Cats have many reasons to soil house  

House soiling (urinating, defecating and spraying outside of the litter box) is the most common behaviour problem reported by cat owners and is a major cause for cats to be abandoned or undergo euthanasia. To determine why a cat suddenly quits using its litter box requires time, some investigative skills and perseverance.

Why would a cat eliminate outside of the litter box?

Contrary to popular belief, mother cats do not teach their kittens to use litter. Kittens dig and use clean, loose material for elimination at four weeks of age without ever observing the mother using the material. Also,one must never assume that a cat  that has eliminated outside of the litter box because he was seeking revenge makes logical sense,  in truth, Cats probably doesn’t have the cognitive ability to come to this conclusion. Furthermore, this assumption presumes that Cats views urine or feces as distasteful and disgusting. In reality, humans may view them as yucky but to cats they are simple modes of communicating with other cats.

Could house soiling be caused by a medical problem?

One of the first steps to determining why a cat urinates or defecates on our carpet or bed is to determine whether there is a medical problem. Your pet’s doctor can perform a good physical exam and laboratory tests to diagnose diseases that cause our cats to eliminate outside the litter box, such as diabetes, hyperthyroidism, feline lower urinary tract disease, cancer, neurological disease, intestinal parasites or constipation. Age-related diseases, such as arthritis or impaired cognitive functions, can also influence our cat’s ability to get to the litter box in time.

Could it be the litter or the litter box?

Sometimes cats will urinate or defecate outside of the box simply because the box, the litter or the location of the box is not acceptable to them. The box may have an offensive odor because it was cleaned with a harsh chemical.

Or, if the box is not cleaned often, the box may smell of urine. (It’s recommended that you have two litter boxes for one cat, three boxes for two cats, etc. and clean them daily). Often cats find the texture of some litter distasteful and have a preference for fine or coarse litter, clumping or nonclumping litter.

While scented litter appeals to us, many cats find the perfume unsavory. Also, the location of the box can play a role. For example, the box may be in a high-traffic, noisy, dark or dank area. Or your cat is afraid to use the box because she was terrorized while she was in the box or ambushed as she tried to exit the box (thus, don’t capture your cat to give medications while in the litter box).

Urine marking?

Cats mark their possessions by rubbing their scent from the glands in the cheeks and paws or by spraying urine. Depositing small amounts of urine around an area announces a cat’s presence, establishes or maintains territorial boundaries, and advertises sexual availability.

Cats may spray when there is a perceived threat to their territory, such as the presence of a new cat or an outside cat gets too near. They may also spray if there is new carpet or furniture and the cat desires to claim it. Sometimes cats spray solely out of frustration: the owner has been away too long to suit the cat, they don’t like the type or the amount of food available, they didn’t get enough playtime to satisfy them (if this sounds like a spoiled brat, you are on the right track).

OK, so what do we do?

Your pet’s doctor is trained to assist you not only in determining the medical causes but also the behavioural causes for house soiling. Often, simple recommendations such as changing the type of litter or the type and location of the litter box may help. There are many useful products which have a synthetic pheromone that inhibits cats from spraying on areas that have this scent. Many cats require some anti-anxiety type medications to assist in overcoming this behavioural problem.

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