Why Inappropriate Peeing Happens Outside the Litter Box

Updated: February 21, 2024

Why inappropriate peeing happens outside the litter box

Whether your cat is “fixed” or not, any cat is capable of inappropriate peeing outside of the litter box. But why are they doing it? To get under your skin? I know it may seem like that may be why, but usually there is much more of a reason than that!

"Cats pee in inappropriate places as a means of communicating a message to you."

Many people think their cat is peeing where they shouldn’t as a sign of disobedience, to get back at them. But surprisingly enough, cats lack the human ego to plan such revenge!

Pushing my jokes aside, cats pee in inappropriate places as a means of communicating a message to you. What message, you ask? That's what this article is going to help you with!

Health Condition

The first thing your cat will try to tell you is that something is medically or physically wrong with them. Inappropriate peeing outside of the litter box can be a sign of a urinary incontinence, urinary tract infection, kidney disease, diabetes, hyperthyroidism and feline lower urinary tract disease.

If your cat suddenly starts peeing where he shouldn’t, you need to get them to the vet and have him checked. Any of these health issues, if left untreated, can become very serious or life-threatening.

Why Inappropriate Peeing Happens Outside the Litter Box

Our elderly fur-babies sometimes develop arthritis. This makes it very hard and painful for them to get in and out of the litter box if the sides are too tall, or if the box is placed somewhere that requires too much physical activity to get to, such as climbing stairs. If your cat has approached his senior years, be mindful of this if you are finding that he is frequently not making it to the litter box.

Litter Box Issues

Another reason why your cat pees or poops outside the litter box could be issues with the litter box itself, or the litter used. 

Cats are very particular about their bathroom etiquettes. If they find their litter box too dirty, there is big possibility they won't want to use it. 

According to Hill's Pet, your cat may refuse to use their litter box if it not clean enough or if the litter box is too small or too deep. If that is the case, they may choose to hold it, or find another place to relieve themselves. Keep in mind cats prefer around 2 inches of litter covering their litter box. 

Using the litter box can also be challenging or painful if your furbaby has arthritis. If your cat has arthritis, make sure the sides of the litter box are not too tall, and keep the litter box in a place that is easily reached (and does not require too much physical activity to get to). It is also a good idea to be mindful of these tips for senior cats. 

Behavioral Issues

If it’s not a medical conditions that’s making your cat pee outside the litter box and you have ruled out all physical disabilities, it’s time to consider whether there is a behavioral reason your cat is peeing on places where they shouldn’t.

Cats are strange in the way that they don’t like changes and can react negatively to them and be easily stressed out even when there is a small alteration on their daily routine. You should be assessing your surroundings and take into consideration potential stress factors.

  • Are there any stray cats outside the window?
  • Have you moved to a new home?
  • Did you rearrange the furniture?
  • Did you bring in a new pet?

It is best to recall when the inappropriate peeing started and see if you can connect it to any recent event that may cause your cat some anxieties. Even if it seems like a harmless, minor change, it can still greatly impact your fur-baby even if it doesn't seem like that big of a deal!

This can be a pain, but just like dealing with a teenager who is having behavior issues, cats can be the same sort of way ;-) That's what comes along with being a pet parent!

If you have a number of cats, it’s given that you need to have multiple litter boxes, too. The general rule is that you must have one box for each cat and add one or two more for good measure. So, if you have three cats you should probably have four or five boxes. You should also clean the litter boxes every day and always make sure you are adding fresh litter, as some cats can be extremely picky!

Wait! That’s another thing: Did you recently change the litter?

Additionally, cats have preferences and may be picky when it comes to the type of litter used. If you happened to switch litter, consider changing it back. If you did not change it, you may want to consider trying different types to see which your cat(s) prefer (can you say 'spoiled?')!

It’s also important to mention that not all physical or behavioral issues will be fixed instantly. In these instances, it’s a great idea to use cat diapers to keep your house clean (and your sanity intact!).

You may have heard about dog diapers, but cats can absolutely wear diapers, too! Pet Parents® cat diapers come in a variety of colors as well as sizes, so you’re sure to get the proper fit for your little fur ball and take a little stress off your shoulders by preventing messes in your home if you do have a kitty who is acting up or dealing with a medical condition.

"It is best to recall when the inappropriate peeing started and see if you can connect it to any recent event that may cause your cat some anxieties."