When your cat urinates outside the litter box, you want a fix as quickly as possible. But, determining the cause of inappropriate elimination can be challenging, and the problem can be difficult to manage when behavior components are involved. Avoid becoming frustrated, and understand that finding a solution that will send your feline friend back to their box for all their bathroom needs can take time. If your cat begins peeing outside their litter box, try our following tips:
#1: Have your cat thoroughly examined for a medical reason for their inappropriate elimination
Cats can suffer from a multitude of medical conditions that cause them to urinate outside the litter box. A few of the most common include:
- Feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC) — FIC is one of the most frequently encountered urinary issues of young, healthy cats. While the exact cause of this disease is not certain, there are several theories that include stress triggers, obesity, a defective bladder lining, and neurogenic inflammation. Since FIC is a sterile, chronic, inflammatory urinary bladder condition, a round of antibiotics won’t treat this issue. Instead, managing your cat’s stress, a calming prescription diet, soothing supplements and pheromones, and anti-inflammatory products will be most effective, but flare-ups often occur.
- Urinary tract infection (UTI) — UTIs are more common in older cats than young adults and are caused by a bacterial infection. A simple UTI can be cleared up with antimicrobial therapy, but a urinalysis and culture is needed to determine if an infection is the true cause of inappropriate elimination.
- Diabetes — Diabetes can affect any cat, but is more likely to occur in middle-aged, overweight felines. High glucose levels cause excessive thirst and urination, and unregulated diabetes can lead your cat to pee outside the litter box.
- Kidney disease — Kidney disease can affect middle-aged cats, but becomes more common in older age. As kidney function decreases, cats can no longer concentrate urine as well, nor filter out toxins and metabolic wastes found in the blood. These issues lead to excessive thirst and urination, and potential inappropriate elimination.
Medical reasons for inappropriate elimination require veterinary treatment to either return your cat’s litter box habits to normal, or grant them a good quality of life. A thorough physical exam and diagnostic testing should be at the top of your management options list when your cat begins peeing outside the litter box.
#2: Ensure your cat’s litter box is clean
No one wants to use a dirty bathroom, especially your finicky feline. Scoop the box at least twice a day, and dump the litter and disinfect the box weekly. If you changed litter type right before your cat began peeing outside the box, they may not like the new litter. Most cats prefer a fine-grain, unscented litter. To further ensure your cat hits the box every time, check the size. Some litter boxes are too small, and your cat may hang over the edge when eliminating. Litter boxes should be at least one and a half times your cat’s length to allow appropriate room.
#3: Monitor your cats for bullying or other stressors
Bullying, intercat aggression, household changes, and other environmental stressors can upset your sensitive cat and cause elimination issues. If your cats are suddenly refusing to get along, and one lies in wait while the other attempts to use the litter box, your cat may be avoiding the box when urinating. Bringing home a new puppy, rearranging the furniture, or home construction can stress out your cat and create an FIC flare-up. If you notice your cat’s behavior has changed, household stressors could be the cause, as well as the underlying reason for their inappropriate elimination.
#4: Check your cat’s litter box placement
Not only are cleanliness and litter type important, but also litter box placement. While you may think the basement or laundry room are the perfect places to hide a stinky box, your cat may be less inclined to urinate in these out-of-the-way areas. Additionally, a litter box placed next to the loud dryer or furnace can startle your cat so much that they will seek out quiet bathroom areas. On the other hand, putting the litter box in a heavily trafficked area can be uncomfortable for your cat, so look for a happy medium. Also, ensure your cat has several bathroom options by placing multiple litter boxes around your home. Have a box on each floor, and one litter box per cat, plus one. With various choices, your cat is certain to find a satisfactory box to urinate.
Any time your cat displays inappropriate elimination, they’re asking for help. Our Country Valley Veterinary Clinic team is here to nurse your cat through their medical or behavior problems, and help them on the road to recovery. Give us a call to schedule an appointment to get to the bottom of your pet’s urinary issue.