You may wonder what you’ve done to raise your cat’s ire if they are avoiding their litter box, but understand that they are not doing this out of resentment. Although your whiskered pal may occasionally swat at you to express displeasure, if they urinate on your favorite sweater, your cat has not done this out of spite.
To determine why your cat is peeing outside the litter box, your Smithtown Animal Hospital veterinarian should perform your feline friend’s physical exam and diagnostic testing. In addition to scheduling your cat’s veterinary exam, consider our team’s five common reasons that are likely to blame for your cat’s inappropriate urination habits.
#1: Your cat has feline lower urinary tract disease
Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) encompasses many urinary syndromes that affect cats, including urinary tract infections (UTIs), feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC), and urinary stones. Many of these urinary problems result in similar signs, so determining the exact cause can be challenging. Your cat may have a urinary tract issue if they are exhibiting any of the following signs:
- Frequently urinating in small amounts
- Straining to urinate
- Vocalizing while urinating
- Bloody or discolored urine
- Urinating in unusual locations
Although your cat’s bladder inflammation or infection has been medically resolved, they may continue to urinate outside the litter box. Cats often associate urination pain with the litter box, so they avoid eliminating in their box and seek out soft or cool surfaces on which to urinate, a behavior that often continues after treatment.
#2: Your cat has kidney disease
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a common condition in older felines, but the disease can develop in pets of any age. If your cat’s kidneys are not functioning properly, their body is unable to filter the blood’s wastes and toxins. To help flush these waste products out of the body, your cat will drink and urinate more. Increased urination can lead to accidents outside the litter box. As a result, your cat can become accustomed to urinating in the new place and avoiding the box.
#3: Your cat has diabetes
Diabetes is another common condition that causes excessive thirst and urination. While any cat can develop diabetes, overweight cats have a high risk. With 61% of cats classified as being overweight or obese, your cat may be in the at-risk category and be more likely to develop diabetes.
If your cat develops diabetes, our Smithtown Animal Hospital team can manage their insulin level successfully and recommend proper nutrition to decrease or prevent urinary accidents. However, if your cat’s disease is not managed well, they may avoid their litter box.
#4: Your cat has a litter box aversion
Cats can be finicky and may avoid their litter box for myriad reasons, some of which seem insignificant. However, when your cat is urinating on your rug, these reasons become just as troublesome to you as they do to your feline friend. Factors that may play a role in your cat’s litter box habits include:
- Cleanliness — Cats are particularly sensitive to foul odors and unclean conditions. If you fail to scoop and disinfect their litter box regularly, they will likely avoid it.
- Litter type — Heavily scented litter may help mask urine and feces odors, but perfumed litters may turn your cat off to their litter box. Opt for finely granulated, scent-free, clumping litter to encourage your cat to urinate appropriately in their box.
- Box type — Some cats do not like covered boxes, while others become anxious and afraid of boxes that are self-cleaning. In general, cats prefer unencumbered boxes that are large enough to fit their entire body comfortably. In addition, if your cat has arthritis, they may appreciate a box that has low sides, so they don’t have to tax their painful joints while stepping over the box’s sides.
- Box placement — Litter boxes placed in busy or noisy areas can force your cat to find a calmer, quieter place to urinate. Place boxes in spots that are out of the way, but not so far away that your cat has to trek across the house to use them.
#5: Your cat is stressed
Cats experience stress in many situations, and, when stressed, they may avoid their litter box and find a safe, comfortable spot in which to urinate. Your cat may be stressed because of the following:
- Household bullies
- Inadequate food, water, bedding, and other resources
- Sudden routine or environmental changes
- Diet change
- Recent illness or injury
- Lack of exercise and environmental enrichment
While you can’t prevent every stressful situation your cat may face, you can ease your whiskered pal’s stress, anxiety, and fear. Supervise your cat’s interactions with other household pets to discourage bullying, and provide plenty of resource stations to prevent guarding. Strive to stick to a schedule as much as possible, and implement changes gradually. To help your cat burn excess energy and stress, exercise their mind and body through interactive play, toys, and furniture.
Inappropriate elimination is one of the top reasons cats are surrendered to animal shelters, as constantly cleaning up urine is incredibly damaging to the bond you share with your feline friend. If your cat is avoiding their litter box, schedule an appointment with our Smithtown Animal Hospital team.