If you are currently having problems with your cat eliminating somewhere other than their litter box, it can be overwhelmingly frustrating. But don’t let this hiccup between you and your cat ruin your relationship. It can be fixed.
The first thing to do when your cat stops using the litter box is speak to your veterinarian about the problem, the sooner the better. The longer your cat is urinating outside the litter box the more complicate the problem can become. Your cat is not urinating outside the litter box because they are mad at you; cats are not spiteful. They are doing so because their social, physical, or medical needs are not being met. Theses are the four basic causes of house- soiling. Solving the problem depends on which need is causing your cat an issue.
For example if you scoop the litter box once a week and you have two cats, their physical need is lacking. Cats are very clean animals, and they need enough space in the litter box to go in without stepping in their urine or stool. Another example would be a cat that has a urinary tract infection. This cat might be going outside the litter box because of the urgency and pain associated with the infection.
Environmental and Social Factors
As said before, cats are clean animals by nature. They need enough space of clean, unsoiled litter boxes to eliminate. This is especially true if there is more then one cat in the home. Ideally, cats like their litter boxes in low traffic and quiet areas of the house and separated from the areas they sleep, drink, or eat. Unfortunately, if a negative experience occurred for your cat near the litter box, this can prevent your cat from wanting to use the litter box. For example, medicating your cat near the litter box, or being trapped in the litter box by a small child.
Unfortunately, urine spraying is a normal cat behavior; it is away for your cat to leave his or her scent. Marking behaviors include scratching, rubbing, urine spraying and middening (depositing feces). Unneutered male cats and unspayed females will mark as a part of their sexual behavior. One of the easiest ways to reduce the hormone related spraying is by spaying and neutering your cat. Cats can also mark in due to anxiety because of changes occurring in the cats environment. Cats often target items with new or unrecognized smells such as backpacks and shoes. Marking behavior that starts at windows and doors usually suggest that the perceived threat is coming from outside the home, such as stray cats visible from windows. Marking stairs, hallways, doorways or the center of the room usually indicates stress or threats inside the home, such as other pets or new people in the household, active children, or remodeling. These kinds of problems can be reduced with pheromone sprays, and in extremely severe situations, medication.
Medical issues can also cause a cat to urinate outside the litter box. These issues can be urinary infections, urinary crystals, kidney infections, bladders stones, diabetes, and many others. Your veterinarian will be able to diagnose or rule out any medical conditions that could be causing a problem.The veterinarian will start with a physical exam and urinalysis to check for these medical problems. The veterinarian may also perform additional tests such as a urine bacterial cultures, x-rays, abdominal ultrasounds, or blood work, depending on the medical condition your veterinarian may be concerned about.
Feline Idiopathic Cystitis
Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC) is a frequent medical cause of cats urinating outside the litter box. Cats suffering from FIC have increased frequency of urination, difficulty and pain when urinating, and can have blood in their urine. This inflammatory condition can increase and decrease in severity over time and can be aggravated by stress, changes in diet, changes in environment, and other issues.
Treatment for inappropriate urination depends greatly on what is causing the problem, but having great litter box etiquette is always a good idea. Here are some great tips for litter box maintenance and care:
- The number of litter boxes should equal the number of cats you have plus one extra box. For example, if you have three cats, you need four litter boxes.
- Size matters. When it comes to the litter box, the box should be 1.5 times the length of your cat, so the bigger the better. Most commercial litter boxes are too small.
- Location of the litter box is super important. Litter boxes need to be kept in a quiet, low traffic area in the home. Never place the litter box in the same location the cat eats, drinks and sleeps. Litter boxes should not be placed right next to each other or your cat might think it is one litter box. Consider mobility in geriatric cats: going up and down many stairs may be difficult due to arthritis and age related issues.
- Use unscented scoopable dust free litter.
- Scoop the litter box once a day, and completely change the litter and wash the litter box about every 14 days with dish soap and hot water. Do not use ammonia or strong chemicals to clean around your house.
The most important thing you can do for your cat if they are going outside the litter box is to speak with your veterinarian to solve the problem as quickly as possible. This is because the longer your cat is urinating outside the litter box, the harder solving the problem can be.