Why is my cat peeing all over the house?
Unusual urination inside the house is quite common. But sometimes, it’s also a sign that your cat needs a trip to the vet.
If your cat is urinating outside their litter box, in a strange area or on objects in the house, it can be beyond frustrating. Not to mention smelly!
But before you can correct the problem, first you need to figure out why your cat is doing this. It could be either a medical problem or a behavioural issue.
Usually, but not always, feline inappropriate elimination is due to issues or diseases in your cat's bladder or bowel.
Read on to know what to look out for and see if now is time to visit the vet.
The Difference Between Cat Spraying And Urinating
To work out what's causing the unwanted elimination, determine whether your cat is urinating or spraying, as these behaviours are similar.
Both involve a cat weeing outside of the litter box. But the difference between the two actions is the behaviour surrounding the actual urination.
Spraying occurs standing up and is one of the most common behavioural problems in cats.
If your cat is spraying, they will usually back up to a vertical surface (like a wall, window or door), raise their tail straight (which often quivers), make a treading motion and release urine in a spray.
But if your cat is urinating, they will simply squat and deposit a pool of urine, often in the same spot.
Spraying (aka urine marking) is your cat's way of communicating with other cats or new people to back off without a confrontation. It’s how they mark territory or let others know that they feel threatened.
As a result, spraying is a more common issue in multi-cat households or areas where clowders of cats like to hang out.
This marking may also happen if your cat has an urge to mate and is trying to attract other cats. It’s a misconception that only male cats do this, as female cats can also mark with urine. Although, males are more likely to display this behaviour.
If your cat is intact and is urine marking, you can try to remedy the behaviour by getting them neutered or spayed. This is a proven treatment for cats who mark as a reproductive advertisement. But this is only one potential reason they may be displaying this behaviour.
Cat-to-cat conflict is the most typical trigger for this behaviour. If you have an indoor cat, you can also try closing the windows, blinds and doors to prevent them from seeing other neighbourhood cats.
But the best thing you can do to fix an elimination problem is to rule out medical causes first.
Bacterial infections, urine crystals/stones and other inflammatory diseases can cause pain and an urgent need to urinate.
Other causes could be diseases of the kidneys and liver. Issues in these organs cause cats to drink more water and, in turn, wee more often.
If your cat is urinating more frequently or with increased urgency, it may not reach the litter tray in time. Similarly, needing to go often means the litter tray can get messy very quickly.
And if you're not around to change it regularly, this can put your cat off from using it again until the litter is fresh. Cue the dirty protest!
Your cat may also be suffering from a condition called Feline Idiopathic Cystitis. This type of Cystitis is stress-related, and urinating outside the litter tray is one of the most common signs. We will touch more on stress-related causes later on in this blog!
Alternatively, it could be down to a hormonal disorder such as diabetes.
As cats reach their senior years and brain function declines, this can also lead to changes in urination habits.
If your cat's mobility and sensory functions change, you may notice that their toilet behaviours become more problematic too.
Other medical conditions such as those that affect the nerves, muscles, or joints could lead to weakness, stiffness or discomfort.
If this is the case, your cat may not be able to access or get into the litter tray easily.
You should also monitor your cat’s urine. Is there any blood in it? Or have you noticed if your cat has difficulty peeing or meows a lot whilst in the litter box?
If your cat is displaying any of these signs and urinating inappropriately, make an appointment with your vet immediately. They will perform a thorough physical examination and assessment.
If your vet determines that your cat doesn’t have a medical condition or issue, your next move is to address any behavioural causes.
If there is no medical reason to explain this behaviour, your vet may suggest an anxiety/stress issue. Any change in your cat’s routine can cause them to act up.
This may be new things in the house like builders/decorating, new pets or family members or moving home.
Changes in the neighbourhood like new cats in the street, roadworks or disruptions in their environment may also throw your feline off.
Even if your cat is an indoor cat, they can still smell, see and hear things outdoors, which can affect them! As mentioned earlier, Cats may mark spots in the house with their urine to claim their territory.
The presence or odour of another cat can trigger territorial marking and may be considered part of normal behaviour. But, some cats also mark their environment in response to stress or anxiety. Our felines can also be fussy little floofs!
They may change their urinating patterns if they have issues with their litter tray. It may be as simple as not liking the type of litter tray, where you've put the tray or even the brand of litter.
There are different ways of helping with this, from creating safe places for your cat to retreat to using calming supplements and pheromone diffusers.
Buddy's Calm Care is for relief of stress induced behaviour in cats. Our vets hand-picked this natural supplement with a specific mixture of ingredients to support any kind of stressful event or anxious situation for cats.
Other suggestions that can help with behavioural causes of inappropriate urination are listed below:
Litter: Try different types and brands of cat litter. Some cats love a sandy or clay-based litter, and others prefer wood pellets or crystals. Many cats don’t like the smell of scented litter, so always opt for unscented. Cats enjoy a good dig, so fill the tray with at least 6 cm of litter. Test a few until you find one that makes your cat happy.
Cleaning: You should scoop out waste every day and replace litter at least once a week. Never leave soiled litter for long, as this can deter your cat from using the tray. For some cats, it is necessary to keep the litter tray immaculate.
That means cleaning the litter tray several times throughout the day. Cats can be put off using the tray if it has been recently deodorised or if the cat dislikes the odour of the cleansers. Give it a good rinse with water after cleaning and always ensure you clean the tray with safe, pet-friendly products.
The number of trays: As a rule of thumb, one cat needs two trays, and each additional cat needs another tray, all in different places. Providing multiple litter trays in various locations in the house can help unwanted urination elsewhere.
Location of trays: If your cat doesn’t like the area where the litter tray is located, they will be discouraged from using it. Funnily enough, like us, our feline friends prefer to go to the bathroom in private. Placing the tray in a quiet area away from any disturbances and noise, might just solve the problem!
Cats also do not like toileting near their food or water, so be sure to place the litter trays far from their food and water bowls or any area where you feed your cat.
This includes any place you may scatter treats for enrichment!
Size of trays: Litter trays need to be big enough for your cat to comfortably dig, turn around and squat. Ideally, it should be at least 1.5 times the length of your cat (e.g. an average cat measures about 46 cm in head-to-body length, so their litter tray should be at least 75cm long).
Type of trays: Sometimes cats struggle using certain litter trays. If you have an elderly cat, they may find it difficult to climb into a litter tray with high sides. A litter tray with lower sides or an open, uncovered tray would be a better option for a senior cat.
All cats are different, and whilst some like covered litter trays, others don’t. If your cat is urinating inappropriately, try experimenting with different kinds of trays! Buy a few so they can choose which one they are more comfortable with.
Cats can develop preferences for specific areas to urinate on, such as your carpet or a wooden floor. Restricting access to these places or the objects involved may help break the cycle.
Another solution is placing a litter tray where the cat has been eliminating inappropriately, as they may have become accustomed to toileting in that particular place. Leave the tray there for at least one week to see If the cat goes in that location.
If you don’t want the litter tray permanently in that location, slowly start to move it elsewhere a little bit each day. This needs to be done super carefully to ensure that your cat follows the tray and continues to use it as it is moved.
Spraying enzymatic odour removers on the area where your cat has urinated inappropriately is advised. This neutralises the smell, which may put a stop to your cat coming back to pee in that place. Never use ammonia-based cleaners as urine contains ammonia, and this may attract your cat to the same spot to do it again!
Make sure any odour neutralisers are safe for use around cats. If another cat has left their scent around the house, and this has caused a change in the resident cat’s urinating habits, it is important to eliminate the other cats’ smells. This may help reduce the stress and the desire to mark territory in the resident cat.
Never punish your cat for inappropriate urination. Shouting or rubbing their nose in the mess isn't advised and will achieve nothing. Your cat will not connect the punishment with the behaviour, and doing this will only confuse and frustrate your furbaby more.
Buddycare has developed a urinary supplement for cats. Urinary Care is a triple action formula developed to maintain and support the protective glycosaminoglycan layer in the bladder. It also contains a range of natural anxiolytic materials aimed at reducing stress related behaviour and anxiety.
If you’ve already been to the vet and they’ve ruled out medical reasons for the inappropriate urination, your cat may be stressed. Come along for a chat with one of our vet nurses to get to the bottom (no pun intended) of the problem.
During your free consultation, our vet nurses will ask questions to get to know your family dynamic and interactions and make suggestions based on your kitty's behaviour.