Urinating or defecating outside of the litter box is the number one behavior problem of our feline friends. Many cats are turned outside, given away, or even put to sleep for this behavior problem, but it is often a medical issue that can be solved together with your veterinarian. At Indy Vet Care in Northern Liberties, Philadelphia, we are happy to work with you and help figure out the cause(s) for these problems in your cat.
Urinating in odd places can mean a medical problem, a behavior problem, a territorial marking problem, or some sort of social or environmental problem; sometimes the differences are not clear cut. Several factors may be in play and some conditions involve medical symptoms resulting from psychological stress.
There are several medical conditions that can lead a cat to inappropriate urination and these should be ruled out before pursuing behavioral solutions. Your cat should be examined by your vet and most likely have some diagnostic testing done. Conditions to rule out in part depend your cat’s age because young adults tend to get different diseases than do senior cats but, here are some problems that should be considered: bladder infection, bladder stone(s), kidney disease, diseases that cause excess drinking, arthritis, constipation, or a bladder tumor.
Of special note is the condition currently referred to as feline idiopathic cystitis. This is one of the most common causes of urinating outside the litter box. This condition amounts to a physical manifestation of anxiety where the cat may not only urinate inappropriately, but also strains painfully in the litter box and produces bloody urine. A male cat can actually obstruct his urinary tract, creating a medical emergency. This condition is common in young adult cats but is uncommon in older cats.
*A male cat straining to urinate and not producing any urine is a medical emergency and you should contact your veterinarian right away.
After your veterinarian evaluates your cat medically, they may then conclude that the problem is behavioral and you can then embark on a long-term behavioral approach. At Indy Vet Care, we can help work through these concerns for your cat. If your cat has issues urinating or defecating outside of the litter box, contact us to begin finding the solution.
Below are links to some websites that are great resources for litter box problems and understanding behaviors in your kitty:
The Indoor Pet Initiative from OSU
Idiopathic Cystitis in Cats from Veterinary Partner
Inappropriate Elimination in Cats from Vet Partner