An indoor lifestyle is much safer for our cats. However, this means that we expect them to eat, sleep, urinate, and defecate in certain places that we deem appropriate. A common complaint from our clients is that their cat urinated inappropriately on the bed, in the closet, or in someone’s shoe, and the list goes on!
Unfortunately, many clients feel that their cat is being spiteful when in fact they are trying to tell us that they are anxious, in pain, or simply dislike their litterbox. Inappropriate urination is actually a cry for help from our feline friends!
The following are a few of the most common causes of inappropriate urination:
- Underlying medical conditions
- Litterbox aversion
There are several medical conditions that may lead to inappropriate urination including bladder stones, arthritis, hyperthyroidism, kidney disease, and diabetes. If urinating is associated with pain or if getting in and out of the litterbox is uncomfortable then your cat may start urinating inappropriately. Cats with underlying medical issues are often seen urinating on horizontal surfaces.
Stress is another potential cause of inappropriate urination and can be associated with spraying and marking behavior. This behavior is commonly seen in multi-cat households where cats are announcing their presence and marking their territory. Inappropriate urination associated with marking behavior is usually found on vertical surfaces.
Litterbox aversion is also associated with inappropriate urination. Most of the litterboxes on the market today are too small for cats to adequately dig and move around in. There are often not enough litterboxes in different locations in the household. It is ideal to have one plus litterboxes than the number of cats. For example, if there are two cats in the household then three litterboxes are ideal. Cats also tend to prefer non-scented, clumping litter. Litterboxes should be placed in quiet, low traffic areas. In multi-cat households, it is important to make sure no one can become trapped or cornered in the litterbox. For arthritic felines, make sure the entrance of the litterbox is low enough for them to step over. Importantly, keep it clean!
If your cat is urinating outside the litterbox please schedule a visit with your veterinarian. We may recommend bloodwork & urinalysis to rule out underlying medical conditions & will discuss the treatment and management of the problem. Please do not punish your cat for urinating inappropriately as this is ineffective and will only make the problem worse by causing even more stress for your pet.
Remember, if your cat is urinating outside of the litterbox it is not an act of malice but a sign of distress!
**If at any time your cat is crying while urinating, having difficulty urinating or there is blood in the urine, please bring them in immediately. Both male (more often) and female (less often) cats can develop a blockage in their urethra. This condition is life-threatening and should be brought in to the veterinarian IMMEDIATELY**