Why does my cat urinate outside its litter tray?

cat sittingThis is a fairly common problem which doesn’t always have a straight forward answer. We tend to approach inappropriate urination in cats in a fairly methodical way, as it can be a sign of a major underlying problem.

Give the cat a thorough health check.

There is a large range of conditions which might make a cat urinate in the wrong spots. The most common of these is Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD). This can present in a wide variety of ways, such as non-infectious cystitis, urethral blockages in male cats, and crystals in the urine. A urine sample is very important to check for crystals, bacteria and other indications of this disease.

Other conditions which can cause inappropriate urination include arthritis (too sore to get into the tray), diabetes, senility, stress, kidney failure, and bacterial cystitis. By doing a thorough examination we can obtain a correct diagnosis and ensure the treatment is appropriate.

NOTE: if you have a male cat which is straining to urinate but not producing any urine (or just a small amount), please take them to your vet urgently as this may indicate a urethral blockage. This condition can be fatal if not treated promptly.

Ensure the toileting facilities are appropriate.

Cats tend to be fairly particular when it comes to toileting. A few “golden rules” of litter trays are:

  • You need one litter tray per cat, plus one. For example, if you have two cats you need three litter trays.
  • They need to be easily accessible but not in a high traffic or highly exposed area.
  • They should be well away from food and water.
  • They should be scooped daily and thoroughly cleaned at least weekly.
  • Different cats prefer different litter. Don’t be afraid to try several types to find what you cat prefers.

Clean all urine marks using warm soapy water.

It is important to remove as much smell as possible so the cat no longer considers it a “toilet”. Avoid the use of bleach as any ammonia smell can encourage further urination.

Use Feliway to help stop spraying.

Feliway is a synthetic copy of the feline facial pheromone. This is the pheromone that cats leave naturally when they feel safe and secure in their environment. This comes is a spray or diffuser, and can be very useful for stress and for inappropriate urination. The spray can be used on the spot where the cat is peeing inappropriately and is applied to the area daily for one month. This will generally be enough time to break the cycle and stop the problem.

Of course, if the problem persists, please contact your vet for more advice.

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