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Is Your Cat Peeing Outside the Box? Litterbox Tips for Cats

Is your feline friend peeing outside the litterbox? Here are five tips to help with urinary problems in cats.

One of the most common complaints we get from cat owners is that their cat is peeing outside the litter box. Inappropriate urination can be a sign of serious health problems in cats. So how do you know when peeing outside the litterbox is a problem and what can you do to fix it? In this blog, we are going to offer 5 tips to create litterbox harmony for your cat!

    • The golden rule for litterbox happiness is to take your # of cats and add 1, this is the # of litterboxes that should be present in your house! If you have 3 cats, you should have 4 litter boxes. Even if you only have 1 cat, you really should have 2 litter boxes to avoid issues. If your cat is urinating outside the box this is the first place to start. Add additional litter boxes. If space is an issue I am a big fan of litterbox “furniture” such as the enclosures below. They allow you to hide the litter boxes and put them in areas where you may not want a litterbox visible.
  • Clean the boxes every day! This is extremely important. At my house, it is the first thing I do every morning before I even have a cup of coffee. I let the dogs out and then clean out all the litter boxes. Cats are usually fastidious creatures and they prefer clean litterboxes. Many cats won’t use a litter box if it is dirty or smells bad. I also recommend completely emptying and bleaching out litterboxes every 3-4 weeks. This helps decrease odors and keep litter boxes clean. Cleaning the litter boxes every day also allows you to notice changes or trends. If your cat has not used the litterbox in a day, or if there are suddenly larger or smaller piles or urine this should prompt further investigation.
  • Figure out what type of litter your cat prefers and stick with it. Sometimes people switch out litter types all the time or buy whatever is on sale and this can be a major stressor to cats and lead to litterbox avoidance. I use Arm and Hammer clumping litter, and I am also a fan of crystal litter. I have tried the corn and pine-based litters and my cats won’t use them so I stick with what they like. If you are going to try a new litter, always offer it side by side with the old litter. Don’t just change it out. This will allow you to determine if your cat will use it or not and won’t force them to use a litter they might not like.
  • Make sure your litter box is large enough for your cat. Cats should be able to stand up and turn around in their litter box. For some larger cats, they will need a large or oversized litterbox. Two of my cats have a history of urinary tract problems and for them, they need a litterbox with high walls to avoid them peeing over the edges of the box. Some cats prefer covered boxes, but make sure that they can get in and out easily. For older cats finding a box that has a low side that is easy for them to step in and out of is critical.
  • If your cat is suddenly peeing outside of the box or in inappropriate places around the house and you have addressed all the issues above consider trying to figure out what has changed and what might be stressing them out. Often times peeing outside the litter box is a behavioral issue that is triggered by stress. It can also be triggered by changes in the household such as new dogs, new cats or a new household member. It can also be triggered by cats outside the house who might be near windows where your cat can see them. Be mindful of all these things if your cat’s litterbox behavior changes.

If stress is a trigger for inappropriate urination pheromones such a Feliway can help. Feliway is a natural pheromone that cats secrete when they are happy and relaxed. You can buy collars with the pheromones in them or diffusers. I recommend placing some of the diffusers around the house, particularly in areas where cats spend a lot of time.

Last but not least, if your cat is suddenly urinating outside the litterbox have them checked out by your veterinarian. Crystals and other bladder problems may require medication or special diet changes and your veterinarian can help determine if these are needed. Have additional questions? Call us today- we are happy to help answer any litterbox questions you might have. 860-669-5721.