One of the top reasons for surrendering cats to animal shelters is for problems associated with spraying and/or urinating outside the litter box. We examine here the causes of spraying and peeing outside the box, how to combat litter box avoidance and urine spraying, and how to remove the stains and odor of cat urine from carpeting, bedding, and clothing.
Cats do not pee outside the box out of spite, or to "get back at you." There are two main reasons why cat urinate outside the litter box:
- UTI or Blockage
A cat may associate pain from a urinary tract infection or blockage by urinary crystals with the litter box itself. Consequently, the cat will seek out other places to urinate. It is imperative that you rule out a medical cause by taking your cat to the veterinarian without delay.
- A Dirty Litter Box
Cats are fastidious animals and carefully cover their feces and urine, so as not to leave a trail for predators to follow. If a litter box becomes full, they will look elsewhere to pee and poop. Regular litter box maintenance is extremely important.
Cats stake out their territory outdoors by spraying urine on trees, fences, vehicle wheels, and other inanimate objects. Quite logically, this behavior is called "territorial marking." A cat is very efficient at keeping his territory secure by repeatedly marking his scent to establish his territorial boundaries.
Cats do much of the same indoors, for various reasons, usually involving stress caused by various factors. Cats are creatures of habit and respond to changes in their surroundings negatively, often by spraying urine.
Although urine spraying is usually behavioral, in some cases it may be caused by a medical problem, so that should always be ruled out first, as this guest article illustrates.
A reader is distressed over her cats' urine spraying problem while she was on a week-long trip, and asks for advice on removing the urine stains and odors, and how to prevent his spraying in the future. This was a complex problem which required a detailed response.