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Reader: My CH Cat Is Peeing Outside of the Litter Box

May 29, 2012

The other day Misty came to me with a concern. I feel like several of you have experienced similar situations before, so I wanted to share her story in hopes that we can all offer advice, thoughts, stories and, perhaps, solutions.

Photo courtesy drymate.com

From Misty:

“Winnie is a little over a year old, has a mild case of CH and has no problem getting in and out of any type of litter box. We have a multiple cat household so we have 2 litter boxes and one litter robot for a total of 3. One is located upstairs and the other two are downstairs right next to each other. We’ve seen her use all of them. The problem is that sometimes she doesn’t.

She’ll go behind the litter box on the floor, or at times in front. It’s not a constant problem, but it’s been happening more and more and we don’t know how to correct the behavior. The boxes are always cleaned out and in a few cases were completely void of urine or feces. Sometimes she’ll go into the litter box, then come out and go behind it on the floor. Is there something we can do or some product we can use to discourage her from doing this?”

When a cat goes to the bathroom outside of the litter box, even if just an accident, it can be a frustrating situation to deal with — especially if there isn’t an obvious solution. And if not corrected, this can become a regular habit.

While Winnie’s behavior is still a mystery (perhaps someone can shine some light on it!), here are some things to consider if your cat is peeing outside of the box:

1. General Issues

Photo courtesy play4smee

Once your cat starts to pee out of the box, consider a few points:

  • How long has the cat been peeing outside of the box?
  • Have you noticed any patterns? How often does it happen?
  • Is the cat spraying (happens on vertical surfaces with intact male and female cats) or voiding (happens on horizontal surfaces and can be urine or stool)?
  • How many litter boxes are in your home?
  • Where are the litter boxes located?
  • How do your other cats treat the one having problems? Is she picked on?
  • Do other cats bug her while she’s in the litter box?
  • Are you sure it’s just the one cat having trouble? You may want to confine the suspected cat for a few days just to make sure.

2. Health Issues

I immediately thought that it could be a health issue — and so did Misty. She has already had Winnie checked out, and she’s not suffering from a UTI or any other illness.

Whenever your cat begins to go outside of the box, give your vet a call and make an appointment. You’ll want to make sure right from the start that it’s not a medical concern.

3. Litter Box Change

Sometimes moving a litter box to a new location or changing the type/brand/scent/depth of litter you’re using can turn a cat away.

According to Misty, the litter boxes have remained in the same location. They did change the type of litter (from Tidy Cats to Arm & Hammer), but the litter was changed in all of the boxes, and Winnie still has trouble with one of them.

One brand of litter attractant

Misty’s vet suggested using an attractant that you sprinkle on the litter, which is supposed to attract the cat to the litter box; however, she’s not sure if it’s helping since Misty goes outside of the box so randomly.

If accidents have been occurring around the litter box, don’t forget to give the area a thorough cleaning. Otherwise the issue cat, and your other cats, may continue to go in that same spot.

4. Household Change

Even the seemingly smallest household change (a new family member, new cat, even a new piece of furniture or rearranged furniture) can set a cat on edge and lead to a behavioral change.

While Misty says they have brought in three fosters into their home, those cats are located in their own room upstairs, and don’t mingle with Winnie or Misty’s other cats.

If you believe your cat may be voiding inappropriately due to a household change, call your vet or a cat behavioralist to find out what you can do to remedy the situation.

So dear readers, I’m asking you — have you had a similar problem? If so, did you learn what the cause was and how to resolve it? Do you have any tips for Misty? Please share in the comments below!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Stefani permalink
    July 23, 2012 1:07 am

    HELP!!! I’m having the same issue. Thought I’d answer your questions from the post above:
    How long has the cat been peeing outside of the box? A couple of months now

    Have you noticed any patterns? How often does it happen? Yes, there’s a pattern – he only goes in a particular place at night, after we’ve gone to bed – he uses the box during the day. We had the carpets professionally cleaned and he changed locations.

    Is the cat spraying (happens on vertical surfaces with intact male and female cats) or voiding (happens on horizontal surfaces and can be urine or stool)? He isn’t spraying; he’s been fixed; his urine actually does not have a very strong odor and it’s relatively clear.

    How many litter boxes are in your home? Three, (we have two cats) but we’ve now separated them so that my CH kitty only has his box in his own space right in a corner of the living room. We were told that maybe he was like a toddler potty training, in that he couldn’t get to his box in time.

    Where are the litter boxes located? In the living room. I put the litter box right on top of where he wanted to pee in the living room and he peed on the floor right next to it and then got in and pooped in the box.

    How do your other cats treat the one having problems? Is she picked on? He’s not picked on but he’s not very well liked. The other cat is older and female – also fixed – and she’s not very patient. She has growled at him but she pretty much ignores him. The CH kitty seems to have imprinted on my 14-year-old daughter.

    Do other cats bug her while she’s in the litter box? No, he is completely alone.
    Are you sure it’s just the one cat having trouble? You may want to confine the suspected cat for a few days just to make sure. Absolutely certain.

    He doesn’t have a medical issue. He does seem to be terrified of ‘strangers’ and hides under a bed when people come over. Our home is relatively quiet. He reacts rather violently if the front door opens and he is terrified of any sudden noise or movement. I’m at wits end. Even though I’ve found a cleaner that works fairly well, having to do so is frustrating and irritating. What else can I do??? As I write, he is laying on a little pad in front of his box and he just used it but earlier this evening, he peed on an area rug I placed over the ‘favorite’ spot. My daughter put him IN his box earlier and that’s when he peed in there, but most times, he just jumps right back out.

    • July 25, 2012 8:44 am

      Hi Stefani,
      I’m so sorry to hear about your troubles! It sounds like you’ve been paying close attention to what’s going on, which is a great start.

      Have you taken your cat into the vet? I would suggest getting him checked out if you haven’t yet. Share everything you’ve mentioned above; it should help your vet figure out what may be going on. Perhaps your vet could also suggest an animal behavioralist to speak to. Behavior like peeing next to the pan then jumping in to poop in it sounds like something they should be able to explain. You said your CH cat is not well liked. Perhaps he’s doing this to be territorial?

      You also mentioned that he usually goes in a particular place after you’ve gone to bed. Is there any way you can close him into your bedroom at night or block off the are where he goes at night? You said he changed locations, but is the behavior/routine the same?

      This is all more food for thought. Again, I’d recommend chatting with your vet or a behavorialist to get to the bottom of this.

      Good luck!

  2. Cathy permalink
    May 8, 2013 9:39 pm

    I am having a similar problem with my newly adopted CH cat Twitch. He is very afraid of the litter box and goes on a pee pad in front of it. He absolutely will not have anything to do with a covered box, and won’t go in the open, shallow box either. If I try to put him into the covered box, he freaks.

    I have two normal cats who are not the least bit aggressive to him. He does not have a UTI. I was told, before I adopted him, that he has always gone just in front of the litter box, so the foster mom kept pee pads down.

    Does anyone have any suggestions how I might teach him not to be afraid of the litter box, and get him to start using it? If he never does, I will keep using the pee pads, but I would rather he used the box if possible.

    • Val Maloney permalink
      June 9, 2014 4:23 pm

      Most cats don’t like the covered boxes. Cats hate to be forced to do anything. Some CH kitties slip on litter and prefer pee pads. Stick with the open shallow box.

  3. Sumer permalink
    February 1, 2014 10:32 pm

    I have two mild ch kitties. I live on a farm so have quite a few cats 16 last count. My girls are not my first experience with ch but are my first experience knowing what was effecting them. I brought them inside to avoid the fate suffered by my first ch cats. All was well until last summer. One of my ch cats started peeing everywhere, couch, recliner, wood floors, carpet, tile, even the kitchen table. I separated them thoroughly cleaned and of course my other ch started peeing on the floor where the other one did. I had my husband build a small cat pen out of an old trampoline enclosure. In nice weather they stay outside in bad weather the garage. I adore cats & it is difficult to spend the amount of time I want to with them. When they are outside during the day its great because they socialize with the ‘normal’ cats. Its not the best solution but I had to do something. They stay in the yard, don’t venture near the road at all. At night they have to be put in the pen or the garage for my piece of mind. Of course this isn’t a solution for everyone but its what’s works for me.

  4. Val Maloney permalink
    June 9, 2014 4:19 pm

    Hello, I had a similar problem until I switched to AH Clump & Seal. (This is not an ad.) My little CH Robbie would pee on the wall right next to the litter box when I was using World’s Best. As soon as I switched to Clump & Seal he has used the box every time. I think he was slipping in the World’s Best because of his CH. The Clump & Seal is soft like velvet and doesn’t cause him to slip. It was 4 years of him peeing on the wall and now he uses the box every time. It’s a kitty miracle. :-)

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