Preventing Problem Peeing in Cats

Cats are independent, yet loving, playful, yet aloof creatures. But when they're not going to the bathroom where they should be going, it can be a problem. Here's a guide on how to prevent and fix problem peeing in your cat. 

Step 1: Clean Up The Mess

Cat looking at urine stain on carpet

Whenever you find an accident from your cat, you'll want to clean it with more than just a towel or water. Your cat leaves behind a mix of pheromones and chemicals, which, in essence, encourages them to repeat the behavior. It may also encourage your other cats to take part. So, you'll need to use an enzyme cleaner specially formulated for cats. Nature's Miracle is a popular brand, and they make both spot cleaners and laundry additives for your cat urine troubles.

Step 2: Rule Out A Medical Issue

Any time your cat exhibits a new, troubling behavior, you should make your way to the vet. Your vet can do an examination and possibly some bloodwork to rule out the more serious causes of problem peeing in your cat. Urinary tract infections, kidney stones, and other illnesses can cause your cat to go outside of the litter box. 

Step 3: Look For New Stress

Calico cat laying on her side

If problem peeing doesn't seem to be medical, then it is most likely a result of behavioral triggers. Any event that stresses your cat out can cause problem peeing. For example, many cat owners report that their cats will pee in the laundry after they return from a trip. Or, a new neighborhood feral cat visitor may set your critters off. Or, your cat has decided that they don't like the litter box: location, type of litter, or cleanliness. Give it a deep clean and try some new locations, litters, or litter box styles. 

Step 4: Remove the Triggers

Whatever the reason, try to alleviate the stress. If your cat gets stressed when you're away, get a live-in pet sitter, or have a friend stop by while you're at work. If your cat gets stressed by other animals, close the windows where your cats might see other cats, or upgrade a space just for them, like adding a new cat tree or other toys. 

If your cat seems to pee in a specific spot, like the laundry, or the bath mat, take steps to prevent your cat from accessing those items. Switch to a bamboo bath mat, get rid of your area rugs, or make sure to put your clothes away before your cat finds them. Sometimes, preventing your cat from being triggered is the easiest way to solve the problem. 

Nothing Works! Help!

Gray cat laying in the grass

If these basic steps don't work, you'll need to start experimenting more heavily. Try to catch your cat in the act: does it always happen at a specific time of day? Right after they do something? Figure out what's making your cat start the behavior, and then do your best to disrupt it. If you think it might be something medical, give your vet a call and explain that the problem continues. You can try changing their food, litter, water, or room access while you're experimenting to see if anything works. Commiserating and seeking advice from other cat parents can also be helpful.