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Feline Behavioral Health: House Soiling

Your Cat is Not Trying to Get Even with You

The most common behavioral problem among cats is using the bathroom outside of the litter box. This means them urinating and defecting on carpet, clothes lying around and even on your bed. It’s easy to assume that your cat is doing this on purpose to get even with you for something that you may have done.

The truth is that this is not the case at all; it is not even realistically possible.

There Could Be an Underlying Medical Problem

One reason for this type of behavior might be due to medical issues. For instance, if your cat’s urinary tract is inflamed then this would lead to urination being painful. He will then associate the litter box with pain and discomfort.

Diseases in the kidney, liver and thyroid will make him drink and urinate more than normal. Intestinal parasites along with gastrointestinal issues can mean that he might not make it to the litter box in time. So, there are several medical conditions that may lead to this kind of behavior.

Dissatisfaction with Litter or the Litter Box

cat outside binIt could also be that the litter box is unappealing to your cat. It could be that the box smells very strongly of ammonia from his urine or maybe you cleaned it with a chemical that left behind a strong odor. Maybe he doesn’t like the texture of the litter or the litter isn’t clean enough.

It could even be as simple as the litter box not being easy enough for him to get into. It may be in a difficult spot in the house, or the sides may be too high and too much work for them to get over. Cats have a high standard for their litter box and if it isn’t up to their standards then they just won’t use it.

Territorial Spraying

Another thing that may lead to house soiling is urine spraying. Urine spraying is something that is mostly done by cats that are marking their territory. Think of when a cat rubs your leg or your hand with their cheeks. They are leaving a scent behind to let other animals know that you belong to them.

When a cat is not neutered or spayed, they are more likely to spray. There is a chance of 90% or greater of spraying if the cat is not spayed or neutered. If there are new animals around, the cat will spray to mark their territory. Even if there are new smells around, the cat will most likely spray the area.

cat hiddingHow to Stop House Soiling

  • When attempting to resolve this problem, the best place to start is in your cat’s litter box. You might need a new litter box that has lower sides that your cat can easily get into.
  • It’s also a good idea to have more than one litter box in your house. If you have a large house or a house with multiple stories, try placing a litter box on each floor.
  • Try using a litter box that doesn’t have a top. Cats like to see their surroundings at all times.
  • Ensure that the litter box is in a quiet location that isn’t too dark or humid.
  • If you have other animals in the house, make sure that they do not disturb your cat when he is in the litter box. This may lead to your cat feeling unsafe and vulnerable when he uses the litter box and may cause them to not use it at all.
  • Make sure that it is clean and has fresh litter.
  • Make sure that the litter box is in a safe and comfortable place and is not next to anything that has strong odors like a trash can.
  • Use hot water and a very little amount of bleach to get rid of any smells that might be putting your cat off to using the litter box.
  • If you use clumping litter, clean the litter box every day as the litter box will get full very quickly with clumped litter.
  • You might also want to try and change the litter that you are using in the box as this may be your cat’s issue. Try an unscented litter if you would normally use a scented litter. Most cats find unscented litter to be more pleasant.
  • Another way to try and stop this behavior is by placing treats in an inappropriate place where your cat has soiled. By doing this, he will begin to associate this area with food and not a place where it is ok to urinate and defecate.
  • You can also try using toys and playing with him in areas that have been affected and more importantly, leaving his toys there when you’re done playing.
  • If your cat has a small bell on his collar, then you can always know where he is. If you hear him in a place where he has been soiling, then you can go and stop him.

Under no circumstances should you yell or hit your cat as he will not understand why he is being yelled at. You can shake a jar of pennies but don’t go overboard and scare your cat as this will result in him being afraid to urinate or defecate and will more than likely make the problem worse. Also, it has been proven as ineffective to rub their faces in the affected area as they cannot associate that action with them as having did something wrong.

When to See Your Veterinarian

cat in binIf none of this resolves the house soiling issue, then you will want to make an appointment with your veterinarian to have some tests done. The tests can determine if there is an underlying medical condition causing this behavior.

Just remember that your cat is not being spiteful, he is genuinely unhappy about something and doesn’t know how else to handle it.

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