As a cat owner, chances are you’ve had experience with your precious pet not urinating where she should be. Even if you’ve trained her to use a litter box, she might still go to the toilet in the wrong place. So, what can you do about it?
First, you’ll need to look at why she might be urinating inappropriately.
Inappropriate urination can be a symptom of many medical conditions, including urinary tract infections and bladder stones. Disorders that can cause your cat to drink more, such as liver or kidney disease, can also lead to more frequent urination, and therefore increase the likelihood she will have an accident. Cats might also start missing their litter trays if their mobility is affected by joint or muscle problems. Older cats, too, can have trouble making it to the litter box in time.
If your cat has always been well house trained and suddenly starts having more accidents, a trip to the vet is a must. Your vet can diagnose any underlying medical problems that could be causing your cat to urinate where she isn’t supposed to.
If your vet has ruled out medical causes for the inappropriate urination, you can then start exploring possible behavioural causes, especially if it looks like she is intentionally missing her litter tray.
If your cat is new to your household or you’ve moved house or adopted a new pet, she might be urinating to mark her territory. Pets do this so they can be surrounded by familiar smells. Cats will often do this when they can smell the presence of other cats, so thoroughly clean any areas of the home where another cat has been. When cats are marking their territory they will often urinate on vertical surfaces with a small stream of urine. Often it is easy to spot ‘marking’ behaviour as they will act differently to when they are just urinating to relieve themselves.
If you don’t think your cat is marking, think back to when your cat started urinating away from her tray and what is going on in the household at the time. Stress or anxiety can cause a change in your cat’s habits. A change in litter or the litter tray can also trigger a change in urinating behaviour. Try a few different brands of litter in a few trays around the house to see which your cat prefers. Most cats prefer a clean tray, so be sure to regularly wash and scrub the trays and change the litter daily. If you know your cat doesn’t like certain rooms or areas of the home, avoid putting the trays there as she just won’t use them – most cats, like humans, prefer a private place to do their business, so place the trays in an area away from the buzz of the home.
Try placing the tray in the spot where she has been urinating inappropriately (she clearly likes that spot) and slowly move it away to a better location. On the other hand, she may have become used to urinating on that particular piece of carpet or rug so you’ll have to break the cycle by banning her from that room of the home. Be sure to clean up spills thoroughly so the odour doesn’t hang around – she might be less interested in urinating in a spot if she can’t smell her urine there any more.
If your cat is getting older and she is avoiding her tray it could be that she just finds it hard to get into it. Buy her a new tray with low sides so your cat can easily hop in and out.
If you’re at all concerned or you’ve tried these techniques and they haven’t worked, have a chat to your vet about other possible causes and solutions.