Common litter box issues
How illnesses and behaviors can cause accidents.
Urinary tract and other illnesses
If your cat begins urinating outside the litterbox, it could be a sign of illness. Cats with bladder irritation or infection frequently urinate in unusual places, including potted plants, sinks, and bathtubs. There is often only a tiny amount of urine in each place, and it may be bloody. Kidney failure, diabetes, and even some medications can cause cats to urinate more, and they may be unable to get to the litterbox in time. Make an appointment with your vet to rule out these medical causes as reasons your cat is not using his or her litterbox.
Spraying and marking
Spraying urine is a normal territory-marking behavior that can be done by both male and female cats. Spraying differs from ordinary urination because the cat remains standing and the urine is sprayed onto a vertical surface behind him or her. This behavior happens more when your cat is distressed or anxious and is more common in multi-cat households.
Some cats develop aversions—or preferences—to both the location and condition of their litterboxes. Most cats will not use a litterbox placed in a high-traffic area or one that is not kept clean.
Treating inappropriate elimination
After ruling out medical issues, you’ll need to address your cat’s emotional needs. Is your cat avoiding the litterbox because the dog harasses him there? Create a space the dog can’t reach. If another animal is not the issue, still make sure your cat has privacy while in the litterbox: Place the box in an area where your cat won’t get distracted while attempting to use it. Discuss other courses of treatment with your vet, including antidepressant and anti-anxiety medicines or a spray that mimics a natural calming hormone of cats.
Preventing inappropriate elimination
Prevention is still the best course of action. Offer your cat more than one litterbox—and keep them clean. Change the litter daily and wash each box twice a week.
If you have a multi-cat home, there should be at least as many boxes as there are cats. And make boxes available on each floor of your home. Most cats prefer a large, open litterbox—placed in a quiet location—with a neutral, clumping litter.