How long can a cat go without peeing?

Has your cat not urinated in a considerably long time? Or you are just curious to know how much your kitty can go without peeing? Whatever your reason is, you will find your answer here. It’s perhaps a good question by your side as moat pet owners don’t pay much heed to bladder problems. While they are too worried about internal health problems of lungs, kidney, heart, stomach, etc., bladder goes missing in their list.

How long can a cat go without peeing

Bladders are in fact as important as the kidney or liver. It plays a substantial role in maintaining good health by filtering out the toxins and waste materials from food and liquid intake. To start with, it’s essential to note that cats pee more than humans. Their urinary system never stops working. They have nephrons that filter waste material out of food and send it to the ureter, a tube that then takes the urine to the bladder.

From the bladder goes another tube called urethra that connects the bladder to the genital openings. It’s usually an obstacle-free process that goes on smoothly and in good coordination continually. So if your cat hasn’t urinated in a while, it might be a sign of a problem. So knowing how long can your cat go without urinating before it points to a problem is important.

How long can a cat go without peeing?

According to veterinarians, cats can go without peeing for about 24 to 48 hours despite drinking enough fluids and eating food throughout the day. Of course, that is not usual as felines pee at regular intervals throughout the day. Being a cat owner, you would know that you need to place a litter box around her all the time.

But while there’s no need to panic if your cat has gone below 48 hours without peeing, crossing that time limit may lead to risks of injury or death. When a feline hasn’t peed for 48-72 hours, toxins will build up inside her body which causes serious health hazards. If you are taking your cat on a trip, take regular stoppages to let her pee. You should stop once every 6 hours to let her release urine.

If your cat hasn’t urinated for 2 days at your home, it might mean something is blocking her urinary tract. There can be several other reasons why your cat isn’t urinating as frequently as she used to. Here we look at the possible reasons behind this problem.

Key reasons why your cat isn’t urinating


Blockage in the urinary tract can be a deadly problem and can lead to even death. In fact, APSCA complete guide for cats says that a cat won’t live for more than 48-72 hours with a blockage in the tract. Urinary tract infection is more common in male cats although it can also occur to your female cat.

It is more common in males because of the comparatively smaller opening to pass urine. The formation of crystal-like minerals and mucus can be the reason behind the blockage. It can happen due to cystitis, urethritis or idiopathic feline lower urinary tract disease(FLUTD) in cats. While the symptoms will be the same in all these diseases, they may come out to be more pronounced in the case of FLUTD.

How long can a cat go without peeing

The cat would pass blood with urine, cry while urinating and can force a significantly weaker pressure of urine. It will mostly miss the litter box and dribble the urine on the floor. You should take this condition very seriously as it can lead your cat to COMA and ultimately death. It needs immediate treatment and you should consult your vet if you observe any of these symptoms.


Cata has the ability to survive long periods of thirst without drinking fluids and eating food. If your cat has started fasting all of a sudden, it might be just a good thing. When your cat is fasting, understandably she won’t urinate a lot and may take long intervals between peeing sessions because, on an empty stomach, there isn’t any food that needs filtering.

There’s a story related to this about Emily, the cat who traveled in a shipping container from Wisconsin to France. She was alive when the container opened although in a weakened state. The cat didn’t have any food or water supply but lasted that long. In this time, she did urinate a few times but there are no estimates upon how many times. All in all, it is possible that your cat might not have had fluid throughout the day which is why she’s peeing less frequently.

What are the effects of non-urinating on your cat’s health?

If your cat hasn’t urinated for a long time, it can adversely affect her health quickly. Her bladder will no longer be able to hold urine after a certain limit. This will, in turn, will cause the urine to rebound into the kidneys where the toxins can prevent the vital organs from performing their routine tasks leading to severe health hazards.

Metabolic waste is full of toxic substances and things the body wants to throw out. If these substances go into the bloodstream, your cat would quickly become lethargic and may throw up or vomit. She will lose appetite and won’t feel like eating anything as her stomach becomes too full.

With kidneys becoming distended, they wouldn’t be able to maintain pH levels and electrolyte balance which would result in a decline of blood pressure. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, this can cause renal failure in your cat. She can usually die within 72 hours of contracting with such a failure.

What’s more worrying is that these problems can develop and escalate in a very short time, at times under 24 hours. It’s important to not ignore the first signs of symptoms and you should act immediately if your cat hasn’t peed for over 48 hours. Consult the vet as soon as possible to protect her from permanent kidney damage and death.

Why might a cat stop peeing?

As discussed earlier, there can be more than one reason why your cat has stopped peeing. It depends on the atmosphere you have exposed your cat to, her diet among others. Your cat may not have actually stopped peeing but is rather urinating outside the litter box. Then again, it may be that she is peeing only once a day which might be because of lower consumption of fluids.

It’s necessary to look at your cat carefully to determine the reason. WebMD’s veterinary experts have listed some common reasons why a cat may not be urinating. 

Urinary Tract Infection

It is the most critical yet common reason why your cat isn’t urinating. Urinary tract infection can cause inflammation in the urethra and narrow ureters while causing pain during urination. Such inflammation will make your cat avoid peeing unless she can’t hold anymore. This would result in accidental peeing on the bed and other random places.


The urine in cats is thick and concentrated which makes them susceptible to getting affected by stones and sludge. Just like in humans, stones and sludges can block the urethra or ureters in cats which will prevent urine from releasing. Such a problem can develop and escalate quickly. It’s more common in male as compared to female cats because of the smaller openings of their urethra.


This is one of the rare causes of urinary blockage where the cats develop a tumor. Although it is rare, it can completely block the urinary tract and won’t let any urine out. Spinal cord injuries may result in difficulty in urination too.

What should you do if your cat stops peeing?

When you need to consult a vet

First, confirm if your cat hasn’t urinated for a long time. Wait for at least 36 hours as any time period less than that may be normal which you can avoid. Look for symptoms of Urinary Tract Infection. If your cat is accidentally peeing on random places between very long intervals, you must consult the vet at once.

Injuries can be another case you should look out for. If your cat has had a fall recently, she might have hurt her bladder which is, as a result, stopping her from urinating properly. You must get your cat to the vet to check for injuries as cats hide even serious injuries quite well. If you ignore it now, it may become a serious bladder issue over time.

Cases when you don’t need to worry

If your cat isn’t leaking blood in her urine, experience severe pain and you can’t see any such symptoms, your cat might be just fooling you. Observe if you have left your gates opened and your cat went out of the house. She might have peed somewhere in the yard which you haven’t spotted. It can also happen inside your home when your cat has peed outside the litter box in a location you haven’t spotted yet.

What should you do if your cat stops peeing

Check out around the home to see if your cat has peed in the closet, under the bed or in the corridor. Your litter box may also be the problem. Check if the litter box has become too dirty and smells bad. Cats like to retain old things and a new litter box might disinterest your cat. The litter box’s location can also make your cat avoid urinating as she feels vulnerable at that place.

Once you have eliminated all the non-medical reasons behind your cat not urinating, it’s time to immediately consult the vet. Don’t wait too much for the symptoms to heal automatically and act fast. 

How might a vet treat a cat that doesn’t pee?

If you take your cat to the vet when she’s unable to pee, the vet would take it as an emergency case due to the high risks of urethral blockage. The first step towards diagnosis will be to check whether the cat’s bladder is full enough. After confirming the problem, the vet will try to stabilize the cat in case she is feeling lethargic, fainting or vomiting. 

The vet will monitor her on an ECG trace while medicating her. She would first try to eliminate the risk of heart failure which can be caused by toxic obstructions in her system. After stabilizing the cat’s heart, the vet will empty the bladder. The vet would need to heavily sedate the cat to put a urinary catheter in the bladder. This catheter would help empty the cat’s bladder physically.

The vet would keep the catheter attached for 24-72 hours depending upon the need. He would drain the fluid and give your cat IV fluids as per kidney requirements after measuring kidney functions. The next step will be to test the urine and blood samples of your cat to identify the cause of the blockage. Possible causes might include kidney stones.

After 72 hours, the vet would detach the catheter and monitor her further blockages. In case, the blockage occurs again, your cat might need a surgery which involves reconstruction of urethra.

Types of urinary infections in cats

  • Urolithiasis

The formation of urinary stones is one of the key causes of FLUTD. It usually requires X-Rays or Ultrasound to diagnose urinary stones.

  • Bacterial infections

Bacterial UTIs are common in older cats who have weakened urinary tract defenses. Bacteria in the normal skin overcome the urinary tract defenses that prevent colonization. It’s more common in dogs but older cats are also quite susceptible.

How to prevent urinary tract infections in cats?

Once you have treated your cat’s UTI problem, you need to adopt some preventive measures. These measures would ensure that the problem doesn’t reoccur and help reduce the chances of recurrence:

  • Make a good diet plan for your cat with the help of a vet. You can choose from the market bought diets but urinary conditions might demand a customized diet.
  • Feed your cat small meals at regular intervals.
  • Keep your cat hydrated and ensure the water is clean and fresh.
  • Keep litter boxes reachable and clean them up properly every alternate day.
  • Avoid keeping litter boxes in busy areas of the house.
  • Avoid any major changes in your cat’s daily routine.

Apart from adopting these measures, you should maintain hygiene around your cat. Give her a healthy environment, spend quality time with her to ensure that she doesn’t get stressed about the setback after she has recovered.


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