Litterbox Fact Sheet – Anxiety, Behavior Urinating

We often get calls from frustrated owners whose cats are urinating or defecating outside the litterbox. This can be a very serious problem which should be addressed immediately, but there are many simple things that can be done to prevent litterbox problems before they start. Length of time of “inappropriate elimination” is a huge factor if resolution is expected.

What to do if your cat starts urinating or defecating outside the litterbox

First of all, it is very important to get your cat in for an appointment with the doctor. Potential medical problems include bladder stones or external infections such as Urethritis or Vaginitis. Environmental stressors such as moving, the birth of a child or the addition of another pet may also cause inappropriate elimination or exacerbate existing medical problems.

Additional medical problems that may be associated with inappropriate elimination:

  • Kidney Failure
  • Constipation
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Impacted Anal Glands
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Intestinal Parasites
  • Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
  • Arthritis
  • Social/Anxiety Disorders
  • Cancer

Once the doctor has ruled out any medical issues, we can follow up with behavioral suggestions as well. Our clinic offers behavioral counseling and a variety of educational handouts that may make your cat more content in its environment. Our behavior consultant and other staff members can also offer guidance for the usage of behavioral modification medications and Feliway products. We can also provide suggestions for environmental enrichment, such as the importance and placement of cat condos and help you understand the normal social interaction of cats.
Do not confine your cat to just one room. People often think they can solve the problem either indefinitely or permanently and “re-train” the cat to use the box. This method is ineffective as cats are not litter trained, they use a litterbox instinctually. Cats have a need to patrol the whole house, and confining them to one room can escalate their frustration and increase their stress level. And once they get “released” from their confinement, it’s not uncommon for them to re-establish their territory by eliminating outside the box again.
The better question may be “Why do they not approve of my litterbox choices?”

How to stop litterbox problems BEFORE and AFTER they start

Based on our experience and research, we recommend the following advice on the best possible set-up and maintenance of litterboxes for you and your cats. Cats require a safe and calm environment; this is especially important to keep in mind when deciding on placement of litterboxes. When cats eliminate, they are vulnerable.

The Cleaning Process And Management Of Soiled Areas

There are a number of products on the market that claim to be the best odor eliminators, but the enzyme cleaners tend to work the best. The product that we carry and recommend most frequently is Urine Off. We also carry Veterinary Strength Outright Stain and Odor Remover. If the instructions are followed carefully we have found these products to be quite effective.

Ideas for making soiled areas less attractive:

  • Aluminum Foil
  • Potpourri On The Site
  • Catnip On The Site
  • Upside Down Contact Paper
  • Place Food/Water At Site (After Cleaning)
  • Scat Mats
  • Sound Sensors
  • Double Sided Sticky Tape
  • Vinyl Carpet Runner (Nub Side Up)
  • Provide Alternative Way To Mark (Scratching Post Or Pad)

Feliway is a synthetic product that mimics feline facial pheromones and makes a cat feel at ease in their environment. In conjunction with environmental modification, Feliway aids with scratching, intercat aggression and inappropriate elimination. It is available in a spray form as well as an electric diffuser. If using the spray form of this product it must be applied daily as it dissipates over a 24 hour period just as natural marking would. It is important to note that Feliway can easily be overpowered by harsh cleansers lessening its effectiveness. Mild detergents work best. If you have further questions about this product or its use, please contact our clinic.

More Help For Litterbox Problems

Many cats have a high tolerance level for their owners’ poor litterbox habits and you may not have experienced any trouble with inappropriate elimination. However, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

However, should your cat stop using the box remember that you are not alone, many cats will have an inappropriate elimination problem in their lifetime. If you are having an elimination problem with your feline friend, please make an appointment with the doctor to detect and treat any medical problems.

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