Cats may make wonderful companions, but they can also develop habits that drive you crazy…like leaving wet spots on the carpet. A cat’s natural instinct leads her to choose specific areas to use for “bathroom” purposes and to use only those areas. Normally, that area is the litter box. A number of issues can get in the way of a cat’s usual habit, though, and cause her to start wetting in other places.
No matter how well mannered your cat’s been in the past, something may cause him to start avoiding the litter box or start using the the carpet or bed as an alternative. And if you’ve adopted a cat from an abusive situation, a cat with health problems, or a former outdoor cat, you may be in for a challenge. The good news is that no matter why your cat’s urinating in the house, there’s always a solution that doesn’t involve covering everything in the house with plastic.
Making Sense of Cat Behavior
A cat doesn’t wake up one morning and decide it’d be nice to pee on the sofa instead of in the litter box for a change. There is always a reason a cat “goes” outside the box. A health problem is to blame, especially if your cat’s never had litter box problems before. This could be something as serious as a blocked urethra, an emergency requiring immediate medical treatment, to a food allergy, which won’t kill the cat, but still requires proper management.
A more likely cause, though, is something going on around the cat. Stress is a fairly common reason for a cat to start urinating in the house. Cats can become stressed due to new people, animals or even new furniture in the house, increased activity like spring cleaning, and boredom from lack of attention and play time. Using the wrong training methods on a cat can also confuse and stress her.
If it’s not practical to get rid of the source of stress, try creating a little hideaway for kitty with food, water and bedding where she can escape when she’s stressed. Feline pheromone products may also help your cat calm down and adjust. So can providing kitty with her own little private den in an always-open closet or on top of a cupboard where she can hide out and relax.
Multiple-Cat Households and Other Problems
Problems can arise in multiple-cat households when one cat bullies another and doesn’t let her use the litter box. The bullied cat ends up going elsewhere. Other cats dislike sharing a litter box, either for cleanliness or other reasons, so they establish their own “private litter box” in the corner of the living room or somewhere. In these cases, you’ll probably need one litter box for each cat.
Just keep in mind that there’s always a reason a cat urinates in the house, which means there’s always a solution to the problem. The first thing a cat who’s suddenly started peeing in the house needs is a vet check up. If kitty checks out healthy, a comprehensive list of causes and solutions for litter box problems can help you pinpoint the problem and correct it.
Attracting Your Cat to the Litter Box
Whatever the reason your cat’s started avoiding the litter box or showing preference for other locations, making the litter box as attractive as you can helps get kitty back into the habit of using only the box. Most cats prefer a large-size, uncovered litter box filled with fine-grained, gravel-type litter. Cats’ preferences vary, though, so you’ll need to know the potential problems with litter boxes and how to correct them.
Put the litter box in a quiet, fairly secluded location (away from foot traffic and noisy appliances), but one that easily accessible (not down in the basement). Cats, unlike dogs, won’t let you know when they need to go out for a bathroom break. Even if your cat goes out periodically, she still needs an indoor litter box if she spends time indoors.
Older and disabled cats may not be able to get into a standard litter box or be able to hold it long enough to reach the box. For these kitties, solutions include leaving a small amount of litter on a flat tray or place puppy training pads on plastic in places your cat’s been wetting. Of course, this requires frequent clean-up, but that’s all part of having a special needs cat.
Get That Smell Out
Cats decide which locations are bathroom areas based on the smell of cat urine. A perfectly healthy, totally unstressed cat will still piddle wherever she smells that scent. That means if you don’t remove all the traces of odor where your cats have wet, they’ll continue to go there. Some pet urine odor removal products work well enough to remove odors humans can smell, but still leave a trace the cat can smell. To get all the urine odor out, you’ll need to know which enzyme or bacteria-based cleaners or homemade cleaning solutions really work.