Has your cat suddenly begun to soil your favorite rug or armchair? Does she use the litter box sporadically for urinating, but not for defecating? These changes in behavior can be frustrating for you, the owner. But this kind of behavior, also known as inappropriate elimination, is extremely common in cats and is likely to occur at some point in your cat’s life for any number of reasons. Here’s a look at some reasons your cat may be urinating outside the litter box.

Access to the Litter Box

The very first question you should ask yourself is if Fluffy actually feels comfortable with the location of her box. It’s possible that the litter box is difficult to access, is in high traffic areas, or is near large, noisy appliances. A poor location could be the reason your feline is choosing to eliminate somewhere more relaxing for her. If you’ve ruled out litter box placement, there’s also a chance your cat may not enjoy the litter being used. Try switching to a different brand or type of litter.

A Dirty Litter Box

Cats have a very powerful sense of smell. As a result, if their litter box is not maintained properly, they may refuse to use it. Be sure that you are scooping the litter frequently, completely emptying and cleaning it regularly, and that you aren’t using cleaning chemicals that she might object to, such as ammonia, bleach, or citrus-smelling products.

Medical Conditions

There are numerous medical reasons why your cat may be urinating outside the litter box. A few common conditions are urinary tract infections, feline interstitial cystitis, or kidney stones or blockage. If inappropriate elimination has become a habit, it’s important to take your cat to see the local vet and rule out any of these conditions.

Senior Feline

Is your cat in her older years? As your furball ages, her cognitive and physical functions begin to decline. For this reason, she may not be able to climb into her box with ease, make it to the box in time when she needs to eliminate, or even remember where her box is located. If you have an aging feline, you can help her by placing more litter boxes with low sides around the house in easy-to-use places.

Stress and Anxiety

Have you moved recently? Has a new person or pet moved into the house? Have you had lots of guests over recently? Has there been a disturbance in the home or a change of schedule? Has your cat had a surgery or injury? The occurrence of any of these situations could lead to stress and anxiety for Fluffy and affect her litter box behavior. It’s also possible she associates her litter box with a stressful or anxiety-producing situation and is, therefore, avoiding it. Identifying any stressful triggers and creating a calming environment can be helpful in getting your cat to use her litter box again.

No matter why your cat is urinating outside the litter box, in her mind, she has a valid reason. The first step in finding a solution is to address the issue with patience. As a compassionate pet clinic serving Mesa, Chandler, and Gilbert, our team at Anasazi Animal Clinic recommends you contact your local vet as soon as you notice a change in your cat’s litter box usage. When you make a consultation appointment with us, we can help you rule out any medical issues and help discern whether it’s a behavioral issue stemming from another source. Contact us today!


Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (11/28/2018) Pixaby