Cat Peeing in the House? Consider the Litter.

Cat laying in litter box dreaming about the beach.The issue of cat litter seems like it should be a fairly straightforward thing, right? I mean, it’s essentially just kitty toilet “paper.” Humans use can choose ultrasoft, scented, flower-printed paper or just make do with the rough, unbleached paper, so why should a cat care what he uses in the the “bathroom?”

Whether or not it’s logical to us, cats do have preferences when it comes to litter. In fact, problems with the litter can be enough to send your cat looking for a litter box alternative he considers better, like the floor behind the sofa or in a corner of the kitchen. So, if you expect your cat to use the litter box, you’ll need to get the litter right.

There’s a Reason There are So Many Types of Cat Litter

Stop by any large pet store and you’ll probably find at least half a dozen types of cat litter available. The most common are gravel-type litters made of natural clay (non-clumping) or betonite clay (clumping). You can also find pellet-type litters made of corn, pine or recycled newspaper. Most cats prefer gravel-type litter, so if you’ve been using pellets and your cat’s been avoiding the litter box, try switching to gravel.

Conversely, some cats prefer pellets because they’re softer on the feet. If it turns out your cat likes pellet-type litter, I have a money-saving tip for you in Cat Urine Problems Eliminated. All litters have their pros and cons and the choice really depends on what your cat will use, not what the commercials say. The only thing I’d add is to avoid using clumping litter with kittens younger than 6 months of age. Kittens tend to ingest litter when they clean their paws and clumping litter may cause intestinal blockages. It’s not common, but why take the risk?

Litter Depth: Finding a Happy Medium

The amount of litter you put in the box is another factor you’ll need to experiment with because different cats prefer different depths. We humans who have to clean the litter box prefer deeper litter because it’s easier to scoop. This is particularly true with clumping litter. To make sure the clumps are easily scoopable and don’t stick to the bottom of the litter box, you may need 3 or 4 inches of litter.

The problem with that depth is that many cats dislike walking in deep litter and won’t use a box with 3 inches of litter in it. If you’ve been adding a lot of litter to the box, try cutting back to just 1 inch. Although this shallow depth may make it harder to clean the box, it’s worth the trouble if it gets your cat to stop using the carpet or linoleum, which is much harder to clean than any litter box.

Note, too, that if your cat is choosing slick surfaces like linoleum floors or the bathroom sink, it’s a good sign there’s too much litter in the box. Some cats prefer just a handful of litter. Yes, that makes the box hard to clean, but again, it’s still better than cat pee in the sink.

Cats Appreciate Cleanliness, Too

With their frequent “tongue bathing,” cats have earned a reputation for cleanliness. Given a choice, a cat would never walk around in his own feces. Although kitties do tend to stick to one area for bathroom purposes, outdoors they’re able to bury their leavings deeply enough that they don’t have to walk through them. And once a spot gets too dirty, they just move on to a cleaner one.

So, if you expect your cat to use the litter box, the box has got to be clean. This means litter box scooping is a daily task. This is not something you can let go for a week or even three or four days. Daily litter box scooping is just one of the responsibilities of having a cat.

Covered boxes, baking soda, and deodorizers may hold down the smell, but they don’t remove the source of the odor. Your cat still has to walk through that poo and pee to use the box and many cats just won’t do it. They’ll look for a clean spot on the floor instead. For this reason, scoop every time the box contains three soilings. Be aware, too, that there are a few picky kitties out there who won’t enter a box with any soiling, so you’ll have to scoop after every bathroom visit (kitty’s, not yours. :-))

If you have several cats in the house, a single litter box can get pretty full in just one afternoon. To make it easier to keep the boxes clean, put out a litter box for each cat. Even if the boxes are side by side, the additional clean space gives your cats a choice besides the carpet.

On the flip side, avoid to over-sanitizing the litter box with strong smelling cleaners like undiluted bleach or citrus cleaners. The smell can keep the cat away from the box. The litter box should smell slightly of cat pee because it’s this scent that tells the cat where the correct bathroom area is.

Putting it All Together

Of course, litter and the litter box overall is just one factor in stopping your cat from peeing in the house. Health and the cat’s environment also come into play. You can solve your cat’s urination problems and get your home completely free of cat urine odors, but the solutions may not always be obvious. Instead of wasting time learning by trial and error, read the book Cat Urine Problems Eliminated to discover proven-effective ways to retrain your cat and regain your home.

Cat Urine Problems: Training or Re-Training Adult Cats to Use the Litter Box

Although training issues aren’t usually a major concern with cats, in some cases cat urine problems may be a result of improper litter box training.

Work with Your Cat’s Instincts

Most cats don’t have to be trained to use the litter box. The exceptions are feral (street) or semi-feral cats who reached adulthood never having seen a litter box and cats with long-standing litter box problems. And even with these kitties, limiting their bathroom activities to one or two designated areas still comes as instinct. Because urinating in random places around the house goes against your cats instinct, its a sign something may be wrong.

Your cat may have a health condition, such as a urinary tract infection, that causes unusual urination behavior. She may be under stress from any of a variety of things ranging from a new cat in the house to noisy roadwork nearby. There may be something unappealing about the litter box, such as the type of litter or the box’s location. If the cat is favoring one spot on the carpet or elsewhere, it could be due to lingering urine odor that draw her to use that spot repeatedly. So, you’ll need to clean thoroughly and totally neutralize any odors to break kitty’s habit.

Health problems require prompt veterinary attention, but there are cheap and easy ways to control stress, improve the litter box and even totally remove cat urine odors. I’ve explained these solutions in detail in Cat Urine Problems Eliminated and the blog also contains a lot of effective methods for dealing with the root causes of cat urine problems.

Use Positive Reinforcement Only

One of the most common litter box training mistakes is treating a cat like a dog. These two animals think in decidedly different manners. Punishing a cat does not work. Cats are simply unable to connect the punishment with their actions. That means the punishments appear to be random acts of aggression. Hitting a cat will only make her afraid of your hands. Rubbing a cats nose in her soiling may make her fearful to let her near you. But it won’t make her stop peeing on the floor. In fact, stress from living with a person she perceives as aggressive and unpredictable may make her behavior worse.

What cats react to is positive reinforcement, or praise. Cats are are all about “What’s in it for me?” When your cat realizes she gets something she likes–attention, petting, tasty treats–for a certain behavior, she’ll continue that behavior. And don’t worry that she’ll stop using the litter box if you stop the praise. After a few weeks, once she’s in the habit, it will be so natural she won’t expect cuddles every time she piddles in the box.

When your cat wakes up from a nap or finishes a meal (times she’ll likely to need the bathroom) carry her to the litter box while speaking to her in soft, comforting tones. Put her down in or beside the box and continue to pet and praise her. You can even feed her a treat. The idea is to build your cat’s good associations with the litter box. You may need to keep this up for a few weeks.

How To Stop Cats From Urinating In The House

Cats natural instincts lead them to urinate only in “designated areas.” For healthy house cats (feral cats are an exception), that “area” is the litter box and only the litter box.

Mother cats pass this knowledge down to their kittens, so even young kittens usually use the litter box with little coaxing from their human caretakers. When a cat stops using the box or starts using other areas, it’s a sign something is wrong. While our kitties can be manipulative at times, urination isn’t something they use to get “revenge” or attention.

Get to the Root Cause

In order to stop cats from urinating in the house, you need to know why they’re peeing outside the box in the first place. One potential cause is a health problem. Some health conditions cause painful urination, frequent urination, or urinary urgency–all of which can interfere with a cat’s normal litter box habits.

Cats can also start urinating in the house when they’re under stress. What stresses a cat can be very different from what stresses a human. In general, any change in the environment or daily routine can do it. It could be anything from the death of another pet in the household to neighbor’s new dog. It could even be a new piece of furniture, boredom due to lack of attention or your own stress level the cat has picked up on.

The type of litter box, the litter you use, and where you put the box also matter. A litter box set-up that’s inappropriate for the cat can also cause her to avoid the box.

In Cat Urine Problems Eliminated, I’ve detailed the possible causes for a cat’s inappropriate urination (I came up with a total of 11!) to help you pinpoint why your cat is having problems.

Make The Necessary Changes

Your first step should be to take kitty for a vet check up. If she checks out healthy, then cause of her inappropriate urination is likely stress or some problem with the litter box. Some causes of stress you can get rid of. For example, teach your toddler not to sneak up on kitty when she’s in the box. Or if one of your cats is bullying another, get a separate box for each cat. In fact, it’s always a good idea to have one litter box per cat just to head off any territorialism issues.

When you’re not able to eliminate the stress, feline pheromone products or Bach flower remedies can help. So can creating a private hideout somewhere in the house where the cat can, well, hide out with a bed, food and water. As for the litter box, the problem could be location, type of box or litter, the way you clean it, or a number of other things.

Indoor/Outdoor Cats Need Litter Boxes

One thing that must be said is that almost all cats who spend time in the house will need somewhere in the house to go to the bathroom. Unlike dogs, cats won’t let you know when they need to go outside for a bathroom break. They typically won’t just “hold it” until it’s time to go out, either. (Some will, but most won’t wait long.) Instead, they’ll find what they consider a suitable litter box alternative, such as the carpet or a pile of clothes. If your cat’s indoors often, make sure she has a clean, easily accessible litter box indoors.

There are many reasons a cat might start wetting in the house, but they all have practical solutions. Learn more about feline urination behavior and find out exactly how to stop cats from urinating in the house.

What to Do to Stop Inappropriate Cat Urination

cat threatens to pee on everything Elsewhere on the site, I’ve gone over the main causes of inappropriate cat urination: health problems, stress and unappealing litter box arrangements.

If you have a good idea of what’s causing your cat to urinate in the house, this brief overview how you can manage each of those problem may just prove to you that solving your cat urination problems doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.

Keep in mind this is still a very general overview, so I may not have addressed the specific problem your cat is having.

Addressing Health Problems

A cat with a medical problem serious enough to cause straining to urinate, frequent urination, blood in the urine, or suddenly urinating in the house needs proper diagnosis by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Symptoms of conditions that cause urinary difficulties can be similar to one another, so without diagnostic equipment, you risk misdiagnosing and thereby incorrectly treating the condition.

Naturally, treatment varies based on the severity of the condition. Bacterial infections require antibiotics, while blockages may require catheterization. The wrong diet can cause urinary problems, so you may have to change your cat’s food. For example, a cat eating only dry food is at high risk for urinary problems. Because cats have a low thirst drive, they need moisture in their food to stay properly hydrated.

Dealing with Stress

No, not yours, the cat’s. 🙂 But once your cat’s calmer and stops peeing everywhere, you’ll be a lot less stressed, too. If you’ve got a new cat, the new cat and the “established” cats should be properly (slowly) introduced. There’s a specific way to do this so they don’t end up fighting. If a child in the house has been grabbing kitty while she’s on the litter box, teach the child why that’s a bad idea.

Some sources of stress you can’t simply eliminate, like bringing the cat into a new home, the neighbor’s new yappy dog, or overall fearfulness in a cat who’s been mistreated. The cat can slowly adjust to changes, but in the meantime, she may stink up the house with urine. One option for preventing puddles while kitty adjusts is a feline pheromone diffuser. These are scent-free to humans, but they give of a chemical signal that tells the cat she’s in a safe area and can relax.

Reworking the Litter Box Set-up

Most cats are pretty tolerant of litter boxes that aren’t exactly to their liking. They’ll continue to use the box and only the box even if they don’t have their preferred litter type, the box isn’t as clean as they’d like or it’s in an inconvenient location. Often enough, though, something is so “wrong” with the box, the cat avoids it and finds some more appealing alternative like the carpet, hardwood floor or laundry basket.

Sometimes the solution is simple. Make sure the litter box is big enough for the cat to easily turn and move around in. Ideally, it should be around 1.5x the size of the cat, so half again as big as the cat. Uncovered boxes are also preferable to most cats. If you do have a covered box, scoop it daily to avoid a buildup of odors that could put your cat off going in there.

If you’ve been using pellet-type litter, try gravel-type instead. Or vice versa. Give the cat at least two weeks to get used to the new litter before trying another. Once you find one the cat will use, don’t change again. Avoid scented litter, which puts a lot of cats off. Keep the box away from foot traffic and noisy household appliances. There are other issues that can prevent your cat from using the litter box, but these are the main ones.

While you can group most causes of inappropriate cat urination into the categories of health problems, stress, and litter box issues, there are a lot of specific causes that are easy to overlook. For instance, did you know long-haireded cats and declawed cats have special litter box needs?

Lingering urine odor can also cause “repeat offenses,” too, so you’ll need to neutralize all cat pee smell. For a detailed guide to the causes of inappropriate urination and effective methods for eliminating that nasty cat pee odor, check out the Cat Urine Problems Eliminated book.

Major Cat Problems: Urinating Everywhere!

Of all possible cat problems, urinating is among the most frustrating. Scratching on furniture, jumping on counters, and even aggression are annoying, but at least they don’t leave that nasty odor that seems almost impossible to get rid of. And if the cat’s using just one corner of the living room carpet as an “alternative litter box,” it’s bad, but not as bas as when they start going everywhere. The good news is that there’s always a reason cats urinate outside the box and almost all these reasons have simple, practical solutions.

Health Problems

Health problems are one of the less common causes of litter box avoidance, but they merit mention first because some require immediate veterinary treatment. Among the more serious issues are a blocked urethra (this can be fatal within days) and urinary tract infections (UTI). Other medical causes of improper urination may be less urgent, but they still require prompt veterinary care. These include worms, food allergies, diabetes and thyroid disorder. If your cat’s suddenly started wetting all over the house, you notice her straining to go, or you see blood in her urine, consult your veterinarian immediately.

Unappealing Litter Box

Cats are picky creatures. They won’t eat “just anything,” they won’t sleep just anywhere and they won’t pee just anywhere, either. Most cats put up with less than ideal litter box conditions simply because the habit of using the litter box is so ingrained. Sometimes, though, either the cat is extra picky or there’s something significantly wrong with the litter box as far as that cat is concerned. And different cats have different preferences and needs, too. Generally speaking, though, things that can be wrong with the litter box fall into four categories:

* Covered versus uncovered box,
* Height of the box’s sides,
* Litter type, and
* The box’s location

So, your cat may be happy with the type of box and litter, but if the box is in the wrong spot, he may opt to piddle on the carpet in a location of his choice. Once you’re aware of the things you can change about the litter box, it’s a simple matter of experimenting with different options until you hit on a combo your cat likes. The spots your cat prefers to go give you clues to how you can make the box more attractive. For example, if your kitty’s been generously watering your potted plants, you may find swapping litter for dirt or mixing dirt in the litter gets your cat using the box again.

Stress and Anxiety

Many cat problems, urinating everywhere in the house included, can be traced to stress. Cat’s prefer predictability and are sensitive to change, so any change in the cat’s environment or daily routine can stress the cat. As with people, tolerance for change varies. Some cats can go with the flow even in the busiest of homes, while others freak out when someone puts a new chair in the living room. Major changes like bringing the cat into a new home, the death of another pet, a person moving in or out, or sudden burst of activity in the home are among the more obvious causes of stress and definitely can cause inappropriate urination.

But the same thing can also happen due to more subtle changes like neighbors starting a noisy remodeling work, a new cat in the neighborhood your cat has seen or smelled through the window, or even rearranging the furniture. If your cat’s stressed out, you’ll probably notice other signs like aggression, lethargy or lack of appetite. Not all the signs are obvious, though. Did you know vertical scratching (on the walls and sides of furniture, rather than the carpets) is a sign of stress?

Lots of Problems, Lots of Solutions

These are by no means the only causes of litter box avoidance, though. While many of the other causes are common to all cats, some causes are specific to declawed cats, long-haired and tailless breeds, and multiple-cat households. The thought of trying to pinpoint exactly what’s causing your cat’s litter box problems might sound overwhelming, but once you look through a comprehensive guide to the causes and solutions, you’ll find it’s not too hard to pick out the causes that may apply to your cat and get started correcting the problem.

Stopping your cat from piddling all over the house may be easier than you think. Discover why cats avoid the litter box, how to you can get your cat using the box again and how you can totally eliminate cat urine stains and odors from your home at Cat Urine Problems Eliminated.

Stop Male Cats from Urinating Where They Shouldn’t

Whether it’s your own male cats urinating on your carpets or a neighborhood male cat marking your lawn as his territory, unless you change the cats’ behavior, you can quickly end up with a big, smelly problem. Taking action now to stop your (or your neighbor’s) cats piddling where they shouldn’t can save you a headache in the future. Territorial marking and health issues are two issues to consider to get to the root cause of the problem so you can solve it fast.

What’s With All The Spraying?!

Unneutered tom (male) cats are very likely to start spraying to mark territory once they reach sexual maturity around the age of 6 months. A cat who’s very secure in his environment may not spray most of the time, but there’s always a risk he’ll start. Neutered toms are far less likely to spray, although they can and sometimes do. In fact, even some spayed females spray. As the photo at the beginning of this article shows, a cat sprays by pointing his rump at a vertical surface such as a wall and squirting urine. His tail twitches and he back-treads with his hind legs to help distribute his scent marking. A cat, male or female, squatting on a horizontal surface like the carpet or lawn isn’t spraying.

Preventing Spraying

Cats spray to mark their territory and are far more likely to do this when they feel their territory or their physical safety is somehow threatened. The threat may be real or imagined. Maybe your indoor tom cat has picked up the scent of a stray tom outside and wants to let that cat know to keep away. Maybe that dining room set you recently inherited from your aunt carries the scent of her cats. The triggers depend on the cat, but there are numerous things can make cats feel threatened. If you can’t eliminate the source of the stress, feline pheromone diffuse can help your cat relax. These mark your home as “cat safe” to your cat with an “odor” humans can’t detect.

If you have stray toms coming around and spraying your doors or other property, first clean the soiled areas with an effective cat urine remover, then apply a cat repellent. Sometimes sprinkling citrus fruit peels, coffee grounds, or tea grounds or ground cayenne pepper on the ground will keep wandering felines away, but not always. A motion-activated sprinkler may also help deter cats from entering your property.

Health Problems

The cause of male cats urinating (not spraying) in the house may well be something other than stress. Unfortunately for our boy kitties–and male mammals in general–the design of the male urinary tract leaves it prone to a number of problems. One of the most serious is a blocked urethra. This is a medical emergency that, if left untreated, can kill a cat within days. If you suddenly notice your male cat urinating in the house or if he’s straining to pee and or frequently licking his genitals, call your vet immediately.

Kidney stones are another issue male cats are at greater risk for. The cat associates pain from this condition with the litter box and looks for a softer place to pee, like the carpet, in attempt to avoid the pain. In any case, unusual urination behavior requires a prompt assessment to the vet because the cat may have some other serious condition like a urinary tract infection, feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) or a bladder or kidney condition.

Territorial behavior and health problems aren’t the only reasons for male cats urinating in the house, though. Something may be off-putting out the litter box, for instance. You can solve your boy kitty’s urination problems and get your home completely free of cat urine odors, but the solutions may not always be obvious. Instead of wasting time learning by trial and error, read the book Cat Urine Problems Eliminated to discover proven-effective ways to retrain your cat and regain your home.

Cat Urinating On Furniture? Learn Why and Find out How to Stop it.

Nice furniture’s not cheap. A cat urinating on furniture can quickly do thousands in damage. And if that furniture happens to be antique or heirloom you can’t really put a price tag on it. So, ad soon as you discover that your cat’s used your sofa, settee or office chair as an alternative litter box, you’ll want to make sure it doesn’t happen a second time. The more times a cat pees on a piece of furniture, the harder it becomes to completely clean the soiled area. And if you can’t get the smell out, even after you solve the problem that was causing your cat to urinate outside the box, your cat may keep returning to piddle again simply because she’s attracted by the odor.

Health Concerns

Health conditions that cause painful urination, such as a urinary tract infection or kidney disease, may lead a cat to pee on furniture. The cat associates the pain of the condition with the litter box and looks for a softer place to go in attempt to avoid the pain. In fact, urinary tract infections are among the most frequent causes of cats urinating on the bed. If your cat’s never avoided the litter box before and none of the problems in this article apply to your situation, take your cat for a vet check up.

Territory Marking

While most un-neutered tom (male) cats spray urine to mark territory, even neutered toms and queens (females) can and do sometimes spray. There’s a clear difference between spraying and ordinary urinating. To simply urinate, a cat squats on a flat surface (hopefully the litter box). To spray, a cat stands with his backside aimed at vertical surface like a wall or chair leg and sprays urine while back-treading with his hide legs. Spraying is meant to mark territory; ordinary urinating may or may not be used for marking. If your cat feels her territory is threatened, you may notice other signs like vertical scratching (walls and furniture, not carpets) and possibly even aggression.

New furniture can also attract your cat’s attention. New furniture, whether brand new or second-hand, smells of some place outside the your cat’s marked territory (the rest of your home). Your cat may decide to incorporate it into her territory by wetting on it in order to make it smell more like her.

Easing Kitty’s Stress

If you suspect your cat is urinating on furniture for territorial reasons, assuming your cat’s already fixed, there are a few things you can do to help kitty de-stress. Feline pheromone products like Feliway and Comfort Zone can help for general. If it’s a particular piece of furniture your cat’s trying to claim, applying the cats own scent to the furniture may help. You can do this by gently rub a soft absorbent cloth on the scent producing areas of your cat–the top of your cats head and the her back at the base of her tail, then rubbing that cloth on the furniture. The scent dissipates quickly, so repeat this several times a day.

If these methods don’t work, you may need something to keep the cat away from the furniture altogether. Some people swear by rubbing orange peels on the furniture or applying a citrus-scented furniture freshener, since most cats dislike the smell of citrus. If your cat’s indifferent to citrus (like Macho, who once tried to eat a Mandarin orange), there specially formulated cat repellent sprays available for indoor use. In the meantime, you can cover the furniture with plastic slipcovers. It won’t solve the problem, but it will save your furniture.

Left-over Smells

Sometimes a cat pees on furniture because the furniture still smells faintly of cat urine. It may look and smell clean to you, but cats have much stronger senses of smell than humans. One frequent cause of this problem is cleaning only visible urine stains. If your cat wet on the carpet next to the sofa, she almost certainly splashed urine onto the sofa when she scratched to “bury” her pee. Use a black light to double check the walls, curtains, and furniture legs, and other items near floor areas where your cat has urinated even once. If you find any left over ickiness, clean it with an appropriate cat urine odor remover (not all pet urine remover products work on cat urine).

You can solve your cat’s inappropriate urination problems and get your home completely free of cat urine odors, but the solutions may not always be obvious. Instead of wasting time learning by trial and error, read the book Cat Urine Problems Eliminated to discover proven-effective ways to retrain your cat and regain your home.