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Inappropriate urination is one of the most common and frustrating behaviors cat guardians face. Get our tips on how to deal with the problem in this week's post.

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

Recently my boy Midnight has begun to pee in his crate at night. I’d leave him out but he destroys the cupboards. He’s begun overshooting the sides of the litter box when he pees too. I know he hates baths but he stinks otherwise when he pees in his crate. Any ideas to stop the crate pee?

~ Nikki

Thomas: Oh, my, you’ve got a very frustrating problem on your hands, Nikki. But we think we can help!

Bella: Inappropriate urination is one of the most common behavior problems we see in cats, and it’s also one of the most common reasons cats are surrendered to shelters. In fact, we’ve had a struggle with that behavior here at Paws and Effect HQ. Isn’t that right, Tara?

Tara: Why are you always picking on me? I said I’m sorry for peeing where I shouldn’t. I was just scared, and then I had a urinary tract infection … *sniffle*

Bella: Oh, Tara, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you sad! Let’s play tag!

Tara: Maybe after we’re done writing this post.

Thomas: Okay, so first things first, Nikki. You didn’t mention whether or not Midnight is neutered. If he’s not, get that taken care of as soon as possible. If he isn’t neutered, he could be spraying, not peeing–and cat spray really stinks!

Bella: If he is neutered, then there are other reasons for his inappropriate urination, and we can help you with those, too.

If you need to crate your cat, get a crate like this one, which is big enough to hold a cat and a litter box.Tara: First of all, you mention that you need to crate Midnight so he doesn’t destroy your cabinets. Instead of putting him in a regular cat crate, try getting a large dog crate with wire sides, like the one at the right. The idea is that you want a crate large enough to accommodate a litter box and have room for Midnight to sleep.

Thomas: Given the choice, we’re sure Midnight would rather use a litter box than pee on the floor of his carrier!

Bella: Put a sheet over the crate so he feels comfortable and safe in there.

Tara: The other issue you have is that Midnight pees over the sides of the litter box. There are litter boxes with higher sides, and we’d recommend trying one of those.

Bella: Mama has high-sided litter boxes for us to use. That way, if we lift our tails while we’re peeing (and I sometimes do), the pee goes on the sides of the box instead of down the walls.

Thomas: You can also make a very high-sided litter box out of a storage tote. Here are some instructions on how to do that. No kitty is going to be able to pee over the sides of this!

Bella: If you do make a litter box out of a storage tote, be sure you sand the edges of the hole in the side of the box very well, so Midnight doesn’t hurt himself going in and out.

Tara: One other thing we always, always recommend if a cat starts with inappropriate urination is a visit to the vet. Sometimes cats pee where they shouldn’t if something is wrong, health-wise.

Thomas: That’s how Mama found out Tara had a urinary tract infection. She went to the vet and asked them to run tests on her blood and urine.

Tara: And that’s how they found out that my inappropriate urination was caused by a UTI.

Thomas: If Mama hadn’t taken Tara to the vet, she might have suffered for a really, really long time, and Mama might have thought it was just a behavior problem.

Bella: Speaking of behavior problems, one other thing you can do to help stop the inappropriate urination is to use Feliway.

Tara: Feliway is an artificial “happy cat” pheromone. If Midnight’s peeing is a behavior issue, it’s related to stress–either the stress of another cat outside your home or stress about something in your household–and the Feliway can help reduce that stress.

Thomas: You can buy Feliway diffusers at pet stores and at vets’ offices.

Bella: So, to wrap things up: Get Midnight neutered if he’s not already. Take him to the vet to make sure there are no health issues causing his inappropriate urination. Use higher-sided litter boxes or make your own out of a storage tote. Try Feliway diffusers. And give him a bigger crate that will fit both a litter box and a bed.

Tara: Hopefully doing these things will help you help Midnight to be a happier, and appropriately peeing, kitty.

Thomas: What about you other readers? Do you have any tips for Nikki? Have you had a cat that peed up the sides of the box and got it all over the walls? What did you do? Please share your thoughts in the comments!