These problems often fall into two categories:
This is when a cat that has normally been reliable at using the litter tray or the big outdoors suddenly begins to urinate and defecate around the house. They may choose a particular spot and return to it repeatedly or use different 'favourite' areas of the house.
Things to consider:
The most important thing is to rule out any underlying medical problems the cat may have. Any one of the medical issues listed below could contribute to your cats changing behaviour. So it is important to get him/her checked out thoroughly and quickly before the behaviour becomes a habit.
- FIC – Feline Idiopathic cystitis
- blocked bladder
- kidney disease
- thyroid problems
- gastrointestinal conditions
- old age; arthritis ,mobility problems
Litter box aversions
Your cat may just not like the litter box; the litter you are using or the area the litter box has been placed. Below is a list of things to consider regarding the litter tray:
- is it cleaned regularly - does it smell good
- is it easy for your cat to get into the box
- what type of litter is used (try different ones)
- is your cat afraid to use the box i.e.: is it harassed by other house hold pets when using the tray or is it in a busy area of the house
- is it close to where you feed your cat
Cats are incredibly sensitive to change so keep this in mind when ruling out possible causes.
Marking or spraying
This is a form of territory marking and is completely different from your cat just going to the bathroom. Your cat will not squat but will remain standing with their tail raised and spray against vertical objects like furniture, walls etc. Only very occasional a cat will mark territory with faeces.
This sort of behaviour often occurs when your cat is stressed. There may be a new cat in the area or new pet in the home that is threatening your cat's territory. New furniture or carpet smells can prompt a cat to spray in the house but it can also be a result of frustration – with your cat not receiving enough stimulation or playtime. Sometimes there may be an issue with diet.
The most important thing to remember is your cat is not spraying in the house to be spiteful!
What can you do?
- Get your cat checked over thoroughly by your Vet to rule out a medical problem.
- Try to establish, if possible, why your cat is spraying or urinating in the house. Look out for perceived threats etc. and try to avert them. You can close up the cat flap at night so no intruders can get in.
- If your cat is going to the bathroom in a particular spot like a pot plant or piece of carpet, try moving a litter tray to the spot or using soil in the tray or an old piece of carpet! You can also try to restrict access to the area.
- Use odour removers and repellent sprays to mask the scent. This will hopefully discourage the cat's return. Your Vet will be able to advise you as to what products are effective.
- If your cat has a problem act quickly before the behaviour becomes a habit.
- Call in a professional animal behaviourist who will be able to assess the situation in your home.
Domestic cats live in an incredibly stressful environment these days with many cats living in close proximity, all vying for their little bit of territory. Pop into the practice and take the Hills Stress Test to see how your cat copes with stress!
Kenilworth Vet, Harfield Village