Are not cats always full of surprises … like wet spots on the carpet? Typically, cats typically choose one area to do their “business” and use only that area, but a variety of things can disrupt their habit. Even the calmest, best mannered house cat can start avoiding the litter box or start using the house as a spare. And if you’ve adopted a cat with a traumatic past, health problems, or a former outdoor cat, you may be in for a challenging time. No matter what the reason for the problem, though, there’s always a solution.
Understand the Behavior
A cat does not wake up one morning and decide he’d rather relate himself on the sofa instead of the litter box just for a little variety. There is always a reason a cat “goes” outside the box. Sometimes a health problem is to blame. This could be something as serious as a blocked urethra, an emergency requiring immediate medical treatment, to a food allergy, which will not kill the cat, but still requires a change in diet.
More often, though, the problem is something in the cat’s environment. A cat may start urinating in the house due to stress. Common causes of stress include new people, animals or even new furniture in the house, increased activity like spring cleaning, and boredom from lack of attention and play time. Poor training methods can also stress a cat. If you can not eliminate the source of stress, a feline pheromone product can 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.
In multiple-cat households, sometimes one cat will bully another and not let her use the litter box, so she’s forced to go elsewhere. Other times, one cat just decides he’d rather not use the communal box and opts for his own private piddle place behind the sofa or somewhere. In this case, you may need one litter box for each cat.
Just remember there’s always a reason a cat wets in the house, which means there’s always a solution to the problem. In general, a cat who’s suddenly started peeing in the house needs a vet check up. If your cat checks out as healthy, a comprehensive list of causes and solutions for litter box problems can help you pinpoint the problem and correct it.
Make the Litter Box Attractive
Regardless of why your cat’s started avoiding the litter box or showing preference for other surfaces, making the litter box as attractive as possible helps get kitty back into the box-only habit. For most cats, a large-size, uncoiled litter box filled with fine-grained, gravel-type litter works best. Kitties’ preferences vary, though, so you’ll need to know the potential problems with litter boxes and how to correct them.
Place the litter box in a quiet, fairly secluded location (not near foot traffic or the noisy washing machine), but one that easily accessible (not all the way down in the basement). Remember, too, that unlike dogs, cats will not let you know when they need to go out for a bathroom break. If your cat’s indoors a lot, she needs an indoor litter box.
For older or disabled cats who are not able to get into a litter box or can not always hold it long enough, you can leave 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.
To a cat, any area that smells like cat urine is a litter box. Even if your cat is perfectly healthy, totally unstressed and has no other reason to wet in the house, she’ll still go wherever she smells urine. 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 home cleaning solutions really work.