Why Is My Cat Peeing Just Outside the Litter Box?

If your typically fastidious cat is ditching the litter box and peeing just about everywhere else in the house, it can easily become a problem for pet parents. Between the constant cleaning and the strong smell, a cat that is not using the litter box properly can be a source of frustration. But why do cats pee outside of the box and what can you do about it? Here are some common causes of litter box problems.

With that in mind, the first step for any litter box problem is to consult your vet, says Dr. Neil Marrinan of the Old Lyme Veterinary Hospital in Connecticut. Marrinan agrees that the litter box experience is almost always a reason for cats peeing outside of the boxeven when a medical issue is present.

Along the same lines, litter boxes that are next to machines that make loud noises or odd vibrationssuch as the spin cycle of the washing machinecan be a no go zone for cats. An anxious cat might pee elsewhere as a way to relieve her anxiety because the smell of her own urine makes her feel safer, Lund says. Outdoor cats lingering in your yard may also cause stress for your catwho might choose to pee near the front door as a possible response, Lund says.

With a little bit of time and energy, youll restore harmony to your home and stop your cat from peeing outside of the box.

Why is my cat peeing outside the litter box all of a sudden?

Cats may urinate outside of their litter box if they are experiencing: Trouble urinating/urinary obstruction (common in male cats) Kidney disease. Bladder stones.

How do I stop my cat from peeing outside the litter box?

Take them to the vet. ….Fix any recent litter box changes. ….Provide them with a personal litter box. ….Get them a box with a larger interior area. ….Get a box with higher sides. ….Put a cover over the top of the box. ….Put down floor mats.

Why is my cat peeing on the floor all of a sudden?

If your well-trained cat suddenly starts peeing in random places, a visit to the vet is the first thing to do. Your cat could have a urinary tract infection (UTI), which is very common. An infection will cause him pain, and he’ll refuse to use his litter box. … If left untreated, a UTI can cause scarring.

Do cats pee outside their litter box out of spite?

Cats begin urinating outside the box as a response to something that is wrong, either with them or their environment. It is not just them “behaving badly” and cats don’t urinate inappropriately out of “spite”. … Some cats can also have microscopic crystals in their bladders that can cause irritation.

House soiling, or urinating outside the litter box, is very common. Non-medical causes, often inaccurately labeled behavioral problems, usually are perfectly normal feline responses to an environmental stimulus and can be subdivided into urine-marking and normal voiding outside the litter box. The latter, which is the most common cause of feline house soiling, includes cases where cats may stop using the litter box because they dont like the type of litter or the location of the box. These aversions may arise over pain from a medical problem, fear after being startled or attacked by another cat while in the box, or odor due to infrequent cleaning. A behavioral specialist can help sort out why a cat has stopped using his litter box and suggest ways to get him back to it.

Cats normally void by squatting and releasing a medium to large puddle on a horizontal surface. When spraying, a cat stands with tail straight up and twitching and squirts a small volume of urine, usually onto a vertical surface.

Because my second patient was leaving urine drops on a vertical surface the living room drapes it seemed likely that this was a case of marking. Private space can be created even within a small apartment by adding accessible shelves high up on the walls or providing cat condos with sheltered caves near the top. It is essential to eliminate all traces of urine odor so as not to re-attract the offender or potentially attract other cats who might begin marking, too.

If the marking behavior continues after social and environmental issues were addressed, drugs might become an important part of therapy. [Editors Note: According to our Animal Sciences department, a new product called Feliway , a synthetic feline facial pheromone that is sprayed in the cats environment, can reduce urine marking and stress.] Weve gone the antibiotic route several times and all the cats are on urinary tract formula of Hills Prescription Diet.

I would guess that lots of inappropriate elimination problems in cats are caused by urinary tract infections, which can be very dangerous (deadly) if not treated quickly. It sounds like your cat may have developed a substrate preference for fabric surfaces (towel/throw rug) over litter products, which, by the way, is fairly common. Can you pick up all throw rugs and towels for some period of time and move the cat tree, just so your kitty doesnt continue to rehearse the unwanted behavior?

Most middle-aged cats do not have a true urinary tract infection and, thus, antibiotics can fail to treat the problem. We dont want the urine to sit in the bladder for long periods of time as it allows crystals to form and is a very irritating substance anyway. A portion of this involves play therapy. In addition, you can add puzzle toys for her dry food.

Urinary issues are very common in cats, and inappropriate urination can be so frustrating to cat owners that it leads some to consider rehoming their cats. Before you go down this road, you should know that there’s hope for your kitty. Not only can you learn how to best deal with urinary problems in your cat, but you can find out how to prevent some urinary issues in the first place.

A cat urinates outside its litter box for one of two general reasons: a medical problem or a behavioral issue. If your vet determines that your cat‘s urine contains blood, but there are no crystals, bacteria or stones present, the likely diagnosis will be idiopathic cystitis.

Idiopathic cystitis is usually treated with a combination of diet change and environmental enrichment. If your cat has been drinking more, or you have been finding yourself needing to clean the litter box more often, your veterinarian may want to run some blood work to check for these issues. It’s a good idea to have your vet order comprehensive lab work to look for a health issue if none is found during the initial exam or urinalysis.

Lab work can reveal serious health problems like diabetes or kidney disease, allowing your vet to begin treatment immediately. If old urine odors remain in your home, there’s a very good chance your cat is returning to the area because of the smell. If your cat is peeing everywhere and you’ve ruled out medical issues, then it’s time to reassess your litter boxes.

Add plenty of vertical space and feline enrichment to make your cat‘s environment optimal.

Nothing is more frustrating for owners than inappropriate urination, and its the leading cause of feline surrenders. Once youve diagnostically ruled out medical reasons for inappropriate urination with your veterinarian, the next step is to isolate what environmental elements are causing your cats unwanted behavior. With owner dedication, behavioral inappropriate elimination can be rehabilitated helping you and your cat to have a better quality of life.

He or she should offer suggestions regarding two current courses of treatment: changing the way your cat feels about the litterbox and administering very mild drugs. Aversion therapy: This course of treatment attempts to make inappropriate elimination an undesirable act for your kitty.

You can also try covering the area with a piece of plastic or cardboard to prohibit your cat from digging in the potting soil. Attraction therapy: Though a little more difficult, it is possible to convince your feline friend that the litterbox is a more desirable location for urination. Odd scents can repel cats, and many felines prefer clumping litter to regular clay.

Of course, the time required for the litterbox to return to its original location and the number of feet you need to move it each day depend entirely on your cats progress. Keep the old litterbox in its usual location just in case the aversion therapy works and your cat decides to reuse it without additional encouragement. Regarding drug therapy, your vet might decide that administering a mild antidepressant and/or anti-anxiety medication may also help reduce stress and correct the unwanted behavior.

Zylkene, a supplement derived from casein, a milk protein that has calming properties, can help reduce environmentally induced stress. If you are struggling with behavior based inappropriate urination and have ruled out medical reasons through diagnostics, you may want to try working with a local trainer or behaviorist to help isolate the problems and figure out the best solution for you and your furry friend.

Medical Issues

Health problems might be causing your cat to pee outside of the litter box, says Dr. Cathy Lund of City Kitty, a feline-only veterinary practice in Providence, Rhode Island. This behavior could be the result of a urinary tract infection, kidney disease, or diabetes. Other health problems that are painful or simply make your cat feel “off” also could be to blame. For example, an older cat with severe arthritis might have trouble getting into a box with high sides or a cover, says Lund.“Anything that changes a cat’s feeling of wellbeing can create a change in behavior, and in cats that means litter box habit changes,” she says.With that in mind, the first step for any litter box problem is to consult your vet, says Dr. Neil Marrinan of the Old Lyme Veterinary Hospital in Connecticut. “Simple blood and urine tests can exclude most medical causes,” he says.

An Unclean Litter Box

“I use the analogy of a Porta Potty,” Lund says. Who wants to use one of those when it is dirty, and you can smell it before you see it, she says. The same is true for litter boxes. If you are lax in keeping the litter box clean, your cats will find somewhere else to go.Marrinan agrees that the litter box “experience” is almost always a reason for cats peeing outside of the box—even when a medical issue is present. “The trick is making the litter box the first and only place they go—regardless of why they started to pee elsewhere,” he says.To keep your litter box clean, it’s important to scoop the litter every day—or multiple times a day if you have multiple cats in your home. Refresh the litter and do a deep cleaning of the box every few weeks. Keep in mind that the feline sense of smell is much stronger than ours, so a box that seems “clean enough” to you might still smell disgusting to your cat. This is especially true in multiple cat households. Smelling your own waste is one thing, being forced into close proximity to someone else’s is an entirely different problem.

A Hard to Reach Litter Box

In addition to litter box cleanliness, the placement of the box could cause your cat to “go” elsewhere. A box that is in a basement can be a problem for an older cat that has trouble with stairs or her eyesight, Lund says.In addition, the box should be in a relatively active area of the house. While pet parents often don’t want a litter box in the living room, removing it too far from social areas may make the box hard to find or unappealing to your cat. “Generally you want litter boxes that are out of traffic but not at the end of a scary, trappable tunnel,” says Marrinan. Along the same lines, litter boxes that are next to machines that make loud noises or odd vibrations—such as the spin cycle of the washing machine—can be a “no go zone” for cats.Try placing the box in a nearby hallway, bathroom, or office with easy access to a garbage can. The proper litter box set up will offer your cat privacy and peace and quiet, but still be easy for your cat to find.

The Type of Litter

Pet parents have a variety of litters to choose from, but not every type of litter will work for every cat. Some clay litters, or litters made from corncobs or recycled newspaper may not “feel good on the foot,” says Lund.Lund also notes that kittens learn what type of litter they prefer from their mothers at about three weeks old. So using a different litter than the one that was used when your cat was a kitten, or deciding to switch the type of litter your cat is used to, could be at the root of litter problems. Pet parents may have to try a few different types of litters to find the one that works best for their cats.

Multiple Pets in the Home

Peeing outside the litter box happens more frequently in a household with multiple cats, particularly if one is a bully who prevents another cat from getting to the box, Lund says. To address this, always have multiple litter boxes in your home and place them in multiple rooms, Lund advises.If you have a timid cat in your home, be sure to devote a space and a litter box to her that other cats cannot access easily. Lund says you may also want to avoid covered litter boxes if you have multiple cats. Covered boxes may make some cats uneasy because they can’t see if another cat is coming in, she says.

Stress and Anxiety

Even in cases with an environmental or medical cause, the behavioral component remains a factor, Marrinan says.An anxious cat might pee elsewhere as a way to relieve her anxiety because the smell of her own urine makes her feel safer, Lund says. Outdoor cats lingering in your yard may also cause stress for your cat—who might choose to pee near the front door as a possible response, Lund says. Cats use a special type of urinary behavior (spraying) to mark their territories, which they will do more when they feel stressed.

Remedies to try

Blocking access to windows through which outdoor cats might be visible could help, as could adding additional litter boxes to the home and separating cats so each had his own space. Private space can be created even within a small apartment by adding accessible shelves high up on the walls or providing cat condos with sheltered ‘caves’ near the top.It is essential to eliminate all traces of urine odor so as not to re-attract the offender or potentially attract other cats who might begin marking, too. I strongly recommend urine odor eliminators for this job.

The role of drugs

If the marking behavior continues after social and environmental issues were addressed, drugs might become an important part of therapy. This is true especially in long-standing situations or those with frequent occurrences. Marking behavior should be interrupted as soon as possible, as repetitive behavior can become reinforced in the mind of the cat. Drugs usually are not necessary in cases of non-marking house soiling.Drugs prescribed to treat marking include human sedatives, anti-anxiety agents, and antidepressants. None are approved for use in cats, so their use may involve some degree of risk. Unfortunately, many cats respond only partially to medication, and almost all cats relapse once the medication is stopped. [Editor’s Note: According to our Animal Sciences department, a new product called Feliway ©, a synthetic feline facial pheromone that is sprayed in the cat’s environment, can reduce urine marking and stress.]

Behavioral Peeing

I have a cat who pees inappropriately on a towel at the back door of our house. We have tried to pick up the towel, but then she pees on the area rug that is right next to the litter box. She has also peed on a cat tree that a coworker gave me. I think it’s behavioral.We’ve gone the antibiotic route several times and all the cats are on urinary tract formula of Hills Prescription Diet. I give them only distilled water. I tried to get them to eat canned food and she peed more frequently. Also, all my cats hated it.I have tried every cat litter under the sun and almost every type of litter box you can imagine. The most recent one has been the most successful. We made it out of a Rubbermaid container that we cut a hole in the top of.In the last two weeks, she’s only peed outside the litter box twice. (Usually, it’s daily, and sometimes twice a day.) The ONLY change in the last two weeks is we bought a new litter with crystals. I can’t think of any other change that has occurred.She’s not going anywhere. I am committed to her. HELP!

Answer 2

Depending on the length of time she has been doing this, she may have learned this as behavior and you will have to retrain her. Look at your cat as an individual and see how the environment in your home may be affecting her.Here are some things to consider:

Behavioral Reasons

If your cat is peeing inappropriately, the first step is to visit your veterinarian. The vet will do a physical exam of your cat and check a urine sample. Based on the results, your vet will recommend treatment. There a number of common urinary medical issues in cats:When one or more urinary issues are chronic, the condition is typically calledUrinary problems can lead to a serious, urinary obstruction, especially in male cats. If your cat is experiencing urinary issues, don’t delay the trip to the vet. If your cat is posturing to urinate and little or no urine is coming out, your cat might have a blockage or partial obstruction. In this case, get your cat to a vet immediately as this condition can quickly become life-threatening.In some cases, inappropriate urination occurs when a cat has a nonurinary health problem. Your cat may be peeing outside the box because of pain or discomfort elsewhere in the body. It’s a good idea to have your vet order comprehensive lab work to look for a health issue if none is found during the initial exam or urinalysis. Lab work can reveal serious health problems like diabetes or kidney disease, allowing your vet to begin treatment immediately.

Dirty Litter Box

Cats are particular about their toilets. The litter box may simply be too dirty for your cat. Or it may be perfectly clean but otherwise uncomfortable to use. For example, the box may be too small for your cat to use comfortably. Or it may be in a location that your cat doesn’t like. If it’s covered, this may bother your cat. Perhaps the litter has a strong scent or an annoying feel on your cat‘s paws. Cat‘s like choice so too few litter boxes can also be an issue.

Stress

Your cat may be trying to tell you it’s stressed out at home. It may be unhappy with another animal in the household and is marking its territory to send a message to the other animal. Or your cat may sense that it’s too dangerous to access the litter box if the other animal is out and about. Your cat may also “act out” if there is a new human in the home.Cats are sensitive to the smallest of changes in their environments. No matter what the source of the stress is, make sure your cat has a quiet place where it can getaway. The new animal or human should not have access to this place of refuge.

Old Urine Smells

If your cat has peed in an area, the smell might remain even after you clean up the accident. A cat‘s sense of smell is much better than yours. If old urine odors remain in your home, there’s a very good chance your cat is returning to the area because of the smell.