Why did my cat pee outside of the litter box?

Feline friends can bring a lot of joy to their owners’ lives. There’s a reason so many people spend their free time watching cute cat videos on the internet. Studies have even shown that a cat’s purr can have healing properties for humans. But like any other pet, sometimes if cats are stressed or experiencing some kind of physical discomfort, it can create messy and undesirable issues for their owners.

Most cat owners would probably agree that no matter how much they love their cat, they don’t love the smell of cat pee. If your cat is peeing outside of the litter box, there’s an underlying reason that should be solved. That reason could be anything from environmental stress to a medical condition. In today’s blog post we’ll cover:

  • Causes for a cat peeing outside litter box
  • Common solutions for a cat peeing outside litter box
  • Training your cat to use the litter box again

Why did my cat pee outside of the litter box?

Have you ever found yourself Googling, “why did my cat pee on my bed?” or “getting cat pee out of my carpet?” Your cat peeing outside of the litter box can be a frustrating issue, but there’s often an underlying cause to explain the inappropriate urination. A number of behavioral or medical issues could cause your cat to pee outside of the litter box. It’s important to identify any issues as early as possible so you can work with your veterinarian to find a solution and fix the problem.

Behavioral Causes for Cat Peeing Outside Litter Box

Sometimes your cat may pee outside of the litter box due to stress. One simple change in your cat’s environment or routine could cause your cat to act out by peeing outside of the litter box. Cats can be finicky, so the underlying cause may be something you wouldn’t consider a big deal. Some of the reasons your cat may pee outside of the litter box include:

  • Changing to a new and unfamiliar litter
  • Moving their litter box to a different spot
  • Not cleaning out their litter box often enough
  • Feeling their territory has been threatened
  • Boredom

Behavioral issues are common and easily fixed by addressing environmental issues. There is a lot of information and products available today to help you work with your cat if they’re acting out for some reason, including educational material on cat behavior and calming pheromones. But it’s still important to identify a root cause to find the best solution, which you can do by discussing with a veterinarian.

Medical Causes for Cat Peeing Outside Litter Box

When your cat is peeing outside of the litter box, it’s often because of an underlying medical issue. These issues aren’t always serious or life-threatening, but identifying them sooner is always best for your cat’s overall health. Some potential medical issues that can cause a cat to pee outside of the litter box are:

  • Urinary tract infection
  • Kidney disease
  • Thyroid disease
  • Diabetes
  • Digestive problems
  • Age-related issues

Some of these medical causes are more urgent or threatening than others, but regardless of what the medical cause may be for your cat’s inappropriate urination, a veterinarian should be able to provide some answers or solutions for you. A veterinarian can conduct a urinalysis to help understand what medical issue could cause your cat to pee outside of the litter box. A urinalysis is an affordable and easy way to potentially diagnose what could be causing your cat’s issues. Depending on what is found in your cat’s urinalysis, your veterinarian may suggest further bloodwork to rule out or confirm other medical issues.

How do I stop my cat from peeing outside of the litter box?

Once you’ve identified the issue that’s causing your cat to pee outside of the litter box, there are many solutions that could help stop this behavior. If your cat is dealing with an identified medical issue, your veterinarian should provide a prescription or treatment path to help solve the issue. Simple issues like a urinary tract infection can be resolved with medicine that your vet may have on hand to send home with you, while other, more serious issues may involve further tests, bloodwork, and procedures. 

If the reason your cat is peeing outside of the litter box is behavioral, there are a few different approaches you can take to stop the unwanted behavior:

  • Artificial pheromones: These are created to replicate the natural pheromones that animals give off to communicate with each other. Almost any pet store will sell them for dogs and cats. They work by sending specific signals to the olfactory receptors your pet has, and have been formulated to give off a calming effect. If your cat is peeing outside of the litter box due to stress or feeling territorial, this can be an easy and affordable way to communicate to your pet that everything is okay. You can purchase them as sprays, plug-in diffusers, and wipes! 
  • Enzymatic Cleaner: Sometimes a pet may have had an accident in a certain spot, but the scent they left behind signals to them that it’s okay to continue to pee in that spot. Hunting out the spots where your cat may have peed outside of the litter box and cleaning them thoroughly with an enzymatic cleaner can help prevent your cat from continuing to pee in that same spot. 
  • Preventing boredom: Believe it or not, cats are active creatures that enjoy enrichment and playtime! Cats need time to be playful and active, giving them a chance to use their skills and natural instincts as predators. It’s important as a cat owner to make sure your cat has the enrichment in their life that they need. This can be done easily by providing toys and activities for your cat that make them use their natural instincts and skills.

How to make sure your cat uses the litter box

While most cats will have already mastered the art of peeing inside of the litter box by the time they make their way into your home, there are simple ways to keep them healthy, happy, and using their litter box correctly:

  1. How often do you clean out your cat’s litter? It’s important to make sure that you clean out the litter box on a daily basis. Letting things pile up in your cat’s litter can cause them to go looking elsewhere when it’s time to relieve themselves. 
  2. What’s the best litter for cats? The litter your cat likes! Use the litter that your cat has used without issue in the past. Switching the type of litter you use could stress your cat out and cause them to form an aversion to the litter box. 
  3. Keep your cat’s litter box away from their food and water. Most animals will naturally not want to go to the bathroom near their food and water. 
  4. Are they recovering from a medical issue like a UTI? If so, they probably associate the discomfort they felt from the infection with the litter box. You can mix a cat litter attractant in with your normal litter to encourage your cat to use the litter box again. This should help reassure them that the litter box is a safe place. 
  5. How many litter boxes do you need for your cat? It depends on how many cats you have, but we always suggest an extra litter box for every cat. If you have one cat, you should have two litter boxes. If you have two cats, you should have three litter boxes, and so on. Cats don’t like to be disturbed by another cat when they’re using the litter box, so avoid a crowd by having an extra litter box on hand.

Say ‘goodbye’ to the cat pee in the carpet, and say ‘hello’ to a healthy, happy feline

There are many reasons why your cat may pee outside of the litter box, but it isn’t the end of the world. You and your cat can continue to have a happy, harmonious life together in the same house. Seek a veterinarian’s help as soon as you notice your cat peeing where they aren’t supposed to. 

At PetWellClinic, we excel at helping cat owners find the underlying issue for their cat’s litter box issues. We do everything in our power to diagnose the cause and find the best way to treat it with you. We also offer a variety of cat wellness packages to make life a little easier for both you and your cat, and there’s no need to call to make an appointment. All of our locations offer convenient walk-in visits. Our goal is to make every visit to PetWellClinic as stress-free as possible for both you and your pet. Stop by and visit one of our locations when it’s most convenient for you.

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