Discovering a little puddle of cat pee in front of the litter box can be frustrating, but your cat is not doing this on purpose! When we dig deeper into the reasons that cats pee in front of, instead of in, their litter boxes, they can be split into two categories: medical and behavioral.
It’s vital that you figure out which of these categories is the reason behind your cat’s pee habit and then figure out exactly what the problem is. This will give you the tools to solve the issue, so you will be cleaning up your cat’s pee from the only place that it should be — in that litter box!
If your cat has peed in front of their litter box more than once, the first thing to do is to make an appointment with your vet. They will examine your cat, maybe arrange a few tests, and let you know if your cat is suffering from a medical condition. Your cat might need treatment to help them feel better. We’ve outlined the main medical problems that can cause cats to pee outside their litter box.
1. Bladder stones
Bladder stones and crystals can build up and cause irritation. If left untreated, they can lead to a urethral blockage. Cats with bladder stones also often have a urinary tract infection (UTI). Your vet will need to carry out X-rays to see the size and number of stones or crystals. Once the bladder stones and UTI have been treated, your cat should go back to using their litter box normally.
2. Metabolic disease
This umbrella term covers a range of medical conditions, including chronic kidney disease, diabetes, liver disease, and thyroid problems. If you’ve noticed that your cat is drinking more often, as well as peeing more in and out of their litter box, let your vet know.
3. Idiopathic cystitis
Cystitis is a medical term for a bladder infection. Idiopathic means the cause is unknown. Cats with idiopathic cystitis may have blood in the urine. Your vet will want to carry out a urine analysis to check that there are no bladder stones present.
4. Urinary tract infection
UTIs can occur on their own or in combination with any of the previously mentioned medical conditions. Bacteria in your cat’s urine cause inflammation and discomfort. It can lead to pain and urethral blockages. UTIs are more common in male cats. If you notice your cat straining to pee but unable to, they may have a partial or complete obstruction of their urinary tract. Left untreated, this can be fatal.
If your elderly cat has arthritis, they may be struggling to comfortably climb into a high-sided litter box. Their solution may simply be to do their business outside the litter box! If you know that your cat has arthritis or another joint condition, try to watch them as they go to use the litter box so you can check if they’re struggling.
If your cat has visited the vet and been cleared of any medical conditions, then the next step is to consider behavioral reasons for them peeing in front of their litter box.
6. Dirty litter box
Cats are particular creatures, so if you’ve waited longer than usual to clean out your cat’s litter box, they may simply decide not to use it. If you have multiple cats and are out of the house for a good portion of the day, make sure there are enough litter boxes spread out around the house for them to use.
7. Stale urine smells
Once your cat has peed outside the box, the smell of stale urine can remain long after you think that you’ve cleaned it up. Simple soap or disinfectant isn’t enough to remove the smell for your cat, so they will continue to pee in the same spot because it smells like them!
8. Stress or anxiety
Your cat might pretend that they’re big and brave, but they’re really a sensitive soul that can become stressed pretty easily. If you’ve changed your cat’s environment, moved the furniture around, brought a new cat home, or even have an extended house-guest, these can all be enough to stress your cat out.
9. Difficulty accessing the litter box
If your cat’s litter box is difficult for them to climb in and out of, they may simply decide to pee next to the box. This might be close enough in their eyes! If your cat is old and stiff and the litter box has high sides, they may find it too hard to access. The same goes for kittens that may struggle to access a taller than average litter box. Some cats don’t like covered litter boxes, while others prefer them.
10. Litter box too small
If you have a large cat and a regular-sized litter box, it might just be too small for them. They may be climbing into the box and attempting to do their business in there, only to end up doing it over the edge instead!
11. Litter box in the wrong place
You might think that the best place for your cat’s litter box is in the hallway so you can easily clean it out, but your cat probably has other ideas. Cats prefer a quiet location for their litter box, where they won’t get bothered by the dog or kids running around.
12. Wrong type of litter
If you’ve recently changed brands or types of cat litter, this may be the issue. Cats are creatures of habit and some don’t adapt well to change. Some cats dislike the texture or smell of particular litters and simply won’t use the litter box if they don’t like the litter.
13. Not enough litter boxes
If you have multiple cats and some of them are territorial, you may find that not all your cats want to use the same litter box. This may lead to certain cats doing their business close to but outside of the litter box.
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Featured Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock
- Medical Problems
- Behavioral Reasons