Recently, a friend asked me, “Why is my cat peeing outside the litter box?“
If you’re in the same situation, you may be desperate to fix this unwanted behavior.
Fortunately, I’m here to talk about all the reasons why cats pee outside their toilet box and how to stop it.
Just keep reading.
12 Reasons Why Your Cat Is Peeing Outside the Litter Box
For a cat owner, inappropriate urination is one of the most common problems. Why is my cat peeing outside the litter box is one of the most common questions I hear from kitty parents.
And it’s a serious one because cats can get used to peeing/pooping on other surfaces. Moreover, no one wants their house to smell cat urine or feces.
So, why do cats pee outside the litter box? Usually, cats avoid their toilet box due to behavioral issues, medical conditions, or stress.
Check this quick video about why cats pee outside the litter box
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Let’s talk about what to do if the cat pees outside the litter box and the reasons in detail.
#1 Medical Issue
Why is my cat suddenly peeping outside the litter box? Whenever you notice any sudden changes in your cat’s bathroom habits, it’s a red flag that something is wrong.
As vets from VCA explain, “If elimination is associated with pain or discomfort, the cat may begin to eliminate outside the box.” (1)
Many medical conditions can make it painful for your cat to use the toilet box:
- Urinary tract infection
- Bladder stones
- Chronic kidney disease
- Idiopathic cystitis
- Thyroid diseases
#2 Dirty Litter Box
Cats are clean animals who hate the smell of dirty litter boxes. And many cats refuse to use boxes full of cat waste because they don’t want to dirty their paws.
So, if you’re not keeping the litter box clean by scooping it every day, it’s no wonder you’re dealing with inappropriate elimination.
Dr. Sarah Wooten explains in this video that cats run away from their toilet box when they don’t like something about it.
#3 Wrong Litter Box Location
Why is my cat not peeing in the litter box? Think about where you keep the toilet box!
Cats need to feel safe using the bathroom, so placing the toilet box near a loud machine can stress your feline friend and make them avoid the toilet box.
Many cats also won’t go looking for their toilet if you place it in a remote area or if another cat is blocking the access. They also don’t like when it’s close to the water and food bowls.
#4 Not Enough Litter Boxes
Cats don’t have the habit of waiting in line to use the bathroom, so you need to have one box per cat plus one extra for multiple cats.
Also, some cats don’t like to pee in the same box they poop, so they find another suitable location to do their business.
#5 Wrong Litter Type
A cat peeing outside the litter box can also mean that your feline friend doesn’t like the litter you’re using.
Some cats have a texture preference, so they won’t use crystals or pellets. And some felines hate the smell of scented cat litter.
Some felines won’t use the box if you haven’t poured enough litter to satisfy your cat’s digging preferences.
TRY CHECKING: Cat Not Using Litter Box All of a Sudden
#6 Litter Box Size
As specialists recommend, the litter box should be 1 1/2 times your cat’s length. Otherwise, your furry friend won’t have enough space to turn and bury its waste.
#7 Too Many Cats
One study concludes, “The transition from solitary living to living with others (rather than the number of others) appears to be one of the main risk factors for urinary house soiling by many cats.” (2)
That’s because it’s easy for one cat to bully the others in multi-cat households and chase them away from the toilet box area.
Moreover, some cats get stressed when living with multiple felines, resulting in urine marking, peeing all over the house, or cats pooping outside the litter box to mark territory.
As Jackson Galaxy explains in this video, changes in routine, introducing new family members, and getting another cat – all these things can stress a cat and lead to inappropriate elimination.
#9 Surface Preference
Some cats develop a surface preference, so they always urinate on a particular texture, such as carpets, floors, beddings, or slippers.
#10 Bad Litter Box Accossiations
Sometimes cats stop using their toilet box because they have a negative experience with them. For example, a loud noise that startles them, a punishment, or another pet ambushes them.
#11 Your Kitten Is Still Learning
Why does my cat pee outside the litter box? Kittens need a bit of time to learn where they’re supposed to pee/poop, and they can’t hold it very long, so accidents are common.
#12 Your Cat Is Old
Cats with mobility problems can’t climb inside a regular high-side toilet box, so they pee near it. Some seniors cats also have dementia, so they forget where the toilet is.
How To Stop Cat From Peeing Outside Litter Box?
So, your cat is frequently urinating on the carpet, inside your slippers, or in your flower pots. There’s no reason to despair with these 8 tips on what to do if a cat pees outside the litter box.
#1 Consult with a Vet
First, take your cat to the vet to rule out an underlying medical condition. Your vet will do blood tests and collect a urine sample to ensure your cat doesn’t have a bacterial infection or kidney problems.
#2 Add More Litter Boxes/ Try Different Sizes
Get several boxes of different sizes and place them around the house. Doing it this way means your cat will have a clean bathroom, even if you forget the daily scooping.
#3 Change the Type of Litter
If you’re using scented brands, switch to unscented litter. Provide several boxes with different types of substrate and watch which one your cat uses the most.
#4 Change Location
Place the litter box in a low-traffic area with no loud noises or intruders. For multiple cats, spread the boxes throughout the house.
#5 Manage Conflicts
Reducing conflicts in a multi-cat household is essential for preventing litter box issues. Talk to your vet about using pheromones to calm down your cat, and always introduce new cats slowly.
#6 Use Enzymatic Cleanser
When your cat pees outside the box, clean the mess with an enzymatic cleaner to remove the urine odor completely. Otherwise, the cat will keep coming back to the original location.
#7 Scoop, Scoop, Scoop
You need to remove the cat waste from the toilet box on a daily basis to promote good litter box habits. Consider a self-cleaning cat toilet box if you’re away for too long and can’t scoop.
And check our electric cat litter box reviews!
#8 Don’t Punish
Never scold or hit your cat for not using their toilet box. Also, don’t push or rub your cat’s nose in the mess.
How many litter boxes do you need for your cat?
Even if you get the best cat litter boxes, you still need one box per cat, plus one extra toilet.
Do cats pee on the floor out of spite?
No, cats don’t pee on the floor out of spite. They do it because something is wrong with their toilet box or they’re in pain when urinating.
How can you tell if your cat has a UTI?
The most common symptoms of UTIs in cats are straining to urinate, frequent urination or not peeing at all, bloody urine, and peeing outside the toilet box.
Why is my cat peeing on the floor but pooping in the litter box?
Some cats prefer to use one toilet for peeing and another for pooping. But a cat pooping outside the litter box and peeping on the floor is a red flag for potential health problems.
Will cat UTIs go away on its own?
Some minor cat UTIs may resolve on their own, but most need antibiotics to deal with the inflammation.
Why is my cat suddenly peeing outside the litter box?
Your cat may be suddenly peeing outside of the litter box due to a new health issue. It can also happen if there are any sudden changes, such as new cats, different litter, or the box is moved.
Why is my cat peeing outside the litter box?
Cats have many ways to ask for help when in distress, but peeping outside the box is the most likely to attract the attention of pet owners.
So, if peeing outside the toilet box is a frequent event, you should have your family vet examine the cat to rule out a disease.
And even if your cat is healthy, you shouldn’t let this behavior continue because your cat may get used to urinating on soft surfaces and never go back to its toilet box.
What do you think about these 12 reasons why cats pee outside the litter box? Have you ever had to deal with this unwanted behavior? Share your thoughts in the comment section.
- Horwitz, Debra. “Cat Behavior Problems – House Soiling.” Vca_corporate, 2009, vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/cat-behavior-problems-house-soiling.
- Barcelos, Ana Maria, et al. “Common Risk Factors for Urinary House Soiling (Periuria) in Cats and Its Differentiation: The Sensitivity and Specificity of Common Diagnostic Signs.” Frontiers in Veterinary Science, vol. 5, 28 May 2018, www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2018.00108/full, 10.3389/fvets.2018.00108.
I’ve grown up surrounded by animals – dogs, cats, cows, goats, sheep, and horses and that has shaped me into what I am today – a crazy cat lady who always has a place for one more cat (or a dog). I’ve got two female cats – Kitty and Roni, and two tomcats – Blacky and Shaggy, but I also feed my neighbors’ cats when they come for a visit. I just can’t say no to them.
I discovered that writing is my vocation early in my school years. Since then I’ve taken part in several literature contests – writing horror and fantasy short stories and novellas.
For the past three years, I’ve been an ELS teacher, pouring my heart into showing children and teenagers how important English is for their future and trying to educate them how to treat their pets with care.
Learn more about Grigorina here