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September 2, 2011 at 7:13 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

What To Do: "My Cat Keeps Peeing Outside the Litter Box!"

By Victoria Swanson More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Paws & Awws Blog Series

They are generally easier to take care of than dogs and having a cat can be very rewarding. However, sometimes cats develop unwanted behaviors. Today, we are going to discuss one of the most serious issues facing cat owners: cats not using their litter boxes.

Some Things To Consider If Your Cat Has This Problem

  • Check With Your Vet. See your veterinarian immediately to rule out any medical issues. This is your FIRST step in finding out what is going on and why. The problem may be a UTI - Urinary Tract infection, kidney problems, or diabetes. Your vet will want to do a blood test and take a sample of your cat's urine to rule out any medical issues.
  • Spay or Neuter. I have said it before and will say it again: if you haven't yet, get your cat spayed or neutered. A non-spayed cat is most likely marking its territory (females can mark too). This will make a huge difference.
  • Keep Them Company. Your cat may not be using her litter box because she feels lonely or neglected. She may pee outside of the box while you are away due to stress and anxiety, so if you have to travel or leave your house for more than 10 hours you should make arrangements. Ask a friend or neighbor to drop by and check on your cat and just give her some extra attention.
  • Don't Assume a Kitten Knows. It is very important that you train your kitten to use their litter box. Don't give your kitten run of the house for a few days after bringing them home. Put your kitten in their litter box and take their two front paws and make a "scratching motion" in the litter. This tells the kitten that this is where she should do her business. Repeat this a few times throughout her first day living with you. Your kitten will learn to do her business in the litter box on her own after you teach her a few times.
  • Bringing Home A New Cat. Cats can be very territorial. If your cat was "an only" cat, bringing home a new cat, may upset them. Your cat may feel threatened by their new friend and decide to mark their territory or even guard or protect their litterbox. It will be important to do introductions slow and easy, and to not force either cat to be "best friends" right away. (Even a new dog can be upsetting to a cat)

What to Do About Pee Spots

If your cat pees outside the box, cleaning up the spot will help, but it won't necessarily eliminate the problem. This is due to the scent left in your carpet or furniture. It is important to remove the scent so your cat won't be attracted to continue peeing in that area. Here are some tips on how to do that:

  • Visit a local pet store or ask your vet to see what type of product will help remove those scents. Remember, even if you can't smell it your cat might, so it is important that you use a product that lifts the scent out in addition to cleaning the area. Also remember to avoid using ammonia, which actually attracts your cat to pee in that same spot.
  • Place aluminum foil down in the areas your cat is marking. They don't like the feel of it, so they will likely avoid the spot.

Proper Litter Box Care

Are you cleaning their litter box DAILY? Two times a day is best, but daily cleaning is a must. Cat's love clean litter boxes, so it could help to have one litter box per cat in your household and on every floor of the house.

Make sure the box is NOT located in a high-traffic area or by a loud machine (such as a washing machine). If you have a dog, make sure your dog does NOT have access to the litter box. Your cat needs their privacy and to not be interrupted when taking care of business.

Finally, keep the litter box as consistent as possible. Don't change the location of your cat's litter box around the house; keep it in a designated area. Have you changed her litter to a different brand? Try not to switch your cat's litter from one brand to another. Cats like consistency in their litter: same feel, same scent, and same brand.

If You Catch Your Cat Peeing Outside the Box?

First: NEVER punish your cat for peeing outside of its box!

Cats do NOT get mad and pee outside of their litter box out of spite. Do NOT rub your cat's nose in her mess or spank her. This can heighten her anxiety and therefore she could possibly pick a different area to pee, not out of spite, but out of stress.

If your cat is having issues peeing outside of her litter box, remember to visit your vet immediately to rule out any medical issues. Don't forget, your kitty is NOT being naughty. There is always a reason behind this behavioral problem. She may have a medical issue, stress, or a problem with her environment, so be diligent in finding out what can be causing this new behavioral problem.

Sources:

SSPCA - Cat Litterbox Issues

ASPCA Behavior - Litter Box Problems

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