Cat peeing on floor right next to litter box

by Danielle
(Ohio, US)

Our cat, about 8 years of age, started peeing on the floor next to her litter box about a year ago.

She will still use it for other reasons, but it seems she will pee on the floor more often than in the litter box.

We have been cleaning out the litter box daily, we even have two litter boxes.

We are at a loss and know longer know what to do. Is there anything you may suggest?

Thank you!

My Thoughts:

When I hear about these problems, my first thought is usually, "what's wrong?" What went wrong to make her start doing this?

Pain due to a urinary tract infection? Perhaps a recurring infection that caused pain and taught her to associate pain with the litter box?

Then, once the area was soiled, the smell made her return to it? It then became an acceptable spot to pee in?

I can see how that could happen. So, the drive to use the box is there, but when she gets near, uh oh... thoughts of pain. "Hmmm... this spot is familiar, smells right... let's do it."

The longer these problems go on, the harder they are to fix. We don't even know what caused the problem in the first place. My UTI assumption is just a guess of course.

So, all we can do at this point is try our best to remedy the situation, keeping in mind that habits don't change overnight.

What can we do? Assuming it's the same general spot she's using every time...

1. Remove the urine odor. Clean the area with an enzymatic cleaner so even a cat's nose can't detect any trace of urine odor.

Some people have claimed that vinegar works, but your mileage may vary. Don't use ammonia or an ammonia based cleaner.

2. Restrict access. After cleaning, place items on top of the area so she can't get to it. Or, cover it with something your cat won't walk on.

Create a path to the box that she won't deviate from. Use double sided tape on cardboard sheets, aluminum foil, or some other surface she won't like.

3. Keep the box squeaky clean like you have been. It's good too, that you have more than one box.

4. Praise her when she uses the box. Give her treats if she's used to that as a reward.

If you don't see any progress, you may need to use isolation retraining to get her back on track. See this page for information on litter box retraining and a link to an article on using isolation.

If there's a recurring physical problem, she may very well repeat this behavior again. It's always best to bring these issues up as soon as possible with your vet so that physical problems can be tested for and resolved before the behavior gets ingrained.

I hope that helps. Please let us know how she does.

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