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Feline Housesoiling

"My cat is peeing outside of the litter box."

We see many cats for this problem. It can be a frustrating and time-consuming issue to solve. But with patience and a plan, we can work with you to identify physical, social or medical reasons why your cat may not be using the box consistently. Please remember that your cat is not exhibiting this behavior because they are angry at you or because they are being spiteful! Punishing them for inappropriate urination or defecation is NEVER the answer! Punishing your cat will just make him afraid of you AND afraid of the litter box which will make the problem even worse.

There are four basic causes of house-soiling.

1.  Environmental and Social Factors

  • Cats are clean animals and prefer unsoiled litter boxes to eliminate, ESPECIALLY in a multi-cat household.  
  • The location of the litter box is very important!  Boxes should not be in high-traffic areas or near food and water.
  • A more dominant cat may drive a less confident cat to find other places to eliminate by preventing him from using the box.
  • If a negative experience occured near the litter box, cats may seek other places to eliminate.

2.  Marking Behavior

  • Urine spraying is a way that a cat can leave its scent as a sign to other cats.  It is a normal feline behavior.
  • Unspayed and unneutered cats mark as part of sexual behavior.  Having cats spayed or neutered reduces this behavior significantly.
  • Anxiety-related marking can occur when something changes in a cat's environment where he eats, sleeps and plays.
  • Items that have new or unrecognizable smells are often targeted (think backpacks or shoes).
  • Marking behavior near windows and doors suggest that there is a perceived threat coming from outside the home.  Marking in stairways, hallways, doorways, or the center of the rooms usually indicates stress or threats from inside the home (other pets, new people, active children, or remodeling).

3.  Medical Causes and Problems

  • Medical problems (infections, cystitis, arthritis, kidney problems, diabetes, etc) can cause a cat to urinate or defecate inappropriately.
  • Additional tests may be needed to diagnose a medical issue.  Urine culture, abdominal xrays, ultrasounds, blood work may be required.

4.  Feline Idiopathic Cystitis

  • Feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC) is a frequent medical cause of house-soiling. Cats suffering from FIC have increased frequency of urination, difficulty and pain when urinating, and can have blood in their urine. This inflammatory condition can increase and decrease in severity over time and is aggravated by stress, changes in diet, and other issues.

There are many reasons why cats choose other locations to urinate or defecate. We owe it to them to try and find out which needs are not being met so that you and your cat can get back to "normal" life!

Our next installment will focus on how to design the optimal litterbox!

All of the helpful information above (and more) can be found at the following link:


Sesame Cat

This is Sesame. She is a TVH pet patient and she has never been 100% with using the litter box. She hopes that if your cat has the same problem, you will do your best to figure out why.