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.