Cat Is Peeing Outside The Litter Box: 6 Reasons Why

If your cat is peeing outside the litter box he or she is trying to tell you something. It may be a change that you have made or he has a serious underlying issue.

If you’ve had him for a while and nothing has changed in his routine, I recommend having him seen by a Veterinarian. Especially, if his eating/drinking habits have changed, he’s crying out, seems weak, or is hiding a lot. Those are signs of a serious problem and you shouldn’t wait.

Other non-serious issues can be handled and fixed with just a little understanding of what is happening.

Cat Is Peeing Outside The Litter Box: Reasons they're NOT using it #caturine #cathealth #catproblems #litterbox #litterboxissues

1. Litter box is too dirty

Think of their litter box like a porta-potty.

If it’s brand new, freshly cleaned, and you’re the only one using it, then it’s not so bad. But then take a porta-potty at a concert, that you’ve had to stand in line for, and you’re about the thousandth person to use it…

Yeah, not happening unless it’s an absolute emergency, right?

You might even consider the nearest bush before going in there.
Cats see it the same way, so if you wouldn’t use it, they’re not likely to either.

2. Behavioral

Felines don’t like change. You may think nothing has changed, but to them, a smell is a big change.

Have you changed to a new detergent or fabric softener? Changing the furniture around or getting a new kitten may not be okay with them either. It can be difficult to figure out what is causing the issue.

cat is peeing outside the litter box

One item I have found to help cats cope with change is Feliway. Feliway releases good pheromones in the air to calm cats. I have recommended it to a lot of people traveling with cats or those with big changes about to happen. It comes in wipes, diffusers, and sprays and can be found on Amazon!

3. The litter box is uncomfortable

Cats use their paws to dig in order to cover up their waste. On occasion, the litter company will change the litter. Sometimes it’s the smell or the size of the litter that matters to the cat.

As humans, we don’t have a problem walking barefoot on sand, but we get sensitive if we have to walk across gravel rock.

Think of it the same way for cats.

cat is peeing outside the litter box

I thought the Freshstep Crystals would be a good material for litter boxes, it looks cool too! Well, it didn’t work for my cat. He would literally stand on the edge of the litter box in order to use the bathroom!

I applaud him for not using the bathroom somewhere else in my house, but I knew it wasn’t going to work since it was hurting his feet. We switched to Freshstep Multi-Cat w/ Febreze and he seems to like it pretty good.

Getting into the box can also be a concern depending on the age of your cat.

If they’re older or have arthritis, it may be difficult for them if the box has high walls. Getting a Senior Cat Box can make it easier for them to get into.
If it’s a fragranced litter, the smell may be too strong for them if it’s not in a well-ventilated area.

Pretty Litter

4. Something is scaring them

Back to the porta-potty thought. If you have to go in one of those box toilets, it would be awful for someone to come up behind it and start beating on it.

Yeah, some people do that.

You’re vulnerable and trying to do your business for heaven’s sake! You don’t want to be messed with.

This is usually the issue if you have the litter box enclosed or underneath something trying to hide it. It may be the other way around, too. They may want more privacy and need an enclosed litter box.

If it wasn’t an issue before, see if something has happened. Is there another cat trying to attack them when they come out or go in? Did something fall while they were in there and now they’re afraid to go back? Is this why the cat is peeing outside the litter box?

5. UTI

A urinary tract infection can be an issue, sometimes brought on by stress. It’s the same question of which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Which came first, the stress or the UTI?
We like to rule out an infection before playing the guessing game of why they’re not using the litter box. Your Veterinarian can check a urine sample for infection.

A UTI can be painful. Your cat may wait until they can’t hold it any longer before using the bathroom, or it may be irritating and they go more frequently than normal.

6. Urine smell

If they’ve used the bathroom somewhere else and found it very comfortable, there’s a big chance they’ll go back.

They like acidic smells. Urine being one of those smells.

(Rubbing their nose in it doesn’t work in this case.)

cat is peeing outside the litter box

We need to completely get rid of the odor if they have an accident or they may continue to use that spot. Make sure to get a good odor and stain remover.

If your cat is peeing outside the litter box they’re trying to tell you something. It could be a serious internal issue or something small that he doesn’t like.

Consider the worst possible situation and work your way back. If there’s a possibility of an internal issue, go ahead and have him seen if other things seem off with him.

We don’t want to wait a couple of days thinking our cat is just being an A-hole, because we changed the fabric softener, when he’s trying to tell us he’s sick.

Cat’s don’t let us know something is wrong until they’re 70% too far into an issue. If you’re not sure if he needs to see a Vet, you can check out Is My Pet Sick and Need To See The Vet. It’ll give you a better idea if there’s something wrong.

If your cat is peeing outside the litter box and you can’t pinpoint what it is, I would love to hear from you and see if I can help! Or if you have a similar situation and you figured out what it was, I’d love to hear what your cat had a problem with.

Cat Is Peeing Outside The Litter Box: Reasons they're NOT using it #caturine #cathealth #catproblems #litterbox #litterboxissues
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  • Beverly Koons

    My litter box is in the spare bath tub. She uses the box. Both p and poo. Also urine in the tub. She’s 16. Very flexible still. I’m at my wits end.

  • Tish

    Hi Frances,
    Your cat may be very territorial. He may be smelling the stray cat’s pheromones and wanting to mark his territory even though he’s not producing those strong pheromones. You can try the Feliway Cat Diffuser to put good pheromones in the air, but I’d say the stray cat is going to have to disappear before your cat is happy again.

  • Frances Hunt

    MY four year old cat who was altered when he was ten weeks old has recently started peeing and spraying everything in the house. The kitchen, bathroom cabinets, counters, beds, carpet windows, you name it. Nothing has changed in the house. There is a stray cat that has been coming to eat outside for a few weeks now. I don’t know if that could be the reason he has started this but It is driving me bonkers. He’s ruining everything I own.

  • Tish

    Hi Kim,
    It depends on whether he’s spraying to mark his territory or peeing in different places. It does take a couple of weeks for the testosterone to get out of their system once they have been fixed. Once it gets out of their system they should stop the marking.

  • Kim

    I took in a male cat that was an inside and outside cat, he wouldn’t stop peeing all over my house so I got him fixed.. well he’s back at it again! Will I be able to break him if this or an I spinning my wheels?!?

  • LesleyCraft

    My daughter has a cat it will poop in litter box but urinate on carpet towels anything I really has never urinate in litter box it was a outside kitten she got from someone we did have the cat fixed but nothing else really we have been told to just throw it out and really don’t want to do that

  • Tish

    Hi Jackie,
    Seeing she is 10 years old I would make sure her litter box is easier to get into. Arthritis may be playing a factor and if she has to jump or step akwardly into the box, she may be reluctant to do so and find a place she is more comfortable with. I would also check the litter. Sometimes companies change formulas. Where it doesn’t mean anything to us, it does make a difference to them.

    I hope these few suggestions help. Let me know how it goes!

  • Jackie

    We have a 10 year female cat (She’s fixed) and has started to pee/poop, in other places than her litter box. I’ve emptied the cat box and cleaned it up and placed fresh litter in the box. Same litter we’ve been using. So nothing new there. Just out of the blue she has started this new behavior. She went to the vet last week and I didn’t think to mention this issue. We don’t have any “new” cats, so that’s not it.

  • Tish

    Hi Sue,
    It sounds like they are relating the litter box to the pain of their UTI. You’ve taken them to the Vet and everything checks out okay now, so it makes me think they’re afraid of using it.
    Whether it be when another cat or dog is in the same room, a specific scent of a brand of litter, or even feel of the litter. I would start with re-training the cat. Leave them in a room by themselves with their own litter box until they start using it again. This allows them to feel safe. I’ve had a lot of good feedback from Feliway Diffusers, as they release pheromones in the air that give off a good vibe to the cat. Similar to how we feel walking into a spa. If this works then you can start moving the litter box back to where you want it and see how the cat responds.
    I hope this gives you some help or a new direction to go with things! Good Luck, I know it can be frustrating.

  • Sue Haberland

    I have 3 cats and 3 dogs that range from the age of 9 to 2. My middle cat has decided that she will no longer go into the litter box . I’ve had her checked by the vet and she had crystals in her urine. The vet gave her a shot from inflammation and thought that was good .. NOPE it started all over again . Had her rechecked and she was clear. I changed litter , added more boxes , I had enclosed litter boxes and took lids off of 3 of them . I used calming spray , CBD oil for cats and now she is on Prozac . My hardwood floors are just about ruined . Every spot she visits is now covered with throw away pee pads and water proof pads . That’s is helping my floors but I really do t know what avenue to go next . Background on Luna .. she is a Russian blue and very shy . Her youngest “ sister cat” loves to chase her .. I thought that was it, so I separate them the best I can . My dogs are afraid of the cats so they avoid them . I really need help .

  • Tish

    I would have your Veterinarian check her urine. It may be a simple UTI that’s hurting and causing her to hide. Or it could be something more with her age. I would start with a urinalysis and see what it says. You could also try Pretty Litter– it gives an insight into what is going on in your cat’s urine, but if there’s something going on you don’t want to put it off too long.

  • Lisa

    My cat is 18 yrs old and the past few weeks has been going under the bed to pee. She has always used the litter box. We have two other cats she doesn’t like but has lived with them for a few years now. Not sure what to do what do you recommend.


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