Oops, I did it again. I peed on your bed and I might do it again: Inappropriate Feline Urination.
Why is my cat peeing in my house?!?!
This call comes into my practice a lot. An owner phones confused, frustrated, and distressed as to why their cat is peeing on the bed, or computer, or anywhere but the litter box. I can assure you, it’s not owing to a vendetta, despite what you may think.
It’s very important to address this concern because it’s one of the top reasons why cats are relinquished to shelters or euthanized.
If your cat is urinating outside the litter box, the first thing to do is to rule out a medical problem by taking him/her to the veterinarian.
Your cat may not be using the litter box because he/she is ill. The following are some common illnesses associated with inappropriate feline urination:
- partially blocked urethra ( needs immediate medical attention )
- urinary tract infections
- bladder stones
- kidney infection
- musculo-skeletal pain
- general illness
- nerve damage
If it is not medically induced inappropriate urination, do the follow to encourage your cat to use the litter box:
Fix your cat.
Territorial marking ( i.e. spraying ) is a common reason why cats urinate outside the litter box. Spaying or neutering greatly reduces the desire to mark.
Cats like a clean litter box. Use finely granulated, non-scented clumping litter and clean the clumps and stools out at least once a day. Change the entire litter at least once a week. Step it up if you notice it’s dirty when the cat begins to urinate/defecate outside the litter box. Try a different type of litter if your cat does not like the finely granulated type; experiment with depth, also.
Avoid strong smelling detergents.
Clean the litter box with non-perfumed detergent and rinse well with plenty of water. Cats have a very keen sense of smell, about 20 times greater than humans. Strong smelling detergents ( e.g. Pine-Sol, bleach, ammonia ) can deter cats from using the litter box.
Avoid litter box liners and/or covers.
Cats, in general, do not like either.
Number and location of litter boxes.
The general rule is one litter box for every cat plus one extra. If you have 2 cats, you should have 3 litter boxes placed in multiple areas that the cats can access easily and where there is some degree of privacy. Cats don’t like their bathroom habits being monitored. The size of litter box is important too. If it’s too small, your cat my choose an alternative place to pee/poo. The litter box should be about 1.5 times the size of the cat’s body length.
Account for age or injury.
An older or injured cat may have more difficulty climbing over the sides of the litter box. Put a second litter pan, with lower sides, next to the regular litter pan. The cat will have an easier time getting in and out of the litter box.
Things that seem inconsequential to you, may be stress–provoking to your cat. Changes in living accommodations, introduction or absence of a person or pet, death of a familiar pet or family member, changes in type of litter, depth of litter, litter box, or its location can all result in a cat urinating or defecating outside the litter box. There are a number of over-the-counter products, supplements, and diets available from the veterinarian that can help decrease stress. If those aren’t strong enough, prescription medications are available.
Fat cats develop more urinary problems. Keep your cat trim with the use of food dispensing toys like SlimCat. Some foods are NOT balanced to prevent urinary crystal formation. Read food labels for information that specifically address feline urinary health or purchase veterinary specific food.Some cats need soft food to encourage total water intake. Encourage water intake with the use of different type and size bowls ( e.g. large, shallow bowls, glass bowls, cups, water fountains.) Some cats enjoy drinking right from the tap. Dribble cool water from the spout to find out.
Eliminate urine smell.
Wash all soiled areas thoroughly with an enzymatic detergent ( available at pet stores )
Block off soiled area(s). Make soiled areas inaccessible with the use of tin foil, plastic carpet runner turned over so the nubby side is up, or double-sided tape.
Add cat attractants to the litter ( available at pet stores )
Don’t clock watch.
Be diligent, persistent, and patient; things don’t always happen over night.