How to Remedy Feline Inappropriate Elimination

By Aimee Castor, DVM
City Cat Mobile Vet Service
citycatmobilevet.com

The first thing that you will need to do is properly clean the area that your cat has been urinating on.  Soak up as much of the urine as possible with a dry towel and apply an effective cleaner such as Urine Off, Nature's Miracle, or Zero Odor liberally to the location.  Blot the area. Repeat this until you can no longer detect even a trace of the scent of urine on the towels that you have used to blot the wet area.

There are three primary causes of inappropriate elimination in your cat:
1. Medical problems such as a bladder infection, kidney disease, etc.
2. Litter box aversion
3. Territorial (spraying)

Medical problems:

A cat that is urinating in the house should first be examined by a veterinarian to make sure it is not due to a medical problem.  The veterinarian may run a urinalysis or even blood work and X-rays.  If no medical problem is detected, the inappropriate elimination may be assumed to be a behavioral problem such as litter box aversion or spraying.

Litter box Aversion: 

Litter box aversion is due to dissatisfaction with the litter box.  Dirty litter boxes, the type of litter, increased traffic at the litter box area, new animals in the household, the location of the litter box, hooded litter boxes, and small litter boxes may dissuade the cat form using the litter box.

Recommendations:
1. The length of the litter boxes should be at least 2 times the length of the cat, not including the tail.
2. Use non-hooded litter boxes and avoid litter boxes with high sides.
3. Do not use litter box liners (some cats find them aversive).
4. Clean the litter box daily.
5. Wash the litter box every week.  Do not use strongly scented cleaners such as clorox to the clean the box.  Dish soap and warm water is best.
6. In a multi cat household, one litter box per a cat plus one additional box is recommended. Place them in different locations or even at the sites of inappropriate elimination.


Spraying:

Spraying usually occurs in multiple cat households for territorial reasons and is often on vertical surfaces.  This is normal instinctual behavior displayed by intact cats but neutered and spayed cats can also spray.  Changes in the environment may cause cats to spray, such as adding a new cat, the presence of strangers, or a new baby.
Recommendations:
1. Spaying or neutering your cat has a 90% cure rate.
2. Place items at the site of urination to dissuade your cat form using it, such as:
    -moth balls
    -inverted mouse traps
    -aluminum foil taped to the wall or floor
3. Close curtains so your cat can’t see outside cats. Often cats will spray when watching neighborhood cats outside.
4. Medications can be used to prevent cats from spraying but many of these have side effects and therefore should be use as a last resort.