Why does my cat pee outside the litter box?
Original Question: We live in a multi-cat household. We have an 11-year-old overweight female Russian blue cat named Chrissy. She is skittish but very friendly and loves cuddles and being brushed. We feed her Orijen Cat & Kitten dry food. Chrissy spends almost all her day upstairs by herself in my husband’s office (she’s been like this since I first got her). I have had Chrissy for about 7 years and from time to time she will pee or poop outside the litter box. We would like to know how to stop this behaviour. We have a litter box on every floor and we keep them clean. We have had a topless litter box and a covered one but no success. We have tried Feliway which did nothing. She has now started using her bed as a litter box. She pooped in it this morning and covered it although the day before she used the litter box?!? Sometimes she will pee in her bed and lay in it. Previous reasons that she has done this was out of spite, she had crystals (UTI) or because we changed something in the house. ALSO we did adopt 2 new kittens approximately 7 months ago (I'm hesitant to mention this important fact as people seem to give up on a solution when I mention it). We know this can severely stress out a cat. We keep them separated through the use of a baby gate. We had some behavioural issues in the beginning which have somewhat subsided. We desperately need to know how to STOP this behaviour as we are at our wits end. Your assistance in this matter would be greatly appreciated. - Stacey
I can certainly understand how frustrating this situation must be for you. Inappropriate elimination is a very common problem with our lovely indoor cat patients. It sounds like you have done a lot already to investigate this problem and try to find some solutions. You mentioned that Chrissy has had crystals in her urine before. Feline lower urinary tract disease is probably the most common reason I see cats present for urinating outside the litter box. Having a urine sample checked by your vet to see if these problems have recurred would be a good first step. In addition, you may want to consider blood work to ensure there are no other underlying health problems that could be contributing to her behavior.
Once medical problems are dealt with, you can focus more on the behavioral aspects. You mentioned that she may have done this in the past “out of spite.” It is important to recognize that cats don’t do these behaviors as revenge or because they are upset with you. It is more likely that they are painful (which is why it is important to rule out medical problems first), stressed, frightened, or not comfortable with their current litter box arrangements.
I like that you have provided multiple litter boxes. We generally recommend providing at least the number of boxes equal to the number of cats in your house plus one. Please continue to try different types of litter boxes and different types of litter. Ensure they are clean and comfortable. The addition of the kittens is certainly a big stressor, and keeping them separated but aware of one another is a smart decision at this time.
There are a variety of supplements, diets and prescriptions medications that may be helpful for Chrissy. Your veterinarian can work with you to determine if any of these may be appropriate for her. You may also want to consider consulting a veterinary behavior specialist, which will require a referral from your vet. I encourage you to check out our video on this topic, ‘How to Stop Cats Urinating Outside the Litter Box‘.
I hope this has given you some ideas for Chrissy. Good luck!
Dr. Kim Hester
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