When your cat chooses one area as an « alternative litter box, » it’s annoying, but relatively easy to deal with. But when your cat seems to be urinating everywhere–the litter box, the living room carpet, the sofa, the laundry basket, even on your computer desk–it can drive you crazy in a hurry. Once you understand the underlying causes of your kitty’s prodigious piddling, you can solve the problem and finally eliminate those nasty stains and odors from your home.
Health problems are one of the less common causes of litter box avoidance, but they merit mention first because some require immediate veterinary treatment. Among the more serious issues are a blocked urethra (this can be fatal within days) and urinary tract infections (UTI). Other medical causes of improper urination may be less urgent, but they still require prompt veterinary care. These include worms, food allergies, diabetes and thyroid disorder. If your cat’s suddenly started wetting all over the house, you notice her straining to go, or you see blood in her urine, consult your veterinarian immediately.
Unappealing Litter Box
Fortunately for our kitties, an unappealing litter box is more often the cause of litter box avoidance than are health problems. Unfortunately, for us, there are numerous reasons a cat may not like his box and we’ve got to figure out what our cat’s reason is. Generally speaking, the reasons fall into three categories:
- Covered versus uncovered box,
- Height of the box’s sides,
- Litter type, and
- The box’s location
So, your cat may be happy with the type of box and litter, but if the box is in the wrong spot, he may opt to piddle on the carpet in a location of his choice. Once you’re aware of the things you can change about the litter box, it’s a simple matter of experimenting with different options until you hit on a combo your cat likes. The spots your cat prefers to go give you clues to how you can make the box more attractive. For example, if your kitty’s been generously watering your potted plants, you may find swapping litter for dirt or mixing dirt in the litter gets your cat using the box again.
Stress and Anxiety
To those not familiar with cat behavior, it may sound funny to blame a cat’s urinating in the house on anxiety. If you know cats, though, you understand they prefer predictability and are sensitive to change. The big changes like moving to a new house, losing a pet, or a family member moving out are more obvious causes of stress and definitely can cause inappropriate urination.
But the same thing can also happen due to more subtle changes like neighbors starting a noisy remodeling work, a new cat in the neighborhood your cat has seen or smelled through the window, or even rearranging the furniture. If your cat’s stressed out, you’ll probably notice other signs like aggression, lethargy or lack of appetite. Not all the signs are obvious, though. Did you know vertical scratching (on the walls and sides of furniture, rather than the carpets) is a sign of stress?
Many Causes, Many Solutions
These are by no means the only causes of litter box avoidance, though. While many of the other causes are common to all cats, some causes are specific to declawed cats, long-haired and tailless breeds, and multiple-cat households. The thought of trying to pinpoint exactly what’s causing your cat’s litter box problems might sound overwhelming, but once you look through a comprehensive guide to the causes and solutions, you’ll find it’s not too hard to pick out the causes that may apply to your cat and get started correcting the problem.