There’s nothing more frustrating than dealing with a cat that’s doesn’t use its litter box. In fact, inappropriate elimination is one of the most common reasons given when adult cats are abandoned at the shelter.
While most people automatically assume that cats are spraying to mark their territory, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes improper elimination is caused by a medical problem. Whatever the case, elimination outside of the litter box should never be ignored.
Cats use scent to communicate with each other. Your cat may mark its territory by chin rubbing, scratching, or spraying urine. Spraying is more common in unneutered males and unspayed females but sometimes continues after alteration.
Spraying in spayed females and neutered males is rarely due to behavioral issues. Most of the time, it’s caused by stress or medical problems. If your neutered or spayed cat is spraying, the first thing you need to do is take them to your veterinarian.
The most common cause of urination outside of the litter box is a urinary tract infection (UTI). A UTI causes your cat to experience pain when urinating. This can cause them to avoid using their litter box.
UTIs are easily diagnosed and easily treated with antibiotics. Cats typically begin using their litter box immediately after treatment.
Stress is another common cause of inappropriate elimination. A stressed cat will likely show other symptoms such as excessive licking, aggressiveness, and/or irritation. Stress can be caused by numerous factors. The most common include changes in the home environment, the addition of new family members or new pets.
Spending more time with your pet or reducing exposure to stressful experiences can help them overcome these issues.
Cats like things tidy. Proper litter box maintenance is extremely important. Your cat might avoid using its litter box if it’s unclean, or if you’ve switched to a scented litter.
If you have multiple cats, you will need multiple litter boxes. A good rule of thumb is one litter box per cat. Make sure these are placed in different locations so that each of your cats feels like they have their own space to eliminate.
Make sure that you fully clean any areas where your cat has eliminated. Even the faintest odor can cause them to return.
With a little patience, improper elimination can be resolved. The first step is to visit your veterinarian. If your cat is not spayed or neutered, now is the time. It’s much harder to stop an unaltered cat from marking its territory.