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When it comes to the litter box, it is common for some cats to develop problems using it. You may have a cat that may eliminate out the litter box, as well as in. Others just decide they only want to either defecate or urinate in the litter box, but certainly not both. Then you have cats that want to eliminate anywhere in the house, except the litter box. There are even some cats—out of nowhere—that completely refuse to use the litter box at all.

If this sounds familiar, you’re probably asking the question, “Why is my cat peeing outside the litter box?” Below is some information, to help you understand why your cat may be eliminating outside the litter box. This can help you have a better idea of how to resolve your cat’s litter box problems.


Poor Litter Box Care 
When a cat has a hard time getting to her litter box or just is not comfortable using it, then they most likely won’t eliminate in it. Here are a few more reasons to consider, if your cat is not using her litter box.


  • The litter box is not frequently cleaned or done in an effective manner
  • There aren’t enough litter boxes. If you live in a multi-cat home,
    make sure to have one litter box per cat, plus a spare one
  • The litter box is not big enough
  • The litter box is not easy to access 
  • Uncomfortable litter box design
  • Too much litter, be sure the litter is 2” deep

Textures & Surfaces
Consider experimenting with different textures and surfaces. Tiles, wood, rugs or soft bedding like material, can all be options, when trying to determine a surface your cat will use the litter box on.

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Litter Choice(s)
Since cats have an acute since of smell, they can be quite sensitive to litter scents. When your cat has gotten used to a certain litter, then all of a sudden you switch it for another, she may not use it right away. If your cat rejects her litter, it might be because she is negatively reacting to the scent it emits.

Cats are pretty particular about where they like to do their business. If the ambiance isn’t right, then they’ll decide to eliminate somewhere else. So be sure you understand the type of environment they like to be in, when they’re eliminating.

Physical Limitations
If you have a senior cat and they have ailments that prevent them from properly using certain litter boxes, you may need to provide special accommodations. If this is the case, try to avoid litter boxes with high sides and top entries.

Traumatic Experience
If your cat associates using her litter box with a traumatic/negative experience, she may be hesitant to use it and begin eliminating somewhere else. This is because she previously experienced something painful, while eliminating in her box and has connected the trauma to using the litter box. So, in cases like this, a cat will typically not use the litter box in order to avoid the trauma.

A variation of this condition, is when a medical problem causes your cat to have a painful elimination. It is possible, for your cat to associate that pain with using the litter box. Because of this, she may decide to not use it again—regardless of whether or not her health gets better.

A Stressful House
Cats are sensitive creatures and are keenly aware of the slightest changes in their environment. So, it is quite common for them to be stressed by events like the introduction of new pets, moving to a new location, redecorating or a change in their schedule. When events like this take place, be mindful of how they effect the cat and watch for any changes in her litter box usage.

Conflict With Other Cats
It’s common for a cat to be stressed by other cats in the house. A dominant cat might be imposing on territory, there may not be enough litter boxes to go around or your cats might just be incompatible. As a result, a cat may be so stressed from the conflict(s), that she may eliminate outside of the litter box.

It’s easy to think that marking is a litter box problem. This is because it’s basically urination outside the litter box. However, marking has a purpose; it’s meant to signal to others, the territorial boundaries that a cat has created. This is much different than eliminating—outside the box—because of a medical condition, fear or stress.

When your cat marks her territory, she will more than likely use her litter box, just as she would normally. If anything, you can just treat marking as a behavior to cross off the list, when trying to diagnose the cause of your cat’s litter box problems.

When you rule out marking, you can narrow your conclusion to a cause that can be treated. The following are some signs to look for when trying to determine if your cat is marking.


  • Marking is typically done on a vertical surface; chairs, speakers or a wall
  • When marking, your cat’s body will be erect
  • While spraying, your cat’s tail will be positioned straight in the air
  • A cat’s tail usually twitches during spraying
  • The amount of marking is typically lesser than regular eliminating

Medical Issues

Feline Interstitial Cystitis
If your cat is in pain when she urinates, it is possible that she could be suffering from Feline Interstitial Cystitis. ThIs is a neurological condition that inflames your cat’s bladder and can even cause your cat to bleed while she urinates. Pay attention to your cat when she urinates, if she looks like she’s in pain, then she should be taken to the veterinarian immediately. This is a very serious medical condition that can result in death.

Blockages or kidney stones can cause your cat to meow/yowl in pain. If she frequently uses the litter box, is in pain and has a tender stomach, then consider taking her to the veterinarian.

Urinary Tract Infection
When you find that your cat does not urinate much, in spite of her repeated use of the litter box, you may have to consider the possibility of a urinary tract infection. If you suspect that your cat might have UTI, the best way to know for sure is to take her to a veterinarian for an examination. Then you can proceed from there.

In Conclusion
As you can see, there are quite a few reasons as to why your cat may be eliminating outside her litter box. However, an ideal place to start is by consulting a qualified veterinarian or a cat behaviorist. Talking to these professionals can help you save time when trying to diagnose the situation.

Furthermore, if the vet examination rules out marking and physical medical problems, you may find that the solution to your cat’s litter box problems only requires a few adjustments and a little patients. Thanks for reading, “Why Is my cat peeing outside litter box?”

For tips to help your cat use the litter box, click here.