Inappropriate Urination in Cats
Giving a new meaning to the term, "Thinking outside the box".
Could my kitty be peeing outside of the box because she's sick?
It's common for cats with medical problems to begin eliminating outside of their litter box. For example, a urinary tract infection or crystals in the urine can make urination painful and both are serious conditions that require medical attention. So if your cat has a house-soiling problem, make an appointment with one of our veterinarians so we can rule out any medical problems.
Could she be urinating around the house because she's upset about something?
Often times, cats will urinate in areas they shouldn't because something about their environment has changed (eg. new pet, new houseguest, new smells etc.)
How should I clean up the spots where she's urinated?
Because animals are highly motivated to continue soiling an area that smells like urine or feces, it's important to thoroughly and properly clean the soiled areas (keep in mind a cat's sense of smell is much greater than ours). Urine stains will glow in the dark under a fluorescent black light, which can generally be purchased at hardware and pet supply stores. Once located, the stains should be cleaned with an enzymatic cleaner, such as "Urine-Off" which we carry here in the clinic. Avoid adding water to "dilute" the urine, it will only spread the urine further into the carpet.
How can I encourage my kitty to use her box?
- Keep the litter box extremely clean. Scoop at least once a day and change the litter completely weekly. If you can smell the box, then you can be pretty sure it's offensive to your cat as well.
- Place a litter box on each level of the house
- Add a new box in a different location, and use a different type of litter in the new box.
- Make sure that the litter box isn't near an appliance (such as a furnace) that makes noise, or in an area of the home that your cat doesn't frequent.
- If ambushing is a problem, create more than one exit from the litter box, so that if the "ambusher" is waiting by one area, your cat always has an escape route.
- If you have multiple cats, the rule of thumb is 1 litter box per cat (not to say that each cat will stake claim on one specific box)
How can I discourage her from urinating in areas she shouldn't?
Try covering the area with a material that cats don't like stepping on such as aluminum foil. Cats don't like citrus smells so soak a few cotton balls in a citrus scent and place them in the area. OR, you can try placing a litter box in the area. Once she has used it consistently for at least a month, begin moving it SLOWLY (an inch or so per day) toward your preferred final destination.
What do I do if I catch her trying to urinate outside the box?
If you catch your cat in the act of eliminating outside the litter box, do something to interrupt her like making a startling noise. Immediately take her to the litter box and set her on the floor nearby. If she wanders over to the litter box, wait and praise her after she eliminates in the box. If she takes off in another direction, she may want privacy, so watch from afar until she goes back to the litter box and eliminates, then praise her when she does.
Don't ever punish your cat for eliminating outside of the litter box. By the time you find the soiled area, it's too late to administer a correction. Rubbing your cat's nose in it, taking her to the spot and scolding her, or inflicting any other type of punishment will only make her afraid of you or afraid to eliminate in your presence. Animals don't understand punishment after the fact, even if it's only seconds later, and trying to punish them will often make matters worse.
**Don't forget the value of praise! If you see kitty using the litter box, reward her with a tasty treat!**