You’re at your wit’s end. Your cat has peed on your favorite sweater for the third time this week, despite all the extra love and attention you showered on your furry pal. You thought your cat was mad at you because you went out of town last weekend, but cats can’t hold grudges for this long, can they?
This scenario occurs all the time with feline inappropriate elimination, which many pet owners chalk up to revenge or spite, but your cat is not peeing outside the litter box to get back at you. Rather, the reason is medical or behavioral, or a combination of the two. Our Kennedy Heights Animal and Bird Hospital team shares potential reasons for your cat’s inappropriate elimination. First, however, your pet should always have a thorough physical exam and diagnostic testing to get to the bottom of their issue.
#1: Your cat is suffering from feline idiopathic cystitis
Feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC) is one of the most common reasons why otherwise healthy young cats urinate outside the litter box. FIC has no true known cause, but there are several theories why the urinary bladder may become inflamed and lead to inappropriate elimination. Causes may include neurogenic inflammation, a defective bladder lining, and stress. A cat who is suffering with an FIC flare-up typically frequently urinates small amounts that may be blood-tinged. Although these signs appear similar to a urinary tract infection (UTI), there is no bacteria in the urine. The best way to manage FIC is through stress reduction, environmental enrichment, and an appropriate diet.
#2: Your cat has developed a urinary tract infection
Similar to FIC, a UTI can cause frequent urination of small, possibly blood-tinged, amounts. However, a UTI is caused by a bacterial infection and can be treated with antimicrobials. UTIs most often appear in middle-aged to older cats, and are relatively rare in young, healthy adults. The pain of a UTI can easily turn a cat away from their litter box, because they form a negative association with using the box and pain. In severe UTI cases, cats may need retraining on how to use the litter box once their infection improves.
#3: Your cat has developed a chronic medical condition
Chronic medical conditions typically appear in older cats, but can still pop up in young and middle-aged pets. Cats with conditions such as diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and kidney disease drink more, and thus urinate more. If these diseases are unregulated, cats can urinate so much that they flood their litter box, and they will then look for other spots to relieve themselves. Fortunately, with proper management, your cat’s signs can be alleviated, leading to fewer accidents.
#4: Your cat is being bullied by other household cats
Intercat tension in a household can be so subtle, the owner misses the signs. Bullying from another cat can be as simple as a staredown, or as obvious as a full-on brawl, but the stress and anxiety caused by the bully can lead to inappropriate elimination. FIC flare-ups are a common result of the stress a bully causes. If the bully is guarding the litter box, you’ll often find urine in hidden spots, like the back of a closet or under the bed. Setting up multiple resource stations throughout your home, employing calming pheromones, and using anti-anxiety medications can help solve this problem.
#5: The litter box is dirty
Dirty bathrooms are the worst, especially for your finicky feline. Aim to scoop the litter box twice a day, and to completely change the litter and disinfect the box weekly. If you have multiple cats, ensure you have enough litter boxes—a good rule of thumb is one litter box per cat, plus one. Spread the litter boxes out throughout your home so your cats have options, and won’t use your good rug if they can’t get to the basement litter box in time.
#6: The litter box is placed in a poor location
Location is another critical component in litter box usage. Your cat may avoid a litter box placed next to a noisy appliance or in a busy room. Choose a spot for their box that’s out of the way, calm, and quiet, so your cat can eliminate in peace.
Now that you know your feline friend isn’t urinating on your favorite blanket out of spite, let’s get that medical or behavior issue under control. Our Kennedy Heights Animal and Bird Hospital team will get to the bottom of your cat’s inappropriate elimination, helping them feel better, and keeping your home accident-free. Call us to schedule an appointment.