My cat pees outside the litter box. Why does it happen?

By | December 19, 2022

If they learn very quickly to clean themselves, and rarely let themselves go where they should not, it happens that adult cats suddenly start to pee outside their litter box. A problem that can have different causes, and is therefore not always solved in the same way.

Various and varied, the peeing out of litter boxes of cats can have many causes and origins. It can be to evacuate a stress – following the arrival of a baby for example -, by fear in order to reassure itself – following a move -, or to mark its territory. It can also be the litter itself that poses a problem (dirty litter, closed box, substrate or gas that can emanate from it).

Whatever the reason, you should never scold or punish your cat, whether or not you catch him in the act. Do not put the muzzle in his needs, it would be like saying “so what, that’s it? Do it again and better”. And then, the frequency and quantity of urine or excrement would only increase.

Identify the cause of the problem: why doesn’t he pee in his litter box?

The first thing to do is to identify the cause of the peeing. Why is it happening? Following which change? What happened in the days preceding the first pee? If nothing has changed in the composition of the family, no move, no new furniture, no new kibble, no change in the type of litter, etc., you must look for the owners: stress, tension, revision for an exam, conflict, change of schedule, health problem, etc. When stressed, the cat will try to evacuate this stress. By urinating, the feeling of evacuation can be a temporary relief. In addition, the “smell” of urine will comfort and reassure your cat. And so the process begins. But why out of the litter box? Simply to alert you that something is wrong. It is not always easy to know what exactly is wrong, especially since the facts can go back a few weeks before the first incidents (the time it takes for the stress to settle down).

Other causes, same effect: cystitis, stones, urinary tract infections, diarrhea or constipation, and other elimination-related problems. The cat may make a connection between the bowl and the pain and think that it is responsible for all his ailments. It will then go elsewhere to relieve itself.

It is also possible that a cat refuses to share with one or more friends, or to go in an already soiled litter box. You should always have one more litter box than the number of cats and make sure to keep the box clean. The frequency of cleaning should be close together. As you can see, there can be many causes, sometimes difficult to identify.

Once the cause is identified, if it can be eliminated, everything will return to normal with time.

But this is not always possible. Therefore, the cat should be given enough time to adjust, but not more than a few weeks. If the cat doesn’t get over the problem, it means that the problem has not been properly identified. You will have to look again for the causes, or the cat will have a hard time adapting to the change.

Reassure the cat, and do not punish it

In any case, even if it is annoying to have to clean, do not reprimand him, be patient, pet him if he asks you, but do not “stick” him either. A cat that has a problem does not appreciate being overexcited. On the contrary, he needs to be calm, hence the importance of waiting for his requests.

Change your attitude toward your cat. Make him an accomplice without having to show it by gesture. Soft and comforting words are enough. The cat feeling loved, not rejected and friend of his masters, independent when he wants calm, stroked if he wants, all the chances are then on your side for that it calms.

Obviously, if it is a question of territorial marking, neutering can help to change this behavior (but it is not a solution: behavioral therapy is needed).

If you have any doubts or difficulties in identifying or solving the problem, consult a professional behaviorist who, with a little distance, will help you get through this without getting upset, by explaining what is going on and why, but above all, who will be able to go beyond identifying the problem to make sure that the uncleanliness is not hiding something more important.

If necessary, the behaviorist will work out a therapy with you, and/or suggest a check-up with your regular veterinarian in order to eliminate any kidney or bladder problems, etc.

Patience is the key word in such situations.

Accessories to help your cat

There are many reasons why a cat may relieve itself next to the litter box. Once you’ve ruled out medical reasons, you can look at the equipment available to your pet: maybe the litter box isn’t to his taste, he doesn’t like the litter box available to him, he doesn’t find the litter box clean enough, or he doesn’t like the type of litter box he’s chosen…

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