How can you stop your cat from urinating outside the litter box?
Unfortunately, this is a very common problem for cat owners. It is possible that your cat is exhibiting this behavior because of an underlying medical disorder, so the pet should be examined by a veterinarian to rule out disease as a cause of inappropriate urination. Cats may urinate in inappropriate places because of urinary tract infections, bladder stones, and feline lower urinary tract disease. Tests such as urinalysis, bloodwork, and x-rays of the abdomen may identify the presence of such medical problems.
However, inappropriate urination is most often a behavioral problem. One of the most common reasons that cats stop using the litter box is that the box is not kept clean enough for their tastes. Boxes need to be scooped at least daily, and the litter should be changed frequently. Many cats are best accommodated with two separate boxes: one for urination and one for defecation. Both boxes must be kept clean. If you have multiple cats, many veterinarians recommend that you provide at least one litter box per cat. You may want to provide litter box access on each floor of the house.
Also consider whether your cat has access to the litter box. Is there a closed door blocking your cat’s path to the litter box? In addition, a dog that stands guard or a dominant cat may not permit the affected cat to use the box. Other causes of aversion to the litter box include proximity to appliances that are noisy, such as televisions and washing machines, and those that turn on or off by use of a timer. Cats that are disturbed in the litter box by another cat, child, or dog may develop a litter box aversion as well.
It is possible that your cat is reacting to a change in the box location or type of litter. Some cats are very particular about where they go, and others are sensitive to the perfumes or dust in the litter. It may be necessary to try different types of litter — for example, a non-clumping clay litter versus a sand-like clumping one — until you find one that meets your pet’s needs. In addition, if you provide the cat with a covered litter box, you might try switching to an uncovered box to see if the pet prefers it.
There are other methods for controlling inappropriate urination. You may want to move the litter box to the area where your cat is urinating. Always clean the soiled areas of your home with a non-ammonia cleaner. Because cats are drawn to the scent of urine, they may continue to go in the same inappropriate site if they are stimulated by the smell of previous accidents. The best cleaning products contain enzymes that degrade the urine and prevent stains. These products should be available through your veterinarian or local pet store. Because your cat may have a preference for carpet, you can change the way the area feels by using plastic carpet protectors or aluminum foil. This substrate change may make the litter box a preferred spot. In some cases, you may want to move your cat’s food bowl to the area that she had previously soiled. Because cats are fastidious they don’t like to eat and eliminate in the same place.
It is important to talk to your veterinarian about the inappropriate urination. He or she will have some additional suggestions tailored to the specific needs of your cat. In some cases, medication can be helpful in controlling the problem, but it is usually reserved for cases where other possibilities have been exhausted. Veterinary behavioral specialists may offer additional insights.