Why Is My Cat Peeing a Lot?

Sandra C. Mitchell, DVM, DABVP
By Sandra C. Mitchell, DVM, DABVP on Jan. 19, 2023

Over time, you start to know the normal size of daily urine clumps for your cat’s litter box. Suddenly, however, you notice the clumps seem to be getting bigger, and the waste bag is heavier each day when you scoop the box. Is this normal or a sign of a problem?

How Much Should Cats Pee?

There are quite a few factors that affect how much and how frequently cats urinate. These include hydration levels, age, body size, and health status.

There is an important distinction here, however, between a large amount of urine and frequent urination. These have different causes and medical approaches. The bottom line is knowing what’s normal for your cat and noticing when things seem to be changing in your cat’s litter box.

Most cats will urinate each time they go to the box, and for most cats, this averages out to about twice per day. The clumps are usually golf-ball to tennis-ball sized and easy to distinguish from the tubular stool that you’ll find once per day on average.

Learn the patterns for your cat and watch how they change over time. Kitties that eat canned food may urinate more than cats fed dry food. Kittens may pee more frequently than adults. Senior cats should not urinate more volume or more frequently than adult cats, so noticing this is the sign of a potential medical problem.

You can keep track of how much urine your cat is producing by simply scooping the urine clumps into a plastic bag and weighing it on a scale each day before discarding it. Doing this while your cat is healthy will give you a baseline record to refer to over time. Then when you notice an issue, weigh the clumps and compare to the baseline weight.

Cats That Are Peeing a Lot vs. Peeing More Often

When urine clumps get to be larger and/or show up more frequently in the box, it’s called polyuria, or more than an average amount of urine. For most cats to be diagnosed with polyuria, they are producing more than 50 ml/kg/day (a calculation your veterinarian can do if needed). With polyuria, the clumps are almost always larger than they used to be, and sometimes more frequent as well.

But what about when there are a lot of little clumps? This means your cat is going to the box more often and only urinating a small amount each time. This is a totally different problem, called pollakiuria.

The most concerning situation, however, is when your kitty goes to the box and gets into the “peeing” position, but there are no urine clumps in the box after they step out. If your cat does this and is a male cat, this is an emergency that needs to be addressed immediately.

Male cats can develop urinary tract blockages, which are often quickly fatal, so do not delay if your male cat keeps visiting the box to urinate and is not producing urine or only very small amounts of urine. They may also howl while in the litter box.

Factors That Affect How Much a Cat Pees

The biggest factors that will affect how much a cat urinates are health conditions and diet.

A healthy cat on a canned food diet should produce a generous amount of urine two to three times per day. Cats on dry food usually produce somewhat less, which can lead to urinary problems over time.

Cats that are developing health problems as they age, most specifically diabetes or kidney disease, tend to urinate more than they did when they were younger.

Some medications, such as diuretics, can also increase the amount of urine produced. All these factors can have some fluctuation from day to day, which is why it is so important to learn what is normal for your pet.

Reasons Why Your Cat Is Peeing a Lot

There are many, many reasons that cats will change patterns or volumes of urine. If you notice anything that seems different, consult your veterinarian to obtain a diagnosis.

Sometimes it’s helpful, if you’re able, to bring a urine sample with you to the veterinary appointment. Although the doctor may need to obtain a sterile sample, one that you collect at home is often sufficient to start getting some answers.

If your kitty is producing a larger amount of urine in large clumps, the most common reasons include:

Diabetes: This is often seen in middle-aged overweight kitties that are mainly on a dry food diet. These cats drink a lot of water and usually urinate in large clumps—sometimes totally flooding their litter boxes!

Kidney disease: This is seen most commonly in middle-aged and older kitties. Often these cats have a picky appetite, may have lost some weight, and may even have some episodes of vomiting or diarrhea. The urine tends to be clear and odorless and is produced in large clumps.

If your kitty is producing more frequent urination in a lot of small clumps, the most common reasons include:

Urinary crystals, which are most common in young cats eating dry food. The way a cat metabolizes the food can lead to crystals, which can irritate the lining of the bladder, making the cat uncomfortable and urinate more frequently. These small pees often have blood in them.

Urinary infection, which often happen as a result of (or at the same time as) urinary crystals. It requires examination of a urine sample to diagnose both crystals and infection and to tell the two apart. These small urine puddles are also often bloody.

When to See a Vet for Excessive Urination in Cats

Anytime you notice that your cat is peeing a lot more, it is time to schedule a visit to the veterinarian, whether the pee puddles are excessively large or frequent and small.

If your cat is a male and has any of these signs, it’s an emergency and you need to go to an emergency vet now:

  • Urinating small amounts frequently

  • Straining to urinate and not much is being produced

  • Any blood in the urine

Under most circumstances, if your kitty is urinating larger-than-normal clumps and seems to be acting normal, they should still be seen promptly by a veterinarian, but it is not likely to be an emergency.

If your cat doesn’t seem to be feeling well, see a vet within a day or so. Under all circumstances, if you can bring a urine sample with or drop it off ahead of your appointment, it will likely speed the process of getting an answer.

How Vets Diagnose Cats That Pee Frequently

Most veterinarians will want to do a thorough head-to-tail examination on your kitty, feeling the kidneys and bladder area. Sometimes it is possible to feel stones inside of the bladder or identify painful areas near the kidneys with a careful examination. During the process, they will likely ask a number of questions about your cat’s diet and litter box history.

Next, your veterinarian will want to examine a urine sample. It isn’t typically possible to reach a diagnosis without a urine sample. In many cases, cats with urinary problems will have a small bladder, and it can sometimes take several hours for it to fill to the point that your veterinarian can obtain a sample. It can save time and money to bring a sample with you.

Depending on what is found on the above tests, your veterinarian may recommend an x-ray, an ultrasound, or some bloodwork. These tests are commonly done with cats that have recurring urinary problems, those with additional signs such as weight loss or poor appetite, or those that are candidates for diabetes. Once your veterinarian has all the information necessary, it will become much simpler to reach a diagnosis and create a treatment plan.

Treatment for Excessive Urination in Cats

The treatment recommended by your veterinarian will depend highly on the diagnosis and the specifics of your cat’s medical history.

If your kitty is found to be diabetic, a change to a high-protein canned diet as well as administering insulin will be necessary to control the problem, as well as treating any underlying bladder infection.

For cats with kidney disease, your veterinarian will likely recommend testing to stage the disease, and there is a very wide variety of treatments available for these kitties.

If urinary crystals or stones are the problem, the treatment will depend on the severity. Stones most commonly require surgical removal. Crystals can sometimes be dissolved with special diets, and since canned diets produce more urinary flow, these are often preferred. Long-term or lifelong treatment is sometimes required for these cats.

And if your cat has a simple urinary tract infection, a round of antibiotics is sometimes all it takes to get things back on the mend.

It can be scary to see changes in the litter box, especially if there’s blood or your kitty isn’t feeling well. However, acting quickly and checking things out at the vet’s office can get things turned around as quickly as possible.

Featured Image: iStock/CasarsaGuru

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Sandra C. Mitchell, DVM, DABVP


Sandra C. Mitchell, DVM, DABVP


Sandra Mitchell is a 1995 graduate of the New York State College of Veterinary Medicine. Since graduation, she has worked in many fields...

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