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Our cat keeps urinating outside of the litter box! Help!

June 20th, 2006, 07:38 AM
Hello everyone,

Any advice/help on our problem appreciated!

Our 4 yr old calico recently started urinating outside of the litter boxes very frequently, like 1-2 times a day! She is doing that even when our 2 litter boxes in the toilet are clean! This problem did occurred previously over the last 1-2 yrs but not frequent, prob once in a few months.

We know its not an easy problem to tackle but we would like to give it a try. Apart from playing toilet cleaner everyday and covering the entire toilet with newspaper, we are now resorting to laying vinyl flooring over our original tiles cuz the pee have been seeping into the drywall edges and trims which we can't reached to clean! These problems aside, we would like to find out first and foremost if our cat is suffering from any medical condition, although she appears healthy and normal to us.

Referring to article by Beverly Wong on "Urination in Cats - Inappropriate Elimination", and I quote the para on probable medical conditions:
Treatment: Medical Issues
The first step in dealing with house soiling is to rule out underlying medical problems. Lower urinary tract infections and bladder stones are the most common medical causes of urination outside of the litter box. You may observe an increase in frequency of urination, straining, vocalization, or even blood in the urine. Other problems that can lead to inappropriate urination include: pain that prevents access to the litter box (for example, arthritis), diarrhea, kidney failure, constipation, and diabetes. Examination of the cat by a veterinarian for these problems should be done prior to investigating behaviour-related causes.


1. By describing the inappropriate urination problem to the vet, what would a vet normally be doing to diagnose for probable medical cause(s)? In reference to the para above, what kind of medical procedures will normally be carried out to help determine if our cat is sufferring from ..
- urinary tract infections and bladder stones
- diarrhea, kidney failure, constipation, and diabetes

2. If anyone has experienced similar problems with your cat, please share your experience with us , and how you go about addressing the problem.

3. Any other advice, help, comment, etc ... appreciated!


- boomerang257

June 20th, 2006, 08:37 AM
A urinalysys will determine the presence of bacteria which would indicate an infection, as well as the pH level of your cat's urine in order to determine if Kitty has crystals and stones. I would recommend getting her to a vet immediately for this testing since a cat going outside it's normal place is NOT normal and she could be quite ill. Good luck and keep us posted on how she's doing. :pawprint:

June 28th, 2006, 10:06 PM
Laid down vinyl sheet on the toilet floor, which helped us trap the urine, otherwise the newspapers would have soaked it away. Submitted urine sample for urinalysys today, now waiting for results ...(keeping fingers crossed)

If it turns out to be a medical condition, then most likely it can be treated according to our Vet. However, if it is behavioural, what can we do about it? Any thoughts/comments/recommendations?


June 30th, 2006, 09:05 PM
Results are out ... everything is normal as far as the urine test is concerned. This is a pretty healthy cat that we're looking at, except that she has developed an attitude! Sigh ... :mad:

There are drugs available to treat anxiety, which is the only applicable medical remedy according to our Vet but there is no guarantee that it will fix this behavioural problem. Taking everything into consideration, such as side effects from drugs, frequency of the cat peeing outside the box which is a little less than before (gone down from once a day to once every few days), and the fact that it is limited to the toilet and not anywhere else in the house, we are not going to put her on drugs for now.

We will continue to monitor her progress and hopefully she will get better over time. Wish us luck!

Candy Land
July 1st, 2006, 08:00 AM
You mentioned urinating, but not defecating ... where does she poop? in the box, outside the box, out of doors?

Since medical reasons have been eliminated (no pun intended), have you changed to a new box or a new brand of litter lately? Since your kittie is in the correct vicinity and not peeing elsewhere in the house, it sounds like being a good kittie is what the goal is, but just not successful for whatever reason.

Have you ever witnessed the peeing outside the box or is it something you discover after the fact?

Once when we changed litter brands, one of our cats didn't like the feel of it on his paws (or that's what I think was happening) and would stand with front paws in the box and hind legs on the box's edge, and obviously the pee went outside of the box.

Another cat we have didn't like the box itself when we bought one of those covered ones. Finally we took the cover off, but he still didn't care too much for the deeper walled-box that was a little smaller than the previous box we had replaced. The only reason I surmise this is because he now uses the second box we bought (we have 3 cats) that is shorter-walled and has a little bit larger dimension. These boxes are side by side and he prefers the second box.

The last thought I have -- did anything scary happen to your cat while it was using the box? Perhaps it associates that experience with using the box. Our youngest cat got stuck in the handle of a plastic grocery bag and as it ran away trying to escape it, he dragged the bag and the books that were in it through 3 rooms before he got disentangled. He freaks whenever he sees a plastic bag or hears its crumpily sound (or any sound similar) because he can't forget the fright he experienced.

Keep us posted how things are going!

Sue in PA

July 1st, 2006, 08:44 AM
Put some Rescue Remedy in his water (or his food, if he'll accept it; some don't), it might make him calmer. You can get it at the health food store, some grocery stores, it's perfectly safe.
I don't know if this will solve your problem but I think it is wise to stay away from strong meds for now. Occasionally they work, but more often they complicate the issue. JMO.

July 1st, 2006, 11:15 AM
Thanks for the comments/thoughts Candy Land!

Let me elaborate further by responding to your following questions/comments.

[You mentioned urinating, but not defecating ... where does she poop? in the box, outside the box, out of doors? ]

She poops inside the litter box, always, the problem is only limited to peeing and is currently also limited to just the toilet right around our 2 litter boxes (touch wood!).

[Since medical reasons have been eliminated (no pun intended), have you changed to a new box or a new brand of litter lately? Since your kittie is in the correct vicinity and not peeing elsewhere in the house, it sounds like being a good kittie is what the goal is, but just not successful for whatever reason.]

We have been using the same 2 litter boxes ever since we moved into this new house 2 years ago, and the same brand of litter for about the same period. Like I mentioned in my first post, the peeing outside the litter box problem did happened before in the last 1-2 years, but the frequency was something like once every 2-3 mths, never as frequent as now which is once every few days or sometimes once a day (usually in the middle of the night). This sudden increased in frequency started about a month ago even though nothing has changed, not the litter nor the litter boxes.

[Have you ever witnessed the peeing outside the box or is it something you discover after the fact?]

It started off with the latter, we started to see pee outside the litter boxes in the morning. As the frequency increases, we started to keep a close watch on her and on a few occasions, we actually caught her peeing outside. There were however a few other occasions where we quietly sneaked behind her when she went into the toilet, we observed that she appeared to be looking for a "good spot" to pee outside the litter boxes, going around, sniffing here and there on the floor, but as soon as we appeared before her and watched her, she will get into the litter box and pees there. The only conclusion we can draw from the few times that this has happened is that she will not pee outside if we watch her.

Other things we have done before in an effort to address this problem included:
- replacing all litter with new/fresh litter after scrubbing the litter boxes clean
- spraying lemon juice around the litter boxes where she pee-ed before
- spreading carpet/floor powered-deodorizer around the litter boxes where she pee-ed before

Obviously, all the above failed to deter her from repeating it. I am planning to try spraying cat repellant (bought from Petsmart) at those spots to see if it works. If anyone has any other tricks or known remedies that you think may help and worth giving it a try, please let us know.


July 24th, 2006, 03:21 PM
I have 2 cats, the oldest one was recently taken to the Vets due to a crystals in his urine, which caused a blocked urethra. The problem I am facing now is that he is now peeing outside the box at least once a week. Like it was stated earlier, I also do not have the money to take my cat to the Vet every time he sneezes, but I am concerned for his health, especially since I know it was only 1-2 months ago that he went to the Vets and it cost me 400 bucks ( of which I had to borrow the money). I want my cat healthy but I also know the Vets want payment during time of service. So in the mean time I am washing blankets and such every other day.:sad:

July 24th, 2006, 03:45 PM
Mellsie,if you have a male neutered cat prone to crystals,I would feed him nothing but canned food, dry food often can result in problems with neutered male cats.
If he has crystals again,which is very painful to a cat,you have no other choice but take him back to the vet:sad:
My cats(3 males)all eat canned food and free-feed on good quality dry,but they also drink a lot of water.
Many years ago,I had one cat die from UTI,I was very young and ignorant to his problem,now I am almost paranoid to check that they all pee ok.
Another thing that will keep them from going in there boxes, is if it is not cleaned regularly,there is always a reason why cats do the things they do,maybe a new pet,a new house,often someone new who moved in or of course UTI,Urinary Tract Infection.
I have 2 huge Rubbermaid boxes and my cats pee in one and poop in the other.

Candy Land
July 25th, 2006, 07:22 AM
Mellsie -- A cat with crystals is like peeing sand - obviously quite painful. I had a cat once who was prone to the affliction and if I remember correctly it was one of the cheaper visits to the vet, thank goodness, for a cure. Chico2 is right about changing food -- at the moment I can't recall the commonly found ingredient that can cause crystalization...ash maybe? But it was easy to find a brand low in whatever ingredient it is and once I switched food my cat never had crystals again.

Boomerang -- it's been a couple of weeks since your last post and I was wondering, after all your smell-be-gone sprays and such outside the box, has your cat returned to using the box?

Cat psychology is so complex--sometimes a small event unnoticed by us or seemingly insignificant can cause a behavior change. I have 3 cats. One of them, Pharaoh, now dives for cover under the TV cabinet whenever there's a loud sound--since we're in the season of thunderstorms and neighborhood fireworks, one of these events must have frightened him...maybe he had been in a window snoozing away when boom--we're not sure. Another cat, Silver, will all of a sudden jump up and attack our third cat Panther who, to us, is doing absolutely nothing. Obviously Panther does do something and we just can't see/hear the cat language that ticks off Silver. About 9 or so months ago Panther decided he has to be in the bathroom when anyone is taking a shower and he meows constantly while the water is running. Weird.

As for elimination behavior, all of them will head for newly-cleaned boxes as if to mark their spot and claim their territory. This "claiming" behavior exasperates me because Silver recently found a corner in the basement that he's decided is his. There's a nice big box down cellar (they like to play down there so I accommodated them by adding a "bathroom") which they've all been using for years, but maybe one time it wasn't clean enough or something and Silver discovered this nice, dark little corner between our workbenches. The space is too small for me to physically reach, so all I've been able to do is spray it with Fabreez from afar (the only product I had on hand at the moment). I know the smell runs deeper than our noses can detect, so I'll have to move the benches and get in there and deep clean the area so that, hopefully, Silver will not be able to smell his spot anymore and will return to using the box like he used to (he still uses it but not all the time). There's also something about plastic that Silver finds appealing as a bathroom -- if I chose to place a box of plastic grocery bags next to the litter boxes, he'd use the plastic...I have no idea why and I can't figure out the psychology of that! (He's the one who'll seek out rubber bands to eat - not good.)

Just a thought if the outside-the-box behavior is continuing -- is it possible to move the boxes, or one of the boxes, to a different location nearby? Or perhaps try a different brand of litter in one of the boxes? By process of elimination you might be able to figure out what's causing the behavior.

July 26th, 2006, 08:46 AM
Where in the house are the boxes located? Are they both in the same room or in different rooms? If one or both of the boxes are in high traffic areas (kitchen, bathroom, front entrance) I would suggest that the cat is scared of all the noise and commotion going on. It is also possible that your litter boxes are too small for the size of your cat. Are they covered boxes? If they are your cat may not like the feeling of being in a place where she can't see very well. If they aren't covered, she may thing she's peeing in the box but could be missing and going over the edge. I bought 2 large Rubbermaid under the bed storage boxes (shallow ones) and use them as litter boxes. This solved the problem of one of my cats peeing over the edge all the time. Is your cat spayed? Unspayed females will mark in the house, although this doesn't sound like a marking issue.

July 26th, 2006, 10:23 AM
One of my cats when I first adopted her would pee outside of her box. It was always right beside the box. So I watched her the one time and she went in her box, did a couple circles/scratches and made sure that her paws were in the middle of the litter box. Since she's on the chunky side, her but was right at the side which meant that when she peed, it went outside. I bought a covered litter box and she loved it...and no more pee around the box. Just a suggestion.
Mellsie - I would take the suggestions and put your cat on wet food if he already isn't. Ash is thought to be a factor in forming crystals/stones but hasn't been 100% proven or 100% not proven. A bladder stone can form from anything and very quickly. Forms like a snowball with a core (red blood cell or white blood cell or bacteria, etc) and then just keeps building and building crystals onto of it. You may also want to see if any say that they regulate the pH of the urine. Ideal urine pH is 6.2-6.4ish (every cat has their own ideal pH). The wet food will help to flush the bladder (make the cat pee more) so that there isn't a chance for things to form in the bladder.

July 27th, 2006, 03:59 PM
Sorry if someone already said this, as I may have missed it in all the posts, but maybe she can smell where she went before so is going in that spot? Is it possible for you put the litterboxes over those spots? If the urine has soaked in and you can't get the smell out, she could just be marking over it. A black light would show if it is soaked into the floor or anywhere else.

I did have a cat once who was missing the box. When I saw him do it, he was basically positioned in the box fine and actually spraying on the wall behind it (he was neutered and did not spray anywhere else). We got him a covered box which solved the problem. Then he would just spray on the walls of the covered box!