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Cat Litter Tray Problems - Urinating Everywhere But The Tray!

Aug 17, 2007
Many cat owners are faced with inappropriate urinating in their home. A consistent problem is cats that urinate around the litter tray but never actually in it.

Q:I have a 7 year olf half Himalyan and half Persian being white in color. We acquired her approx. 4-5 years ago. We've moved several times and she has adapted well. Just since Hurricane Rita, 1 year ago and our whole floors throughout the house have been changed to hardwood. The cat urinates and defacates all over the floor right beside her litter box. We had the electric one and got rid of it, thinking she was scared and now we have an open box one and she still uses the bathroom outside of the box. We don't know what else to try.

A:Thanks for your question.It is quite a common problem you have. Cats can get an aversion to their litter trays for a number of reasons. If it has being going on for a year then I agree that it does sound like a behavioural problem now, although there may be some medical reasons contributing.

Changes in litter tray shape, depth, and design certainly can put a cat off using them, as can any changes to the cat litter that you are using; and also where you place the tray. Cats are very unforgiving and rival elephants when it comes to memory and holding grudges. If she has been put off using the tray then it may take some time to encourage her back.

Medically, conditions such as cystitis may be causing pain during urination which she is blaming on the litter tray, joint and muscle pain can also put her off that extra bit of effort. Even if she's had a recent medical it would be worth letting the vet reexamine once you have explained her problem so they can rule out some of the common causes.

If the original cause has been and gone (ie. stress, environment changes etc) then the next step is to get her back into the swing of using the litter box. Make sure the litter tray is the same as the old one (not the scary electric one) with the same litter. Consider adding a second litter tray somewhere new, where she can get some privacy.

Your vet may be able to help further, I use a product called Feliway, which replicates the facial pheromones of the cat (the ones that they rub onto your leg when they greet you!) this helps to reduce stress and generally make cats feel better about things. There also various behavioural modifying drugs available but I wouldnt reach for these just yet.You didnt mention whether she was allowed outside, if she is then check that there isn't anything out there that might be upsetting her.

If all else fails then there are lots of behavioural specialists out there who may be able to help, your vet should be able to refer you to one.
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Dr Matthew Homfray is one of the experts on the recently launched Pet Q&A service www.WhyDoesMyPet.com

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