In the wild, a cat needs to be cleaned in a clean, dry, quiet place where it can be buried well. Nowadays most cats have to put their need in a small plastic box. And they can be very picky about that.
It may be that your cat is doing his needs outside the litter box. In most cases, this involves urinating outside the litter box. This is also known as active incontinence and there are two possible causes for this problem:
- a medical problem (in most cases)
- a behavioral problem due to stress or aversion to the litter box
Table of Contents
👉 Problem recognition
The way the cat urinates can already give you an indication of the cause. If the cat urinates by spraying (against vertical surfaces in standing position with tail trembling upwards), a behavioral problem is most likely. If the cat sits down and pees small to large puddles on a horizontal surface with a curved back, a medical problem is more likely to be the cause. To find out the medical problem, it is wise to always contact your vet first.
When a cat starts spraying, it can be because of stress or anxiety. Usually there is a stressful relationship between different cats, between cat and dog or between cat and human. This can be both indoors and outdoors. First, find out in which situation the cat experiences stress and if possible, this situation should be adjusted. In addition, medicines or atomizers with comforting fragrances can be used to reduce stress. For this you can contact your vet.
👉 Aversion to the litter box
Both with behavioral problems and with medical problems, the cat can dislike the litter box. This can be due to the litter box itself or unpleasant experience that the cat has experienced there. You can think of any kind of disturbance, pain when urinating or blocking the exit by another cat.
With the checklist below you can try to improve the living environment in and around the litter box and possibly solve the problem.
- The litter box must be clean: cats hate a dirty litter box and especially if there is a medical problem, the cat must go to the litter box more often. At least twice a day the litter box must be cleaned and changed 1-2 times a week (with clump-forming material 2x per month). The container should only be cleaned with water and green soap.
- The litter box must be sufficiently large: the length of the litter box must be at least 1.5 times the size of the cat so that it can turn without problems.
- Do not use a covered litter box: the cover can cause the bad odors to stick and the cat can dislike the litter box. And because of the roof, there is less room to move. If you do use a covered litter box with multiple cats in the house, make a second opening in the litter box to ensure that the toilet-eating cat cannot be trapped by another cat “guarding” the entrance. In young cats or older cats with movement problems, a low entry to the litter box is important.
- Een Provide a twilight at night by the litter box, as cats cannot see as well in the pitch dark as they do at twilight.
- Place the litter box in a quiet area. Cats are more likely to feel disturbed by a noise near the litter box, such as the washer, dryer, and lots of movement from walking or playing people, cats, and dogs.
- Place the litter box in an accessible place. By choosing a place near the living environment (sleeping, playing) the cat will be able to use it sooner.
- Do not place the litter box near the water and food bowls: a cat will not want to do its needs next to its food and then choose a more distant place in your house.
- If a cat no longer buries his need, there may be an aversion to certain litter. Then place two litter boxes with two different grains and note for yourself which grains are preferred for the cat: try all variants, from potting soil to even wood pellets.
- If there is a learned aversion to the litter box, it can help to put a new litter box (new color and shape) with new litter pellets in a different place in the house.
- If there are several cats in the house, it is a rule to have one litter box per cat. With 4 cats that means 4 litter boxes divided over all areas in the house where the cats are allowed to come.
- Long-haired cats can find it annoying to walk in the granules. Provide a thin layer of cat litter and cut any long hair between the toes and around the anus. This way the cat will feel cleaner after using the litter box.
- If persistent fear of using the litter box, so-called anti-anxiety drugs can be used or in the space of the litter box, special comforting fragrances, which you can obtain from your vet.
Please note: there is no point in punishing and can only make the problem worse!
If these tips are not yet effective, you can contact your vet to discuss the situation and possibly start medication.