You and your cat have a mutually loving relationship, so why oh why does your cat keep peeing outside the litter box? Below, our San Gabriel vets share a few reasons why cats urinate outside their litter box and what you can do to try and stop it.
Cat Peeing Outside of Their Litter Box
First off, and most importantly, it's essential to consider your cat's health. Cats often pee outside of their litter box if they're suffering from bladder infections, or severe bladder inflammation.
It is also common for cats to pee somewhere else if they are experiencing high levels of anxiety or stress which results in chemical imbalances in the body.
Before you go any further, if your cat has recently started peeing anywhere that isn't their litter box, it's time to take your kitty to the vet for a checkup.
Other Reasons Why Your Cat May Be Peeing Elsewhere
Once you've eliminated health reasons for your cat's odd new behavior, it's time to consider other possible reasons why your cat is choosing to pee in places that's not their litterbox. We list some of the most common below.
Recent Changes in The Household
Cats enjoy predictability. Problems where your cat pees outside of the litter box can be sparked by a change in the household, such as someone moving in, someone moving out, or the arrival of a new cat, dog, or other type of pet. Maybe you've started a new job and are out of the house for longer hours than before can trigger it too.
Make sure you spend a little extra quality time with your kitty helping them to feel safe and secure despite the recent change. With a little extra love and attention, this behavior should resolve itself once your cat feels safe and secure again.
Dirty Litter Box
Cats have a highly developed sense of smell. One common reason why your cat might not pee in their litter box is that it isn't being kept clean enough. If you use clumping litter, you should take a few minutes every day to clean it and any solid waste out. Then, replace the litter weekly. If you use non-clumping litter, you should do a full litter change at least twice a week. If you have a particularly fastidious cat, you may need to change the litter every second day to keep them happy.
Litter Box Position
Cats are particular about where their little box is located. Surprising, we know. Cats need to feel safe and secure to do what they need, so if your cat's little box is in a high-traffic area, this could be the issue for them.
It is also important to note that cats will not urinate or defecate near food. This means that your cat may not use their litter box if it is located too near its food and water bowls.
In some cases, cats want more light, or perhaps your cat's litter box is kept in an area that necessitates passing your dog's favorite spot.
Moving your cat's litter box is an easy change to make, that could help to stop your kitty from peeing elsewhere.
Need More Litter Boxes
Multiple litter boxes can be particularly helpful if you have more than one cat, if your cat is still a kitten, or if you have a large home with multiple stories.
Make sure that the litter boxes are all easy to access, and if you have a multi-feline home, try having as many litter boxes as you have cats so each cat can have their own.
Dislikes The Style of Their Litter Box
While covered litter boxes are a favorite of cat parents, many cats dislike them. Your cat may feel trapped inside these, they may find it too dark, or the smells may be too strong. Or even all three. Try giving your cat with a standard open litter box to see if that is a better solution.
Size also matters when it comes to litter boxes. If you have a kitten be sure to provide them with a smaller litter box that they can easily access. Make sure that the sides aren't too high for your cat to step over.
On the other hand, if your cat is on the large side, such as a Maine Coon, be sure to provide your large feline with a litter tray that provides plenty of space for shuffling around and scratching.
Finds The Litter Unpleasant
You might think the type of litter you use doesn't matter, but it might matter to your cat. You see, some cats will refuse to use litter boxes lined with litter made from coconut or corn. Cats refuse to pee or poop near their food, and because cat litter made from these substances can smell more like food, your cat may refuse to use their litter box.
Other cats find some brands of cat litter too hard on their feet, too dusty, too scented, or too clumpy. The best thing to do is try experimenting with different types and brands of cat litter until you find one that your cat is happy to use.
Tricks to Help Stop Your Cat From Peeing Where They Shouldn't
Whatever approach you try, be sure not to yell or punish your cat. Positive reinforcement combined with loving patience is always best.
Change the Meaning of The Space
Besides making your cat's litter box a more pleasant place to go, a helpful technique can be changing the meaning of the place your cat is choosing to pee or poop. If your cat has started to pee elsewhere, for example, spend time playing with your cat in that place and give them some treats while in that place. Your cat will stop thinking of that place as a place to relieve themselves and more as a place to relax and enjoy.
Thoroughly Clean the Area
It's essential for your sanity, and to help deter your cat, to clean the area where your cat has peed to remove all smell. If your cat can smell pee, it may encourage them to pee in that spot again. And there's nothing nice about having a home, bed, sofa, or rug that smells like cat pee. Be sure to use a cleaner that has been formulated to eliminate the smell of cat urine. In some cases, you may need to rent a steam cleaner to help get rid of the cat pee smell.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.