Feline Inappropriate Urination

Apr 20, 2016

Urinating outside the litter box is the number one reason cats are surrendered to the shelter. Inappropriate urination may be a resolve of medical or behavioral problems, or often a combination of problems. Here are some key points about feline inappropriate urination.

· First, have your pet evaluated by a veterinarian for medical problems that may be contributing to your cat’s urinary problem. Urinary tract infections, kidney disease, diabetes or arthritis are just a few medical reasons cats may start urinating outside the litter box. Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) is also a common cause of inappropriate urination and is a combined medical and behavioral disease that requires medical attention

· Is your cat marking/spraying or inappropriately eliminating/toileting? Marking is generally characterized by the cat backing up to a vertical surface, lifting and often twitching the tail, and spraying urine backward. However, marking can occur on horizontal surfaces and is often in areas of significance (windows, doors, areas of previous conflict or the scent of another person or animal.) Whereas, inappropriate toileting is often associated with horizontal surfaces, a large amount of urine, and scratching/digging behavior afterward.

· Marking/spraying can be a normal sexual behavioral and these cats should be neutered if not already. This behavior can also arise from anxiety or as a territorial behavior.

· Inappropriate toileting is generally a result of aversion, preference, or anxiety

o Aversion

§ Litter box aversion: There should be at least 1 more litter box than the number of cats in the house. Litter boxes should be large, uncovered, and with a minimum of 3-5 inches of litter. Plastic under-the-bed sweater boxes make great litter boxes. Boxes should also be scooped daily and replaced with fresh litter weekly.

§ Substrate: Signs of substrate aversion include perching on the edge of the box and scratching the floor and walls around the box rather than in the litter. Fresh Step multi-cat unscented litter tends to be well liked by cats; however, some cats dislike clay litter and do better with other types – consult your veterinarian.

§ Location: This often occurs when a P has a difficult time assessing a litter box. This could be due to other pets or people in the house, loud noises, or obstacles in older arthritic cats. Litter boxes should be in quiet, open, and low-traffic areas. Boxes should also be placed in different areas throughout the home and on every floor.

o Preference

§ Substrate: This develops as a result for an aversion of the type of litter currently offered. Often cats will urinate on soft absorbent materials, such as clothes, towels, and linens

§ Location: This also typically develops as an aversion to the litter box location. Cats will seek quiet, safe, and easily assessable areas. Cats are also attracted back to places where they or other cats have previously soiled.

o Anxiety

§ Anxiety in a cat that previously tolerated other aversions can suddenly cause them to start urinating outside the litter box. Separation anxiety can also cause inappropriate urination. Pheromone diffusers, such as Feliway, are sometimes helpful in these cats, but other may require anti-anxiety medications and behavioral modification. Please consult a veterinarian if you suspect anxiety.

Quick tips for cats that don’t have a medical cause for urinating outside the litter boxes

1.) Large, uncovered litter box with 3-5 inches of litter

2.) Multiple litter boxes – number of cats in household + 1

3.) Unscented, clumping litter (Fresh Step multi-cat unscented is one option)

4.) Litter boxes in quiet areas in multiple areas of the house and on every floor

5.) Feliway diffusers

6.) Consult a veterinarian for more information


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