It’s important to know your kitty’s poo habits for a few reasons. The most obvious is so that you can ensure they have access to their bathroom, whether this is a litterbox or the outdoors. It can also help you know if your cat is healthy, or if they may be sick. 

How long after eating does a cat poop?

Some cats seem to poop right after they eat. However, it does take time for food to move through their digestion. Age plays a role as well, with digestion times varying based on how old the cat is. 

The Digestion Process

Your cat’s digestion process is fairly similar to your own. It begins in the mouth. The teeth grind the food, and the saliva begins to break it down. As it moves down the esophagus, the esophagus grinds it further. 

It makes its way to the stomach. Stomach acid kills any harmful bacteria present in the food, while the digestive juices and enzymes break it down. 

After it’s broken down in the stomach, it moves into the small intestine. The small intestine breaks the food down more. Nutrients are absorbed into the blood stream through the walls of the intestine. The nutrients then make their way into the cells, where they are used for energy. 

Once the small intestine has removed all the nutrients from the food, the rest moves into the large intestine. This is waste. The job of the large intestine is to convert it into poop, which then exits the body via the butt, or anus. 

How long it typically takes a cat to poop after eating

It takes a cat between 7-12 hours to digest a meal. In some cases, it can take up to 24 hours. This is a longer time than larger pets, like dogs, because their bodies and digestive systems are smaller. It’s longer than human digestion as well, which is 6-8 hours. 

Wild cats don’t have a daily dinnertime. They can go for days between meals when food is scarce. Having a longer digestion time helps keep their body going between meals. 

Even though today’s domestic divas get regularly scheduled mealtimes, their digestive system has evolved to cope with food uncertainty. Their metabolism and digestion time reflect this. 

Kittens

Kittens under a month old need help to poop. When the mother cares for them, she will lick their butt with her tongue. This tells their body to poop. If they are orphaned, you’ll need to use a warm wash cloth or baby wipe. Rub their butt with the cloth until they begin pooping, and wipe away any poop once they are done. 

Older kittens can poop on their own. Most kittens will poop after every meal. However, it’s normal for a kitten to poop from 1-6 times a day. Kittens typically eat smaller meals more often, so they may need to poop more often as well. 

Senior Cats

Senior cats should poop once or twice a day as well. Constipation is more common in older cats. It’s also more concerning. As your cat ages, they become more susceptible to illness. Their bodies aren’t able to recover as quickly. Something that would cause a minor issue for a  5 year old cat can be a serious problem for a 15 year old cat. 

Factors That Influence Digestion Time

We’ve already discussed the role of age in digestion, but other factors influence it as well. Knowing what influences your cat’s digestive system can help you keep them healthy. 

Food

The type of food your cat eats is an important factor in digestion. Cats are carnivores. They are meant to eat protein and fat, which they can digest fairly quickly. 

However, many cat foods contain grains or other ingredients cats’ systems aren’t designed to digest. These ingredients take longer for your cat to digest. The higher the grain content, the longer the digestion time. 

The quality of the food also plays a role. High quality food will produce less waste than lower quality food. If your cat can use 80% of one food, but only 50% of another, you’ll see a 30% increase in poo with the lower quality food.  It’s also more work for your kitty to digest, so it will take longer for them to process it and create more poop. 

Digestive Enzymes

Just like humans, cats have a microbiome. Good bacteria are present in their digestive tract, and help them break down food. If your cat doesn’t have the right balance of bacteria in their digestive tract, food will take longer to digest. 

Stomach Issues

Of course, stomach issues can negatively affect your cat’s digestive system. These include colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, and bowel blockages or constipation. 

If your cat is pooping too often or too little, this can be a sign of tummy troubles. Other indications include diarrhea, vomiting, retching, straining or crying when pooping, appetite changes, and excessive thirst.

Activity Level

Cats with a higher activity level will poop more often. They have a higher metabolism to provide them with the fuel they need for their daily activities. Movement can also stimulate the intestines and the colon, speeding the digestive process slightly. 

Cats who are more active will also have a higher need for calories. They must eat more food to get enough calories to power their play sessions. Of course, more food equals more poop. So the cat has to poop more often to keep things moving through the system. 

Stress

Have you ever been anxious about a date or a big meeting, and found yourself running to the toilet? You may have said you had a nervous stomach. 

Cats can experience stress and anxiety just as we do, although for different reasons. Stress activates the body’s fight or flight response. This can send the digestive system into overdrive, causing your kitty to have diarrhea. 

The gut and brain are very closely connected via the gut-brain axis. Many researchers refer to the gut as the second brain. When your brain gets anxious, it sends signals to your gut. The gut releases hormones, which can affect the microbiome and cause diarrhea. 

It may seem like a strange evolutionary adaptation. After all, when you are in distress, it is the worst time to have tummy troubles. However, the digestive system essentially acts the same way the rest of the body does. 

When you are stressed, you may notice tightness in your shoulders. You may clinch your fists. Your entire body feels tight and ready to strike at any moment. The muscles in the intestines react the same way. When they tighten, it causes poop to be forced out faster than it would be otherwise. 

Do cats poop after every meal?

Bathroom habits will vary slightly from cat to cat, but they should follow a predictable pattern and timeframe. 

Depends on Mealtimes

Much of whether your cat will poop after each meal depends on their feeding schedule. If you feed them twice a day, about twelve hours apart, your cat may poop after each meal. 

If you feed your cat 3 or 4 times a day, which many cats prefer, then they aren’t likely to poop after each meal. If your cat eats breakfast and then dinner, they may poop their breakfast meal after dinner. They may poop their dinner after breakfast the next morning. 

How Often Should a Cat Poop?

A cat should poop once or twice a day. If pooping more or less is normal for your cat, it may just be their unique schedule.

If they go more than 24 hours without pooping, or poop more than 3 times in 24 hours, it’s best to check with your vet. There are many medical issues that can cause your cat to poop too often or too little. 

How Long Should It Take a Cat to Poop? 

It should only take your cat a few minutes to poop, once they’ve settled on a spot. If it takes more than 2-3 minutes, your kitty may be constipated. If they go to the litterbox and try to poop but can’t, this is also a sign of constipation. 

How long should a cat go between poops?

A healthy cat should poop on a predictable schedule, assuming they are fed on a schedule. If your cat normally poops twice a day, you can expect them to do so about 10-12 hours apart. If your cat poops once a day, they should poop around the same time each day . 

Pooping Too Often

Diarrhea is a common issue for cats, and it can occur for many reasons. A cat with diarrhea will poop more often than normal. If your cat is pooping 3 or more times a day, they may have diarrhea. It’s important to consider how often your cat typically poops. If they normally poop once a day, but suddenly start pooping 4 times each day, they probably have diarrhea. 

However, if your cat typically poops 3-4 times a day, it may be nothing to worry about. 

To determine if there’s an issue, you’ll need to look at the consistency as well. Diarrhea occurs when the food moves through the digestive system too quickly. 

Water and nutrients are not fully absorbed because the waste doesn’t spend enough time in the intestines. When it comes out, it’s watery because the liquid is not being absorbed by the intestines. 

The consistency can range from soft serve ice cream to liquid. Healthy cat poop will have a solid form. It will contain some moisture, but it shouldn’t be watery. 

Constipation

On the other end of hte spectrum is constipation. Again, how often your cat normally poops must be considered. If your cat goes more than 48 hours without pooping, they are likely constipated. 

However, if your cat typically poops twice a day, going once every 48 hours can also indicate constipation. 

In addition to a lower frequency of poops, the poop will be hard if your cat is constipated. It may come out in small pieces instead of a formed log. You’ll notice that it is dryer than normal, and it may have a different color. 

Constipation can have many causes, but the end result is the same. Food isn’t moving through the intestines quickly enough. The intestines are designed to soak up the moisture. However, they pull out too much moisture if the food sits in the intestines too long. By the time the poop gets out, its very dry, which also makes it hard. It becomes difficult for your cat to pass, and it can even be painful.

What Does Healthy Cat Poop Look Like? 

How your cat’s poop looks and smells can tell you as much about their health as the frequency of poops. If your cat poops once every 2 days, but has healthy poops, they are probably okay. If they poop twice a day, but their poop isn’t healthy, then there’s a cause for concern. 

Your cat’s poop should be solid, but not hard. If it’s watery or hard, there’s an issue. If you notice mucus or white spots in the poop, they may have parasites or a digestive disorder. 

Smell should also be considered. Your cat’s poop shouldn’t smell pleasant. However, if the odor is different or overpowering, you should speak to your vet. 

Why does my cat poop immediately after eating?

If your cat poops immediately after eating, you may wonder what the cause is. It’s clear they can’t digest their meal within minutes of eating it, so they must be passing a previous meal. However, the timing can certainly leave you scratching your head. 

Food Stimulates Pooping

We’ve all heard the “I’ve gotta make some room” comment at some point. It’s not ideal table talk, but there is some truth to it. If your bowels are nearly full, a new meal can be the push you need to poop. 

The digestive system is like an assembly line. Food comes in through the mouth. It moves into the stomach. Then it goes into the intestines, where it’s eventually passed as poop. 

If food needs to leave the stomach, but the intestines are full, the line backs up. This isn’t comfortable or healthy. So, when new food enters the assembly line, the body knows its time to clear the previous meal. This allows the new meal to make its way through unobstructed. 

Constipation

If your cat is constipated, the right food may help them poop. Wet food can ease constipation. It’s easier to digest and has a high water content, which can provide needed hydration. Foods to stimulate pooping, like pumpkin, can also help get things moving. 

Allergies or Illness

There is a chance something is going wrong in the digestive system. If your cat poops after eating and the stool is well formed, not to runny or too hard, pooping after eating is just part of their routine. 

However, if you notice loose runny poop immediately after a meal, the food may not be getting digested properly. Food can “run right through them”, just as it can for us. 

Have you ever had diarrhea? Did you discover that immediately after eating, you would have to run to the bathroom? Perhaps you didn’t even have time to finish your meal first. 

This occurs because instead of the body breaking down the food slowly, it just pushes it through the system. It goes in one end and out the other with little benefit to your cat. 

If your cat wasn’t showing any signs of diarrhea before eating, there’s a good chance the food itself was the cause. Your cat may be allergic to the food. It’s also possible that the food had a bacteria that made your cat sick. 

In these cases, the body wants to get the food out of the system as quickly as possible. The food is harmful to the body instead of helpful, so it is disposed of very soon after eating. 

Author

I created and currently run Kitty Cat Tips, the website that you can go to when you have questions about your cat's behavior. It's my hope that you find Kitty Cat Tips to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your cat. You can read more about me and my website here.