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Cats' Urine Problems May be Health Related

Getting A Clean Bill of Health is Your First Task

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First things first, and the most serious possible cause of inappropriate elimination is always pain in urinating, which translates to avoidance of the litter box, which is a symbol of the pain in the cat's mind.

We'll assume your cat got a clean bill of health from your veterinarian because this article is about peeing in all the wrong places. (FLUTD and FUS are covered elsewhere.)

Eliminate Other Likely Causes

Next, your task is eliminating all the other causes of your cat's missing the litterbox. He missed the whole room, you say? Well, bear with me. You need to ask yourself a number of questions involving what has changed to disturb my cat? Cats are fussy little critters who like to have everything orderly in their home. The slightest change which you may accomodate or even enjoy will upset your cat's applecart and he will let you know loud and clear, by peeing where he darn well pleases, even though he ordinarily would prefer his litterbox. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Has your cat been declawed? Declawing is a painful, mutilating surgery, and phantom limb pain can linger for years. A rough substrate in the litter box will cause severe pain to the nerve endings in a declawed paw, and the cat will associate pain with the litter box. Always use "gentle" litter for declawed cats, such as one of the newspaper-based litters (PaPurr or Yesterday's News are both good).
  • Have you recently moved? - This is a biggie. Your cat will feel very insecure in new surroundings and it will take some time for his comfort level to return to normal.
  • Is there a new baby in the house? Cats are very jealous of their attention and he will need lots of extra love and cuddling so he knows that he is still first in your heart. (You may feel a little differently, but humor him, okay?)
  • Is there a new cat in your home? A new dog? The above applies equally to these situations, and in the case of another cat, make sure it has its own litterbox. Cats hate to share, particularly if they've never had to before. The general rule of thumb is one litter box per cat plus one extra. Don't ask why-- it just works.
  • Is his litterbox meticulously clean? Have you ever had to relieve yourself in one of those portable facilities at a fair, when the deodorizer has failed its job? Cats are every bit as disgusted as you were and their sense of smell is better, by far. I rest my case.
  • Have you changed your brand of litter? Cats tend to be creatures of habit, and any changes should be done gradually. In the case of litter changes, just sprinkle a bit of the new litter on top of the formerly used brand. Then gradually add more until the cat has accepted the change.
  • Have you moved the litterbox? Likewise, cats are used to their normal routines.
  • Has another cat in the household recently had surgery or been ill? I know this sounds strange, but the odor of anasthesia and medication can linger and create fear in your other cats.
  • Is it possible any form of trauma has occurred when your cat was using the box? Such as attack or intimidation by another cat? Again, a cat will avoid any source of discomfort, whether it be physical or emotional. His mind will link the location with the trauma.

These are all questions designed to make you think like a cat. Consider the things that might make you uncomfortable in the same situation. If one of these questions makes you pop to attention, your problem may be solved quickly by elimination the source, i.e., switching back to his old brand of litter, or moving the litterbox back to its original place. However, if the problem has been longstanding, you may need to dig deeper and the retraining may take a bit more time.

Read Further: Marking is a whole different matter

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