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Why Does My Cat Pee Outside The Litter box?

February 10, 2018

 

 

This is a common problem that many cat owners face and there can be several reasons why this occurs. Always start with a trip to the vet to rule out any medical reasons. If your cat gets a clean bill of health then this is likely behavioral. Let’s go over some of the reasons this might be happening. 

 

The best place to start is the litter box.  Make sure the box is clean, but don’t use any strong scented cleaners as some cats might find them offensive. Also make sure there’s enough boxes, the general rule is one box per cat plus one. If there are covers on the boxes, try taking at least one of them off. Some cats do not feel safe in a box where they can’t see all sides around them. Consider trying different litters, some cats prefer one kind over another. There are many types now available, add a new kind in one box to see how the cat reacts to it. Also consider placement of the boxes. This is especially important if there are multiple cats in the home. Observe your cat going in and out of the box, consider getting a box with one side lower than the other so your cat can get in and out easily. If different litter brands aren’t working, try Cat Attract litter. It is expensive but works well. Do not use air fresheners or plug ins or automatic sprayers near the boxes. Automatic litter boxes and box liners can frighten cats and cause them not to use the box as well. 

 

Now explore your cat’s environment. Are there feral/ outdoor cats taunting him? Or maybe just visiting at the window? This can cause territory marking. Are there changes in the household? This can be human and non-human changes. For some cats it can be something as simple as a furniture addition that has them out of sorts. It might take some detective work to figure what is bothering them. The location where the cat is marking can be very telling. If he’s making in your room he might be saying “this is my area, get out”. Getting Feliway diffusers and sprays can be helpful in these circumstances, particularly with new items brought into the home. Behavioral wetting can also occur when a cat is relocated. “Homing” them to one room in the house can be comforting to the cat, less overwhelming than roaming an entire house. Gradually introduce the cat to additional rooms until he seems comfortable. Try adding scratching posts in the area the cat is marking, he can mark the territory in a more positive way by scratching. Also try feeding the cat in the marked areas, cats prefer not to eat where they eliminate. You might wonder if he will just try to pee someplace else, but this is where adding additional boxes and using different litter comes in. This problem has to be approached in several ways.  If your cat like to pee on throw rugs, get some cheap ones at the dollar store and put one in a litter box. Gradually start adding litter to box and once cat is using the litter start cutting smaller pieces of the rug until you don’t need any rug in there anymore. If you have a dog who is bothering your cat, put the litter boxes in an area that only the cat can access. 

 

If behavior modification attempts all fail, consider talking with your vet about medication. There are several anti - anxiety medications as well as anti- depressants that can be quite effective in lowering the stress threshold of your cat just enough to stop the behavior. 

 

References 

 

The Domestic Cat by  Dennis C. Turner

Starting From Scratch By Pam Johnson- Bennett

 

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