Clients often come to me when they have kitties misbehaving. A common topic that comes up is inappropriate urination habits outside of the litter box. The first piece of advice is always to have your cat be examined by a veterinarian. Many times a kitty urinating outside of her box is a sign of a urinary tract infection or bladder stones. Cats that are having accidents are often associating pain with the litter box (from the infection or stone). This leads them to abandon the litter box for fear of experiencing pain when they use it. This is one reason why you will find spots of urine all over your house. Once pain is associated with a spot, your cat will seek out another spot to use the bathroom.
If a veterinarian has ruled out a medical reason for accidents, and it is diagnosed as a behavioral problem, the following steps can help get your kitty back on track!
1. Always have one more litter box than you do cats. If you have one cat, you should have at least two boxes. If you have two cats, you should have three boxes, etc..
2. In a multiple cat household, place boxes in different areas of the house. Sometimes one cat will bully another in the house and not allow the other to cross certain boundaries. If the litter boxes are in multiple areas, it makes it easier on the bullied cat to find a safe place to do her business.
3. Try different litters. Cats are picky! Try clumping, non clumping, different materials, and odor free. There is a reason there are a zillion different kinds of cat litters. Cats also sometimes prefer shallow amounts of litter to deep amounts and vice versa.
4. Sometimes you need to just throw out the old box and start with a new one. Cats are picky about the style of box too. Does it have a cover? Try one that is open. Is your box open? Try one with a cover. Is it a really small box? Try a larger pan style. You get the idea - variety is the spice of life!
5. Okay, this one is one you! When is the last time you scooped the box? If scooping her box is the last thing on your priority list, try making it the first. Cats are very clean animals and love nothing more than a freshly scooped box!
These tips are ones I have gleaned from several different veterinarians over the years. If you have tried all of these steps with no success, however, talk again to your veterinarian for medical treatments for anxiety. Sometimes kitties just need some medication to help them get through this mental hangup! In my years as a veterinary technician, some felines have been placed on medication to help them with their bathroom anxieties and had great success! With the help of your veterinarian and hard work to find the perfect litter box environment, most kitties will be back in the box in no time!