There are many reasons for a cat to make frequent trips to the litter box and treatment for each reason may be different. The most important piece of information to note is to identify that your cat is urinating when they enter the litter box. If your cat is passing urine during their bathroom trips, it may not be a medical emergency and can be seen by your veterinarian during daytime hours. If your cat is unable to pass any urine, this is a medical emergency that needs to be addressed with a vet ASAP.
Common Causes for Frequent Litter Box Trips
Some of the most common reasons for excessive trips to the litter box for cats include:
- Urinary tract infections (most commonly seen in older female cats)
- Bladder stones
- Endocrine or hormonal diseases (diabetes mellitus)
- Organ dysfunction (kidney/liver disease)
Diagnosing the Issue
Your veterinarian can help determine what is the underlying cause of these frequent litter box trips. The first step is always a physical examination, which can help to rule out medical emergencies like a urinary obstruction by palpating (feeling) your cat’s bladder. During the physical exam, your vet can also determine if constipation is playing a part in your cat’s discomfort. In addition to a physical exam, further diagnostics may be recommended.
This testing may include:
- Urinalysis (submission of a urine sample to a laboratory to look for bacteria, white blood cells, and protein)
- Urine culture (this helps determine what antibiotic is needed)
- Radiographs or X-rays (look for bladder stones, masses/tumors, and further evaluating for constipation)
- Bloodwork (helps to examine organ function)
- Abdominal ultrasound (examines the structure of your cat’s bladder and other internal organs)
Treatment will be based on your veterinarian’s primary suspicions. If it is an infection, then a course of antibiotics will be prescribed and your cat will be monitored for improvement. If bladder stones are noted, then surgery or diet changes may be discussed. Occasionally, frequent urination can be associated with pain and pain medication will be included in your cat’s treatment plan.
If at any point you are concerned your cat is unable to pass urine or feces, please have them evaluated at your primary veterinarian or through a veterinary emergency/urgent care hospital. Being unable to pass urine is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate emergency care.