One of the most frustrating problems a cat owner can face is inappropriate urination. While all urine is smelly, cat urine in particular is especially offensive. Cats will urinate outside of the box for a number of reasons, some of them medical and some of them behavioral. If your cat is urinating inappropriately you ought to first rule out a medical cause. Medical reasons include arthritis, kidney disease, diabetes, urinary tract infections, bladder stones, feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUCTD) and hyperthyroidism. In the case of male cats, urinary tract disease represents a potentially fatal problem so definitely get in to see your veterinarian.
If no underlying cause is found consider these suggestions…
- If you have an older, arthritic cat and a litter box that has a cover or high sides it may be difficult for your geriatric cat to get in the box. Try a box without a cover and with low sides for easy entry and exit. Also consider the location of the box in your home and the age of your cat, the only litter box at the top of the stairs may be difficult for an arthritic cat to make it to in time.
- Some cats are finicky about the type of litter they prefer. There may be some correlation between changing litter types (clumping vs. non-clumping), fragrances etc. If you recently changed litter brands or fragrances because of a store discount or other reason you may need to switch back.
- If you have a multiple cat household there should always be one litter box per cat. Always. If you have a multiple level dwelling, maybe place a litter box on several levels of the home.
- Try not to place the litter box near noisy or scary appliances such as the furnace, freezer, washer/dryer…any reason that may give your cat some reason to not want to use it!
- Neuter your male cat! Intact male cats are very territorial and will mark your home claiming it as their own.
- Consider stressors such as visiting family, dogs, other cats or perhaps a new puppy or kitten introduced to the family. You may need to isolate your cat(s) away from stressful factors that make them unable or unwilling to use their litter box. Feline pheromone sprays and supplements are helpful to ease your cat during these transitions.
- Be sure to clean all previously soiled areas with an enzymatic cleaner designed to eliminate any residual urine odor…cats will return to previously soiled spots.
- Clean your litter box(s) regularly.
Finding the reason why your cat is misbehaving may take some time, but there is always a reason why he/she is urinating outside of the litter box. Hopefully this list helps get you and your feline companions back on the road to domestic harmony. As always, feel free to contact Willits Veterinary Hospital for all of your feline health care needs!