I’ve always had cats. As far back as I can remember, there were at least three cats in my parents’ house at all times. Naturally, when I grew up and started to live in my own place, I had to get a cat and continue the family tradition, so to speak.
Of course, owning pets requires a lot of hard work and dedication. We have to bathe them, feed them, walk them, play with them, and take care of them when they’re sick.
As a seasoned cat owner, I get a lot of questions from people about any one of these topics. One question I hear very often is — why is my cat peeing everywhere? It’s an issue I also had to deal with when I got my very first cat, so I feel like I can write with some authority on the subject.
Why Is My Cat Peeing Everywhere? — How Big of a Problem It Really Is
If the numbers are anything to go by, improper cat urination is a frequent problem for pet owners. In fact, at least 50% of all behavioral problems that owners report to veterinarians have something to do with urination. In other words, people ask the vets ‘why is my cat peeing everywhere’ more frequently than they ask them about more serious issues, like stomach pain or infections. That’s quite a stir about the cat going number one outside of the litter box.
So, why is the cat peeing everywhere except for the litter box? What could be the problem there?
Answering the Why Is My Cat Peeing Everywhere Question
Usually, there are a couple of major reasons a cat might urinate around the house and avoid the litter box. Of course, when I say ‘reasons,’ what I mean is categories, each with its own subset of different reasons. Let’s go over them and see if we can solve the cat peeing conundrum.
It shouldn’t surprise my readers that this category is first on the list. Nearly all of my friends who are cat owners have told me that the urinating had something to do with the little guy’s health. With that in mind, I took him to the vet, and we got it sorted out.
Still, before I move on to listing the possible health issues that can make a cat urinate outside of the litter box, I should stress one thing first. If a cat owner notices this sort of behavior, they should take their pet to the vet right away. Waiting around might be harmful to the cat, which is what my own vet told me the minute I explained to her what was going on.
List of Medical Issues that Cause Cats to Urinate Everywhere
Why Is My Cat Peeing Everywhere? — Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
A urinary tract infection is not as common with cats as other medical conditions. It accounts for roughly 5% of all cases that involve frequent urination. However, it’s the best indicator that something is wrong with our pet’s bladder.
Cats can get a UTI from stress or fear. Once a cat is extremely frightened, the body reacts accordingly. Lots of new bacteria appear in the urine, and the more they multiply, the more they inflame the urinary tract.
While a UTI is a good response to the Why is my cat peeing everywhere inquiry, it’s far from being the only one. Of course, there are other symptoms besides excessive peeing. For instance, if our cat urinates blood or has trouble urinating in general, that can very much be an issue with the urinary tract. The same goes for foul-smelling or murky urine as well as leaking during sleep.
How Do We Treat It?
By far, the best way to treat a UTI is with antibiotics. It’s also a good idea to perform additional tests on the cat after the treatment, just to make sure that the infection is completely gone.
During the treatment, we have to feed the cat proper canned food and increase its water intake. Of course, I always recommend trying to retrain the cat to use the litter box again. The less infected pee there is in other areas of the house, the better.
Why Is My Cat Peeing Everywhere? — Bladder Stones
My first cat actually got bladder stones the second week after I adopted him. While they aren’t the same as kidney stones, they both appear in cats in a similar way.
Minerals inside the organs crystalize and are unable to be passed through the urinary system. The cause of bladder stones can be bacterial remnants from a previous illness.
In my cat’s case, it was the diet he was on at the time. When the cat gets these stones, it has a difficult and often painful time urinating.
How Do We Treat It?
There are two main ways to treat bladder stones. The first involves two surgical procedures — a cystotomy and a urolithotomy. During these procedures, the surgeon opens the bladder and physically removes the stones.
One major benefit of these is how fast they are. I was hesitant at first, but my vet convinced me that the little guy would get better in a week or so. And sure enough, he had a speedy recovery and had no more trouble peeing.
Of course, there is a non-surgical way to remove bladder stones. Sometimes, a vet can recommend a special diet and antibiotics that could break down the stones. In addition, the cat would get a catheter to help with the passing.
However, this method has its flaws. First of all, it’s a lot slower than outright surgery. Next, the diets won’t work for all cats out there. Just like us, cats have their own taste when it comes to food. If a cat doesn’t want to eat something, we’ll have a hard time trying to force it to do so.
Lastly, not all stones can be broken down with antibiotics. Vets can’t know what kinds of stones our cat has unless they can analyze them. And the only proper way to do so is to have a sample stone, which they can get either when the cat passes it somehow or when they perform surgery and take one stone out.
Why Is My Cat Peeing Everywhere? — Idiopathic Cystitis
It might sound a bit ironic to say this, but this is, by far, the most common cause of frequent cat urination — yet the cause is unknown over 90% of the time. However, we do know that it’s an inflammation of the bladder and that it can be treated in many different ways. In fact, it’s one of those conditions that are fairly easy to treat to the point where the vet might even say ‘oh, it’ll go away on its own after a couple of days.’
Of course, if that doesn’t happen, we need to take immediate action and get our cat to the vet. Once we’re there, the vet will take a urine sample from the cat. If it has blood in it but no crystals, bacteria or stones, it’s definitely idiopathic cystitis.
How Do We Treat It?
One of my neighbor’s cats had idiopathic cystitis fairly recently. The very first thing that the vet asked her was if the cat had been feeling stressed or afraid lately. After she replied with ‘no,’ he then asked her about her cat’s diet. In the end, he provided her with a different dietary plan for the cat and asked her to call back in about a week or so. Sure enough, her pet was feeling better, and it was peeing where it was supposed to pee.
Right there, we have two surefire ways of treating idiopathic cystitis — a different diet and removing stress from the cat’s environment.
If a cat eats an unbalanced meal, the bacteria in its bladder can multiply and cause irritation. The same thing can happen when the immune system goes down, which usually happens if there’s a lot of stress in the cat’s life. Perhaps there’s a lot of shouting or violence in the household, or maybe we might have a new pet that frightens the cat. Whatever the reason might be, it’s best to try and mitigate the stress levels and ‘relax’ the cat as much as possible.
Speaking of relaxing, some anti-stress medication can also be useful to treat idiopathic cystitis. Analgesics, pheromones, and amitriptyline can usually get the job done. I would often advise my cat-owning friends to try and give their pets some supplemental fluids that help with urine dilution.
For my own cats, I try to prevent any idiopathic cystitis by changing up the environment a bit and making it more ‘pee-accessible.’ That includes more litter boxes, drinking vessels, and even an area where I can isolate my cat when he feels nervous.
Why Is My Cat Peeing Everywhere? — Crystalluria
Sometimes, the pH levels of our cat’s urine can be either too high or too low. In both cases, crystals begin to form in the urine, and they start to irritate the urinary tract. This condition is called crystalluria.
The most common type of crystal to form in our cat’s urine is struvite. However, sometimes even calcium oxalate crystals tend to build up. If there are too many of them, these crystals can even lead to a UTI.
How Do We Treat It?
Since these crystals irritate the urinary tract, vets usually prescribe anti-inflammatory medication. In addition, our cat needs to eat a special diet that helps dissolve the crystals.
Why Is My Cat Peeing Everywhere? — Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease
More commonly known as FLUTD, this condition is a kind of amalgamation of several other conditions listed above.
Most of the time, cat owners will take their pets to the vet precisely because of FLUTD. It’s about as common as idiopathic cystitis, but it has a lot more symptoms to it. For example, cats with FLUTD won’t just pee outside of the litter box. They will also strain during urination, cry out while they pee, or even have blood in their urine. Some cats will even lick their own genitals to ease the pain and irritation.
How Do We Treat It?
Treating FLUTD will depend on how severe it is. For example, if it’s not that serious, all I would have to do is change my cat’s diet and give it some medical supplements. However, FLUTD can also lead to bladder stones and urethral plugs. These conditions will require strong medication or even outright surgery.
In addition to all of that, we need to increase the cat’s water intake. It will keep the cat hydrated and allow it to pee more frequently.
And here we have a pretty heavy hitter when it comes to diseases. It’s the one thing we don’t want to hear when we ask ‘why is my cat peeing everywhere.’
Just like diabetic humans, cats that suffer from this illness cannot produce enough insulin naturally to balance out the glucose levels in their bodies. More often than not, an overweight cat will be diabetic, though the disease can be found in regular-sized cats too.
There are three very obvious telltale signs of feline diabetes. The first is an increased, ravenous appetite. If our cat devours large amounts of food, it might be a good time to visit the vet.
The other two signs are more or less interconnected. Namely, a diabetic cat will drink a lot of water, but it will also urinate far more frequently than before.
How Do We Treat It?
Sadly, diabetes has no cure. However, we can mitigate its effects with a little hard work. For example, if I had a diabetic cat, I would feed it low-carb food. Of course, regular checkups with the vet are a must. But, the most important component is regular insulin intake.
Vets usually teach pet owners how to handle a syringe and how to administer it to the cat properly. Understandably, most people are afraid to give their cat the shots themselves, but they get used to it after a while. In fact, there are even some medical supplements that include insulin, but they’re not as effective as the shots.
Pain and/or Other Illnesses and Injuries
Sometimes, the reason behind the cat peeing everywhere isn’t as simple as the ones I listed above. In fact, a cat might miss using the litter box for a medical reason that has nothing to do with its bladder or kidneys. Maybe it feels pain in the abdominal region or in its hind legs. Alternatively, it might have a headache or a cold. Whatever the reason might be, the solution is to take the cat to the vet.
One such illness is hyperthyroidism. It’s a hormonal condition that makes the cat’s metabolism shoot up. As it does, it makes the key organs in the cat’s body work faster, including the kidneys. Because of that, the cat consumes a lot more water than before, and more water leads to more urination.
Cats age and their bodies slowly deteriorate with each passing year. So, it’s perfectly normal for an old cat (or even a middle-aged cat) to have difficulty in keeping the pee in. Moreover, old cats can even forget to pee in the litter box despite using it for years. Of course, just because the cat is old, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take it to the vet and see what they can do about the frequent urination.
Is It Too Much or Too Often?
Sometimes, I shouldn’t ask ‘why is my cat peeing everywhere,’ but rather ‘why is my cat peeing so much or not peeing enough.’ In other words, I’d like to talk about pollakiuria, oliguria, and polyuria.
Pollakiuria is the condition where a mammal (in this case, a cat) urinates more frequently than it used to, but it always produces small amounts of pee. On the other hand, oliguria is simply a low urine output, i.e., the cat’s not seeing the amount of pee it’s supposed to.
Both of these are signs that something is wrong with the cat. More often than not, they are symptoms of bladder and kidney stones, UTI, inflammation, or obstruction.
Polyuria is the opposite of oliguria. In other words, our cat is producing far more urine than it should. This condition is usually a symptom of kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, or diabetes, though that might not always be the case.
All of these conditions are indicators for us to get medical help for our pets. They are also the best way for a vet to narrow down what’s wrong and act as quickly as possible.
Behavioral and Emotional Reasons
Cats are, in a sense, independent thinkers. They act and react according to their needs and emotions as well as past experiences. So, peeing outside of the litter box could merely be their way of expressing their feelings and aversions.
Hating the Litter Box
As bizarre as this might sound, some cats simply don’t like the litter box in their owner’s house. They refuse to pee (or poop) in it and will go out of their way to do it anywhere else.
That can be frustrating to new owners, but it’s just as tedious to us veterans. For example, a year ago, I had a fluffy yellow cat that I adopted from a shelter. She was very clean and neat around the house, but she never took to the litter box I bought for her. Of course, I did the wrong thing and gave the cat away to a local couple who owned a big farm. I say ‘wrong’ because all the cat really needed was some potty training.
Let’s go over some of the reasons a cat might dislike the litter box.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a clean litter box. No cat will want to relieve itself in a dirty-looking area. They want a neat, clean space to excrete so that they can go about their business later. And I’m not just talking about the litter itself — that goes without saying. I’m talking about the very box, its edges, and its rim. We have to keep it looking as clean as possible.
It Isn’t the Right Fit
The litter box can be too small for our cat. Maybe it used to fit well, but cats grow, and we need to buy them a new box that can fit them. Also, some boxes might have easy access for an adult cat, but old cats will need some special treatment. After all, if an old cat can’t reach the litter box, it’s not going to bother with it.
There’s No Personal Space
A lot of cat owners tend to make this mistake when they buy a litter box. Usually, they put it in the hallway or the living room, i.e., places where there is a lot of ‘traffic.’ Cats don’t like to be exposed when they urinate, so they’ll avoid a litter box that’s standing in plain sight.
No Good Access
While it’s not a good idea to put the litter box where everyone can see it, it’s definitely bad to put it somewhere where even the cat can’t reach. I made this mistake when I was moving houses; I put the box on a tall bar stool without thinking. My cat was unable to reach it, so he began going number one all over the floor. Luckily, I didn’t have to ask ‘why is my cat peeing everywhere’ this time since I knew that it was my fault.
In brief, it’s always a good idea to put the box somewhere where the cat can actually get to it. We have to keep it in the open with no obstacles or obstructions.
Other Location Ideas
Let’s expand a bit on the topic of placing the litter box. I’ll just provide the list of don’ts for everyone to peruse:
- Don’t put the litter box close to the cat’s food or water
- Never put it next to an electrical device that can scare the cat
- Avoid damp and cold areas
- Avoid putting the box in a closet or under a cupboard; keep it in an open, yet secluded area.
Nobody Likes Change
Maybe we had to change something about the litter box. It can be something as harmless as a new coat of paint or something major as a new plastic cover. Whatever it is, the cat can notice. And cats that don’t like change will rather pee on a hardwood floor than use the box.
Yes, sometimes it really is THAT simple. I once changed the brand of litter, and the cat didn’t even want to come close to the box.
The best thing to do is to test out several brands and see which one works for our pet. That will save us money both on cleaning bills and on future litter expenses.
Stress and Fear
Cats can be freaked out by many things inside of a house or an apartment. For example, I had a couple of neighbors last year who couldn’t stop fighting. Their constant bickering frightened their pet cat Sparkles. It was literally urinating in closets out of fear. It goes without saying that it can get ten times worse if someone is actually harming the cat during the argument. However, that’s a topic for a different platform.
Now, it’s not just fighting that can make the cat pee everywhere. Any strong feelings of stress and anxiety can do this to a feline. New pets are usually the main reason behind frequent feline urination. The new cat might not take kindly to the old one and vice versa.
They can get very territorial and even go as far as to attack each other. Whether the cat is the new arrival or the old resident, it can feel stress from the opposing cat, and that stress can make it pee everywhere.
But even something as small as a change inside of our home can set a cat off. Familiar details become almost instinctive to a cat. It can learn climbing and jumping off furniture by heart simply by living there for a while. So, once you rearrange the furniture, everything becomes topsy-turvy for the feline. Naturally, moving the litter box somewhere else is the biggest culprit half of the time.
There are owners out there who don’t ask ‘why is my cat peeing everywhere,’ but rather ‘why are my cats peeing all over the house?’ Even if I happen to have several litter boxes for two cats, they can still pee all over the floor on purpose.
Of course, we can’t forget that cats are apex predators in their ecosystem. They don’t take kindly to other animals encroaching on their turf, so they mark it down with urine. And yes, that happens in urban homes very often.
This turf-marking with pee actually leads into the next point quite nicely…
Remembering the Scent
400;”>Cats that urinate on a spot once will remember the smell. Unless we clean it thoroughly, the cat will return to it and continue to relieve itself. It’s a natural reaction of a territorial animal to the spot it has previously marked.
Picking the Location
Once again, I must stress that this reason only sounds simple and too convenient to be true, but that’s only because it absolutely is. If a cat finds a spot that it loves, that’s where it will urinate. You can try to train it to pick a different spot, but more often than not, it will not end successfully. Cats are very independent, after all, so it’s only natural that they will continue to pee in a spot they themselves picked out.
How to Handle the Cat Urination Issue?
Up to this point, I think I’ve addressed the ‘why is my cat peeing everywhere’ quandary pretty thoroughly. However, that still doesn’t solve the problem. People want to know how to get their cat to stop peeing on the rug, the sofa, or the hardwood floor. So, I’ve based the following list on hours of research online and discussions with professional veterinarians, as well as my own experience as a cat owner. Let’s dig in.
Change, But Do So Carefully
There are times when the cat will need a new litter box. The best thing to do is to buy one that will be bigger than the cat. It goes without saying that it needs to be bigger than the old litter box as well. It also has to fit a decent amount of litter.
However, it’s vital not to make a drastic change at once. For example, whenever I buy a new litter box, I always keep the same litter brand. That way, the cat can familiarize itself with the new box a bit better. Otherwise, he would outright reject it.
Clean the Box Regularly
As I’ve stressed earlier, the litter box has to be clean. Cats won’t come anywhere near a box that smells like 10-days-old cat droppings. It’s good to scoop up the poop and urinate litter every day. In terms of washing, rinsing, and cleaning the box itself, once or twice a month will do.
Clean Up the Peed-On Areas
The very second I spot cat pee anywhere other than in the litter box, I clean it up with special chemicals. Enzymatic cleaners, for example, remove both the stain and the odor. Still, airing out the room is also an important step. The cat cannot smell its own urine anywhere else in the house other than in the litter box.
This particular solution is great if we have more than one cat or if the cat we have is old and moves slowly. A litter box on every level of the house (near the stairs, in the kitchen, etc.) can help old cats pee and poop anywhere without actually staining the floor.
Of course, it’s a bit harder to clean up seven litter boxes than it is to clean one. However, even that beats scrubbing the floor every single day.
Get Good Litter
Odorless litter is usually the best choice for any cat. It doesn’t entice it to do anything other than excrete. Moreover, it won’t put off any cat that might dislike a certain smell.
How Do I Treat the Cat?
I’ve covered everything from diseases to litter boxes, but there is one very important area we should go over. Namely, we need to know how to approach our cat if it has a urination problem.
Never, Ever Attack the Cat
A lot of inexperienced owners just shout at the cat for peeing on the floor. Some even go as far as to hit them or worse. But I’ll tell you right now — that is immoral, horrible, and, ironically, will have an exactly opposite effect on the pet.
I already covered how cats can suffer from stress. Yelling at the pet for peeing outside of the litter box will only confuse the animal even more. And since we’ve frightened it, it will begin to pee even more frequently whenever we’re around.
I will repeat this for emphasis: do not attack the cat for urinating where it isn’t supposed to.
If It’s One Cat, Let’s Help It Have Fun
Content cats do not pee all over the house. And nothing can make the cat feel content as much as simply playing with it. A few snuggles here, a few laser dot chasings there, and our cat will feel as good as new.
It might not look like much, but playtime reduces stress and anxiety in cats. It makes them feel more secure in their house, and they start to trust their owners a lot more. And with little to no stress, they can pee in the box with zero problems.
If It’s More Than One Cat, Follow Their Behavior Closely
Sometimes, the cats will get along right off the bat. But that’s not always the case. For instance, when I bought a dark-brown female cat, I began to monitor both of my pets closely. They would fight on occasion, but when they did, I merely separated them and put them in different rooms. Once they calmed down, they got a chance to come out and play with each other.
Again, yelling at both cats will do nothing. Of course, I tend to be stern sometimes, but it never crosses the line of abuse or violence. As independent as they are, house cats do respect authority when it’s there. They will listen once we order them to calm down a couple of times.
Overweight Cats Need Exercise
Fatness isn’t a good trait for animals like cats. Their instincts and climbing prowess are the defining features of their species. That’s why obese cats aren’t as popular as regular, slim ones.
In case we have a fat cat, we should walk it as much as possible and make sure it’s physically active. A change in diet is also a good idea.
Cats need two things to help them make it through the day. The first is clean water, and the second is proper food.
Now, when it comes to food, we should talk to a specialist and see what he recommends for the feline. The new diet has to contain something the cat will love, but it must also help the urination problem directly. Luckily, there are many products out there we can choose from.
Water is another major detail to pay attention to. The curious people asking ‘why is my cat peeing everywhere’ usually give their cats less water rather than more of it. Their reasoning comes down to ‘It already pees too much, so it doesn’t need water.’ However, this is very wrong. Cats need to stay hydrated for a lot of other reasons, not just because of urination issues.
A Few Final Words
As a cat owner, I find these topics to be a bit yucky at times, but they are very useful. After all, I want my buddies to feel fantastic 100% of the time. Therefore, I strongly urge cat owners everywhere to read this text thoroughly and make sure that their wonderful pets are healthy and happy.
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