A least once and perhaps twice in a 24-hour period is the answer. It’s likely be more if they have mild diarrhoea. Cats are often active at night and therefore I am interpreting ‘a day’ as meaning 24 hours not just daylight hours. A veterinarian would say that ‘most cats have one or two stools a day’. The question is somewhat strange. It must come from owners of cats who, they believe, are constipated. And if you are at work all day and your cat is an indoor/outdoor cat you would not know how many times your cat goes to the toilet or what the stool looks like. Constipation is a potentially serious health condition and some experts might say that it is in the top 10 most common feline health issues.
This is the advantage of owners of full-time indoor cats; you can tell how often they go to the toilet for the obvious reason that the litter tray fills up. And you hear a cat when she is on the toilet, rustling around on the substrate, digging holes and covering up poop (sometimes).
This brings me to constipation! I have a page on home treatments – click here if it interests you. Some cats have a bowel movement every 2 or 3 days. They are likely to be constipated. The stools are hard and dry because they are retained in the colon for 2-3 days. A cat will strain and be in discomfort or pain when defecating. Straining also occurs when suffering from lower urinary tract disease and colitis.
It seems to me that if you think that your cat might be constipated, one thing you can do is ensure that he/she is not dehydrated. A cat might be dehydrated because she is not drinking enough as they are poor drinkers being descended from wildcats in dry zones. Encourage your cat to drink more perhaps by adding water to boiled fish. Use your imagination.
Renal disease is also a common cause of constipation. Hairballs can also be a problem. Domestic cats might decide not to defecate because they don’t like the litter box or are stressed in unfamiliar surroundings. Other possible causes are megacolon and cats without tails e.g. Manx, which have developmental deformities. Nerve damage through injury can also be a cause.
Older cats poop less often, like humans, because of reduced bowel activity. This can lead to constipation. Obesity can cause constipation too. Obesity is more likely in older, more inactive cats. Diet might help here. A change in diet certainly helps humans. A high fibre diet is recommended. Some commercial foods are high fibre such as Hill’s Science Diet w/d, but the problem here is that it is dry food. Not great if you need to encourage your cat to ingest more water. A high-quality wet food might help if she is not on it.
Cat lovers frequently speak of canned pumpkin as a useful dietary relief, at one teaspoon twice a day. You can also use over-the-counter laxatives. Please click this link to read about over-the-counter drugs acceptable to cats in the correct dose and under vet guidance.
There are other treatments beyond the scope of this article. Please discuss with your veterinarian.
SOME MORE ON FELINE CONSTIPATION: