Cat Urinating Outside the Litter Box?
Have you come to the end of your ball of twine? Think you’ve tried everything?
We’re pretty sure you haven’t.
Cats urinating outside the litter box is the most common and preventable behavior problem, but can also be one of the most complex.
Since 1999, Harvard-trained cat behaviorist and behavior author Mieshelle Nagelschneider ACCBC, has easily performed the litter box consultation by phone more than 7,000 times and with great success. We have more testimonials available than any other cat behaviorist in the world. See cat behavior testimonials
Greater Seriousness of Behavior Problems. On average, cat behavior issues – spraying and inappropriate urination – are more pernicious and destructive than the behavior problems of their canine counterparts. These behavior issues are the number-one reasons millions of cats are surrendered to cat shelters each year and even euthanized.
Sadder Consequences of Low Awareness. The sheer number of cats in the English-speaking world, combined with the average owner’s low level of awareness of cat behavior and frustration with the destructiveness of cat behavior problems, makes it no surprise that cats are sent to shelters or even thrown out of homes at a far higher rate than are dogs – and far more often for behavioral problems than are dogs.
Litter box issues can also be the most expensive to deal with. We’ve known clients whose cats had ruined two homes before they came to us.
How, you ask? The urine had gotten onto the floors by the cats urinating there and even on the walls (this is a marking behavior that can actually be caused by litter box territory issues with your multi-cat household), and then the urine cleaner did too, so that the sheet rock was ruined and they had to replace the paint. The urine that dripped down the wall went behind the baseboards, so that they too had to be peeled away and replaced. Urine got under the sub-flooring, so that they had to remove the carpet, pad, and sub-flooring. There was urine in light sockets and in floor heater vents! Of course, after our consultation, none of this ever happened again.
Litter box issues are often more than something just about the litter box. Your cat could also have developed a habituated behavior and preference for certain locations. There may also be a territorial time-sharing issue with your multi-cat household which is why your average cat consultant will have no idea how to solve your cat’s “litter box” issue. This is where formal education in animal behavior is important, because it’s not just about the litter box. A skilled behaviorist knows how to undo habituated and rehearsed behavior in a science-based and humane way. Your average cat consultant usually gives you litter box tips and tricks only, and not address the other important factors at play. An effective behavior plan is like an orchestra with many pieces working together simultaneously. Mieshelle solves “unfixable” issues by going beyond the obvious facts and offers a creative and intelligent behavior plan for your cat(s)
If only more cat owners knew what the Cat Behavior Clinic teaches its clients every day, far fewer cats would be given up to shelters or even euthanized (currently millions each year). It’s a tragedy that so many cat owners are at a loss about how to stop the very preventable behavior of cats urinating outside their box.
Using a version of our three-part C.A.T. Plan customized just for you and your cat, in your feline behavior consultation with the Clinic we’ll show you:
- how your own behavior is probably contributing to the unwanted urination problem (learn all about what you didn’t know)
- how your cat’s innate instincts directly affect his litter box needs and how you can make simple changes to meet these needs as part of an all-encompassing behavior plan. It’s not all about adding boxes either…
- the retraining process to ensure your cat deposits all his urine in the litter box — every time
- the latest behavior modification techniques to undo the habituated behavior in soiled areas to prevent future urination. This is what most behaviorists and vets leave out and why you will fail every time and your cat will unfortunately move on to new urination locations.
- why social tension between cats is often an instigating factor for litter box issues — and what to do about it (and not just for litter box solutions, but also because your cats deserve to be happy and coexisting peacefully)
- learn why litter box issues can lead to urine spraying (and urine spraying can lead to upright urination)
- learn why cats urinate on the bed and how to solve the issue.
- more advice that you will not easily find anywhere on the internet or from other cat behavior “experts” or authors because, unfortunately, most are lacking science-based formal education in animal behavior. We will not be re-inventing the wheel for you, in other words.
- work with Mieshelle Nagelschneider ACCBC or Dr. Jim Shultz (cat behaviorist and licensed vet).
- our clients have the chance to be part of our behavior studies to not only help their cat(s), but cats everywhere with litter box issues.
Again, a litter box issue is rarely just a litter box issue! It can begin as a simple issue, but then manifest into several issues rolled into one with many interdependent variables (anyone for a game of chess?). Let our behaviorists help you and your cat with an issue that you probably didn’t realize had turned into a complex one where cookie cutter advice isn’t appropriate.
Note: If your cat is defecating outside of the box (not urinating), this is a unique problem. Please visit our defecation page.
|“We have 3 cats. My female cat Violet had been urinating all over my home everyday for 9 years. I had my furniture, even my bed, covered in plastic. Mieshelle asked me a lot of questions and told me why my cat was urinating everywhere (it was my other cat’s fault!) and also how to deal with the problem. I can’t believe she is using the litter box again after all these years! I no longer have everything covered in plastic! I only regret not getting help from Mieshelle sooner! My cat is also more confident and content around the other two cats.”– Vicki L. Vancouver, WA“Woohoo! My cat peed in her box immediately after I (behavior advice removed) and she hasn’t peed elsewhere since. I’m shocked – out of all the Google searches and people I asked about litterbox issues, no one mentioned (behavior advice removed), which I obviously would have tried if I’d known about it before.”Thanks so much for everything!”–Eliza R., Pasadena, CA“Our vet enjoyed working with you and the entire staff is so thankful you helped us with our cat’s issues. I think they were really getting tired of seeing this cat week after week! If only this knowledge was more readily available to cat owners, there would be less of them in the shelters! I will follow-up with you after our vacation. Thank you!!”S. Berger, New York, NY“Chardonnay is no longer urinating on our couch and bed. It has been 3 weeks and no accidents! Thanks you! I really think it was the (behavior advice removed). Our vet wants to take you out to lunch! I think they’re just happy not to see us in the clinic every week for this urinating issue! Your knowledge has saved our household!”– Marci and Sigmund W., New York, NY|
Ready to join the many clients whose peeing issues we’ve solved? Get advice that will last you the rest of your cat-owning life. Book your cat behavior consultation with the world’s best-known cat behavior clinic today. If you have a multi-cat household, you have the option of taking part in our feline social facilitation survey study.
Excerpt from Mieshelle’s Cat Behavior book, The Cat Whisperer, on Litter Box Issues
We’re all mad here.
—Alice in Wonderland
Thinking outside the box is an admired trait, or at least
so people claim. But the last thing we want to see is our cats getting
creative with what Parisians, faced with very public human unzipping,
call urine sauvage, or wild urine. (Lovers of the city of light will
be happy to know that Paris now boasts, in response, a crack 88-
member Brigade des Incivilités, or Bad Behavior Brigade.) I knew of
a Siamese who urinated in anything with an opening: an empty laundry
hamper, the kitchen sink, the recessed area of a stove top, the basket
with the dog toys, the woodbox next to the fireplace—and finally,
the owner’s purse. I’ve heard of cat owners finding unwelcome gifts
from their cats inside shoes and coffee mugs. I once solved the curi-
ous case of a smelly toaster.
The feline instinct to dig into a substrate (which we humans hope
will be the substrate in the litter box) and eliminate is so strong that
kittens do it instinctively, without training. It’s been suggested the instinct
comes from our cats’ wildcat ancestors, Felis silvestris, who have
lived in the semi-deserts of North Africa for thousands of years. The
sand-rich soil conditions there made it easy to bury feces and urine.
Okay, you say, but why did they bother to do that? They probably did
so both for reasons of hygiene and because reducing their scent
around their resting and sleeping places made them less conspicuous
to predators. Contrary to popular belief, though, cats do not always
cover their feces; they rarely bother at all when their territory is
large enough—witness feral cats—that their scats lay far from their
sleeping and resting areas.
Some domestic cats should open housekeeping businesses: They
will cover not only their own feces but any other feces they find in the
box. It makes sense that this is a behavior that we would see in domestic
cats, since cats that through the ages covered up were probably
the ones more likely to be taken in by humans, who would have
preferred having the more hygienic cats around and in their homes.
An Unnecessary Tragedy
Unwanted elimination is a serious but preventable problem. Experts
estimate that between 40 and 75 percent of all cats with behavioral
problems have an elimination problem. It is the number one complaint
of cat owners and the number one reason millions of cats are
surrendered to shelters each year, and even killed. It’s crucial that
owners get help for this unwanted behavior, because it is—believe it
or not—not just one of the most distressing but one of the most easily
Most of the circumstances that contribute to this problem are obvious
enough that, with the advice in this chapter, you should be able
to make the necessary changes to fix it yourself. I have helped thousands
of cats over the years with their out-of-the-box issues. In the early
days of my work as a behaviorist, I felt that in order to offer help I had
to see the cat, the owner, where the litter boxes were kept, and the locations
of the inappropriate urination or defecation. But over time I
fine-tuned the forensic questions I asked my clients and perfected my
behavior modification techniques to the point that I could almost always
get cats using the box again without an on-site visit.