Here’s what you can do when your cat pees outside the litter box.
The things we love most about our cats are often the same things that make us the craziest. We adore their wild nature, but become frustrated when that wildness becomes destructive. This is particularly true when it comes to peeing outside the litter box.
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Spraying and inappropriate peeing are behaviors that frustrate us most. However, it shouldn’t because once you understand that your favorite feline is merely attempting to communicate with you, it becomes much easier to resolve this problem. Cats pee where they’re not supposed to for three primary reasons.
They are in Pain
Cats are very susceptible to urinary tract and bladder conditions (UTI, crystals or other medical condition), which are also quite painful. If your cat develops a urinary tract infection, she will experience pain when she urinates. The cat then begins to associate pain with using the box, and so she will avoid it.
They are Marking Territory
This behavior is common when you bring a new cat into the household and your old cat is “training” the new one. As he shows the cat your home, he might remind the new arrival that, “This is mine, this is mine and this is mine.”
Marking territory is a big reason why spraying begins and often the new cat joins in the game. It can also happen when a cat lurks outside your window or you enter the home smelling like someone else’s dog or cat.
They Have Nowhere Else to Go
Cats are fastidious creatures and they like to keep places clean. They might refuse to use a litter box if it’s not clean enough, if they don’t want to share, if you’re using an ineffective litter and it doesn’t smell clean, if it’s too small, or if they feel threatened when they enter the box.
Solving the Problem
Spraying and territorial marking are behaviors that can be fixed—usually quite simply and inexpensively. Follow the steps below.
Vet check: The first thing you should do is eliminate any physical problem your cats might have. This includes a vet exam—and often a urinalysis to check for crystals or infections. If your cat is not already “fixed,” this is the time to talk to your vet.
Cleaning: It’s important to start fresh and that means using an enzyme-based stain remover to thoroughly clean areas where your pets have sprayed. For carpets and other materials, use a steam cleaner on the most obvious areas and then use an enzymatic cleaner. Allow the area to dry and repeat as necessary before allowing your cat back into the room.
Change the type of litter box: There are myriad litter boxes on the market. If your cat is not using her box, it’s important to experiment with new ones. Perhaps she needs that is larger, placed in a corner, covered/uncovered or simply placed in a new location (preferably a quiet, low-traffic area of your home).
Add a litterbox: Ideally, you should have one litter box per cat plus an extra one (if feasible). For example, if you have one cat, you would have two boxes. Four cats would have five boxes, eight cats equals nine boxes.
Litter change: There are many types of cat litter available and it’s important to find one your cat loves. Add a second box and begin to experiment with clumping or non-clumping litter and different types (e.g., clay, wood, paper, crystal, silica gel, sand, green tea, nutshells, corn, wheat, etc.).
Natural calmants: Your cat might be stressed and in need of calming. You could try using a pheromone-based spray or diffuser such as Feliway or calming chews, such as those from Pet Naturals of Vermont or Tomlyn.
It’s important never to “punish” your cat for not using the litter box. There is a reason she is not using it and she is trying to express this reason to you in the only way she knows how. It’s up to you to identify and resolve the problem without disrupting the relationship you share.
About the Author: Stacy Mantle is a fulltime freelance writer, bestselling author and founder of PetsWeekly.com. She resides in the deserts of the Southwest with a few dogs, several cats and a very understanding husband.