By Dr. Al Townshend
Despite a cat’s reputation for cleanliness, house soiling is the number one challenge cats, and their Guardians can experience. Urinating outside the litter box can damage furniture, create offensive odors that are hard to locate and can require constant searching and cleaning for the Guardian.
Many believe inappropriate urination is exclusively a behavioral problem. It certainly can be behavioral, but several medical conditions can also cause it. The first step in resolving the issue would be to visit the veterinarian and make sure there are no medical difficulties.
- Urinary Tract Infections are a common medical issue that can cause a cat to urinate inappropriately.
- Feline Idiopathic Cystitis, a complicated, painful condition that is very irritating, creates anxiety, and can be life-threatening.
- Diabetes and kidney disease can increase water intake and cause the cat to urinate outside the litter box.
- Arthritis and any condition that causes pain or discomfort can make it challenging to get in the litter box.
- Bladder stones and bladder tumors can irritate the bladder and stimulate immediate urination
- Anything that changes a cat’s feeling of well being can alter behavior.
- Un-neutered male cats are the more common cats to urinate inappropriately.
If there are no medical issues, there can be issues with the litter box.
- An unclean litter box can discourage a cat from climbing in. Many times, a cat that is reluctant to go in a dirty litter box will urinate just outside the box.
- A litter box that is hard to reach or too far out of the way can discourage its use.
- The wrong litter is a common problem that will hinder a cat from using the litter box. We know cats are finicky about their food, and many cats are as finicky about the litter in the box too.
- Not enough litter boxes. Some cats are bullies and can discourage other cats from using the litter box. The standard rule for families that have more than one cat is to provide a litter box for each cat and one extra.
Mental stress and anxiety
- An anxious cat might pee elsewhere as a way to relieve distress because the smell of their urine makes them feel safer.
- Outdoor cats lingering in your yard may also cause stress for your cat.
- Moving to a new home may encourage a cat to feel the need to mark their territory
- A new pet coming into the home may stimulate spraying to mark territory.
- Changes in the human members of the family can alter behavior. A new baby coming into the family, grandparents coming to live in the home, and even a family member leaving home can change urinary habits.
- Cats, especially long-haired cats, that don’t clean themselves ultimately can become uncomfortable and irritated, causing the urge to urinate inappropriately.
Finding the cause quickly and making the changes that resolve the issue is essential. The longer the problem persists, the more frustrated Guardians can become, and that may lead to giving up.
Be sure and discuss inappropriate urination and the litter box with any of the staff at your Pet Planet store. They can help you make the best decisions for your family pets.