Feline housesoiling can be divided into two main categories: Medical Versus Behavioral
The distinction between a medical problem versus a behavioral one is extremely important, since it determines the types of treatments that may be needed to help the pet. Medical problems that can lead to urinating outside of the box include but are not limited to bladder stones, interstitial cystitis (bladder inflammation), or urinary tract infection. Diabetes and renal failure can also increase the amount of urine a cat produces and lead to accidents outside of the box. Arthritis can make it difficult for an older cat to climb into a litterbox to urinate or defecate.
Housesoiling is the number one behavior problem in cats. It includes territorial marking and litterbox aversion. It is necessary to know if the cat is both urinating and defecating outside of the box and where it occurs. Watching for possible stressors will help you to provide an environment that encourages good litterbox habits. Many people would think that the charmed life of a house cat could not possibly have any stress, but cats are very sensitive to changes in the environment. Stressors can include feral cats outside of the windows, other pets or children in the household, moving to a new house, moving furniture, an owner being away on vacation, or lack of mental stimulation.
We think of litterbox aversion as a problem the cat is having, however, it often stems from the behavior of owners or other pets in the household. The following are tips that can help prevent or alleviate litterbox aversion:
- Rule of Thumb = 1 litterbox per each cat + 1 extra box. Sometimes even two litterboxes can seem like a lot in a small apartment but it is better than urine on the carpet.
- Litterboxes should be scooped at least 1-2 times daily. This also makes it easier to have multiple boxes outside of just the laundry room. You should never smell a litterbox. Remember that if you can smell it with your poor human senses, the smell is absolutely overpowering your cat.
- Try different types of litters. Certain cats are very sensitive to smell, so even fragranced litters can annoy some cats and prevent them from using the box. Cats may prefer certain textures of litter. Scoopable litter is a favorite with many cats, but it is worth trying others if your cat is having a litterbox problem. You can try providing a litter cafeteria where they have multiple boxes and types of litter from which to choose their favorite.
- Try different types of litterboxes. Many cats do not like covered litterboxes or boxes requiring them to walk through tunnels to get to it. These cats may have initially decided to use this type of box, and then found it too cumbersome so they will stop. Arthritis can make it painful for older cats to climb in and out of boxes with tall sides. Offering a lower cut out for them to step through or low sides all around such as a plastic under the bed sweater box can make it easier for them to maintain good litterbox habits.
These suggestions may not completely solve the problem for all cats with bad elimination habits, but these steps are usually needed to achieve a positive outcome