Cat No Longer Uses the Litter Box

Updated on July 10, 2008
J.D. asks from Lincoln, NE
28 answers

I have two cats, littermates, a male and a female who are 8 years old. One of them, the male I believe, has started urinating outside of the litter box. It started out with him peeing on a towel that was left on the floor of the laundry room, where the litterbox is kept. He has since uninated on 2 backpacks, a computer bag (luckily the computer wasn't in it), the basement carpet, bathroom rug and most recently he unrinate and deficated on my 5 month old's Baby Einstein gym. The litter box is clean, so that's not the issue, and he's been neutered since he was a kitten. I can't have him peeing all over the childrens things. Is there something we can do or do I need to give him (or both of the cats, since I can't say for sure it was the male) away? I should also add that when this started, over a year ago, we did take him to the vet and he didn't have an infection. The vet thought maybe he felt some stress, having a toddler in the house, and he would start using the box again when my eldest stopped grabbing his tail. Now the cat LOVES to be with my older child and we sometimes have to physically seperate him from laying all over her when she's playing.

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So What Happened?

We took him to the dr and he's plenty healthy so we have to put him up for adoption. Thank you for all your responses.

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J.S.

answers from Green Bay on

We have two cats, a brother and sister from the same litter. We do have two litter boxes and they both use the one in the basement but the male only poops in the litter box upstairs. So it may be worth trying a second litter box. He may have decided he doesn't want to share anymore.

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N.S.

answers from Minneapolis on

I second the last response. It sounds like he's sick if this is a sudden behavior. If they were just introduced to each other, this would more than likely be a territory thing. But considering his age, the clean box, and the fact he didn't do this before, I'd guess he's not well and should be seen by a vet soon.

One other possibility is he's decided he doesn't like sharing the box, and perhaps you'll want to get him his own "bathroom".

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L.T.

answers from Sioux Falls on

When I first read this I thought this cat is madder than ever at you and the baby. He first started on something that belonged to you (the general household) then on the baby's toy. My parents had a cat that did almost the same thing to my dad. Since my dad was a baker and wore the same pair of work shoes, the cat decided to poop inside one of the shoes. All this cat was doing is telling my dad that he was being ignored and wanted some attention from my dad (cat was an indoor/outdoor creature). My dad had grown up on a farm and thought cats were good for only catching mice out in the yard and barn, so dad really would ignore this cat. After we told him just to talk to the cat or scratch behind his ears, he would not leave presents in his shoes. Fast forward in time a little, we kids had all come down stairs to go to school and discovered that my dad had black fur all over his white shirt and pants. Later that day he told us that he had taken our advice and started talking to and petting the cat. He never had a problem after that. Infact, the two became buddies until the cat disappeard one day and never came back (the vet told my mom that the cat was around 17 years old and we had him about another 3 years after that).
You do need to take both your cats to the vet just to have them checked out. They both could have uti's and you might not know it. Just remember that with cats, we are guests in their home and not the other way around. Give some extra attention to both cats and let him be around the baby a little more than you have been in the past but only when you're in the room with both of them. Your cat view the baby as a big person just like you and they can't understand why they can be around everyone else but not this little one.

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S.H.

answers from Green Bay on

We had this happen with our cat too when our son what in the crawling/walking stage. The shelter said that the cat was protecting our son by marking the child's toys. Not fun, we lost a couch and some toys just can't be cleaned. The cat eventually stopped. Sometimes they mark due to other stresses. A spray we use is effective against cat oder.
Best of luck,
S.

K.B.

answers from Milwaukee on

Hey J.,

Don't you wish a cat could talk sometimes, it would make figuring this out easier.

I have 2 litter boxes... and now the cats pee in one and poop in the other, not sure why but they do. A few months ago the cats started pooping and peeing all over the basement, and after many vet visits we could not find anything wrong with either. So finally I decided to change the litter boxes, I got the bigger ones that are covered and it worked like a charm. Guess they wanted more privatice.

I also got a spray that you can spray in the areas you don't want them to go to the bathroom. Not sure if it should be used on kid stuff, we only used it in the basement which my daughter does not go in... it is used for storage and my art studio.

Hope you get this problem solved... It would be a shame to give up a cat or 2 that are otherwise great cats.

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M.G.

answers from Milwaukee on

That exact thing happened to us.
The first cat was great.
When we got the second one (a male) he started peeing everything.
Cat urine is the worst and VERY hard to get out.
GET RID OF THE CAT!
We had to and then eventually the other one too because the 1st one started doing it anfter the 2nd on left.
I know it's hard but you have to do it!
He will ruin everything, not to mention the smell.

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H.Z.

answers from Minneapolis on

We also went through this. Try using Cat Attract litter (preciouscat.com). They sell it at PetSmart (but not PetCo). There's also some plug-in cat pheromone (you can google this) that supposedly calm the stress in cats. Does your cat have long fur? Try trimming the butt/pantaloon fur if he does. Sometimes things get "caught" in all that, and they don't like that either. OH, and our vet said that cats despise the hooded boxes. He had us get three (one for each level of the house) of those under-bed storage boxes, remove the cover, and fill those with the litter. They're large and open and low to the ground, and the cats have had no issues since we've made all the changes above.

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C.F.

answers from Milwaukee on

You might have to get 2 litterboxes. Also when a litterbox is too clean they "forget" where to go. Or it could be a issue with the litter. My cat is very particular and started when we changed brands.
Most pet stores sell this cleaner for the carpet that is all natural that removes the odor from the carpet all the way down to the mat. Unfortunatley from my experience once a cat pees somewhere on on somehthing they will continue to do so. You might have to thow those items away.

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K.B.

answers from St. Cloud on

First have both cats checked for Diabetes and or bladder infection. If they do not have either than you will need to retrain the cats to use the litterbox. You will need to contain them to one room with a litterbox. When there are no more accidents than you can let them venture out to another room. We had to retrain our cat after a new child.

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A.C.

answers from Lincoln on

I've had cats for pets all my life. Anytime my indoor cats have messed outside of the litter box it has always been a sign of a urinary tract infection. It's their way of letting you know, they aren't feeling well. You may want to check into that and see if maybe that would be the cause. Good luck!!

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C.S.

answers from Minneapolis on

I'm so glad that you asked this question! We are having the same issues. My husband wants to get rid of the cat once he returns from his vacation, but that is so hard to do!

We originally had two cats and it was our female that started. We finally got to the point where we had to get rid of her. Now, our other cat has started and my children are 7 and 4. No new changes and he gets lots of attention.

We tried the two litter boxes and it never worked, just more work to make sure the kids didn't get into it.

Anyway, just wanted to thank you and let you know that you are not alone.

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K.N.

answers from Madison on

Hi we had the same issue w/our cat Rhapsody.To make a long story short. We ended up giving our cat a paxil for cats. It helped out wonderfully. Rhapsody and our boys are all Happier now. Check with your vet. Good luck!!!!!

K.

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T.B.

answers from Milwaukee on

I feel your pain! We just moved to Racine from NY last year and we decided to leave our two cats behind with a friend (temorarily) as we did not want to deal with the peeing in our new home. The same thing happened to us. We have two cats(one male one female)about the same age and they are both fixed. Out of no where the male started peeing on the rugs in our kitchen and bathrooms and on any towels laying on the floor. There were a few other places as well. I took him to the vet and we did treat him for urinary tract infection, but he still to this day will pee on a rug or towel if it is on the floor. This only happens once in a while. We still cannot figure out why he does this. We would love to bring the cats back to Racine with us as my friend did not commit to taking them permanently and my four year old daugher misses them, but I do not want to smell up my new house with cat pee. Please let me know if you come up with a solution.
Good luck!
T.

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C.R.

answers from Minneapolis on

Cats can be weird creatures sometimes, believe me because I have 2 of them! One of them has gone to the bathroom out of the box for various reasons; my other cat (a male) was stinky, she hated scented litter, from stress and anxiety (when there have been changes in her routine), and sometimes because she was mad at me!

First, I can never have anything on the floor for her to pee on - that includes, clothes, towels, linens, paper, magazines, bags, etc. Second, I had to purchase another litter box, I went from 2 to 3. Third, I discovered she hated scented litter so I switched to unscented. Fourth, and final change was to a litter that better removed my male cat's "smell" because he is stinky and SHE hates it.

After all of that, she still has occasional accidents but they are always related to anxiety - my cat is literally mental :)

My cat, Cali, does not have any infections, but that is always the first place to look when your cat has sudden shifts in behaviour. Whatever is bugging your cat, he will continue to potty outside his box until you figure it out.

If you think that it may be caused by stress, you can purchase a product called "feliway". This plugs in much like a glad plug-in, and helps the cat feel calm. I believe it mimics a pheramone that cats emit when calm & happy.

Good luck!

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T.D.

answers from Bismarck on

It's been a few years for me - but my 'last' pet was a beautiful cat - who began her 'missing' by peeing on my book of school work I'd brought home to correct. Thankfully I caught her in the act and was able to salvage all of the student work - but ruined a book that had been on top. She began going on items, quite often - and it prompted a phone call to our vet. Turned out she had some 'issue' that he felt would only get worse. Required a blood draw... and I can't recall the diagnosis - but I'd certainly start with the two litter box idea - AND have the cats checked out - they could be in perfect health, but they could need medical attention - good luck!!

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L.R.

answers from Wausau on

Unfortunatley there may be nothing you can do. A friend of mine just had a simular problem. She has two litter mates, nuetered males over 7 yrs old. At a point when they were younger they found one would utinate on the carpet. The had known the previous home owner had a dog that urinated and thought that was the problem. They replaced the carpet, pad AND floor board! They even replaced some trims. It was OK for a while but on and off over the years the cat has been seen doing this. They just this week got rid of the one cat...their house is a mess. They are a mess too! This was the kindest animal you'd ever meet. All carpet and flooring will again be replaced. The vet had suggested moving the litter box where the problem occured most often. This did help some. But he did also say a complete environmnet change may be necessary. Cats with behavorial problems are hard to train!
Good luck to you...I know it's hard.

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T.S.

answers from Milwaukee on

Unless you've caught him in the act, I wouldn't assume it's the male. Typically females are more picky (as it's not a spraying/dominance issue since he's neutered). That said, our male who is now 13 has had issues for a few years on and off. I don't know if he's ever tested positive for a UTI but did have a gum infection once and the vet said that could cause it (I'm not good about brushing their teeth). We now have 2 litterboxes in the basement- always did due to 2 cats- and an additional one on the main floor in the laundry room. As long as the boxes are kept pretty clean he doesn't seem to have problems. Unfortunately our dogs now have litter /kitty cookie breath occasionally. @[email protected]

My brother cleans carpets and says it's very common that when cats hit the teens they start with the problem. Yours are younger but they may be older and finicky enough to be demanding two boxes. Getting rid of them would be our VERY last resort especially with a cat so loving. A year can make a big difference also and both cats should be due for a physical. Of course getting a urine sample in a multi cat household isn't the easiest thing imo.

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M.Y.

answers from Minneapolis on

Is your litter box covered? A few years ago my mom had similar issues with her cat, except her cat was deficating on her carpet, couch, chair, bed, etc. Her vet suggested getting another uncovered litterbox for the cat to poop in. Apparently when they get older they can sometimes get picky and don't like to do both things in the same litter box. So, she got another box and it did seem to help for awhile (now he's getting even older and he's starting to poop where he's not suppose to again).

M.

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D.B.

answers from Minneapolis on

Hi,

I have two cats and have had this problem with a previous cat. The cat had diabetes and insulin fixed his problem. If no problem has been found by your vet you could try: a second box with a different type of litter (sometimes cats develop sensory aversion for no reason in particular)

-clean the area VERY well with an enzyme cleaner (several at chuck and don's) cats will mark if they can still smell it. This cleaner also goes in the wash, especially effective with white vinegar

-get Feliway it's a product that only cats can smell that is particularly calming. Check petsmart it's like a glade plug in for cats

-get an anti-depressant for your cat from the vet. Also good for stress urination

Hope one of these helps.

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M.F.

answers from St. Cloud on

We had a large black cat which was 12-years-old and had diabetes. He also urinated on the carpet and plastic bags especially. We also had another cat the same age and I really believe it was either the diabetes or the fact that he was trying to mark all of his territory, which left little area for the other cat. She has never urinated on the floor. buth either goes out or uses the cat litter box.

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K.S.

answers from Minneapolis on

I guess I would start at the Vet. Just to eliminate any physical reasons.

One of our male neutered cats started urinateing out of the liter box and nothing was found. He is an anxious and sort of neurotic thing, so we decided it was a issue in his head! He will urinate on any dog things, or any of my husband's hunting things. So we have to keep everything up off the floor.

The Vet did tell us about a device you plug in and emites phermones or something, that CAN help prevent pets from eliminating in the wrong places. We never did try this. Another option was to try meds, much the same ones that people use for pysch issues. We did not go this route because it is almost impossible for us to give pills to this cat.

We did get 2 liter boxes...the covered ones. The 2 cats really seem to like it, but it does not prevent the one from urinating elsewhere. The issue started at some point after we got our second dog. It was not right away, so it was not obvious. But after seeing a pattern with WHAT he was urinating on, we realized it's always something connected to the dogs. Once in a while I don't see the connection, but most of the time there is one. Perhaps the 2nd baby has pushed yours over "his edge." More of a stress thing than actually not liking them.

If your vet is not helpful, I believe there are clinics around the cities who specialize in just cats. Or you could also call the Humane Society and see if they have recommendations. Good luck...I know how frustrating and disgusting it is.

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J.M.

answers from Milwaukee on

I had this problem when I had 2 cats. We read that each cat needs their own litterbox. Once we got a 2nd box she stopped peeing everywhere. (of course, when we moved, one started pooping by the baby's room and we had to get rid of them).

Good luck!

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J.G.

answers from Omaha on

I know what you are going through. I had a dog that did the same thing to me. I found out from my Vet that he was jelous of my son that was 6 months old. It was a very hard time to get him to go to the bathroom outside again. I would start with talking to your vet about how to get them back on track with the litter box.

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C.C.

answers from Bismarck on

Have you tried two litter boxes? I know the two cats haven't had a problem until now using the same box, but since something is awry, I would give that a shot. I'd also try switching litter in one of the boxes to see if he has a preference. I had a cat that started doing this but we figured out that she would do it if her litter wasn't perfectly clean. Like she would use it a couple times but if there was poop in it at all or too much pee then she would pee on towels (mostly) or this one particular rug in the living room. So we had to keep all towels and clothes off the floor and clean up the smell from the urine where she used to pee on the rug. We also got rid of that rug and we just used a very small amount of regular litter (Not the clumping kind). I would just throw it out often and start with new stuff plus I'd also scoop the poop out right after she'd go. Hope this helps. Good luck! Oh and she might have developed an infection by now if it's been awhile since you had her to the vet. OH AND, you should consider moving the cat box to a place that is more private, some cats don't like a particular place and will use it if you move it. Maybe try keeping one box where you have them and adding another in a different spot. I was told to move the box slowly so they know where you are moving it too, but if there is still one where he's used to it, you could probably just add one in a different location. I so hope that you find the problem because your cats will be best off if you keep them with your family. If they go to someone else they will probably continue this behavior and might eventually end up without a home or worse.

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T.C.

answers from Minneapolis on

I dont know if this could be the case or not, but I have heard of cats doing that if they have a urinary tract infection. You may want to call a vet and see what they say. I have a friend who just went through that with thier cat and it was an infection. Good luck!

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N.B.

answers from Milwaukee on

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but in my experience once a cat start doing that they don't stop. After several years (and whole hallways of carpet ripped out later) my parents had to get rid of my childhood pet.

As an adult pet owner I've only had to deal with this problem 2 times...

1) Recently -- Our male cat urinated on our bed, but right in front of us. We immediatly took him to the vet and he had a UTI. Now he is on a special food and after medication no more problems.

2) In college I had a roommate who had a cat and that cat had repeated UTI's and later we learned also has anxiety and urinates on things when her owner leaves her for longer than a day. In that sitution the places we found urine got more and more interesting (ex: on my HANGING clothes in my closet). Long story short -- my friend still has this cat, but bought a large dog kennel where the cat gets kept during the day and for a while at night.

My suggestion would be to get rid of the cat you think it is and if it continues then get rid of the other. I know you hate to do that, but in the end it will be better for everyone -- cat urine smell sticks around forever and I know I wouldn't want my child playing on or around things that had been hit once or twice by the cat.

Good Luck!

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B.C.

answers from Des Moines on

Hi J.
I work at a vet clinic. We always recommend adding litterboxes if a cat is urinating outside the box. They say you should have one more litterbox than cats, so in your case, try 3 boxes. They have a kitty litter additive you can try adding to your normal litter called cat attract. cats like the smell, so it draws them to the litter box. You can also pick up a plug in called Feliway. It produces pheromones that make that cat feel calmer. If all of these fail, I would recommend checking another urine sample, since it has been a year. He might have an UTI now, even though he did'nt a year ago. There is always medications your vet can prescibe like valium or anti anxiety meds, worse case scenario.

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L.S.

answers from Milwaukee on

We had a very similar situation with our cat after out twins were born (they are now 2). We tried everything possible to get her to stop and the last was when she started urninating on the kids toys. The advice we got is that once this starts it most likely won't change. Our cat was only 4 but we had to get rid of her. The other cat that we kept was 8 and has adjusted well. We were also told it was stress related with the kids but the cat seemed to get a long very well with the twins. I'm sorry, I know how tough this decision is for you! Best of luck!

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