Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cat Peeing Outside The Box - What to do!

Urinary problems in cats

People often think that when a cat urinates outside his litter box, he is “being bad,” and they aren’t sure what to do to fix the problem.  There are many reasons cats urinate in inappropriate places, some of which are behavioral and some of which are medical.  The first step in determining why your cat is urinating outside the box is to address any medical issues that might be present. 

One of the simplest causes for inappropriate urination in a cat is a urinary tract infection, which means an infection in the bladder or kidneys.  Just as in people, this condition can be painful and can cause your cat to feel like he has to urinate frequently.  However, unlike people, your cat can’t tell you what he’s experiencing.  This means it is important to bring your cat to a veterinarian to have him evaluated for any medical reason for urinating in inappropriate locations.
 Cats, and particularly male cats, can form small stones in their bladder which can get stuck in their urethra, the tube leading out from the bladder.  If this happens, it is a serious emergency, and your cat needs to go to your veterinarian or an emergency facility immediately.  While there are other medical reasons for a cat to urinate outside a litter box, this is something your veterinarian can discuss with you if necessary.

Anyone who has cats knows that they are very particular about everything, and their litter boxes are no exception.  One of the biggest reasons cats will go outside their box is that the cat is dissatisfied with the current litter situation.  This can be caused by a variety of reasons; each cat has his own particular likes and dislikes, including the type of litter and box, and location.  There are a tremendous variety of types of litter, including clay, pine, wheat, newspaper, and silica gel (crystals).  When a cat urinates near the box or standing on the edge of the box, this can indicate an aversion to the substrate.  Setting up a litter box “buffet” with several types of litter can be a good way to determine exactly which type your cat likes.

A large Rubbermaid bin is perfect 

Cats are also very picky about the box itself, and this has to be tailored to your cat’s personality.  Bigger cats like a larger box with plenty of room, and may refuse to use a litter box that is too cramped.  The litter box should be at least one and half times the length of the cat (not including his tail).   

Older cats can have arthritis and may require a box with a lower front to make entering easier.  Timid cats are easily frightened by the noise an automatic litter box cleaner makes.  Many cats do not care for covered boxes because they can trap odors.  Although it makes cleaning much easier, many cats do not care for litter box liners.

The location of a litter box can be an important factor as well.  Most cats are private animals, and do not like their humans to witness their bathroom habits, so putting the litter box in a secluded spot promotes cat comfort.  High traffic areas or ones with loud noises, such as laundry rooms, can be frightening to your cat.  Cats also do not like to have their litter boxes too close to their food and water, so maintaining these in separate areas is important to keep your cat content.

Finally, litter boxes should always be kept clean.  People flush the toilet after each use, and cats would love to have this policy as well.  The average adult cat uses the litter box five times each day.  Litter boxes should be cleaned at least once daily, and the box should be scrubbed out with bleach or other sanitizer at least once weekly.  The number of litter boxes in a house is also an important factor; your home should have one litter box per cat per floor, plus one.  For example, if you have two cats and two floors, there should be three litter boxes per floor.  

If your cat has helped you find exactly what kind of litter and box he likes, and is in the proper location, and he has no underlying medical issues, but you are still finding urine outside the box, the problem may be due to territorial marking.  One solution to this problem can be neutering or spaying your cat if he or she is still intact.  Another option is the use of feline facial pheromones which can have a calming effect on cats.  This pheromone, known as Feliway, comes as a spray or plug-in diffuser, and should be used on the area being marked twice daily to eliminate marking activity.

It is important medically for a cat to feel free to use his litter box as often as needed.  For example, a cat who doesn’t defecate in his litter box regularly can become constipated, which can lead to the development of a chronic condition called megacolon, which occurs when the nerves in the colon no longer function as they should.  A cat who doesn’t urinate consistently can develop an infection of the urinary tract, which can lead to the formation of bladder or kidney stones.  Cats are extremely complex creatures, and keeping them emotionally content can result in excellent medical health as well.  And any cat owner will agree that keeping your feline friend happy also keeps owner happy!

Blog by:
Dr. Juliana Lyles
Lap of Love Veterinarian
Pet Hospice and In Home Euthanasia
(910) 759-3656

Dr. Juliana helps families with in home Pet Hospice and Euthanasia services in the Fayetteville and surrounding areas including Fort Bragg, Lillington, Southern Pines, Sanford, Lumberton, Clinton and Raeford. 

1 comment:

  1. My cat is urinating on the floor. I have had blood work done on him and my vet cannot find anything. The cat does have bumps on his skin that the vet may think are mast cell tumors. How can I treat this cat from urinating on the floor?


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