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Why Do Cats Urinate Outside of Their Litter Boxes?

This is always a great question. And, a question with many answers!

We want to stress this loud and clear that in all cases There Is Always A Trigger, and there could be more than one trigger. And dear friend, very often you are innocently the cause of some of them. But donít worry, we are here to help correct what you might be doing thatís not cat-friendly. We understand!

Your cat does not wake up one day and decide "I'm going to make them miserable, Iím going to pee on the antique Oriental carpets and spray the new flat screen TV!" I know, it does seem like they are out to get you, but they arenít, they are reacting to something thatís not right.
  1. Health: Diabetes, kidney problems, bladder infections, arthritis which makes getting in and out of the litter box painful (time to get a box thatís lower), senility, and some medications can be the cause (ask your vet)
  2. Stress: Yup, something is bugging the cat! Many cats are troupers and not much fazes them. But for other cats Ė yikes, they are emotionally delicate flowers and are sensitive to many things including: those pesky uninvited neighborhood cats, feral cats who come around in the middle of the night, birds, squirrels, mice in the house. Construction inside the house. New furniture or rearranged furniture. Marriage or divorce. Older child going off to college. Loud unruly children or adults. Chaos in the home. Is someone in the home taunting the cat?
  3. Litter Box Aversion: This happens when there is something very off putting about the litter box. It could be the location (garages, basements, laundry rooms are very bad choices). It could be the litter (cats hate scented litter Ė and its toxic), the litter could be too rocky and coarse which can hurt their paws. The litter box could have a hood which keeps your cat from properly positioning the body for good elimination Ė so ditch the hood and see if that solves the problem. The litter box might be dirty and not scooped enough (channel your inner Martha Stewart!) The box could be old and no amount of washing it will get rid of the smells Ė but a new one. The box could be too small.

What is the number one trigger for cats not using their litter box?

Un-invited neighborhood cats & feral cats are the number one trigger. Thatís it. This is according Cat Faeries extensive research and customer feedback. Unwelcome cats pee around the house or spray doors and bushes - our indoor cats see them, hear them and SMELL them. Even you live 12 floors up from the ground your catís sensitive nose can detect the urine and feces of outside cats. And gated communities? Cats donít pay attention to no trespassing signs or guards!

Other animals which can be a trigger: outdoor birds, squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, mice.

Do I need to correct or remove triggers for the best results?

Yes! If you don't make some changes you are fighting an uphill battle. These changes are generally very easy to make so get started right now. We want to see you do well with your products, and we want to see your cats happy, so if you can make some changes peace will be restored to your home! And you will be happier! We want everyone in your home at peace and enjoying life.

What are some of the medical reasons a cat will not use their litter box?

Among the medical reasons: diabetes, medication can change the personality, urinary tract infections, arthritis and a stiff back end, hyperthyroid, diabetes, renal failure, old age, and more. Call your vet, request an exam and tests. It's good to rule out a medical condition.

What is the difference between spraying and inappropriate urination?

Spraying is when a cat approaches a wall or piece of furniture, turns away from it (butt is now facing the wall) the tail quivers and urine shoots straight out hitting the wall and trickling to floor. This is thought to be a reaction from stress. Inappropriate urination is when the cat makes a puddle on a flat surface like the floor, or a sofa, or laundry basket. The reasons for this are varied including stress, but health and annoyances are to be considered for triggers.

My female cat sprays! Isn't this odd? I thought only males sprayed?

It may seem strange but the girls can do it too! Spraying walls, doors or furniture, and peeing outside of the box is not limited to male cats. In fact we find it 50/50 among male and female cats. It boils down to personality and the amount of triggers and stressors the individual cat is exposed to.

I read about something called Litter Box Aversion. What does Cat Faeries think about that?

Yes, we know all about Litter Box Aversion. It occurs for many reasons, there are aspects of the litter box that puts the cat off wanting to use it.

Cats do not like scented cat litter. Those perfumes insult a cat's sensitive olfactory sensibilities (and many human's as well!) The scent is synthetic, a nasty brew of about 49 petrochemicals which cause headaches and neurological disorders in many individuals, and more simply put, they just don't smell good.

Many cats dislike the hoods on their boxes. Those hoods will keep the cat from stretching for proper elimination. They also hold the stench of urine and feces. Here's a scenario we've used for years - would you like going to the bathroom in a smelly dirty gas station men's room, with a ceiling so low it touched your head? Yuck! You'd pee on the floor too!

We are shocked by how many people do not remove the urine and feces from their cat's litter boxes twice a day. Cats are very clean little creatures, they do not like a dirty litter box!! A good rule of thumb is 1 litter box per cat, cleaned twice a day. But if space does not allow for that many litter boxes, then be extra good about scooping.

One last thing... no animal will, uh, you know - defecate where it eats! Litter boxes should NOT be placed near food bowls!

So, my cat started to pee in the living room and I put a box there. Then my cat started to pee in my bedroom so I put a box there. Do I need a box in every room of the house?

NO! This isn't about "I'm too lazy to walk to the kitty latrine area." This is about the cat being displeased with the litter box or some other stress which is usually outside cats. When you scatter litter boxes all over the house you are telling the cat that's it ok to pee and poop in each of those rooms.

You want to create what we call The Kitty Latrine Area. Push a few litter boxes together to form a square or rectangle. Keep your scooper, trash can and extra litter close by. This creates one large area with the sole purpose of being the proper place for your cat to eliminate in, and nowhere else.

Why do cats like scratching so much? Will Convivial House Cat help save my furniture?

There are several reasons why a cat scratches at objects;
  1. exercise which feels good,
  2. to deposit territory marking scent, and
  3. to show off claw marks which tell the world who this territory belongs to.
Since scratching is a natural thing for cats, you should provide your feline family "cat condos" or "cat trees" These will be their very own pieces of furniture for scratching at and lounging on. Generally they are made from carpet and wood. They should be at least 4 feet tall, have a few perches or levels, and be very sturdy. We wish to advise you from purchasing cat trees or condos made from particle board - it is cancer causing.

Spray Convivial House Cat on the furniture that you do not want them scratching at. It may not stop it but it could slow it down.

I've got a few very good quality cat trees but Fluffy still claws at the sofa sometimes. What can I do?

Two easy things you can do:
  1. Spray Convivial House Cat on furniture every other day (test fabrics first)
  2. Trim cat's nails every 10 -14 days. It's easy, and with a little practice, you'll be a pro at it in no time. Your vet or a vet tech can teach you how. There are also videos on line.

My ob/gyn is telling me that since I'm pregnant I need to "get rid of my cat." Iím beyond upset. This seems extreme. Thoughts?

Oh dear. Well, doctors love to issue the warning about Toxoplasmosis, but since they are not veterinarians, they cannot know for sure if YOUR cat has it! Is your cat 100% indoors? It's very unlikely your cat will a carrier for the Toxoplasmosis parasite.

Toxoplasmosis CAN be in cat feces but it's not likely that it's in your cat's feces, especially if the cat is an indoor cat.

The best thing for you to do is have your vet test your catís feces. If they test negative, end of story, the cat stays by your side and gets to meet and be an integral part of your childís life.

My cat is not spayed or neutered. I don't want to do it. My cat doesnít go outside. My cat is spraying my doors and walls. Will Convivial House Cat stop it?

Oh dear. It is absolutely unbelievable that this question continues to pop up.

Since the 1960's the need to spay and neuter has been discussed at length. The subject has the support of veterinarians, behaviorists, scientists, not to mention the over crowded animal shelters across the US, and anyone with common sense.

There are articles everywhere about the importance of spay and neuter. You'd have to be living under a rock to successfully avoid reading the articles or having conversations with people who know that spaying and neutering is super important.

There is absolutely no reason or any excuse to not do this for your cat! Not spaying or neutering is shameful. We will not mince words here:
  • Every time your female cat cycles and does not conceive it's a death sentence. You are setting her up for mammary gland cancer. Most un-spayed female cats develop cancer by age 6. Such cancers are generally fatal.
  • Un-altered cats spray urine and fight. They are responding to nature - they ARE NOT bad cats, they are awash with hormones and are acting accordingly.
  • Many things go wrong when cats give birth to kittens. Often the mother cat is too young and doesn't know what to do. Kittens can be born dead. They can be born with their entrails outside their bodies. They can be born with birth defects.
  • Every time you find a home for one of your kittens you are taking a home away from a shelter cat and this leads to more euthanasia.
  • If you want your children to understand the birds and the bees take them to the library.
  • Millions upon millions of cats and dogs are put to death in the US annually because there are simply not enough homes for them all. If your cat is having kittens, or impregnating female cats you are responsible for this mass genocide of cats and dogs. Anyone with an unaltered cat should be forced to watch as teary eyed vets or techs euthanize beautiful but unwanted cats - better yet, let the selfish individuals who won't spay or neuter be one to inject the fluid which kills the cat, and see how it feels to kill innocent cats and kittens. End of subject.

My cat didn't do this until I had him declawed. Any correlation?

We are 100% against this cruel, painful, and unnecessary surgery. It leaves a cat defenseless and the cat knows it! Many of the cats who are victims of this surgery become rather neurotic, and often mean. Cats will retaliate by biting, growling, and spraying urine or urinating outside the litter box.

We have noticed that roughly 50% of our customers who are having cats not using their litter boxes have declawed cats. Declaw your cat and risk having a spraying problem.

One of the many reasons why Cat Faeries is against declawing is that many cats are left with permanent pain in their feet which is why they can be attracted to bathmats or carpets - these are smooth soft surfaces and don't cause pain. It's pain which can keep them out of litter boxes. If you suspect that's the problem switch from a grainy or rocky litter to something softer and finer.

If you adopted a previously declawed cat do not despair. With love, kindness, and Martha Stewart like attention to litter box duty you'll probably be pee-free!

Now, speaking of Martha Stewart. On a TV episode featuring one of her homes she showed the artfully shredded arms of several pieces of furniture that her cats claw at. Martha joked that this is something cats just do, and when we live with and love cats, itís part of the deal. We figure if Martha Stewart can live with slightly shredded places on her very tasteful and probably very expensive furniture, so can the rest of us mere mortals!

Every bit of Cat Faeries text is original. It was written by our behaviorist and it is based upon our years of experience with every item we have carefully selected just for you. All of our text and photos are copyright protected. If you should be foolish and dare to copy it, you will be sent immediately to the pound, and hunted down by our legal team who will prosecute you to the full extent of the law. Our intellectual property lawyer was a pitbull in a past life.
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