May 10 2011

Does your cat pee outside the litter box?

One of the most common complaints we hear from cat owners is inappropriate urination.  Cats may pee next to the litter box, on the floor, or on household items.  Reasons for this behavior can vary, but it is always exasperating.

When your vet examines your cat for such a problem, they will first want to rule out a medical problem.  Urinary tract problems can include inflammation or infection, as well as bladder stones or crystals.  When urination is painful, they will associate the litter box with the pain, and avoid it.  Underlying conditions, such as diabetes or kidney disease, can also cause cats to urinate more, which may lead them to urinate in places other than the litter box.  Generally a physical exam and lab work can check for these.  Blood work and a urine sample may be taken to identify the problem and decide on a course of treatment.

If medical issues are ruled out, the cause may be behavioral.  Changes in environment can cause problems like this.  Major issues that can cause your cat to act out include a move, an addition to the family, a new pet, or separation from an owner.  To be sure that they have enough spots to choose from, have a litter box for each cat, plus one.  Make sure the boxes are in convenient places, and not in an area of the house that the cats do not frequent.  Daily scooping will prevent the cat turning up his nose at a messy litter box, and completely emptying the boxes every few weeks will keep them fresh.  Another tipe is to add a cup of baking soda to the bottom of the litter pan before you put the litter in, and it will stay fresh longer.

Briarcliff’s Dr. Janice Floyd recommends using under-bed storage containers as litter boxes, but not under the bed of course.  They are nice and roomy, but shallow enough that geriatric cats won’t have a problem getting in and out.  Some cats are picky about what litter is used, and most seem to prefer fine textured unscented litter, like the clumping kind.  Other cats will object to having a plastic liner in the box.

Inappropriate urination can be quite frustrating, but before getting angry with your cat, speak with your vet.  She could be suffering from an underlying disease, or it could be that the litter boxes need to be freshened more often.  Either way, it’s much better to have them checked than to pass it off as a cranky kitty.

*Note: Dr. Floyd recommends the Cornell Feline Health Center.  They have great information on housesoiling and other feline issues.  The website is:

Here is another great resource, and the beginning of a series of articles on the subject:

photo by Laura Bittner

photo by Laura Bittner

ePet Websites Admin | Atlanta Pet Blog, Health, Living with pets

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