The best way to learn how to stop a cat from urinating in the house is to understand why they’re doing it to begin with. In this article, we’ll talk about several possible reasons why your cat isn’t using the litter box and what you can do to solve it. I’ll also give you additional resources for more information on this topic and help with cat training in general.
Why Do Cats Urinate Outside the Litter Box?
The first step in figuring out why your cat won’t use the litter box is to rule out urine marking (see #9 below) and medical problems (see #7 below). Have your cat checked out by a veterinarian first. Once it’s determined that your cat doesn’t have a medical condition, then consider the following possibilities:
1. Conflict between multiple cats in a home. I personally have had two cats sharing a litter box with no problems. However, this doesn’t always work. This can be a first step if you have multiple cats…set up one litter box for each cat…ideally in different locations so they’re not fighting over it.
2. Dislike for the type of litter box you’re using, or the litter itself. Most cats don’t like litter box liners, or a litter box with a hood or cover. Others don’t like the litter/box to be too deep (most prefer about two inches of litter). You might also consider whether the litter box is too small for your cat. They should be able to easily move around in the litter box. Consider whether the sides of the litter box are too high. Also, some cats don’t like self-cleaning litter boxes. I got one of those for my cat once, and it scared the heck out of her! Have you ever used a restroom in a restaurant or hotel, and the toilet automatically flushes before you even get off the seat? Scary, right? I think it’s the same with the self-cleaning litter boxes. It can be startling to say the least. LOL. Also, know that some cats don’t like scented litter.
3. Being de-clawed (even if it was years ago). A cat who has been declawed may have sensitive toes, making regular, scratchy cat litter uncomfortable or even painful. You may consider switching to a soft cat litter such as Okocat Super Soft Clumping Wood Unscented Cat Litter. For more information on this topic, read this article, What’s the Best Litter for Declawed Cats? If your cat has developed a preference for peeing on surfaces such as carpet, bedding or potting soil, this may be the problem.
4. Dislike for the location of the litter box. Keep this in mind particularly if you have an older cat. If your litter box has always been in the basement, for example, your older cat may be having a problem using the stairs to get to the litter box. Also, remember that cats like privacy in general. If the location of the litter box is too exposed, this may be a deterrent for sensitive kitties. Be careful to place the litter box in a location that is quiet, but not “cornered.” In order to feel secure in the litter box, your cat needs to be able to see people or other pets approaching, and also have an escape route. Just make sure the litter box is not in a high-traffic area, isn’t in a loud area (like near the washer/dryer) and is easily accessible for your cat at all times. You might also consider not putting your cat’s food and water dishes near the litter box.
5. Litter box isn’t clean. I owned a cat for 20 years who would absolutely refuse to use the litter box if it wasn’t clean. Ideally, you should be scooping the litter box daily, and changing the litter completely at least once a week.
6. Negative association with the litter box. A common reason why your cat won’t use the litter box is because something happened to upset them while they were using the litter box (another reason why their litter box should not be out in the open). If you feel like your cat is afraid of her litter box, try moving the litter box to a different location (not where she’s cornered…she needs to be able to escape easily). You could also try changing the cat litter to a different brand (so the litter box seems different). Try playing with your cat near the litter box or putting toys or treats near the box (not their food bowl, though…cats don’t like to eat near their litter box). Another possible cause for this could be painful elimination, which leads us to the next possibility…
7. A medical condition. If your cat has a urinary tract or bladder infection, for example, it would be painful to pee. The cat may decide that has something to do with the litter box! If your cat suddenly stops using the litter box, it’s imperative that you have them checked by the vet. I had a cat, who after 14 years of faithfully using her litter box, suddenly started peeing on the bathmat. Turns out she had a bladder crystal which had to be surgically removed. Your cat experiencing painful urination may not be that serious – it could be just a simple urinary tract infection. But regardless, definitely check with your vet.
8. Stress. Cats can get stressed out by things that we wouldn’t necessarily see as stressful. Urinating around the house could be a symptom of stress. For more information on this topic, check out my article, Cat Stress Relievers – 10 Things That Stress Your Cat Out!
9. Urine Marking. A cat who is urine marking may regularly use the litter box but will also pee in other locations. When marking, they usually back up to a vertical service like a wall or the back of a chair, put their tail straight up in the air and spray urine. Urine marking is a territorial issue. Male cats tend to do this (it’s also referred to as spraying). But all cats can do it for various reasons such as having multiple cats in the household, a change of some sort (like if you move to a new house, have a baby, or get a new pet), or if there is a conflict with another pet in the house. For more information on this topic, read this article, Urine Marking in Cats.
10. The cat isn’t trained to use the litter box. Your cat may not have been taught, either by its mother or by its previous owner, how to use the litter box. You can show your cat how to do it by carrying your cat to the litter box when you see they’re starting to pee. Also, place the cat in the litter box often. Once they get used to it, they’ll usually start digging around in the litter. You can encourage this by using your finger to dig a little in the litter. Cats (and kittens) will generally pee eventually while in the litter box. Once they do, give gentle and quiet praise. Also, you might use your finger to cover poop or pee if they don’t do it on their own…I know it’s gross, but if you do it a few times, they’ll realize they should do this.
Get Ahead of This!
If your cat pees anywhere in the house, it’s important to get it solved quickly so they don’t make a habit of peeing in that spot. Treat the area right away with Nature’s Miracle. This is an enzymatic cleaner designed to neutralize pet odors. Eliminating the odor will discourage your cat from urinating in that spot again. Click HERE to purchase this on Amazon.
You might also try making inappropriate elimination areas less appealing. Try putting a light on in a usually dark area (or even installing a motion-activated light). You can also make surfaces unpleasant by turning throw rugs or carpet runners upside down, or placing tin foil or double-sided sticky tape in the area where your cat peed.
For More Help with Cat Training
I can recommend two very good resources for cat training. One is UltimateCatSecrets.com. This program covers cat training, plus a variety of other topics regarding the care of cats.
Another is a Complete Cat Training Guide from KingdomofPets.com. This is a downloadable Ebook that is jam-packed with information on how to solve 25 real-life cat behavior problems. It includes the best cat training techniques and step-by-step instructions.
Both of these cat training programs cost $37 and come with a full money-back guarantee.
Be Patient with Your Kitty!
Remember that cats are highly intelligent animals. Whatever they’re doing, they are most likely doing it for a very logical reason. It’s our job as pet owners to figure out the reasons for our pets’ behavior, and to solve it. I hope these tips have helped!
For More Help With Cat Peeing:
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