Problem: my cats pee all over the house

by Amy

I have 2 cats in a small apartment, they have a litter box and do use it at times but are still urinating all over the house, mainly the front door entrance and on the couches.

They have also been vomiting/pooing in odd spots around the place. Any suggestions on how to resolve the issue????

I'm desperate I have tried all vet suggestions, sprays, powders etc. I don't know if it's both cats or only one due to the fact that it only happens out of sight or when we are not home.

I have been told not to take them outside due to the stress it will cause living in the inner city. If this is incorrect please let me know--I'm willing to try anything.

As I don't want to have to give the cats away, as my partner is suggesting, maybe the best action to take for both the cats and our sanity.

My thoughts:

OK, it sounds like you've got a lot going on here and that can obviously be overwhelming, so let's slow this train down a bit.

As you read this, remember that your cats really do want to use the box. Also remember that stress is a major cause of litter box problems, so anything that creates stress on your cat could be the cause.

I've written fairly extensively about the various reasons that cats have inappropriate elimination problems, but let's see if we can go over the basics since that is where you need to start.

I'm going to assume by your statement that you've had a consultation with your vet and that both cats have been given the good health seal. I'm going to also assume that your vet is correct about that.

Things to ask yourself:

1. Is this a new problem, or has it been like this for a while? What happened around the time it started?

2. Are you keeping up with box maintenance and did you change litter type/brand or box type just before the problem started? Is the box placed in an ideal location from a cat's point of view?

3. Are you giving your cats enough space, play time, and attention?

4. Did any major change in the environment take place just before the problem started?

If there's no physical cause, then one must assume a behavioral one. A very obvious statement here is that if one or more cats are not using the box, then two scenarios are possible:

1. The litter box is unattractive in some way (it has recently been used, the scent, brand, or type of litter is not preferable, the box was not cleaned well enough, it smells like cleanser, it's too noisy in that spot, one cat ambushes another, etc.).

2. Another location is more attractive due to: a surface preference (soft, hard, slick, smooth, sandy, dry, etc.), or specific location (farther from the food bowl, better to escape from, more quiet, etc.).

The answer to this is to make the litter box as attractive as possible, and the other areas not so attractive. Something to note is that many cats do not like to use a recently used litter box, even if they were the ones to use it. What that means to you is:

1. Clean the litter box twice a day.

2. For two cats, provide three litter boxes.

I've written about both of these concepts before, and I think I've mentioned the one plus one rule on at least three different pages of this site and several articles I've written for other sites - it's that important.

What is the one plus one rule? One litter box for each cat in the house, plus one extra box. This ensures that there is always an available box to use, and that there is a better chance that at least one box has not been used recently. As I've said, some cats just won't go in a recently used box.

Sometimes, this behavior presents as urinating in a clean box, and then defecating just a foot away from the box a few minutes later. Your cat is not actually trying to tell you something, she just can't bring herself to use that box so soon after urinating in it. You can interpret that, however, as a statement to you that means "get me at least one more box please."

Keep in mind that if your cat poops on the floor, you'll clean it up quickly, won't you? So, that litter box that hasn't been cleaned in 10 hours doesn't work as well for a bathroom as the floor.

So, your general objective has three parts. One is to make the box more attractive, the other is to make other areas less attractive, and the third is to reduce stress on your cat.

Some points:

1. For overall health and well-being, cats are best kept indoors. Outdoor cats experience additional stresses and threats, and live much shorter lives because of it.

2. Among other things, a well adjusted indoor cat needs attention, play time, quiet places to rest, litter box hygiene, and quality food and water. So pay your cats plenty of attention, and make sure all their needs are met.

3. While having two cats is a good idea so that they can keep each other company, cramped locations are a problem. If you have a small location and two cats, they may not have enough space to call their own and this can lead to stress. Also, maybe one cat is ambushing the other at the box? I don't know.

4. Keep the litter box squeaky clean, but don't leave any soap residue. Use bleach and water, 1 to 30 ratio to disinfect and rinse thoroughly.

Making the other areas not so attractive:

1. Thoroughly clean the areas where your cats have urinated or defecated outside the box. Use AtmosKlear or an enzymatic cleaner to thoroughly remove the smell.

2. Prevent your cat from accessing the area. Block it off, or use double sided tape or aluminum foil to keep your cats from going into the areas that are favorites.

3. Use citrus. Cats don't generally like the smell of citrus (so a citrus smelling cleaner is not good for the litter box). Use a citrus scent, especially lemon, in the area you don't want your cat to visit.

Litter box problems can be tough. It can take some time to retrain a cat, and lots of patience. Make the litter boxes more attractive, and the other areas less attractive.

Praise your cats every time they use the box, and never punish them for not using the litter box. Just clean it up, and when you do, clean it spotless with a cleaner that removes all the odor.

Here's an article that has some good advice about cleaning the litter box.

I hope that helps and good luck!


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Oct 02, 2011
Thank you!
by: Kurt (Admin)

You're welcome and thank you so much for your kind words! I hope it helps.

Sep 29, 2011
by: Anonymous

Kurt that was the most informative article I've ever read. Thank you so much for your help in our..."Cat pee problem."

You are a true hero.

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