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Urinating & Defecating Outside of the Litter Box

behavioralmodification cat litterbox

Why do cats urinate or defecate outside of their litter box?
Cats are very clean animals so when one starts urinating or defecating outside of the litter box something is wrong either behaviorally or it could be health related. Please take your cat to their veterinarian to rule out any health issues first.
My experience with my kitties.
When I had my kitties over the years one of them, Lincoln started inappropriately urinating on dog beds, rugs and eventually my chaise. This was out of character, I knew something was wrong. I took him to the vet and it was health related. With Lily my other kitty years later it ended up being behavioral after I rescued my new dogs. Even though I made sure she had a place to go where the dogs did not have access to, she was still stressed. Dr. Rovner of Roscoe Village Animal Hospital gave me a list of tips which worked for us. For my Lily it was as simple as putting down two litter boxes and switching the litter. I was buying pricier litter assuming it was better and was using it for years which she tolerated (World's Best Litter made from corn) but she had enough with the added stress, it was also too rough on her paws. Per Dr. Rovner's recommendation I switched to Premium Choice unscented litter. It worked like a charm!
Dr. Rovner's tips on making your cat's litter box more attractive.
  • Have at least one litter box for each cat in the home
  • If your cat is the only cat in the home have two litter boxes, some cats prefer to urinate in one and defecate in another litter box
  • If you are using a hooded litter box, remove the hood from the box.
  • Keep your cat's food and water away from the litter box
  • Keep the litter box in a quiet area
  • If using clay litter, switch to scoopable litter. Do not buy litter that is heavily scented or dusty. A good brand of litter is Premium choice, plus it is very inexpensive.
  •  Consider using a "cement mixing tub" as a litter box as those are much bigger. Can purchase at Home Depot, Menards etc.
  • When using scoopable litter it is very important to scoop out urine and feces one to two times daily.
  • Every 30 days completely change the  scoopable litter or sooner if it doesn't smell as fresh. Before adding new litter, clean the litter box with a mild dish soap and rinse well. Do NOT use ammonia based cleaners or bleach to clean the litter box.
  • If your cat is urinating or defecating on soft surfaces (bedding, carpet, clothing) and the litter box is on tile, wood or a concrete surface, place a piece of carpet under the litter box extending about 8-10 inches from the edge of the litter box.
  • Anywhere the cat has inappropriately urinated or defecated, neutralize the odor using Oxyfresh or Anti-icky Poo.
  • Use Feliway plugins and spray, it's a synthetic scent that is produced by the cat's facial pheromone gland.
It's always great to enrich your cat's environment, this could mean a cat tree, extra scratching posts, tunnels which you can take out and put away, some catnip, interactive toys, playing with your kitty especially before meal times, some cat shelves, a licki mat or just a regular box for them to jump into are a few ways to do that.

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