It can be concerning if you notice your potty-trained cat peeing outside of their litter box. Today, our Rochester vets share a few reasons why your cat may not be peeing in their litter box.
Why Cats May Not Be Peeing in Their Litter Box
Firstly, and most importantly, it is essential to consider your cat's health. Cats will often pee outside of their litter box if they are suffering from a bladder infection or severe bladder inflammation.
It is also common for cats to pee outside of their litter box if they are experiencing high levels of anxiety or stress which results in chemical imbalances in the body.
Before you go any further, if your cat has recently started peeing anywhere that isn't their litter box, it's time to take your kitty to the vet for an exam.
Other Possible Reasons
Once you rule out health reasons for your cat's strange new behavior it is time to consider other possible reasons why your cat is choosing to not use the litter box. Some of the most common are listed below.
Recent Changes in the Household
Your cat craves predictability. Problems involving soiling outside of the litter box can be sparked by a change in the household such as someone moving in, someone moving out, or the arrival of a new pet. Perhaps you have started a new job and are out of the house for long hours.
Make sure you spend a little extra quality time with your kitty helping them to feel safe and secure despite the recent change. With a little extra love and attention, this behavior should resolve itself once your cat feels safe and secure again.
Dirty Litter Box
Cats have a keen sense of smell. One very common reason why your cat may be refusing to use their litter tray is that it isn't being kept clean enough. If you use clumping litter take a few minutes every day to clean the clumps and any solid waste out of your cat's litter box, and replace the litter weekly.
If you use non-clumping litter be sure to do a full litter change at least twice a week, but if you have a particularly fastidious cat you may need to change the litter every second day to keep your feline friend happy.
Litter Box Position
Cats are surprisingly particular about where their little box is located. Cats need to feel safe and secure to do their business, so if your cat's little box is in a high-traffic area, this could be the issue.
It is also important to note that cats will not urinate or defecate near food. This means that your cat may not use their litter box if it is located too near their food and water bowls.
In some cases, cats want more light, or perhaps your cat's litter box is kept in an area that necessitates passing your dog's favorite spot.
Moving your cat's litter box is an easy change to make, that could help to stop your kitty from peeing around the house.
Your Cat Requires More Litter Boxes
Multiple litter boxes can be particularly helpful if you have more than one cat, if your cat is still a kitten, or if you have a large home with multiple stories.
Make sure that the litter boxes are all easy to access, and if you have a multi-feline home, try having as many litter boxes as you have cats so each cat can have their own.
Finds the Litter Unpleasant
You may think that the type of litter you use doesn't matter, but it might matter very much to your feline friend. Some cats will refuse to use litter boxes lined with litter made from coconut or corn. Cats will not urinate or defecate near their food, and because cat litter made from these substances can smell more like food than a place to relieve oneself, your cat may refuse to use their litter box.
Other cats find some brands of cat litter too hard on their feet, too dusty, too scented, or too clumpy. The best thing to do is try experimenting with different types and brands of cat litter until you find one that your cat is happy to use.
Tricks to Help Stop Your Cat From Peeing Where They Shouldn't
Whatever approach you try, be sure not to yell or punish your cat. Positive reinforcement combined with loving patience is always best.
Change the Meaning of the Space
Besides making your cat's litter box a more pleasant place to go, a helpful approach can be to change the meaning of the place your cat is choosing to urinate or defecate. What this means is, if your cat has started to pee on your bed, spend time playing with your cat on your bed, and give your cat some treats while on your bed. Your cat will stop thinking of your bed (or sofa or rug) as a place to relieve themselves, and more as a place to relax and enjoy.
Thoroughly Clean Area
It will be essential for your sanity, as well as to help deter your cat, to clean the area where your cat has peed to remove all smell. If your cat can smell urine it may encourage them to pee in that spot again. For yourself, of course, there is nothing nice about having a home, bed, sofa, or rug that smells like cat pee. Be sure to use a cleaner that has been formulated to neutralize the smell of pet urine. In some cases, you may need to rent a steam cleaner to help get rid of the cat pee smell.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.