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Why Do Cats Pee in the House? Top Five Reasons

A mother and freelance writer, Meagan loves to research and learn new things. Her biggest passion is sharing those things with other people.

There are many reasons why a cat might stop using the litter box.

There are many reasons why a cat might stop using the litter box.

Owning a cat can be a rewarding experience, but sharing your home with a cat who urinates everywhere can be a nightmare. It's especially frustrating when your furry friend has never displayed that type of behavior before.

If you are currently experiencing this problem, don't put out the free kitten sign just yet! There very well may be a good reason for your pet's newest behavior, and it might be easily remedied. Read on to learn about the five main reasons why your cat might be peeing in the house and what you can do to change it.

1. The Litter Box Location

The first thing you should check is the location of the litter box. Many people prefer to tuck their cat box away in a place that's not right out in the open or visible to guests. While this certainly seems like a good idea to us, it might not be as convenient for our pets.

If a cat has shown an attempt to use its potty but then shows no interest in it, it's possible that the location is not suitable. Perhaps they became frightened when the furnace turned on or got trapped inside when a door was left open?

When you bring a cat home for the first time or change the location of their litter box, it's a smart idea to observe your animal friends for a few days. Watch their behavior when they use the box. Do they seem comfortable with the location? Is it easy for them to get in and out of the box? Do they come running out of it like their tails are on fire because something spooked them?

Follow the suggestions below to find the ideal spot to put your cat box.

Litter box placement is important and plays a role in whether or not a cat is likely to use it.

Litter box placement is important and plays a role in whether or not a cat is likely to use it.

Good PlacesPlaces To Avoid

Peaceful and quiet, where they can have privacy

Near loud or noisy appliances that turn on and off randomly

It should be easily visible for cats with poor eyesight

Basements that are dark, damp, or cold

On the same floor where your cat spends a lot of time

Far away from where your pet spends the majority of their time

Open enough to easily get in and out without getting trapped

Cramped spaces such as closets or hallways

Somewhere out of the way but still in a common area of the house

High traffic areas where there are always people present

In a room whose door may get closed often

Near other pets the cat does not get along with

Check for obstacles that may scare your cat

Somewhere easy to forget about it

Is the Potty Clean?

If you walked into a public restroom and looked down to see waste floating in the bowl, would you use that toilet? Your cat might be an animal, but they have standards too. When their potty is dirty, they will find another place to do their business. Unfortunately, that place is usually on your carpet.

This problem is easily avoided by scooping the waste out of the box daily. Investing in a cat litter that clumps will make it easier for you to keep the box clean.

2. Health Problems

There are many conditions that could cause our cats to urinate suddenly and without warning, giving them no time to get to the litter box. It's not always clear if that is what's causing them to pee in unusual places, but if you've never had a problem with your cat before, or don't obverse any other reason for the behavior, you should take them to your vet as soon as possible.

Is Your Cat Getting Enough Water?

Not many people realize this, but cats are not naturally inclined to drink large amounts of water and get most of their fluids from the food they eat. That's not to say that they will not consume water if it's provided. However, if your cat is ingesting primarily dry food and not drinking enough water, this could lead to health problems like UTIs which could cause inappropriate urination.

Even cats that are used to pottying outside can be trained to use a litter box.

Even cats that are used to pottying outside can be trained to use a litter box.

3. They Never Learned to Use a Litter Box

Cleanliness is important to cats. They groom themselves constantly, avoid anything that would get them dirty, and cover their own waste. This is probably why they catch onto the idea of a litter pan so quickly. They like the idea of a tidy place to keep all of the yucky contained as much as we do, but some cats might not have been taught this important lesson. This is particularly true for cats who are used to going outdoors.

Teaching an older cat how to use a litter box may be difficult, but it is not impossible. With time and love, you can show even the most feral cats where to go potty. If they absolutely refuse to learn, you may have to allow them outdoors.

4. Stress and Anxiety

The idea that an animal could become stressed, anxious, or depressed might seem crazy, but it is a very real possibility. Cats experience many of the same emotions as a human, and much like humans, every cat will respond differently to stress.

Stress in small doses is actually a good thing, and many animals rely on those feelings to survive. When they begin feeling anxious, they know something is not quite right and they react to it. When those triggers are constant, however, it overwhelms them and they may respond to it with behavioral changes.

Common Signs of Anxiety and Stress in an Animal

  • Aggression
  • Constant grooming
  • Hair loss
  • Spraying
  • Inappropriate urination

What is Stress?

A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.

— The definition of stress according to the Oxford Dictionary

The presence of other animals, even other cats, could cause a cat to stop using its litter box.

The presence of other animals, even other cats, could cause a cat to stop using its litter box.

5. Other Animals

It's very common for animals to urinate around the home when other animals are present, and it can happen even if those animals no longer live in the house.

Countless pet owners have pulled out their hair in frustration because they could not understand why their animals were peeing on the floor. Many of them discovered the reason was that their previous pets had also urinated around the home and because it was not cleaned properly, their animals felt the need to mark over the scent with their own.

Felines can be particular about their space and if you have more than two cats in the home sharing one litter box, it can cause one or more to ignore the box entirely.

If you have male cats, you may notice they spray when they want to mark their territory. A female cat, especially one in heat, may make this worse. Even if you do not own male cats, you may notice other neighborhood felines spraying around the outside of your home when your female cat is in heat.

There are numerous other reasons why a cat might pee somewhere other than their litter box, but these are the most common causes of this behavior. If you have followed all of the tips above and your animal baby is still urinating on the floor, you may want to talk to your vet. Sometimes, cats never do quite get the hang of a litter box, and those animals are better suited outdoors.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

Question: My previous cat had a kidney problem and peed in the house. Is this why my rescue cat is peeing in the same room?

Answer: That is a very big possibility. Sometimes fixing the problem is as easy as cleaning the floors well. Other times — especially if the pee had a chance to soak into the floor — people find they have to replace the entire carpet in that area of the house.

Some great products on the market can help cover the old scent of cat pee. Maybe try one of those?

Does the current kitty pee in any of the other rooms or just that one?

© 2018 Meagan Ireland