For today’s #FelineFriday let’s talk……….Inappropriate Urination

We get it, it can be very frustrating for pet owners if they have a cat that is stopped using the litter box.  Did you know that roughly 1 in 10 cats will have an inappropriate elimination problem in their lives.

It’s important to remember that eliminating outside of the litter box is unusual behaviour for cats.  Your cat is trying to tell you that something is wrong!  There are several reasons why your cat may stop using the litter box.  This could include medical issues, litter box logistics, stress, or inter-cat aggression.

If your cat has stopped using the litter box then your very first step is to make an appointment with your veterinarian.  We will say it again nice and loud MAKE AN APPOINTMENT WITH YOUR VET!   The most common reason for litter box problems is that your cat is trying to tell you they are in pain or they are ill.

Your cat may have urinary tract infection, urinary crystals, bladder stones, or external infections like vaginitis or urethritis. 

Why??  When your cat feels pain while they are using the litter box they don’t understand that the pain is coming from the kidneys or the broken tooth or whatever the cause may be.  They just know that the litter box = pain and will then choose to eliminate on the carpet and when that still causes pain they move to another spot and the cycle continues.  

If your vet visit rules out any medical concerns, there are other things you can try

  • Provide enough litter boxes. Make sure you have one for each cat in your household, plus one extra. For example, if you have three cats, you’ll need a minimum of four litter boxes.
  • Place litter boxes in accessible locations, away from high-traffic areas and away from areas where the cat might feel trapped. If you live in a multistory residence, you may need to provide a litter box on each level. Keep boxes away from busy, loud or intimidating places, like next to your washer and dryer or next to your dog’s food and water bowls, or in areas where there’s a lot of foot traffic.
  • Put your cat’s food bowls somewhere other than right next to her litter box.
  • Remove covers and liners from all litter boxes.
  • Give your cat a choice of litter types. Cats generally prefer clumping litter with a medium to fine texture. Use unscented litter. Offer different types of litter in boxes placed side-by-side to allow your cat to show you her preference.
  • Scoop at least once a day. Once a week, clean all litter boxes with warm water and unscented soap, baking soda or no soap, and completely replace the litter. The problem with scented cleaners is that your cat could develop an aversion to the scent.
  • Clean accidents thoroughly with an enzymatic cleanser designed to neutralize pet odors. You can find this kind of cleaner at most pet stores.
  • If your cat soils in just a few spots, place litter boxes there. If it’s not possible to put a box in a spot where your cat has eliminated, place her food bowl, water bowl, bed or toys in that area to discourage further elimination.
  • Make inappropriate elimination areas less appealing. Try putting regular or motion-activated lights in dark areas. You can also make surfaces less pleasant to stand on by placing upside-down carpet runners, tin foil or double-sided sticky tape in the area where your cat has eliminated in the past.

Regardless of what you do so solve your cat’s elimination problems, here are a few things to avoid:

  • Do not rub your cat’s nose in urine or feces.
  • Do not scold your cat and carry or drag them to the litter box.
  • Do not confine your cat to a small room with the litter box, for days to weeks or longer, without doing anything else to resolve her elimination problems.
  • Do not clean up accidents with an ammonia-based cleanser. Urine contains ammonia, and therefore cleaning with ammonia could attract your cat to the same spot to urinate again. Instead, use a product specifically for cleaning pet accidents.

Products that may help:

  • Feliway helps comfort and reassure cats by mimicking the natural feline facial pheromone that happy cats use to mark their territory as safe and familiar. Use our online tools to learn more about the factors that can affect your cat’s behaviour.  For more information, please visit www.feliway.com.
  • Rescue Remedy is a combination of 5 Bach flower remedies to help your pet deal with stressful situations such as: going to the vet, entering a new home, groomer, thunderstorms etc.  This is an all natural holistic product.  Please visit www.bachflower.com for more information. 

An important part of this process is patience, having good conversations with your vet or other veterinary professional and remembering that your cat’s relationship with their litter box can be complex.  To them it is much more then just a toilet.