Cats are usually very well mannered and have high standards of personal hygiene. On occasion some household cats deviate from the norms and stop using the litter box. They instead choose different alternative spots of the house to eliminate on. This behavior is very disturbing and generally generates a strong response from the rest of the family.
Urinating outside the litter box is a fairly frequent problem with cats. It indicates medical or behavioral problems that need to be addressed appropriately.
Inflammation of the urinary tract may cause painful or frequent urination. Bladder irritation may induce increased urgency to urinate. Some systemic problems such as kidney, liver, and thyroid diseases often cause increased drinking and urination. Arthritis, nervous system disorders, muscular diseases, diabetes and old age senility are also reasons for inappropriate urination. Urine and blood tests can help rule out many of those medical problems.
Behavioral problems that cause inappropriate urination are very common in cats. Sometimes there is something about the litter box that the cat doesn’t like. It could be odor or scent, the box itself, the litter physical characteristics or the location of the box.
Unclean litter boxes may have an offensive odor of ammonia (a normal byproduct of urine), especially if the box has a lid. Scented litter or cleaning material can have the same negative effect. Ragged litter texture may be aversive to cats. Many of them prefer fine sand-like litter. Cats may dislike the location of the box. Noisy, high traffic areas can drive the cat away from the litter box.
Cats might prefer a soft surface, such as beds, carpets or cloths, to the litter in the box. They may also choose a specific location in the house that they feel more comfortable with. Some odors are attractive to cats and may induce urination at a certain spot.
Cats will mark territory by spraying urine on vertical surfaces, like the back of chairs or walls. Early neutering or spaying helps prevent this type of behavior in many cases.
Stress of various kinds can cause cats to urinate in different locations. Sickness, noise, dietary problems or environmental factors are a few possible stress factors.
Dealing and correcting the problem is often frustrating. It may be a long process that requires patience and persistence. It is also expensive, especially when bedding and carpets need to be replaced.[Back]