Why does my cat urinate outside of the litterbox?

Jul 13 • 2 minute read

There are three main reason why a cat may urinate in an inappropriate place or places.

It can be for Medical reasons such as:Lower Urinary Tract Disease, trauma, or a clinical signs associated with diseases like, thyroid disease, kidney disease, Diabetes or bladder stones.  It is important to rule out any potential medical concerns with your veterinarian first.  Tests that may be recommended are test such as:

  • A urinalysis
  • Complete blood Count and Blood Chemistry profile
  • Thyroid test
  • Radiographs or ultrasound

Marking behavior or spraying: Urine spraying is a normal feline behavior, but causes a problem for those of us that choose to live with cats in our homes. Urine Marking can occur on horizontal or vertical surfaces and is the normal deliberate and normal disposition of urine as a:

  • Phermonal signal to other cats
  • Territorial signal
  • Sign of stress or arousal related to the social or physical environment 

It is Important to Remember inappropriate urinating or marking may become learned and persist after the cat’s disease is treated.

Behavior and Stress can also affect a pets urination habits.

  • Other cats in the home – long term residents or new additions
  • Other cats or animals that can be seen, heard or smelled outside
  • Schedule changes
  • Absence of the owner
  • New people in the household
  • Renovations or construction in or around the home or neighbors’ home
  • Water sprays or other forms of punishments
  • or quite honestly CHANGE OF ANY KIND!

Identifying a cats stressor can be a long and tedious task.  It is important to keep in mind that in many cases there can be more that one stressor cause a pet to urinate inappropriately.

  • Removal of stressors that are removable
  • Address social relationships among multiple cats
  • Conflict, fear or antagonistic behavior should be managed by separation, desensitization and interruption
  • Conflicts among household cats do not have to include overt fights rather it may be one cat obstructing another cats access to food, litter or resting spots simply by sitting in the middle of the room
  • Creating a comforting environment using vertical resting spaces, creating a safe haven from other cats to meet the needs of the cat in the area they spend time.

Litterboxes: Improved management of letterboxes alone can significantly reduce urine marking.

  • One accessible and used litterbox for each cat in the household plus one extra
  • Providing some litterboxes that are large (minimum 18×24) filled with non-fragrance clumping litter
  • Cleaning litterboxes daily
  • Ensure that each cat in the home has easy access to at least one clean uncovered box
  • Have several food and water stations throughout the home to prevent guarding and stress
  • Block evidence of outdoor cats with frosted glass or curtains.  Moving furniture a way from  widows or doors may also help.

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