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Urinating in odd places can mean a behavior problem, a territorial marking problem, or some sort of social or environmental problem, and sometimes the differences are not clear cut. Several factors may be in play and some conditions involve medical symptoms resulting from psychological stress.
There are several medical conditions that can lead a cat to inappropriate urination and these should be ruled out so as not to get on the wrong track. The cat will need to be examined and get some testing. Conditions to rule out in part depend on the age of the cat as young adult cats tend to get different diseases than do senior cats but, briefly, here are some conditions that should be checked out:
The following are clues that an inappropriate urination problem reflects litter box aversion.
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Cats with litter box aversion frequently require re-training to the box. As a first step, the litter box situation must be made optimal as best as possible. If it is possible, an additional box should be provided. If there are multiple floors to the home, there should be a box on each level. The box should be 1.5 times the length of the cat (not including the tail) or the cat will feel cramped. If possible, the boxes should not be in the same location in the house so that the cat feels a sense of privacy and is not confronted by other cats who need to use it.
The box should not be in a high traffic area. In a single cat home, the cat may have experienced something unpleasant in association with the current litter box (molestation by a child or dog, loud noise etc.) and needs a new area. It is important not to keep the cat’s food in a location near the box as the cat will not want to use the feeding area as a toilet.
Obviously, any litter boxes should be scooped daily or even twice daily and kept as clean as possible. Clumping litter should be changed at least monthly and non-clumping litter should be changed twice weekly. The box should be washed with soapy water or water alone with no strong-smelling disinfectants that might be objectionable to the cat.
A litter box length should be at least one and a half times the length of the cat (not including the tail) so that the cat will have adequate space to maneuver and cover excrement.
As the next step, another type of litter can be provided to see if the cat prefers a different brand or type. Signs that the cat does not like the litter include: sitting on the plastic lip of the litter box to eliminate, failure to dig a hole in the litter, and/or shaking the litter off the paws after exiting the box.
First, the carrier is in the housing area, then a small room such as a bathroom or playpen is allowed, next a large room is added etc. until the cat again has his usual access. Alternatively, the cat may be boarded in an animal hospital as housing in a small cage commonly brings the cat back to the litter box plus the cat can be observed for other problems that might be contributing to the elimination problem.
If these tips are not effective in restoring the cat’s proper toilet behaviors, a behavior specialist should be called in. Please contact your veterinarian for the best consultant in your area.