Written by Ioana Busuioc, August 2018
All photos thanks to the very talented Debby Herold at Debby Herold Photography! Special thanks to our kind Cat Program Manager Kelsey Scoular for her help with illnesses that could cause this issue as well as helpful tips and solutions!
A common behavior problem found in cats is inappropriate urination. Because cats cannot communicate with us the same way we do with our human peers, it is important for us to pay attention to other signals that something may be wrong. Sudden or frequent cat urination outside the litter box is not a sign that your cat hates you and wants to ruin your life (and floors or carpets), on the contrary, it means that something is wrong!
Bladder stones or crystals are a very common cause for this sort gof problem in cats, or inflammatory diseases. Unwanted cat urination can be also a sign that something is wrong with a cat’s kidneys, a potential bladder infection, or a diabetes related issue, especially if a cat is also suddenly drinking a lot more water. When it comes to kidney related issues, their kidneys might not be able to properly break down the protein, which can cause a buildup that would ultimately lead to crystals building up in the urethra. Additionally, if there are stones in the bladder, depending on factors such as their size, surgery may be needed. These sorts of illnesses could also make it difficult for a cat to reach its litter box as well, which means that they might be trying to do their business where they should, but simply cannot make it there on time. All in all, these are serious issues that mean your beloved furry friend may be acting out of character and needs medical attention as soon as possible. Keeping in mind that if it is a serious issue that would require surgery, there are options to help ease the financial strain of committing to treatment and potential surgery, such as pet insurance. These are very treatable issues, and even in the case of surgery, cats recover relatively quickly with the help of a special diet post surgery. A sign to watch out for that may indicate a medical concern is if a cat is howling while they try to pee, and if that is happening it is crucial to get the cat to a vet for an assessment as soon as possible, as the discomfort is extremely painful for our feline friends!
If the issue is not medical, it could be due to any changes in the house, perhaps even something as simple as furniture being moved around, or maybe a family member moving out/in, and especially moving to a new home altogether. If a cat is peeing on a specific family member’s clothing, keeping those hidden away and out of reach might be the solution. If a cat is peeing in multiple places, considering how many litter boxes there are in the home and where they are located might be the key! When it comes to multiple cats, AARCS Cat Program Manager Kelsey recommends ensuring there are as many litter boxes as there are cats, plus one! So if there are 3 cats, there should be 4 litter boxes in relatively different areas. Cats are resistant to change, and bringing a new feline family member into the house might spark up this resistance as well as territorial issues, which is why it is important to make sure litter boxes are separated. Something Kelsey swears by and that vets use in their own clinics is Feliway, which is a product bought at vet clinics and is a diffuser with synthetic pheromones that humans can’t smell, which is designed to help cats feel more secure and calm. It gives them the impression that they might have already marked their territory, so that they are less inclined to urinate in unwanted areas. Pet owners should also be aware that sometimes the resolution is as simple as changing the location of they litter box, as it could be in a place in which the cat feels too stressed to do its business (ex. maybe close to a window from which they can hear a lot of car traffic). Cats might have a preference as to the substrate they urinate on as well, with options ranging from clay litter to wood shavings. Another simple solution could be simply cleaning the litter box more.
In my own experience, our cat started doing her business outside of the litter box as she grew older. She started going in the basement quite frequently, but we had noticed that this was more significant when we had guests over. Her litter upstairs is close to the back door, and beside the kitchen area, which is where most house guests would hang out. Since she does not immediately take to strangers, we thought she might be relieving herself in the basement to avoid the commotion upstairs. We ended up leaving her litter there, and putting a tray downstairs with her litter as well, and she immediately took to it. Now she only goes there once or twice a week, so we have to make sure to remember to clean her area there as well, but there are no more issues with her relieving herself where she shouldn’t anymore. What also helped was taking the cover off of her litter box upstairs, when she had a brief stint relieving herself on my father’s shoes! In the end, there was an easy solution that didn’t require a lot of change for anybody, and our cat had the option to go downstairs and relieve herself in peace without the stress of people around her, as well as with us not having to clean up behind her anymore.
Thank you so much for reading, and as always, I hope you found this informative!
Check out more of Debby Herold’s work and all the AARCS animals she photographs at www.debbyherold.com/rescue-me!
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