My Cat Is Urinating Throughout the House

CatChannel behavior expert Marilyn Krieger discusses ways to get cats to use the litterbox.

By Marilyn Krieger | Posted: January 22, 2010 3 a.m. EST

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Q: My dad has a full-bred 8-year-old Persian named Pug. He has been urinating in specific locations throughout the house.  My father has put puppy pads down in those locations, and Pug continues to urinate in those spots. He’ll urinate in them even when there aren’t puppy pads. My father has witnessed Pug a few times, and noted that he did not squat, but stood while urinating. 

Pug has been to the vet multiple times. He has been on antibiotics and been tested for kidney distress, etc. 

A: Pug may be urinating outside of his box for any of a number of reasons. You have already ruled out a common reason for inappropriate elimination by taking him to the vet for a medical exam. Urinary tract infections as well as other diseases often cause cats to urinate outside of their litter boxes.

Inadequate litterbox maintenance, poor choice of litterbox type and inadequate box locations are a few reasons Pug might be urinating outside of the box. He might also be challenged with cat litter sticking to his fur. Another trigger could be improper clean up of the target areas.

The following recommendations may help Pug switch to using the litterbox consistently:

  1. Pug might be repeatedly choosing the same locations to urinate because of inadequate cleanup. The targeted areas need to be thoroughly cleaned with a really good enzyme cleaner, if they aren’t properly cleaned, cats will continue to urinate in the same spots. Some enzyme cleaners, such as Anti-Icky-Poo, do a much better job at eliminating the urine odors then others. Standard cleaning products will not work because cats have highly developed sense of smell and can detect odors that escape our human noses.

  2. Pug may need a trim. Cats are neat freaks and don’t appreciate the feeling of cat litter and excrement sticking to their fur. Longhaired cats especially can have challenges with this. A regular trim may help influence Pug to use his box consistently instead of urinating in other places around the house.

  3. The cat boxes themselves may be an issue for Pug. Cat boxes should be large and uncovered. Most commercial boxes are too small for cats. Large 66-quart translucent storage containers give cats enough room to do their business without feeling crowded. They have high sides, which makes cleanup a little easier, since the litter isn’t as likely to end up flung to the four corners of the room. The tall sides also are handy for cats like Pug, who stand while urinating. The high translucent sides also will allow Pug to feel a little more secure since he’ll be able to see what’s going on in his environment. Covered litter boxes can also trigger inappropriate elimination because the covers keep odors inside the box, which cats don’t like. Covered boxes also can create situations where cats feel cornered and uneasy since they can’t see out of the boxes or easily escape from the box. Large, uncovered boxes will help Pug feel that he can easily escape out of the box if he needs too. Another factor to consider is litterbox maintenance. Boxes need to be scooped at least on a daily basis. Every few weeks the old litter needs to be dumped, the boxes then washed and refilled with about 3 inches of new unscented litter.

  4. Cats need choices. There should be at least as many boxes as there are cats in the household. Ideally, there should be one more box then there are cats. These boxes should be located in different parts of the house so that Pug has choices. The boxes need to be located in areas where Pug won’t feel that he could potentially be ambushed by another animal. Even if he is an only child, instinct is strong. Closets and bathrooms are not ideal spots for boxes since Pug may feel he could be cornered. Ideally, he should be able to see the whole room and out the door. Check the locations he is urinating. Depending on your needs and lifestyle, the targeted areas may be ideal locations for cat boxes.
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My Cat Is Urinating Throughout the House

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Reader Comments

John    Lakewood, OH

10/24/2012 4:24:22 AM

As always. Cat Channel rules with articles and helpful hints.

Shannon    cc, KS

9/10/2012 6:26:53 PM

recently heard that declawed cats often go outside the litter box because the litter hurts their feet? we use pretty fine litter, but have one declawed cat in the house that prefers a rug in front of the litter box.. always has. just bought lots of rugs and change it out daily, wash them on the sanitize cycle in the washer... he never goes anywhere but that rug - crazy

wanda    monmouth, ME

1/28/2010 2:31:41 AM


Holly    Stouffville, ON

1/26/2010 3:19:38 PM

Good advice, because I have a 14 year old cat who is peeing on the carpet on our bedroom!!!! Annoying and stinky!!!!! Thanks for the article.

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