I decided to create this series of articles to address the top questions I’ve been asked as a veterinary technician. I’m a CVDT (Certified Veterinary Dental Technician), have been in the field for over ten years and have noticed a trend in the most commonly asked questions by pet owners. The answers found in these articles will reflect how things have been done in my experience only; keep in mind that all veterinarians and veterinary hospitals have varying policies and techniques. This article will address the questions referring to litterbox problems, or inappropriate urination by cats.
I think my cat is mad me because he’s peeing on the floor!
This can be right. Cats do urinate inappropriately when they are upset about something. However, they may be upset about a medical condition, so it kind of goes two ways. If it is a true behavior issue, the cat will be perfectly healthy otherwise. In these cases, cats will commonly urinate on vertical surfaces such as a wall or pile of laundry. They may also make repeat visits to the same spot, such as at the new baby’s bedroom door.
Lots of things can upset a cat; it may be something as drastic as a move to a new house or the addition of a new pet or child. It may also be something as simple as moving the food dish to a new location, changing the litter to a new material or even having guests over to stay. Cats can also show this type of behavior to express their need for medical attention. If anything is wrong within a cat, he may start to urinate as a sort of call for attention.
Nothing has changed but suddenly, he’s not using his litterbox!
Cats can get urinary tract infections. This can certainly cause him or her to not use the litterbox appropriately. Sometimes, they are rushing to the litterbox too frequently or spending a lot of time in it. A simple urinary tract infection can easily be treated by the veterinarian.
With male cats, an owner might notice that the cat is spending a lot of time straining the litterbox. This can be a sign of an obstruction and is a true emergency. These cats need veterinary attention right away. Treatment for these cases can require a few days stay in the hospital, but can be fatal if left untreated.
Inappropriate urination in cats can be extremely frustrating and difficult to cope with. Avoid causing potential behavior problems by using the same kitty litter each time you change out the box. Always keep the box cleaned, as well. If you keep up with it, scooping once a day or so, it’ll be easier to continue to keep the box cleaned. Every week or so, all of the litter should be dumped and the box thoroughly cleaned before adding fresh litter.
Locate your cat’s box in a comfortable, quiet and private location in the house. Putting the box right next to the washer and drying may not be a great location as the noise may startle the cat, causing him to not want to use the box in the future. Also, if you have multiple cats, the general rule of thumb is to have one more litterbox than the number of cats that you have. So, if you have two cats, you should have three boxes. If any of the cats are older, having trouble getting around or are arthritic, it is best to keep litterboxes close by instead of forcing the cat to walk to the opposite side of the house or down a flight of stairs so he can do his business.
If you ever do encounter problems with a cat that is urinating inappropriately strictly do to a behavior problem, many times a simple relocation can help; confine the cat to a very small room, such as a bathroom, with a couple of litterboxes so that he doesn’t have much choice to go anywhere else. Doing this for a few days can sometimes retrain the cat in a manner of speaking. Always make sure to check on him throughout the day, giving him his usual amount of attention and provide plenty of food and water.