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Inappropriate Urination in Cats

Vet Talks 4 min read
Orange shorthair cat laying on a beige couch next two a urine spot

Is your cat peeing outside of the litter box? Before you get upset, it’s important to understand why your cat may be urinating in places they shouldn’t. Unfortunately, many pet parents jump to the conclusion that their cat is misbehaving or is not well trained instead of looking into the underlying cause. In fact, inappropriate urination is a common reason that cats are given up.

Possible Reasons a Cat Would Urinate Outside the Litter Box

When cats have pee accidents outside of the litter box, it means that something is wrong.

Cats never have pee accidents outside of the litter box because they are mean. It means that something is wrong. In most cases, it is because of a medical reason. Therefore, it is important to talk with your vet to check if everything is okay with your little one.  However, if any health problem is identified, it may be related to other situations, such as stress, a problem with the litter box, medication, etc.  

Calico cat laying on carpeted floor while a hand uses a cloth to clean the carpet.

How To Help Them Stop Urinating Outside the Litter Box

Since there are multiple reasons that a cat may be peeing outside of their litter box, it may take some investigating or trial and error to find the solution.

Litter Box

 A very important rule is multiple boxes in multiple places, plenty of room to move, and easy to get into. For kittens less than two months old, small boxes with lower edges are the best. Once they are two or three months old, they become real circus performers and can use bigger boxes. Early positive exposure to various types of boxes and different types of litter is a good idea for them. When we have a kitten with an aversion to the litter that you have at home, if possible, it is worth investigating what kind of litter they used in their previous home, if possible. 

Cats want to sniff and investigate, then turn around and dig and cover what they’ve done. This is basic behavior for most cats. Even for a medium-sized kitten, the bigger the box, the better. 

Waste must be removed from the boxes at least once per day; and even more often if there is more than one cat in the house. 

The rule is to have one more box than the number of cats you have. So, if you have three cats, that means that four boxes are necessary. Keep in mind that cats will see three boxes together in the same room as one giant box. Also, most of them prefer privacy (and who’s to judge them?), therefore, the litter boxes should be in a private place. They should also NOT be close to windows or places that are noisy. If frightened, some cats can instantly have an aversion to the place that the litter box is placed or the litter box itself.  

Most cats prefer scent-free litter. However, all cats are individuals and have their own preferences, which can be based on what they are exposed to while they are young.

Some cats prefer covered litter boxes, as they think it offers privacy and a sense of security. However, other cats don’t mind and prefer uncovered boxes. 

In multi-cat environments, some supplements such as NHV Matricalm and Lesstress may help reduce anxiety around the litter box. 

If the cat jumps into the litter box, does their business, and immediately leaves, they are showing that they tolerate the situation but don’t like the box or it isn’t clean enough. 

Grey striped cat with white paws walking out of a covered litter box. Inappropriate urination in cats and urinating outside of the litter box: possible causes and what you can do to help your cat

Health Problems

Some illnesses such as diabetes, gastrointestinal problems, and kidney disease can cause your little one to urinate and/or defecate more often. In this case supplements such as Mellit for diabetesPlantaeris for gastrointestinal problems, and Tripsy for kidneys disease, may be very helpful.  

Also, some medications can cause side effects that may affect your little one urinary tract. In this case, Milk Thistle can be useful because it helps protect the liver and kidneys. 

 It is also important to understand that a cat’s tolerance to a given situation can change over the years. For instance, a cat that was used to use one type of litter box for years can suddenly decide they don’t like using it anymore. Remember, cats are picky animals.


Like us humans, our kitties can also suffer from drastic and sudden changes in their lives. For example, the birth of a baby or the arrival of a new pet in the house, can make our furbabies feel left out and, consequently, having anxiety. The result? Bad behavior, peeing or poop on bed and sofa, loss of appetite, and aggression. To alleviate the pet’s stress, it is necessary to be patient and do everything possible to make your cat feels loved and welcomed. Offer some basic care such as fresh water and toys, and supplements such as Matricalm to help reduce the stress. 

If you have any questions about your cat’s inappropriate urination or underlying health conditions, we’re here to help! Click the button below to start chatting with the NHV Pet Experts.

Dr. Amanda Nascimento DVM, MVSc, PhD

Dr. Amanda Nascimento DVM, MVSc, PhD

Dr. Amanda completed her undergraduate degree in veterinary medicine in 2010 and graduate studies in veterinary pathology (MVSc. 2012 and PhD 2016) at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of São Paulo. She completed her post-doctoral training at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine – University of Saskatchewan in 2018. Dr. Nascimento will be hosting her own blog series and sharing her knowledge with our extended NHV family.

Published: September 16, 2021

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