What to Do When Your Cat Urinates Outside the Litterbox

Find out what a vet recommends to stop your cat from urinating outside the litterbox.

By Elaine Wexler-Mitchell, DVM

Printer Friendly
Q. My cat started urinating outside the litterbox. What can I do?

Elaine Wexler-Mitchell names potential factors as to why your cat is urinating outside the litterboxElaine Wexler-Mitchell, DVM, says: Urinating outside the litterbox and spraying are two different problems. Cats urinate outside the litterbox onto horizontal surfaces, such as the floor, not onto vertical surfaces as in spraying. Inappropriate elimination is either caused by urinary tract disease or behavioral problems. Behavioral problems that may cause inappropriate elimination are difficult to determine because situations that create stress or anxiety for your cat may not be apparent to you.

Make sure that you are keeping your cat's litterbox as clean as possible by scooping it twice daily. If you changed the type of litter you use in the litterbox, your cat may not like it; cats have preferences for certain types of litter. If there are no obvious litterbox factors, have your cat examined and her urine analyzed. If urinalysis and examination uncover a medical problem, your veterinarian will make treatment recommendations.

If there are no obvious medical problems, you need to work with your veterinarian or a behaviorist to identify the factors triggering the inappropriate elimination behavior. As with other behavior problems, the best chance for stopping inappropriate elimination is with early intervention. It is unrealistic to think that a behavior pattern that has been in existence for more than a couple of weeks can be turned around within a few days, so be patient and compliant with your vet's recommendation. You will achieve the best results with a combination of behavior modification and antianxiety drug therapy. Give your cat plenty of attention and set aside at least five minutes twice a day to play with your cat to decrease stress and boredom and create a new behavior pattern.

You will need to remove urine stains and odors so that your cat is not attracted back to the same spot. Avoid cleaners with ammonia as they intensify the smell of urine and make your cat want to eliminate in the same area. In addition to cleaners, you can create an obstruction or spray a repellant on the affected area. To create an obstruction, simply close the door to the affected room, place an additional litterbox on the area, put a plastic carpet runner placed upside down on the area, lay down aluminum foil, or play with and feed your cat at the site. Repel your cat from affected areas using solid air fresheners with a fruity or flowery scent. Cats do not like fruity or flowery scents; they only like their own. There are numerous brands available in grocery and drug stores.

If these steps are not successful, you can also use herbal calming remedies and antianxiety medications along with behavior modification to treat inappropriate elimination caused by behavioral problems. Some of the prescription drugs used are amitriptyline (Elavil), clomipramine (Clomicalm), buspirone (BusPar), paroxetine (Paxil), and fluoxetine hydrochloride (Prozac). Some cats can be weaned off the medication eventually, but others need long-term treatment to keep their behavior under control. You should avoid hormone therapy for inappropriate elimination due to the potential for side effects, such as diabetes mellitus or mammary cancer. Curing an inappropriate elimination problem requires early recognition, owner commitment, and patience.

 - Back to the Behavior area -
 Return to Ask the Vet About Cats

Reprinted from Ask the Vet About Cats © 2003. Permission granted by BowTie Press.

Printer Friendly

 Give us your opinion on
What to Do When Your Cat Urinates Outside the Litterbox

Submit a Comment   Join Club
Earn 1,000 points! What's this?
Reader Comments

Jacob    International

9/11/2016 9:08:53 PM

Hello everyone. This is an excellent article and after reading through comments I saw many people having problems with their cat peeing around the house. I myself had the same exact thing with my cat (why else would I be reading here, heh).
I've had a cat for 6 months and now I've also taken a dog and they get along very well. What changed after getting the dog was that my cat started to pee everywhere outside the litter box. I searched the internet for ways to help me with this problem and I found out a great site with excellent product that helped me fast. I recommend checking it out if you have problems with your cat peeing outside the litter box. The site is LINK


Andrea    International

11/29/2015 7:11:57 PM

Before I started using No Cat Spray (http://tinyurl(dot)com/nocatspray), my cat Oscar had been peeing all over the house for 7 months - on the kitchen floor, outside the front door, at the top of the stairs and on the bed! It was very stressful time and incredibly time-consuming to have to keep cleaning it up day in day out. I honestly didn’t think I’d ever be able to stop him doing it. I found this program through Google and thought I’d give it a try. I’m so glad I did! This program is so simple yet so effective. Oscar hasn’t peed anywhere but the litter tray in 4 weeks now! Be advised that the link I posted is the official version -- don't waste your time on the other counterfeit links here. Feel free to text me if you have any questions: 586 382 2899 - Best of luck to you and your cat!

Emma    International

11/14/2015 4:57:25 PM

Hello. I struggled with my cat peeing everywhere in the house. I was seriously thinking giving her away but one day I found about a product called "Cat Spraying No More". I gave it a shot and surprisingly enough, it did the trick and my cat started using the litter box!

I've made a review site for the product and you should definitely check it out if you are having the problem with your cat(s). Hopefully this will help you like it did me. -Emma


Lulu    Pensacola, FL

8/24/2015 10:14:09 AM

The article is very informative; however, beware the LINK given by betsy in Newington, Ct. in an advertisement which holds your browser hostage trying to force you to the "buy" page! BEWARE

View Current Comments

Top Products