Why Is My Cat Peeing in the House?
Why Is My Cat Peeing in My House?
You have a big problem: your cat, who was trained to use a litter box years ago, is suddenly peeing in random spots around your home. You're at your wits' end. As a cat owner, I can empathize: it's maddening, destructive, and confusing. Your normally sweet and pristine little kitty is making your house a mess.
The thing to remember is that your cat is unhappy about the situation, too. Cats are very clean animals. If yours has been "inappropriately urinating" (as it's formally called), then it's trying to tell you that something is wrong.
There is a reason for this behavior, and it's up to you to figure out why or it will continue. Below, you can find reasons and solutions to your cat's litter box problem.
The #1 reason cats are given up is because they can't be trained to use their litter box.
Medical Reasons for Inappropriate Urination
The most common reason a cat is peeing in the house, and the first thing you should consider, is a medical issue. If your well-trained cat suddenly starts peeing in random places, a visit to the vet is the first thing to do.
- Your cat could have a urinary tract infection (UTI), which is very common. An infection will cause him pain and he'll refuse to use his litter box. You may notice him straining to urinate, but little or none comes out. When you think about it, this is the "best" and only way your cat has of clearly communicating the problem to you. If left untreated, a UTI can cause scarring. Scars take up room in the bladder which leaves less room for the urine.
- Kidney infections or stones are also common. Does she strain to pee, pee a lot, or is there blood in her urine? It could be her kidneys.
- A bacterial infection (aka cystitis) might also be the culprit. It’s more common in older cats.
- Diabetes is another possible cause, one that can be deadly to your cat if left untreated. If your cat is unusually thirsty and runs to the litter box but can't make it there on time, this might be the problem.
- Middle-aged and older cats, and large breeds may become incontinent. If your cat is overweight, this can also be a cause.
- Pain: If your cat is ill or in pain for some other reason (declawing, for example,) this may impede his ability to use the litter box.
Your best plan is to get to the vet. Proper diagnosis and medication can help your cat and solve the problem.
Check the Litter Box!
- If the litter is dirty, or if there is too much or too little of it, your cat may start looking for other places to go. It should be cleaned every day. A cat's sense of smell is much stronger than ours. They won't want to use a dirty or smelly box and go elsewhere to do their business. Most cats prefer unscented litter.
- Make sure the cat has easy access to the box: If the box is in an area that's difficult to get to or feels cramped, if the box is too small, or if there are too few litter boxes, moving the box, getting an additional one, or getting a bigger one might be the solution. Older cats may not be able to make it to the litter box on time anymore, and may need easier access. Your cat may have outgrown his litter box and wants a new one. Give it to him!
- Cats like privacy, so if yours is placed in a busy area, consider moving it to a different part of your home.
- Don’t put the box near the cat's food, in a cold or damp area, in a closed-in closet, or near an appliance that may spook the cat (vacuum cleaner, washing machine, etc.).
- Have you recently changed anything about the litter box: type or amount of litter, liner, cleansers used? This may be the cause.
Emotional and Behavioral Reasons for Inappropriate Urination
If your cat is in good health but is still peeing in the house, then it might be a behavioral problem. A nervous or stressed cat will react by inappropriate peeing. When this happens, it's much more confusing and frustrating. You can't blame her actions on an infection or disease. It will take more time and ingenuity to ease her anxiety. You have to find out what is upsetting your cat.
Changes in your home can be the stresser. Moving to a new house or the addition of a new family member or animal (especially another cat) can cause anxiety. Try looking at this from your cat's perspective: If he feels threatened by something, he will act out.
Territorial disputes can cause issues. If the cat feels unwelcome in her home or yard, if some other cat is laying claim to her territory (including the litter box), if she feels unwelcome in the box for any reason, she may be forced to find other places to go to the bathroom. If you have more than one cat, try getting an additional box.
What Should I Do if My Cat Pees in the House?
The first thing to do is find out why it happened (see above). The urine is your cat's way of communicating that something is wrong.
Never yell or use physical force if your cat pees in the house. This won't solve anything, it will only make your cat more stressed. You don't want your cat to be afraid of you. Use soft, soothing tones when speaking to your cat.
When he does use the litter box, offer positive reinforcement. Praise him, pet him, and let him know how happy you are he used his box. This is very important and works well. Praising your cat when he acts correctly will give you better results than yelling or scolding him. Try to remain calm and do what is best for your cat.
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