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Five Reasons Cats Urinate Outside of the Litter Box

Cats urinate outside of the box for certain reasons.

If your cat is not using the litter box, and you've already ruled out medical problems with your veterinarian, you've probably been left feeling frustrated and confused. Why is your cat urinating outside of the box? Below are five common reasons for cats to avoid the litter box.

The Litter Box Is Too Dirty

Cats are clean creatures that will avoid going into their litter box if it is too dirty or smelly. This may occur because of any of the following:

  • You aren't scooping the box often enough.
  • You don't empty the box and completely clean it often enough.
  • The litter box is too old, and there are odors embedded in the plastic that only your cat can smell.
  • You use objectionable cleaners that repel your cat. These include anything ammonia or bleach-based and citrus-smelling substances.
  • Some cats expect extremely clean boxes. These cats might appreciate a Litter-Robot.

Learn more about litter box cleanliness in the article "Tips for Good Litter Box Cleaning."

Your Cat Doesn't Like the Litter You Chose

Cats can have definite opinions on the type of litter that they like. The majority of cats prefer something soft and fine, like sand. Fine clay litters that clump when they're wet are accepted and loved by many cats. However, there are some finicky felines that prefer something else, and you may need to provide multiple litter boxes filled with different litter types in order to determine what your cat's litter desires are.

You can find out more reasons that cats may dislike certain litter types and what to do about it in this article: "Tips for Avoiding Litter Aversion in Cats."

The Litter Box Is in the Wrong Place

Cats, like people, prefer a private setting in which to eliminate. If you have placed the litter box in a high-traffic, noisy area in your home, your cat may avoid using it. In fact, the back corner of your quiet closet may be a more attractive spot to go. Make sure you think about where your cat's litter box is located from your cat's perspective. For instance, if your cat is using the box and suddenly the dryer next to it finishes up and produces a loud buzzing noise, he may be scared to enter the box again and risk being frightened by that sound.

"Tip for Good Litter Box Placement" offers more tips and information on where to place your cat's litter box and why.

The Box Itself Is Undesirable

As with litter types, cats can have their own ideas about the type of box that is best for eliminating in. The biggest issues regarding litter boxes for cats are:

  • Some cats hate covered boxes. Covers can trap ammonia smells in the box, and cats with their increased sense of smell can be overwhelmed by the fumes.
  • Cats will dislike a box that is too small. They want to be able to fit into the box well, move and scratch around, find a spot, and have plenty of room to eliminate without getting their feet wet or dirty.
  • Cats generally don't like boxes that are too deep. Small kittens and elderly cats, especially, like shallow litter boxes.
  • Most cats don't like plastic tray liners in their litter boxes because they make objectionable sounds and catch their nails when they are scratching around.

Your Cat Is Stressed

Stress in cats often reveals itself in the form of inappropriate or undesirable behaviors. There are many things that can cause cats to feel anxious or stressed, including:

  • A new person or pet in the home.
  • A changed schedule.
  • A new home.
  • A veterinary, kennel, or grooming visit.
  • Parties or work being done on the house.
  • Other cats or wild animals present outside.

Any of these situations, as well as many others, can cause a cat to urinate outside of the litter box. If you have explored the possibility of medical problems and litter box issues already, consider that stress may be the problem. Do what you can to create a calm home environment for your cat. Make sure you spend time playing with and cuddling your cat every day. Think about using Feliway, a substance that mimics the calming feline facial pheromone, to help calm the atmosphere for the cats in your home.

The article "Stress in Cats" discusses more things you can do to help a stressed out kitty.

Remember, it isn't natural for a cat to use a litter box. It's really rather amazing that any of them ever use one at all. If they do so, it's because it's a more attractive spot for them to eliminate than anywhere else. It's our job to ensure that's the case. You can read a more in-depth article about litter box issues here: "Cat Not Using Litter Box? Inappropriate Urination in Cats."

You May Also Like These Articles:

Inappropriate Urination in Cats

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General Tips for Solving Inappropriate Urination Problems in Cats

Tips for Avoiding Litter Aversion in Cats

Cat Trapped in Litter Box by Frisky Kitten: VIDEO

Location Aversion

Tips for Good Litter Box Cleaning

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