold depends on their age, health, and habits. Providing access to a litter box is essential.

Is it okay to lock a cat in a room at night?

Yes, leaving your cat alone in a room at night is OK so long as your kitty is OK with it. Cats are usually more active at night, and locking them might protect them from hazards and other animals.
However, ensure the room you’re locking your cat at night has essential amenities like food, water, and a litter box.

Is one litter box enough for one cat?

Ideally, having multiple litter boxes is better, even if you only have one cat. A spare litter box can reduce litter box aversion and maintain cleanliness.

What scent stops cats from peeing?

Nearly all cats dislike scents like citrus, menthol, eucalyptus, peppermint, and vinegar. Once the litter box area has any of these odors, it won’t urinate. 

Is it bad to keep a litter box in your bedroom?

Keeping a litter box in your bedroom is generally fine if you maintain cleanliness and your cat doesn’t disturb your sleep. However, your bedroom isn’t ideal, and you should consider relocating it to a more appropriate part of the house.

About Laura Martin

I'm Laura Martin. I get excited about all things cat related. I love my two cats - Dom and Kitty. When I'm not playing with my two feline friends, you can probably find me hiking. And yes, I have a 9 to 5 job. Although if you asked me I'd rather spend my time blogging and educating other cat moms and dads about what it takes to raise a healthy cat.

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