Has your cat been having issues with peeing outside the litter box lately? What does this mean? Does it indicate a problem with your cat’s health, or is it always a behavioral issue only? If you find yourself asking these kinds of questions, don’t worry—you’re not alone.
Litter box issues are common among cats, and cat owners may experience this problem several times during the life of a single cat. In the article below, you’ll find a list of information to help you learn more about why your cat may be peeing outside her litter box.
The main physical issues that can cause this are listed below:
Urinary Tract Infection
One of the most common causes of inappropriate urination in cats is urinary tract infection. If your cat has a UTI, she is likely to be in pain when she tries to pee, and she may incorrectly attribute this problem to her litter box. She may pee outside the litter box because she mistakenly thinks it will be less painful to do so. She may also pee outside the litter box because she can’t make it to the box in time.
Urinary crystals are more common in male cats than in female cats, but they can happen in both. They are very serious and can be life-threatening if left untreated. Many of their symptoms mimic those of urinary tract infections, including inappropriate urination.
If your cat is constipated and unable to poop properly, she may also have trouble peeing the right way. Additionally, she may think her litter box is the cause of her constipation, and she may start peeing and pooping both in the wrong places. If you’ve noticed a lot of frequent urinary accidents, watch your cat to see if she’s straining when she tries to poop, too.
Other Long-term Health Problems
Cats who have long-term health issues, chronic pain, or terminal illnesses may all urinate inappropriately as well. If your cat begins peeing outside the litter box and you’re able to rule out behavioral issues, go to the vet as soon as possible to rule out issues like these.
Read below to learn the behavioral issues that can cause this behavior to happen:
If you have multiple cats in the same household, each cat needs a separate litter box. Cats do not like to share their litter and may pee outside the litter box in protest of having to do so. Male cats may also spray urine to mark their territories, which can look like a urinary accident as well.
Sudden Household Changes
Any sudden changes in your household may make your cat become upset, which can lead to issues with peeing outside the litter box. Bringing home a new pet, having a baby, moving in with a significant other, or moving to a new home can all affect your cat’s behavior temporarily. The good news is that many of these issues will resolve after your cat has had some time to adjust, but it may take a little while for you to retrain your pet to use the litter box appropriately.
Dirty Litter Box
Many cats do not want to use a dirty litter box. If you go too long without scooping the litter box or emptying it fully to clean it thoroughly, this may bother your cat. If your cat is unwilling to use a dirty litter box, she is likely to pee outside it to let you know this! Many times, cats who are upset about the state of their litter will pee right next to it, as if to draw your attention to the problem.
Fear and Anxiety
Fear and anxiety can both contribute to short-term problems with peeing outside the litter box. For example, if your cat is afraid of loud music and you’ve just had a noisy party in your home, she may pee outside the litter box for a couple of days until she settles down. Separation anxiety may sometimes contribute to this issue as well.
Kittens are not born knowing how to use a litter box! If your cat is younger than about six months of age, there’s always a chance you’ll encounter some litter box training issues. Keep patiently showing your kitten where the litter box is located, and pretty soon, these issues should settle down.
Our Dallas, TX Animal Hospital is Here to Help if Your Cat is Peeing Outside of the Litter Box
If your cat’s inappropriate urination happens more than once, then it probably indicates an issue that needs to be resolved relatively quickly. Cats are picky about where they go to the bathroom, and it’s uncommon for them to willingly pee where they shouldn’t.
Take your cat to the vet to figure out what’s going on, especially if you can’t easily see what the problem might be. And if you think the issue is behavioral rather than physical, take stock of your cat’s setup to see what you might need to change about her environment as well. Feel free to contact our animal hospital in Dallas, TX, at (214) 826-4166 if you have questions or concerns.