How to stop your cat urinating inappropriately?
Let's talk about cat urinating today. You see your cat go into their litter box, so you know that they are still using it. But then, instead of peeing into the litter, they pee just over the edge of the box. There are numerous reasons why a cat might pee outside the litter box or pee over the edge of the litter box, including health issues, anxiety, or bullying from other pets in the home that needs to be addressed.
Consult Your Veterinarian
If your cat has started to pee outside the box, the most important thing you can do is make an appointment with your veterinarian.
Urinary tract infection, hyperthyroidism, feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC), bladder crystals or stones, arthritis, diabetes, and kidney disease are just some of the common health issues that can make cats urinate outside of their litter box.
Your veterinarian will ask you questions about the issue and when it starts, then they will perform a physical exam, urinalysis, and perhaps some other diagnostic tests to determine if the problem is medical rather than behavioural.
If your cat is given a clean bill of health, your veterinarian can then help you address environmental or behavioural issues that may be playing a role.
Clean Up the Mess Thoroughly
Whether your vet determines that the problem is medical or behavioural, be sure to thoroughly clean all areas where your cat has peed outside the box. You want to be sure you’ve eliminated the odour, not just for your own sake, but also so the smell doesn’t draw your cat back to that same spot.
You can use a black light and simply your sense of smell to identify all the problem areas.
Reduce Conflict Between Your Cats
Conflicts between multiple cats or introducing a new cat may cause inappropriate urination.
If your cats got into an altercation in or near the litter box, they may choose to avoid the box rather than take the chance that another fight will happen if they use it. Separate your cats for a while to let the tensions 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 rather than spraying, it’s time to take a close look at your litter box.
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 feces, particularly if that urine or feces 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
Where are the litter boxes located? If you have multiple stories in your home, you'll want at least one 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 convenient for your cat to use the litter box will often alleviate problems.
Keep litter boxes away from unpredictable areas such as near washing machines/dryers, loud pipes, or other areas that may scare your feline friend.
If your cat keeps peeing in the same spot, try placing a litter box over that area, and then slowly moving it to the spot where you’re okay with having a litter box.
The placement and setup of litter boxes can make a real difference.
Clean the Litter Boxes More Often
A filthy litter box is almost guaranteed to send a cat elsewhere to pee. Cats are very clean creatures by nature, so they prefer to use a clean litter box.
At a minimum, litter boxes should be scooped out once a day. You should do a deep clean every 1-2 weeks by dumping all the litter and washing and refilling the boxes.
Reduce Your Cat’s Stress
Cats are creatures of habit. Anything out of the norm will cause them stress, and stress will affect their urinary tract: kidneys, bladder, urethra, etc.
Many things that we would not consider stressful as humans can cause anxiety in cats. For example, when we decide to go on a vacation, we look forward to it. Your cats see your luggage as something changing in their environment and may even be smart enough to correlate the luggage with you leaving the house.
It may cause them major stress, which can lead to inappropriate urination—on, in, or around the luggage. New visitors, parties in the house, packing and moving, and/or new furniture or changes in the house layout can cause the same stress response.
Loud noises from dryers, pipes, or even from fireworks on holidays will alienate cats from their litter boxes, especially if these noises occur when they are using the box or are near the box.
Keeping several easily accessible boxes around the home with clean litter in quiet, safe areas is the best way to keep stress down. If you must pack for a trip, perhaps move your cat to an area where they cannot see the luggage, or pack in a room that is closed off.
Use feline calming aids such as specially formulated cat calming treats or cat pheromone diffusers to help keep the environment as low-stress as possible. Taking your cat for a checkup and talking with your veterinarian can also help identify stressors, and in some cases, medications can be used to help alleviate your cat’s anxiety.
Peeing around the box could be them trying to do their business while simultaneously saying, “This is my space.”
The difference between vertical peeing and spraying
Spraying is not to be confused with vertical peeing. Some cats, both male or female, will urinate inside the litter box either standing up, or they start urinating in a squatting position and then gradually stand up as they finish. And yes, female cats do this, too
Spraying, on the other hand, is a territorial behaviour. Cats who spray stand upright and deposit a small amount of urine on vertical surfaces. Even though both male and female cats spray, the behaviour is mostly seen in unneutered male cats, and occurs more often in multi-cat households, although even a single cat may spray.
It is best to figure out precisely what kind of behaviour you are dealing with if you want to fix it. A cat that is spraying instead of simply missing the sides or not squatting down is an entirely different situation.
Check to see if your cat has been peeing around the home, not just around the litter box. Vertical peeing is often a sign of spraying, and your cat could be trying to tell you that they are dealing with distinct emotions. This behaviour could also play into their territorial dominance.
- Take them to the vet.
- Fix any recent litter box changes.
- Provide them with a personal litter box.
- Get them a box with a larger interior area.
- Get a box with higher sides.
- Put a cover over the top of the box.
- Put down floor mats.
As you can see, there are many reasons why your cat is peeing over the edge of the litter box. You may need to change their litter box or the litter in it, or if their behaviour is related to a medical condition your vet will be able to prescribe treatment that should curb the bad behaviour.