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The Cat Peed WHERE?

Inappropriate Elimination in Cats


Kittens can quickly learn to use a litter box

Jaspurr and Joey check out their new litter box

Franny Syufy

"Inappropriate Elimination" is the term we use to politely discuss the problem of cats peeing everywhere but in their litter boxes. It is the largest single cause of concern among cat owners,right up there alongside clawing furniture and drapes. Indeed, shelters cite the largest reason given by people surrendering cats is "He pees all over the house."


Sad because in many cases these cats are in physical pain, and peeing outside the box is not "bad behavior," but an effort to urinate without pain.

Eliminate Serious Medical Causes First

Although we may view cats as mysterious, unfathomable critters, they do nothing without reason. One of the more serious reasons for cats urinating outside the litter box is a urinary tract dysfunction, known as FLUTD (Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease), formerly known as FUS (Feline Urinary Syndrome.) FLUTD causes painful urination, which the cat may associate with the litterbox, thereby avoiding it. Therefore, inappropriate elimination may be your first clue that your cat needs medical care. If you ignore it, or, worse yet, choose to punish your cat, the disease can quickly become life-threatening.

When my Bubba started peeing on the floor a few years ago, we attributed it to jealousy of another cat, and disregarded it. A few days later my husband came home to find Bubba "sleeping" on our bed, and discovered a lethargic, weak, close-to-death cat. We rushed him to our veterinary clinic 10 miles away, and he remained there for ten days undergoing treatment for a serious urinary blockage. There was little warning, other than the inappropriate elimination, and had it not been for Asa's symbiotic relationship with Bubba and his sharp eye for the unusual, we would have had a dead cat within hours.

Surrendering a cat to a shelter is also sad because there are solutions other than euthanasia, which is another euphemism for "killing." Cats are fastidious creatures, and given a clean litterbox, will gravitate to it like magic. When a cat suddenly scorns the litterbox in favor of the new carpet or Junior's closet floor, it behooves us humans to investigate the cause.

More Than One Cat in the House?

¹"If your household includes several cats, you and your veterinarian must first determine which cat is eliminating outside the litter box. In some cases, more than one cat may be eliminating outside the box. Occasionally, a few simple questions and some detective work can find the culprit. If the identity is still uncertain, your veterinarian can give each cat a product that will stain its urine marks with a color that can be detected by an ultraviolet light."

¹From the FDA Veterinarian web site. Used with permission.

Read Further: Clean Bill of Health

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