Skip to content

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

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!

14 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. 🙂

  5. Lynette permalink
    March 28, 2015 2:30 am

    I’m currently having a similar problem. My todd has mild CH I think, yet the vet can’t really determine without scans and blood tests.
    He use to use the litterbox fine but recently has started peeing outside of his box,
    I originally thought, he must be having some difficulty, but never misses when he has a poo.
    and also like winnie, he would randomly use the box and then wouldn’t.
    Most common is he will get his front paws in and then his bottom half is out, and he will just wee. So I think he thinks he’s in the box but obviously he isn’t?
    It started gradually and now its full habit of his now and I’m constantly cleaning.
    Thinking of trying a low entrance litterbox? That might help him even though he doesn’t have difficulty when he goes for a poo?
    We haven’t changed the litterbox or litter since we’ve had him

  6. chris permalink
    April 10, 2015 8:20 am

    Currently having somewhat similar issues. Im currently fostering a mild/moderate ch cat named mickey. He can get into and out of his litter box with no problems and he pees in it with no issues, however he wont poop in his litter box. He will flop over on the floor within 2 to 3 ft of it and just start pooping on the floor. For awhile i thought it was because he would be playing, would fall over, realize he had to go then couldn’t get up fast enough. and if we see him do it we’ll pick hinm up and put him in his litter box. But now it seems like he makes no attempt to even try to poop in the box. I dont know what to do. He apparently didnt have these issues before.

    • Michelle permalink
      December 6, 2019 4:23 pm

      Did this ever resolve? I’m fostering a 6 month old CH kitten and she recently started doing the same thing except she poops right in front the litter box. I’ve resorted to putting pee pads down in front of it now but she also seems to be having more frequent issues w/falling in the poop and requiring baths.

    • gwenn kurilew permalink
      December 7, 2019 5:49 am

      My issue has not been resolved! I am chasing around both cats now and I don’t have time for that! I can tell when they have gone some where because they’ll run helter shelter past me. I pick them up, bring them to the mess, put there feet in it and take they and the mess or the wet paper towel to one of the litter boxes and put them and the mess in it. Doesn’t faze them. Stella now like to pee in front of the washing machine doesn’t matter if it is running or not, which is in between two litter boxes. Haven’t had time to get them to a no kill shelter, I am taking care of a sick husband and elderly parents, plus I have kids at home. If anyone has any other ideas, please let me know. I even tried an orange spray a friend told me about and it hasn’t worked.

  7. Jennifer permalink
    January 3, 2016 2:19 pm

    I am having litter problems also. My baby started out somewhat normal, except for a virus…along with her sister. She used the box up until about 1 1/2 months old when she started showing signs of CH. It took a month to find a vet that recognized CH. Once her legs started failing it was as if she doesn’t know that she is going to the bathroom. What can I do? Wherever she is walking she goes. She seems to like to stick her nose in the litter just to lick it up! I have tried several varieties to no avail. Like I said before, I do not think she even realizes she is going. Pee pads don’t work due to the fact that I do not want to line my entire house with them and I do not want to keep her locked up by herself. Her sister is fine and of course I was hopeful that between me and her sister she would start using the box. Any suggestions???

  8. Katrina permalink
    April 18, 2017 10:09 am

    I’m having the same issue. It started about 2 months ago. Calamity has CH; I took her to the vet and they said there were traces of blood in her urine, which can be from stress. A new cat has moved in next door and jumped down onto our balcony a couple of times which I feel like could be the stressor. Vet recommended prescription diet urinary health +stress, which seemed to help, now she is peeing in the box, but also randomly places no where near the box. Enzyme cleaner doesn’t seem to discourage her from re-soiling the same spot.

  9. gwenn permalink
    February 18, 2019 12:59 pm

    I have two female calico CH cats, rescued them from my backyard 5 years ago, when someone dumped their pregnant mother in our neighborhood. From the start they always used the litter box and that is when we had two older cats that loved them. About two years ago one started going outside the litter box. Took both to the vet and they were tested for bladder infections, nothing. Changed the litter and tried everything on the market. Nothing worked. Littler boxes were in the same spots are always, cats have no problem getting in and out of them. Bought the calming plug in’s, didn’t work. Put plastic rug runners with bumps on them down, they don’t care, they walk on them. Finally bought the attraction littler and for three weeks it worked!!! I even bought the extra additive to add in.Then Luna again started going on the rug in the living room both pee and poo. I would catch her, cause she would know she was wrong and try to run from me. I put her nose in the mess just like a dog and put her in the litter box cause I don’t know what else to do. Now the past month the other cat Stella is doing it. The boxes are always clean and I always put fresh litter in. I have gotten to the point where I am spraying deer repellent on my carpets to deterre them from going and that isn’t working. I am seriously thinking of taking them to a no kill shelter because I can’t be following them around all day. My house has an open floor plan, so I can’t keep them locked anywhere except the bathroom and that won’t work as we need to use it and it is not very big. Help!!!

  10. Sofia permalink
    January 13, 2022 5:20 pm

    Reading this thread makes me feel less insane and very validated about the emotions that I have surrounding my sweet boy Max. We were not told he had CH when we adopted him until after we had paid and all our paperwork was filed. We love him to death, but we have been struggling for over a year with his “accidents.” At first it was both poo and pee, now thankfully, it is just pee, right outside of his box. We have three boxes, two with crystal litter and one with wood pellets, all kept very clean. There have been small moments of victory where he wouldn’t have any accidents for a week or so and then he would start back up again. My roommate and I are both full time students and work full time jobs. It is getting extremely frustrating to have to come home to clean pee multiple times a day. We have quite literally tried it all; litter attractants, litter change, all types of litter boxes, moving the boxes around, trying to keep him in an XL kennel with just a litter box while we were at work, we are at our wits end. We love him, he is an incredible kitty, but this behavior is slowly breaking us down. We have been to multiple vet appointments where they have tested his blood and urine and everything would come back negative. We have even tried medication, nothing. is . working. Realizing that there are many CH pet parents out there without solutions is disheartening. We love our CH babies, but sometimes we are not equipped with the proper tools to understand why these things are happening. All of the online advice I have looked for is “Talk to your vet, Use this litter, Use this box, Use this attractant.” What do we do when these solutions are not working? Giving Max up is an option that I never want to come to, but sadly, his accidents are causing strain between my roommate and I is dawning on both our mental health. If anyone can help or share what helped them, please, please, please let me know.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: