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Peeing Outside the Litter box!
Cats’ peeing outside the litter pan becomes a major frustration for many cat owners, especially in multi-cat homes. The first step in stopping this behavior is figuring out why it is occurring. If your cat is squatting, peeing small amounts on your carpet or furniture, or straining to go without producing any urine- Vet Time! His problem is health-related. If your cat is peeing or spraying on smooth porous surfaces like bathtubs, countertops and yes, even the stove- Vet Time! The quickest way to locate bacteria? A needle draw of urine from the bladder by your vet. If your cat receives the “All Clear,” you will have to continue your search.
Litter pans: One cat should have two litter pans, two cats should have three, four should have five etc… Regular sized litter pans work for kittens and smaller cats. But for the larger breeds- pedigreed or mixed, think BIG! Rubbermaid™ containers with low sides work well. Under-the- bed storage containers work great!
Why extra pans? Outside cats travel away from their nest to potty. They pee in one spot, and poop in another. This survival skill keeps larger predators from finding them. Even though your guy might be a lap kitty, he is still driven by his primal instinct.
Be sure the pans are located where he can make a quick get-away. One of my cats’ favorite spots is the bottom level of their multi-level cat condos. Although they are somewhat out in the open, the litter pans are covered, offering several escape routes if needed. If you have more than one cat, you might have a litter box ambusher, so spread your pans out.
Cat Litter: Use unscented clay litter, fine-grained. If all of the commercially available products you offer him are refused, then buy organic potting soil. IF you have to use the potting soil, you need to scoop frequently (or bugs will come). Although these bugs will be added prey for your cat’s enjoyment, I doubt you would be so amused. Never use plain dirt found in your garden, unless you enjoy a fly invasion.
Why not use scented litter? A kitten is born with a well-developed sense of smell. At birth, although blind, he can find mom with a combination of feeling her purrs and smelling her scent. Once he finds her, latches on to a nipple, he places his signature scent on that one nipple (when he kneads her belly while feeding, his individual scent comes from glands in his foot pads). During future feedings, he will seek out his own nipple every time. That’s why, if you ever watch newborn kittens eat, there is a jostling match as each kitten finds its own signature.
Putting scented litter into your cat’s boxes may very well find you doing extra duty as floor scrubber. You are the one who desires his litter box to smell nice. He does not! He is going to steer clear. If you use litter pan liners- STOP! Cats don’t like them. They get their claws caught on the plastic when they dig. Use PAM™ cooking spray on the bottom of your litter pans and on the scoop to make clean-up a breeze!
Keep the litter pans cleaned and scooped! Dusty Rainbolt in her new book Cat Wrangling Made Easy (available November 2007) advises to get down to the cat’s level and smell that litter pan after you scoop and clean. It may look clean, but it won’t smell that way! As Dusty writes- “Would you use a toilet if nobody flushed first?”
Spraying: If your cat is spraying (females can spray) your house probably reeks! If your cat is backing up to vertical surfaces raising his tail, twitching his bottom but remaining otherwise still - you have a sprayer. Cat pee is caustic and smelly. Your drapes will be soon be discolored, wallpaper will crumble, and paint will peel. If he isn’t neutered, get him fixed quickly! After a neuter, there is a time period to wait till his urine doesn’t smell, because of the stored testosterone. Give it time; the urine will lose its potent stench.
Regardless of the age they are neutered, studies have shown that 10% of neutered males will continue to spray throughout their lifetime. He’s not doing this to piss you off. He is marking his world with a familiar scent- his pee.
If a female cat is in heat, and there are no available intact males, the female will spray. Unless you are a reputable breeder, all your females should be spayed. However, five-percent of spayed females will continue to spray. The reasons why remains unclear. Generally, spraying is a rite of an “All Boys” Club.
Stress: Cats spray when stressed. Cat urine contains different messages to cats. To us, cat pee is simply annoying, smelly and something to deal with. But to a cat, urine is their telegram. Cat pee has the ability to be a no-trespassing sign, a tranquilizer, a “come hither” invitation and other messages we are only now beginning to understand. Cats who are spraying when they are stressed are spreading the message (emphasis on spreading).
When Hilda Foster was packing up her apartment to move to a new home, her two moggies, Rhonda and Thomas were spraying every exposed item. “It was maddening” Hilda confided. “Then I took both cats to the new house, left them inside a small tiled room with an easy chair, their toys, water, food and litter and a huge sign on their door threatening death and dismemberment to anyone who opened it! They settled down fairly quickly.” The cats were losing the familiar scents they laid down earlier. They were reclaiming the property the only way cats know how to.