“Why is my cat peeing just outside the litter box?”. I was extremely concerned about this question In the first month when my kitten frequently urinated outside her litter box. It really annoyed me when I had to clean my home and dealt with the strong smell continuously in a day!
After seeking advice from my friends and veterinarian, I find that this so-called house soiling problem is very common. Therefore, in this article, I would like to share with every cat owner some knowledge about this problem and how we should deal with it.
Why Is My Cat Peeing Outside of the Litter Box?
1. Medical Issues
A primary reason why your cat pees everywhere all of a sudden is medical issues. Therefore, it is recommended that you should take your cat to a vet first. Here are some common urinary medical problems to note down:
Bladder stones are a common root of the inappropriate urination in your cat, which can cause inflammation and urinary blockage. The stones may stay in the same size, or grow bigger by some millimeters in diameter.
You need to take your cat to a vet for a detailed diagnosis, as this issue has the same symptoms as the inflammatory disease. The vet will also identify the quantity and size of the stones stuck in your cat’s bladder. A special diet can help with dissolving small bladder stones. Meanwhile, bigger stones must be removed surgically.
This medical issue belongs to a specific disease called FLUTD (feline lower urinary tract disease). Dirty litter boxes are one of the common causes of this feline disease. The clearest symptom that you can see in your cat is the increased urination but with little or without urine. Blood may appear in the cat’s urine as well. If this is your case, let your cat meet the vet immediately.
Idiopathic cystitis can be treated in many different methods. The majority of experts agree that modifying the environment and helping the cat produce dilute (watery) urine are the most beneficial solutions.
Urinary tract infection (UTI)
If your cat has bladder stones, it is a high chance that he/she also has UTI because the bladder infection is one of the causes. Cats that are 4-year-old or older are more likely to encounter this disease than younger cats. The bacteria in the urine causes the urinary tract to suffer from an inflammatory response. Consequently, it makes your cat unable to urinate or only produce a tiny amount of urine.
The level of severity in this disease varies based on your cat’s conditions. But you can rest assured that it can be treated in various ways. Antibiotics and dietary changes are the most common ones.
Metabolic disorder causes inappropriate urination in your cats by increasing the amount of produced urine. If you find that you have to clean the litter box more often, take your cat to the vet for a blood test. This disease includes a variety of different issues. Diabetes, chronic kidney, and thyroid issues are some common ones that cats tend to have. Based on what the specific condition is, the vet will give you a suitable prescription and treatments.
2. Dirty Litter Box
Cats are a fastidious pet, so they are undoubtedly particular about their litter box. If the box is too dirty for them to use, they will inappropriately eliminate it in other places as an instinct.
In fact, if your cat has been eliminated somewhere else in your home, it is very likely that he/she will pee again in that area because of the old urine smell, which makes them feel safer to eliminate.
Bear in mind that feline sense of smell is twenty times stronger than humans. So, even when you try to clean up the area where your cat peed, the urine odors may still be appealing to him/her.
The foremost task that you should remember is to scoop the litter twice daily. What’s more, get the box deeply cleansed for at least once a week.
In addition, avoid placing an air freshener or room deodorizer near the litter box. For better odor absorption, you can apply baking soda on the bottom of the box.
You can clean the litter box with chemical detergent products, or use natural material for a more economical way. One of the easiest and affordable options is to clean the litter box with vinegar.
3. Litter Box Dissatisfaction
Where you place the litter box also has something to do with your cat behavior. You should place the litter box in a quiet area as cats like privacy.
Don’t place the litter box near the washing machine, or anywhere that can be a source of loud noise.
The place should be easy for your cat to find as well. It should not be in the corner as your cat’s eyesight may be hindered. Some recommended places are the bathroom, nearby hallway, or office.
There are many other factors about the litter box for you to bear in mind. For example, cats also don’t like litter box having a liner, hood, or cover because it makes them feel uncomfortable.
In fact, the majority of litter boxes on the marketplace are smaller than we expect. Meanwhile, almost all cats prefer a large box as it facilitates easy entrance.
The length of the litter box is recommended to be 1.5 times longer than your cat’s, not counting for his/her tail, using an extra large litter box. The sides of the box should not be too high as well if you do not want to see your cat peeing over the edge of the litter box.
4. Anxiety and Stress
Like humans, cats may also suffer from stress. As they are susceptible to even the smallest changes in their living space, they may have some kinds of strange behaviors.
There are a handful of stress sources in cats. Under any circumstances, you need to keep your cat’s area quiet and undisturbed by any new human or animal.
For example, your cat may not approach the litter box when it feels the presence of other animals. If your household welcomes a new person or animal, cats will tend to feel anxious as well.
A usual act of cats when they are under stress is marking territory. It means that they pee anywhere else in the home to relieve their anxiety since their distinct urine smell makes them feel safer. In this case, you should consult the vet for the right therapy.
5. Types Litter Material
Inappropriate litter is also a reason for why your cat suddenly pees outside the litter box. There are a variety of litter materials with different advantages to consider.
As for kittens, when they are three-week-old, they can know what their preferred type of litter is from their mothers. Hence, changing to a new litter may be the root of why new kittens pee outside the litter box.
Generally, the majority of cats prefer unscented and clumping litter. However, not all cats have the same litter preference. There are a variety of litter materials with different advantages to consider.
A simple way to find out your cat’s suitable type of litter is to set up two or more identical boxes with different litter. Opt for the one that your cat uses the most and stick with it until he/she doesn’t like it anymore.
6. Lack of litter boxes in your household
If you have many cats in your home, remember to set up enough litter boxes. Your household should have one litter box for each cat and one extra box.
Besides, there should be at least one box per floor for a home with stories. This is especially helpful for kittens and older cats in urgent need of urination since it takes more time for them to go up and down the stairs.
You should also watch out for the conflict between your cats. They can bully each other by obstructing their mates from using the litter box. Setting their own litter boxes in different rooms is a great way to address this issue.
7. New Surface Preference
Another possible reason why cats urinating in the house suddenly is the change in his/her preferred surface.
You should notice which area in your home that your cat usually eliminates. Typically, there are various types, such as solid surfaces (sinks, cement, tile), soft surfaces (clothing, carpet, bed). For previously outdoor cats, they tend to eliminate on soil or grass.
So, in order to deal with this problem, you should make that area less appealing to your cat. You may want to cover it with aluminum foil, double-sided sticky tape, or use motion sensors and bright light.
Plus, you can try to make the litter box have the same feature as the surface. Depending on the type of surface, the strategies will be different.
For soft surfaces, try placing shredded newspaper, artificial turf, or a piece of carpet around the box to make it more appealing to your cat. You can also consider soft litter composed of pine shavings.
For cats like to eliminate on soil or grass, try placing some sands and stones, or using potting soil, alongside with the litter.
For solid surfaces, prepare an empty box, or just add minimal litter at only one side of the box, then put it on the hard floor.
Tips To Stop a Cat From Peeing In The House
Luckily, my cat does not suffer from medical issues. Her inappropriate elimination mostly lies in the unpleasant litter box. Therefore, I do some researches and come up with some useful tips as following:
- Make sure the litter box is as clean as possible. Scoop the litter for at least once a day. Rinse the box with unscented soaps or baking soda once a week.
- Choose a large and uncovered box with multiple escape routes to allow easy access for your cat.
- Choose a quiet position that protects your cat’s privacy. Do not put the litter box near where he/she eats and drinks.
- Use only a thin layer of litter (less than two-inch depth). Fine-grained and unscented litter is favored by most of cats.
- There should be at least one box per level of your home.
- Make sure that your cat lives in an enjoyable and happy environment. Try to maintain it as cats can point out even the slightest change.
- Clean the area where your cat eliminates with an enzymatic cleanser. Use a plastic sheet or foil to block it off for a few weeks.
- Always keep an eye on your cat’s behavior. If it suddenly becomes strange, consult a vet as soon as possible.
- For houses with multiple cats, prepare an extra box and one litter box for each cat. Place them in separate positions.
What To Avoid When Your Cat Has a Litter Box Problem
Getting your cats to get used to the appropriate urination is a time-consuming task that requires a great deal of patience and affection. During the process, there are some big no-nos to keep in mind:
- Don’t scold your cat and force him/her to go to the litter box by dragging or carrying.
- Don’t throw things at them.
- Don’t rub your cat’s nose in his/her feces or urine.
- Don’t lock him/her in a small room with the litter box without taking steps to resolve her urination problem.
- Do not lure him/her to the litter box using the snacks. Instead, try placing his/her favorite toys near the box to help him/her overcome the aversion.
- Do not use an ammonia-based cleaner to clean the area on which your cat eliminates. It even attracts him/her to pee again in that place.
- Avoid choosing high-side boxes. This is especially important for old cats or cats with arthritis to climb in the box easily.
There are many reasons behind litter box problems, from medical issues to behavioral problems. But whatever it is, you must keep a close eye on your cat and consult the vet immediately to prevent potential risks.
I hope you can find your answer through my sharing – Why is my cat peeing just outside the litter box?
Feature Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock
- Why Is My Cat Peeing Outside of the Litter Box?
- Tips To Stop a Cat From Peeing In The House
- What To Avoid When Your Cat Has a Litter Box Problem