Although it’s upsetting to find cat pee around the house, it’s important to understand that cats aren’t being bad when they urinate outside the litter box. They are simply behaving in a way that meets their needs at the time.
There are numerous reasons why a cat might urinate outside the litter box, including health issues, anxiety, or bullying from other pets in the home. With a little investigation (and possibly a trip to the vet), you should be able to determine what needs to be done to stop your cat’s inappropriate urination.
Table of Contents
Consult Your Veterinarian
If your cat has started to urinate outside of the litter box, it is important to make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible.
There are many potential health issues that could be causing your cat to urinate outside of the box, such as a urinary tract infection, hyperthyroidism, feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC), bladder crystals or stones, arthritis, diabetes, and kidney disease.
Your veterinarian will ask you questions about when the issue started and perform a physical exam and urinalysis. They may also recommend other tests, depending on the results of the initial exam and urinalysis.
Clean Up the Mess Thoroughly
In order to keep your home clean and free of any lingering smells, it’s important to clean thoroughly anytime your cat urinates outside the litter box. This is for both your benefit and your cat’s so that they’re not drawn back to the same spot by the scent.
You can use a black light and your sense of smell to identify all problem areas so you can be sure to clean them completely.
If you’re dealing with fresh urine, first blot it up as much as possible with paper towels or a cloth. Next, pick the best cleaning method based on what has been soiled:
Bedding, clothing, towels, etc.: You can clean these in the washing machine using a cold cycle. Then, hang them outside to dry.
Tackle Territory Issues
Cats sometimes spray to mark their territory – that is, they squirt a small amount of urine on a vertical surface. So, if you find a splatter of urine on the wall, your cat is probably spraying rather than actually peeing.
Intact male cats are the most notorious offenders when it comes to spraying. Cats should be neutered around 5 or 6 months of age – ideally before puberty. Your vet can help determine when your kitten should be spayed or neutered.
If your neutered cat is spraying, try making him feel more secure in his territory. In a multi-cat household, it may help to provide separate living areas for each cat.
If this is not feasible, try getting some tall cat trees or perches and creating hiding places and covered escape routes so cats can easily avoid each other.
Reduce Conflict Between Your Cats
Inappropriate urination can be caused by conflicts between multiple cats or the introduction of a new cat.
If your cats got into a fight near the litter box, they may choose to avoid it altogether. Separate your cats for a while to let the tension fade, and then try gradually reintroducing them.
One cat may also be guarding the litter box. Make sure you have several litter boxes spaced out throughout your house so one cat can’t prevent access to all the boxes at the same time. You may also consider an uncovered litter box so that your cat is always aware of their surroundings. This will help make them feel safer and less anxious.
Provide More Litter Boxes
If you’ve determined that your cat is urinating inappropriately, it’s time to take a close look at your litter box situation.
First, how many do you have? One litter box is often just not enough. The general rule of thumb is one box per cat, plus an extra one.
Cats can be very picky about using a box that already contains urine or, particularly if that urine or is not their own. The more litter boxes you have, the more likely your cat is to find one that suits their needs.
Evaluate the Litter Box Location
It’s important to place your cat’s litter box in a convenient location. If you have multiple stories in your home, you’ll want at least one litter box on each floor.
Think about it: if you were on the second floor of your house, would you want to run all the way downstairs to use the bathroom? Neither does your cat.
And when litter boxes are too tucked away, say inside cabinets or in the corner of a basement laundry room, cats may not bother to go find them. Making it easy for your cat to use the litter box will often alleviate problems.