What does it mean when your cat begins to eliminate outside of the litter box?
What can you do about the problem?
If you notice that your cat is urinating or defecating outside of the litter box the first thing you should do is bring your cat to the veterinarian to try to rule out medical issues.
Medical problems causing inappropriate elimination can be very serious and in the case of a cat being “blocked”, or unable to pass urine, the problem can be fatal in a very short period of time.
Here is a short list of things that you can do to help your cat “think inside the litter box”:
1. Have your cat spayed or neutered. Unaltered pets sometimes eliminate to mark territory.
2. Keep the litter box and the litter clean. Scoop once or twice daily, or more if you need to.
3. Have one more litter box than the number of cats.
4. If you make a change in the litter or the litter box, keep the old options available until your cat has demonstrated that they accept the new option. Sudden changes in litter box location, litter type, or the type of box can cause problems for your cat.
5. If you currently use a hooded litter box or litter box liners, and your cat begins to eliminate inappropriately, offer your cat a nice sized litter box, and lose the liners.
6. If your cat is urinating or defecating just over the edge of the box, get a bigger box, and/or make your own high sided litter box out of a plastic Sterlite storage box. The box pictured here is 26 1/2″L, 16″W, 12 1/4″H. As you can see from the picture below, Andy the cat has plenty of room to move around, and the sides are high enough so he can’t overshoot any urine. An ideal litter box is one-and-a-half times the length of your cat.
7. If you have multiple cats, and all of your litter boxes are in one location, and you are experiencing problems, consider offering a secondary location for additional boxes. When a cat is taking care of personal business in the box it is sometimes the ideal time for a household opponent to stage an ambush. This can create a litter box aversion for the ambush victim.
8. Is the litter box near any household item, such as a furnace or washing machine, which may suddenly turn on and scare your cat? The litter box needs to be in a private well lit area, but also one that is easy to get to.
9. When you clean the litter box use a mild unscented soap, strong smelling household cleaners may have unpleasant odors, which your cat may object to.
10. If you continue to experience problems, please don’t give up! Revisit the problem with your veterinarian, and also seek the assistance of a feline behaviorist.