Cat owners spend a lot of time training their pets to use the litter box appropriately. We place the litter boxes in the most convenient locations for our pets and our families, stock up on kitty litter and wait for the day that the new kitten will go where it’s supposed to.
Once litter box training is complete, we assume there will be no more issues. However, one extremely common complaint from cat owners is that their cats are urinating outside of the litter box. We know that it’s not because the cat doesn’t know how, so why would a cat suddenly decide to abandon its routine?
As it turns out, there are a wide variety of things that could be causing your cat to pee in random spots around your home. Some of these reasons may be medical in nature, such as a bladder infection, while others may be your cat’s way of communicating with you.
The best way to diagnose a urination problem in cats is to visit the vet to have major medical issues ruled out or diagnosed. However, certain signs may help you narrow down the possibilities beforehand. Here are some of the most common reasons cats pee around the house.
Medical causes of inappropriate urination
There are a number of things that could be wrong with your cat’s health that might be leading it to urinate outside of its litter box. The health problems listed below are most common, but urination around the home may also be your cat’s way of telling you something else is wrong.
- Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD): FLUTD refers to a grouping of ailments that cause painful urination and blood in a cat’s urine. FLUTD may include a urinary tract infection (UTI) or the formation of crystals in the urinary tract. Both of these conditions cause painful urination or the inability to urinate. Your cat may begin to associate the pain it feels while trying to urinate with its litter box, causing it to want to urinate elsewhere. It may also not be able to control its urination.
- Kidney disease: Kidney disease is the loss of proper kidney function over time and is common in cats. One of the major signs of kidney disease is a cat drinking an increased amount of water throughout the day and urinating a lot as a result. This frequent urination may cause your cat to urinate in other parts of the home because it is not able to make it to the litter box.
- Arthritis or mobility problems: If your cat suffers from arthritis or is in pain due to a physical mobility problem, getting in and out of the litter box may be difficult, causing it to urinate elsewhere. Additionally, the litter box itself may not be an issue as much as its location. If the box is located upstairs or downstairs, relocating it to a main floor may help your cat reach it with less difficulty.
- Cognitive dysfunction: As cats age, their brain function may begin to decline due to an ailment called cognitive dysfunction syndrome. When this happens, your cat may appear lost in your home and forget how to do simple skills it once could do easily. Aging cats are some of the most common cats to urinate outside of their boxes for this reason.
Behavioral problems leading to urination in the homes
If your cat is not enduring a physical health problem, it may be urinating around the home due to a behavioral issue.
- Dirty box: Cats are clean and finnicky animals, so if their litter boxes are not clean to their standards, they may decide to not use them. Litter boxes should be cleaned once a day to prevent odors, elimination buildup and the irritation of your cats.
- Frustration: Cats can be pretty particular when it comes to their litter box, and simple things like changes to the type of litter you buy can frustrate them. If you recently changed the litter texture or scent, switch back to the original kind to see if the urination problem stops. Cats may also urinate to get your attention if they are unhappy with the litter box location. This is extremely common when the litter box is moved suddenly, but may also occur if the litter box is placed in a highly-frequented area.
- Stress: A cat that is stressed or anxious may begin urinating around the home out of fear. Many things could upset your cat, such as rearranging the furniture, moving to a new home or the addition of a new family member or pet. This problem may ease on its own in time, but you may require the assistance of calming supplements of anxiety medication from the vet if it is a prolonged issue.
If your cat is suddenly urinating outside of its litter box, think back to identify any changes you may have made recently regarding the litter box or your home. If you can find something that may have upset your cat, change it and see how your cat responds. If this doesn’t solve the problem, take your cat into the vet to have it examined and to see if it is suffering from an underlying health condition that requires treatment.