Inappropriate Feline Elimination – Causes and Solutions

Inappropriate cat elimination is fairly common among felines.

Typically, this behavior is characterized by the cat rejecting or at least partially rejecting his litter box in favour of other indoor locations.

During elimination, the cat will squat and deposit urine on to a horizontal surface.

This is in contrast to spraying or urine marking, in which the cat stands tail up and sprays urine onto a vertical surface.

But why would a cat all of a sudden start peeing in the house?

Why is My Cat Suddenly Peeing All Over My House?

Given that cats like to eliminate in secluded, quite locations, it may come as a something of a surprise to see your precious kitty expelling all over your humble abode. To figure out the problem, the most obvious place to start is the litter box.

Litter Box Problems

Litter boxes are pretty much essential for indoor cats, satisfying their natural instinct to bury their waste, while allowing them to eliminate in a contained, secure location.

Unfortunately, poor litter box management and maintenance are among the main reasons why cats expel elsewhere.

Some of these are as follows:

  • Litter Box is Dirty
  • Litter Box is Too Small
  • Not Enough Litter in the Box
  • Litter Material Has Been Changed
  • Litter Box in Bad Location
  • No Escape Route
  • Not Enough Litter Boxes for Multi-Cat Household

Let’s take a look at the above points in more depth.

The Litter Box is Dirty

A dirty litter box may compel your cat to look for a cleaner, more aromatic location to do what needs to be done.

To avoid this, may sure you’ve got a daily scooping and cleaning routine in place. As far as scooping goes, twice daily is advisable.

Keep in mind though that some cats want their litter box to be absolutely pristine each time they step into it.

To meet these exacting standards, you’ll need to scoop and clean the box more frequently.

Or you could just invest in a self-cleaning litter box. While more expensive, they take away the hassle of manual cleaning.

And the litter box stays clean, hygienic and more acceptable to your cat.

Daisy Gazing

The Litter Box is Too Small

It’s possible that your cat will reject his box if it’s too small. So make sure that he’s got enough room to move, squat and dig.

Generally speaking, the litter box should be a minimum of one and a half times the length of your cat from his nose to his tail.

There’s Not Enough Litter in the Box

As mentioned, cats like to bury their waste – this instinctive behavior is performed in the wild to ensure that the scent doesn’t reach the nostrils of predators.

To satisfy this instinct, ensure that there’s a three to five inch layer of litter material. This should be enough to allow your cat to dig and cover his waste.

If you use scoopable litter, remember to replace any that you remove, keeping consistent litter levels.

The Litter Material Is Different

A cat may stop using a litter box if there’s been a change in the litter material. Keep in mind that felines’ senses are extremely sensitive, especially when it comes to smell.

So a change in litter might cause offence to your cat, even if you don’t notice any discernable difference.

Cats are also very tactile and therefore sensitive. A new type of litter material that feels different to his paws might cause confusion and, at worse, a rejection of the litter box itself.

If you’re determined to change the litter material say, from a sandy material to a pelletized version (or vice versa), do it gradually, adding small amounts each time you refill the box.

The Litter Box Is In a Bad Location

As we’ve covered elsewhere, litter box location is just so important. Get it wrong and your cat is going to reject it and find an alternative.

Avoid putting the box near the cat’s feeding bowls, high-traffic locations or noisy areas of the house. Choose somewhere quiet that provides your cat with peace and privacy.

If you can, try to avoid changing the location. This will merely serve to confuse your cat.

There’s No Escape Route from the Litter Box

Make sure the litter box is accessible as possible and has an escape route for your cat. If you live in a multi-pet household this is especially important.

Placing a litter box in a corner facing a wall or away from the room entrance limits your cat’s escape options if he’s rudely interrupted. It’s important that he has a clear path away from the box should he need to take flight.

There Aren’t Enough Boxes for a Multi-Cat Household

You’ll need more than one litter box in a multi-cat household. This is because a lot of felines will object to sharing their box with another cat, preferring to defecate elsewhere.

Because of territorial disputes, some cats may also be too intimidated to share a litter box with another feline resident.

As a rule of thumb, have one litter box per cat.

The Cat is Returning to Old Urine Odours

Sometimes, cats return to a location in which they’ve urinated previously. Even if you’ve cleaned the area afterwards the odour can often remain detectable to cats due to their excellent sense of smell.

Maine Coon


Stress is known to be a cause of inappropriate elimination among cats. And there are all kinds of stress triggers for felines including:

  • House Move/New Environment
  • Introduction of New Pet
  • Absence of the Owner
  • Noisy Building Work/Renovation

House Move/New Environment

Cats are creatures of habit and like familiarity, especially when it comes to their territory.

So it follows that a house move or a new environment can prove stressful and confusing. Litter box rejection is quite a common occurrence in such a scenario.

Introduction of New Family Member

Visiting guests, or the introduction of a new family member such as a baby or partner, can be very stressful for cats. In some cases, this can lead to litter box neglect and inappropriate elimination.

Absence of the Owner

Some felines, especially Siamese cats, can become very anxious and stressed if their owner is absent for long periods and/or left alone.

Should you be away from the house a lot, maybe consider investing in a companion for your cat.

Introduction of New Pet

The same goes with the introduction of new household pets, particularly dogs or other cats. If the resident cat feels like his territory is being invaded, he’s going to get stressed.

This often leads to eliminating outside of the litter box. So be sure to take the proper steps in introducing two cats.

Cat Peering Through Wall

Noisy Building Work/Renovation

The intrusive sounds of building work and renovation, not to mention the comings and goings of building workers, is going to cause stress. In additional to spraying, your cat might also urinate away from the litter box.

Medical Problems

Your cat’s indiscriminate urination may be caused by an underlying health condition. These include diabetes, kidney disease or FLUTD.

Diabetes, Kidney and Thyroid Diseases

Diabetes, Kidney and Thyroid Diseases often cause cats to drink more, which in turn causes them to urinate more often. Felines with these conditions often don’t use a litter box as a result.

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)

Indiscriminate urination is often a symptom of FLUTD. This is a condition in which the affected cat makes numerous visits to the litter box but only manages to pass small amounts of urine.

As the condition advances, the cat’s need to urinate becomes more urgent causing him to expel immediately. In some cases, the cat starts to associate his discomfort with the litter box.

FLUTD can become a very serious condition. So make sure to contact the vet if your cat is urinating around the house.


Arthritis usually affects older cats and can make it difficult for them to reach their litter box in time to urinate.

A litter box that has high sides or is located somewhere hard to reach could result in rejection.

Why is My Cat Peeing on the Floor But Pooping in the Litter Box?

If your cat is peeing on the floor but defecating in the litter box, he’s either stressed or suffering from a medical condition that affects the passing of water.

This could include diabetes, kidney problems, thyroid issues or a urinary tract disorder.

Different Litter Boxes for Defecation and Urination

Some cats refuse to defecate in the same box that they use for urination. As a result, a lot of owners find themselves buying two litter boxes for their fussy felines. Sound familiar?

Should your cat be rejecting the litter box set aside for urination, consider the following:

  • Urination Litter Box is Too Small
  • Litter Material is Different For Each Box
  • Urination Litter Box Doesn’t Have an Escape Route
    Urination Litter Box Is Dirty
  • Urination Litter Box Is in a Busy/Loud Location
  • Litter Boxes Are In Different Locations

Do Cats Pee for Attention?

Cats do not urinate for attention. Inappropriate cat elimination can occur for a number of reasons, most of which are detailed here.

These include stress, litter box problems, illness, a change in environment or a new family member.

But trying to get our attention by expelling around the house is certainly not a motivator.

With that said, spraying is used as a kind of calling card for cats. In other words, it’s a way for felines to communicate with one another.

This may occur if your cat has spotted a feline intruder outside, or if there’s a turf war going on in a multi-cat household.

How Can I Get My Cat to Stop Peeing Everywhere?

To get your cat to stop peeing everywhere and house soiling, you should take the following measures:

  • Evaluate Your Litter Box Setup
  • Minimise Stressful Situations
  • Give Your Cat Time to Adjust to New Environments
  • Remove Odours By Cleaning
  • Use a Spray
  • Consult Your Vet

Evaluate Your Litter Box Set-Up

Make sure that the litter box is clean, large enough for your cat and filled with enough litter material. The box should also be located in a peaceful low-traffic area of your house.

If you’ve got an older cat with arthritis that’s expelling around your house, make sure that the box is easily accessible and has low sides. You could also consider adding additional boxes around your house to improve ease of access.

Cat Hissing

Minimise Stressful Situations

If you believe your cat is struggling with the presence of a new family member, try not to disrupt the cat’s routines.

Also, take time to play with your pet alongside the newly-introduced person so that they become more familiar with each other.

In terms of feline introductions, the process should be gradual, as detailed here.

Noisy renovation or construction work is another trigger for stress. Therefore try to keep your cat in a quiet room, away from the noise.

You may also want to put a litter box in the room with your cat and even play soothing music to drown out the drilling and hammering.

Give Your Cat Time to Get Used to a New Home

In terms of moving to a new home, you’re going to have to give your cat time to get used to his new environment. It usually helps to create a private area for your cat so that he’s able to get his bearings.

Remove Odours to Prevent Repeat Offences

The scent of urine on your carpet or along the base board may trigger your cat to pee on that same spot over and over again. You’ll therefore want to clean the area and get rid of any lingering smells.

Begin by using soap and water or a stain remover. Stain removers won’t usually get rid of the odour, though. So your best bet is to use a stain and odour neutralizer spray. You’ve got a lot of options here.

Use a Spray to Keep Cats from Peeing on Furniture and Surfaces

There are all kinds of sprays that can keep cats from peeing on furniture. Keep in mind though, that these can only stop repeat eliminations and aren’t intended as preventative treatments.

Most of the popular brands are enzyme-activated. This means that they break down the ammonia crystal found in urine on contact and remove organic matter.

To prevent cats from returning to urinate on the same spot, a lot of these sprays are scented with citrus, lavender or lemongrass.

Consult Your Vet

The information we’ve provided here should give you some idea of why your cat is expelling outside of his litter box.

But to properly address the problem, we strongly recommend that you consult your local vet practice.

They’ll be able to tell you about the best treatment options available and some of the measures you can take to put a stop to this behavior.

Feline Inappropriate Elimination – A Vet’s Solutions

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