What Is Normal?

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Your cat is a unique individual and while it is nice to know what is typical for the “average” cat, it is best to know what is normal for your specific cat.

By paying attention to a few simple details about your cat’s daily routine, you will not miss early signs that something is wrong. A cat who is eating, drinking, and going to the bathroom is most likely a healthy cat.

Noticing subtle changes in your cat’s normal routines may alert you to an issue you can address with your veterinarian before it turns into a bigger problem. View a list of common signs and symptoms that signal trip to the veterinarian.


  • Know the typical amount of food eaten by your cat in a 24 hour period.
  • Watching your cat go to the food bowl and eat a bite or two is not sufficient. You must measure portions (especially the dry food) and keep track of any treats or snacks you offer.
  • Once you know the typical amounts consumed in your household you don’t have to be obsessive, just observant.


  • Know where and from what type of container your cat likes to drink (bowl, fountain, glass on the nightstand, bathroom faucet…).
  • It is not as easy to measure exact water consumption as it is to measure food consumption, but you can watch for significant changes in drinking behavior. Average daily volume of water obtained from these resources varies widely.
  • Cats who primarily or exclusively eat dry food, will drink noticeably more water than cats eating canned/wet food (consistent urine volume is actually a good indicator of “normal” water consumption).


  • Know how often and how much urine your cat produces daily.
  • Clumping litter makes it very easy to know the number and size of urinations. If you are using absorbent litter, you can note the number and size of wet spots before you scoop the poop and stir the litter.
  • If you have more than one cat and more than one litter box, you can still know the total amount of urine produced each day divided by the number of cats and it should be close to the average.
  • An average adult cat will produce 2-3 handful size urine balls per day.
  • Cats are creatures of habit, so with a bit of observation you can probably have a pretty good idea of who is urinating in which area of which box as well.
  • Be sure to attend to all of the litter boxes at least once daily.
  • The idea is to know what normal looks like so that you will notice any change.


  • Know how often and how much your cat defecates every day.
  • No matter what type of litter you are using, bowel movements should be scooped at least daily.
  • Notice color, shape, and consistency – it only takes a moment as you transfer it to a trash bag or the toilet to flush.
  • An average adult cat defecates once every 24 to 36 hours, producing a stool about the size of an old fashioned Tootsie Roll candy bar. It should be a dark brown color, well formed, moist enough that the litter will stick to it, and emitting an odor, that while not pleasant, should not drive you from the room.

Sleeping and Nappingorange-cat-in-winter-givin

  • Know where each of your cats spends her time.
  • Most cats nap where the sun or the action is – at a window, on your desk, in the TV room, etc. They sleep where it is safe, warm, and quiet (often in a bedroom).
  • An average indoor adult cat will sleep 14-16 hours a day and will have 3-4 favorite napping spots.
  • Favorite spots may change with time of day or may change randomly.
  • Cats look luxuriously comfortable at rest.
  • A napping cat should be alert and responsive when something interesting happens. A sleeping cat will look a bit groggy when disturbed.
  • Cats withdraw rather than complain when they don’t feel well, so a cat who is not spending time in their usual places may have a problem. Consult your veterinarian if this is the case.

Action and Interaction

  • Know your cat’s typical daily activity – greeting you at the door, waking you in the morning, following you to the bathroom, playing with toys (If you keep cat toys in a box are they eventually found scattered around the house?), playing with housemates (Are throw rugs rumpled and out of place when you get home?), grooming (especially after a meal), or watching outdoor activity from a window.
  • Any change to your cat’s usual routine warrants investigation and discussion with your veterinarian.


  • An individual’s basic approach to life remains pretty consistent and it is important to know whether your cat prefers to “run first ask questions later,” “boldly go where angels fear to tread,” “go along to get along,” or “take charge.”
  • Providing a sanctuary for the cautious cat and a “cat proof” environment for the adventurous trouble maker will help both you and your cat.