Cat pee 102: Causes of cat peeing outside litter box

cat peeing outside litter box

Feline house-soiling is a complicated problem to solve.  However, there are ways to prevent, manage and resolve your cat peeing outside litter box.  This week Dr. Anna Coffin will discuss four basic causes of feline house-soiling.

Many owners think their cat urinates outside the litter box out of spitefulness.  Cat peeing outside litter box is not because it is mad or seeking revenge but because a specific physical, social or medical need is not being met.  Let’s learn the reasons why your cat has this behavior so that the problem can be resolved.[Tweet “Cat peeing outside litter box is not because it is mad or seeking revenge”]

Four basic causes of cat peeing outside litter box:

Environmental and social factors: 

  • Cats are very clean creatures and require an appropriate number of unsoiled litter boxes to eliminate.  If a clean litter box is not available they will seek another area to perform their duty. 
  • Cats like their privacy, so they may avoid using a litter box that is located in a high-traffic area.  Keep litter boxes away from cat doors or flaps.
  • In a multi-cat household where there is conflict between cats, the presence of another cat near the litter box can cause the other cat to seek out another place to eliminate.
  • A negative experience that occurs while the cat is urinating in the litter box can cause feline house-soiling issues.  Examples include:  giving medications, family members trapping a cat in the box, dirty litter box or being startled by a sudden noise (appliances) while eliminating

Marking behavior:  Cats mark to leave their scent on things to signal messages to other cats.  In addition to urine marking, cats use scratching, facial rubbing,  and middening (depositing feces) to leave a message.

  • Intact male and female cats will mark as part of their sexual behavior.  Spaying and neutering will drastically reduce this behavior.
  • Cats will also mark because of stress related issues.  This is probably the most common cause of cat peeing outside litter box.                                                                                                     1.  Any change in the cat’s environment, especially where the cat eat, sleeps and plays.   Remodeling and rearranging furniture are common causes.                                                          2.  New items  or unrecognized smells are commonly targeted items such as backpacks and shoes.                                                                                                                                                            3.  Cats that mark near windows or doors usually perceive a threat is coming from outside their home.  Stray or neighborhood outside cats are common causes.                     4.  Cats that mark in hallways, stairwells, doorways or the center of rooms indicates stress from inside the house.  New people, other pets and active children are common causes.

Medical causes:

  • Any cat peeing outside litter box should be examined by a veterinarian to diagnose or rule out any medical condition.
  • Common medical problems that can cause feline house-soiling include urinary tract infections, cystitis, arthritis, kidney disease and diabetes.

Feline Idiopathic Cystitis:

  • Feline idiopathic cystitis is the most common causes of cat peeing outside the litter box.  This is a very painful condition that causes increase frequency of urination, difficulty urinating, painful when urinating and blood in the urine.  Symptoms may come and go with this condition as it is aggravated by stress and diet changes among other things.

Identifying the cause of cat peeing outside litter box is the first step in resolving this issue.  Join Dr. Anna Coffin next week as she discusses designing and managing the litter box.

Stay tuned next week:  Cat pee 103:  cat litter box

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