Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
I have a question about one of our cats. She is 2 years old and we have had her checked for a urinary tract infection and vet has cleared her twice now. It seems every time we go away for more then a couple of days, she pees on things. We have friends come and clean out the litter box often. I have also used the pet pee order removal and cleaner to spray around the house and she seems to just go around that area. I was wondering if she could be doing this because we leave her alone? Please let me know if anyone else has had this problem and what they have done to cure it. Thank you for your time
Tara: Well, Karla, “why does my cat pee outside the box” is one of the most frequently asked behavior questions. And I’ll admit I have a little bit of an inappropriate elimination history of my own, so I think I can help you here.
Thomas: Most young cats don’t develop urinary tract infections, but it’s always a good idea to get a vet check–like you did–when your cat starts peeing inappropriately. So the first step, if your cat is peeing outside the box, is to go to the vet and make sure your kitty doesn’t have a UTI or crystals in her urine.
Bella: Once your cat has gotten cleared by the vet, then you can move on to behavior issues.
Tara: The number one behavioral reason cats pee outside the box is stress. And stress can come in many forms. It’s quite possible that your kitty gets stressed when you go away, even if you have friends coming over to clean the litter box and play with her.
Thomas: So what do you do about that? You can’t stay home all the time, after all.
Bella: First, you’ll need to figure out why your cat always pees in the same places. Are those places near doors or windows? If so, she may be reacting to another cat or wildlife in your yard. That could cause territorial stress: she sees someone in “her” space but she can’t do anything about it…so she pees to mark her territory.
Tara: The first step you’ll need to take is to do a deep cleaning of the places she pees. You’ll want to use an enzymatic cleaner or a carbon dioxide-based cleaner. Use a black light to find the pee spots and clean them up following the instructions on the product.
Thomas: Once you’ve neutralized the odors, it’s time to provide a “yes” for the “no” of peeing on the floor. Place litter boxes where she pees when you’re away.
Tara: Mama did that for me. After she found out that I’d peed all over a kitty bed, she threw it away and put a litter box in its place. Because it was located where I felt safe, I started using the litter box instead of peeing on the floor or a cat bed.
Bella: Then you’ll want to get a plug-in pheromone diffuser. Marketed under the name Feliway Comfort Zone, this product is available at most pet stores and online. Plug the diffuser into a socket in the room where she most often pees when you’re away.
Tara: You see, that Comfort Zone emits a synthetic “happy cat” pheromone that should reduce her stress and keep her from peeing outside the litter box.
Thomas: Another thing you should do is have your friends play with your cat while you’re away. Play will increase your cat’s confidence, which will reduce her territorial stress or separation anxiety.
Bella: We’re big fans of interactive toys like Da Bird and Neko Flies, because we can play with them like we’re hunting and it’s super-fun! Again, these toys are available in pet stores and online.
Tara: Basically, what this boils down to is that if you don’t want your cat to pee outside the box, you’ll need to address her stress and the location of the litter box. If you only have one litter box, consider adding one or two more.
Thomas: Sure, it’s not going to do wonders for your interior design, but at least this should keep your kitty from peeing on the floor. If you have more than one cat, having multiple boxes in different locations is a necessity.
Bella: That’s right. Multiple litter boxes make it difficult for one cat to “guard” the litter box and prevent the other cat from using it.
Tara: That’s one reason why Mama has three litter boxes in different rooms. I’m still a little shy about peeing because I feel so vulnerable. But Thomas can’t guard all three litter boxes, so there’s almost always a safe place for me to do my business. That way, I don’t have to pee outside the box!
Thomas: What are you talking about? I’m not “guarding” the litter box; I’m just watching to make sure you’re okay!
Tara: Mmmmmm, I don’t know if I believe that. But you are a nice big brother and you groom my head for me sometimes, so I guess you’re all right.
Thomas: See? My gentleman kitty charms are working!
Bella: Anyway, Karla, we hope this helps you to get your cat’s situation sorted out.
Tara: What about you other readers? Have you had a cat who pees outside the box? What did you do to rehabilitate them? Please share your tips in the comments!