5 common causes of your cat urinating outside the litter box
Have you ever had this happen? You’re a happy cat owner, your kitty is using the box just fine, but one day…you come home and find a giant urine spot in the living room…the bathroom…heaven forbid – on your bed! What happened? What went wrong? It isn’t normal for a cat to use her litter box faithfully, then one day decide it’s no longer right for her. There’s always a reason why a cat stops using the litter box.
If this happens to you, don’t panic! The earlier you realize kitty isn’t using her box, the earlier you can stop this problem cold. By careful investigation, you can figure out what’s going on, and how to get kitty to use her litter box again.
Let’s examine 5 common causes that could affect kitty, and the solutions for each.
Your kitty suddenly stops using the litter box because she’s developed a medical condition. It is most likely crystals in her urine, which form in the bladder, and make urination extremely painful. Kitty associates the urination pain with her litter box, so she continually tries to find a spot in the house that isn’t painful – to her!
The solution – get kitty to the vet as quickly as possible. A course of medication can clear the crystal problem in the short term. A permanent solution is to change your cat’s diet to canned food. Be sure to consult with your vet on large-scale diet changes for your cat.
New house or residence:
You moved to another location. It’s fine by you…but kitty is stressed out by the move. A week or two after moving in and unpacking boxes, you start finding “accidents” in the new digs.
To solve this problem, you will need to confine your cat to one room, and retrain her to use the litter box. She’s most likely stressed out by the new house or apartment. Set up a room with her food, water, litter box, and toys. Shrink her new world down to a manageable size, and start over with litter training. As she demonstrates her willingness to use the litter box again, bring her out, under supervision, and watch her. After a week or so, your cat should be better acclimated to the new residence, and use her litter box again.
Change to a different cat litter brand:
Cats can be fussy creatures. You change to a different brand of litter because it’s cheaper, it hides the smell better, or it’s simply more available. Kitty tells you she hates her new litter by the most obvious method – she stops using it!
Switch back to the old brand you were using. Assuming kitty liked that, the problem should be solved. If not, try Cat Attract brand litter. It has a unique blend of herbs and clay, and it really does solve the problem for about 98% of the feline population that has a litter box complex.
You change the litter box location:
You decided it’s time to move kitty’s box down to the laundry room from the dining room. Kitty is not pleased, so she continues her habit of using the dining room – minus the litter box!
One solution is to find a new location that’s acceptable to both of you. Barring that, you may well have to give in to kitty’s wishes, and put the darn box back where she likes it. It’s certainly cheaper than fighting the battle of cleaning up the urine stains and odor.
I feel your pain on this; my darn cat Scout loves the exercise room as a prime litter box location. I really, really hate it when I’m on the elliptical machine, and Scout has to answer a call of nature that lingers long after she’s vacated the box. Such is life!
A person comes to live with you and kitty:
If you subscribe to the saying, “Love me, love my cat,” it can be challenging for a new partner if she/he wasn’t a cat person. Discomfort, anger, and resentment can manifest in bad kitty behavior outside the litter box. Your significant other moves in (or you make the move), and the next thing you know, there are presents around the residence you’d rather not have.
You can solve this problem by ensuring that your cat and the other loved one give each a chance to get used to one another. This may entail confining your cat for periods of time, or getting your partner accustomed to cat behavior (climbing on the lap, meowing, sharing the couch, chair, or bed) over a period of time. The worst thing that can happen is for your partner to tease or abuse kitty. This could trigger an inappropriate elimination response.
Anytime your kitty stops using her box for no apparent reason is cause for immediate investigation. If you stop and think about any changes that have occurred in the immediate past, address those first. If you haven’t made any changes, the culprit is most likely a medical condition that can easily be diagnosed and cured by your local kitty vet.