Inappropriate elimination (i.e., house soiling) is the top reason owners relinquish their cats and shelters euthanize them because they are deemed unadoptable. The problem is often multifactorial, and many cat owners struggle to understand why their whiskered pal is suddenly acting out in such a profound way. After all, accidents around the house are difficult to ignore. 

To learn why this behavior develops and how you can troubleshoot the problem, read our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Nasa team’s guide to cats’ inappropriate elimination issues. Follow our top tips for dealing with inappropriate elimination and maintaining the bond you share with your beloved feline friend.

#1: Schedule a veterinary visit

An underlying medical condition often leads to house soiling. Diseases that increase urine or stool frequency or volume can lead to a smelly litter box your cat refuses to use. Pain that occurs during urination, defecation, climbing into or out of the box, or while posturing to eliminate can cause cats to associate the litter box with that pain and choose to urinate or defecate in another area. At an elimination problem’s first sign, schedule a visit with our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers at Nasa team to evaluate your cat for urinary disease, gastrointestinal (GI) problems, arthritis, kidney issues, diabetes, and other possible underlying causes. 

#2: Gather additional information if you have multiple cats

After our team has ruled out or treated your house-soiling cat’s medical issue, you should gather additional information to determine the problem’s root cause. In a single-cat home, simply take note of where your cat prefers to eliminate, the texture on which they like to do their business, when the problem occurs, and other details that might be relevant. If you have more than one household cat, you may need to keep them separated or set up cameras around the house to determine whether one cat is preventing another from using the litter box.

#3: Identify and address household feline stressors

Stress is a major contributor to all feline behavioral disorders. Some common stressors include a strained relationship among cats competing for resources, insufficient exercise or enrichment, boredom, household changes, visitors, or strange cats lurking outside your home. Sometimes, one cat will physically prevent another from accessing the litter box. Learn how to help indoor cats thrive by clicking here.

#4: Add litter boxes or consider your cat’s location preferences

Ensure your cat has easy box access by placing their litter box conveniently in the main area of your home. If your house is multileveled, place at least one box on each floor, so your cat can avoid traversing the stairs each time they feel nature call. In addition, consider the litter boxes’ locations. To prevent your cat from feeling trapped, do not place a box in a corner or at a hallway’s dead end. Also consider an area’s noise level, temperature, and general comfort level.

#5: Offer your cat a different litter or litter box type

A cat who uses the box but does so reluctantly (e.g., perching on the side, exiting quickly after use) could have an aversion to the box or litter that developed after experiencing a painful or stressful event near or in the box. Your cat may prefer fine, unscented, clumping litter, and boxes that are considerably larger than you realize. Provide your frisky feline with a litter box that has a cat-sized cutout for easy entry and exit. In addition, try various litters to determine which type suits your cat’s preference.

#6: Keep your cat’s litter box clean

Cats hate using dirty litter boxes, and you should scoop at least once per day. If your cat has medical issues, such as diabetes or kidney disease, you may need to scoop two to three times per day. To remove offensive odors and bacterial buildup, use mild soap and water to clean the box monthly and replace the litter.

#7: Manage your cat’s environment to prevent further house soiling

While you try to resolve your cat’s house-soiling problem, clean all soiled areas with enzymatic cleaners to remove odors that keep them coming back to the same spot. You can also put up barriers or use deterrents to keep your cat out of certain rooms until they are using the litter box more reliably. Another good way to prevent your cat from returning to a specific area is to place a backside-up plastic carpet runner on the spot. These runners are often backed with small spikes that hold them in place on the carpet. Cats do not like these spikes, and will avoid walking in the area.

#8: Seek professional assistance for feline house soiling

You’ve followed our tips, and our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Nasa team has ruled out or treated your cat’s medical issues. However, your cat continues to eliminate outside the litter box. Now what? Your frisky feline needs a specialized professional pet trainer. We can refer you to a professional trainer or veterinary behaviorist that can provide specialized and individualized advice.

By following our tips and thinking like a cat, you can likely troubleshoot your cat’s house-soiling issue effectively. However, feline house soiling is a frustrating, smelly problem that is difficult or impossible to resolve without a professional veterinary consultation. Restore household harmony by scheduling your cat’s visit with our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Nasa team, so we can rule out or treat any underlying medical issues.