At a glance
A cat who is going to the toilet outside the litter tray should always be evaluated by a veterinarian to rule out medical causes. Once the cat has received a clean bill of health, the next move is to determine what is causing the cat to refuse the litter tray.
Common non-medical causes of litter tray avoidance include the following:
There is more to choosing a litter tray than pulling one off the shelf at your local pet store. Litter trays are available in all shapes and sizes from the standard plastic rectangular tray to customised trays which are hidden in furniture.
Choosing the right type of litter tray, providing the correct number of trays and placing them in different locations will all help to guarantee litter tray success.
- Provide one litter tray per cat plus one additional tray. Two trays for one cat, three trays for two cats, four trays for three cats.
- Place litter in different locations and at least one tray on every level.
- The ideal length of the litter tray should be 1 to 1.5 times longer than the cat.
- Large storage boxes can be useful for large cats or cats with a tendency to flick cat litter out of the tray.
- Trays with low sides are recommended for kittens and older cats with mobility issues due to arthritis.
- Remove solids twice a day and empty and replace with fresh litter once a week.
- Add a 3 inch layer of cat litter to the tray.
Cats originated as desert-dwelling animals and don’t consume as much water as other mammals, this results in the cat’s urine being more concentrated and the more concentrated, the stronger the urine will smell.
Cats are fastidious by nature and in my experience, require little work on the way of toilet training as most kittens are already litter trained by the time they come to their new home. Their mother plays a large role in this, training her kittens from an early age.
Cats are very clean animals by nature, so when your cat starts urinating outside the litter box (medically known as periuria), this is usually a sign that there is something wrong with either the cat or the litter box. There are two types of periuria, marking (which is the marking of vertical objects such as walls and doors) and latrine behaviour (urinating outside the litter tray). This article focuses on latrine behaviour.
Frequent urination (polyuria) goes hand in hand with frequent drinking (polydipsia). It isn’t a disease but a symptom of a medical problem. Polyuria is defined as the excessive production and elimination of urine and polydipsia is increased thirst.
Urine spraying is a marking behaviour which enables cats to communicate with one another, it is also a leading cause of cats being surrendered to shelters. While we humans consider it a problem, it is actually quite normal and is their way of marking their territory.
Urine spraying is the most common behavioural problem in cats and a leading cause of cats being surrendered to shelters and euthanised. While we humans consider it a problem, it is quite normal and is their way of marking their territory. Naturally, this behaviour is seen as anti-social to humans and thankfully most household cats don’t need to mark their territory.
Sometimes your veterinarian will request a urine sample. Urine can give a lot of information on a cat’s health status. If you have a diabetic cat, you may be required to monitor your cat’s urine at home.
Inappropriate urination in cats is one of the leading reasons why cats are surrendered to shelters. It is frustrating to pet owners, but there is always a reason why cats do this. Getting to the bottom of the cause will help you to find a workable solution which will ensure you and your cat remain happy.