Constant urine outside of box yet using box too!

by Sandra B.
(St. Catharines, Ontario)

We rescued a kitten that was thrown through a broken window in an empty basement at a rental property. Just a kitten.

We already had a cat three years old, and she wasn't happy with the newcomer. We noticed a strong smell in our basement but never saw any urine anywhere.

However, fast forward a year or so later, my mother passed, so we were away for awhile. We have two dogs and the original cat loves the dogs.

If one of the cats was urinating in the basement before now, all of a sudden urinating was happening all over the place, perhaps from the stress in the house and the dogs were gone with me to my mother's house who passed away.

Now it seems to continue. It stopped for a bit but is now back again. We think it could be both, we just don't know. We have never been able to catch them in the act.

We just do not know what to do. We feel so terrible. I clean their litter every single day. The original cat does bully the other cat but we just don't know. To get rid of one or both saddens us. We are lost...

My thoughts: I'm sorry for your loss, and I'm sorry to hear that your cats are having problems.

If this has been going on a long time, it may be harder to fix, but here's how I'd approach it if it were my house...

I think you might be right about the stress, and your being away for awhile being a trigger.

Also consider the possibility that one or both cats has a medical problem, potentially worsened by stress. A recurring bladder or urinary tract problem might explain and off and on problem.

To reduce stress, I would try Feliway, Rescue Remedy, or Jackson Galaxy's products, and I would up the exercise levels of the cats to burn off excess energy.

If possible, I would encourage both of them to play together to improve their bond while burning off energy. This may result in less tension between the cats.

To determine which one is having the problem, I would consider separating the two cats in different parts of the house, with their own
litter boxes.

Before I did that, I'd get out my trusty black light and find and scour all traces of cat urine, using a non-ammonia based cleaner. This will make it much easier to spot new soiled areas, and ultimately, determine the culprit.

Let's review the usual advice, just in case one of the cats simply isn't happy with something about the litter box, the house, or life in general.

Litter box location -- Has anything changed in this regard? If not, is there a reason why the litter box location is no longer ideal?

If the only litter box is in the basement, that is almost never ideal. If you have a multi-story house, having a box on each floor is ideal.

Not enough boxes -- Following the one-plus-one rule, two cats should have three boxes, so adding a box or two might be revealing. In addition, some cats develop a preference to urinate and defecate in separate boxes, or they refuse to share a box with another cat.

Since preferences can change over time, past acceptance of the situation doesn't mean your cat is happy about it now.

Litter box type -- If the box is covered, your cat may have decided that it's no longer happy with that arrangement as the cover tends to trap in odors.

Litter type -- Did you change litter types at some point? Some cats may prefer one litter over an another.

Switching litter brands or types can be risky, but if a previous litter type worked well and this one does not, you might try the side-by-side test.

Fill a new litter box with the type of litter that worked in the past, and place it next to the existing box, which has the current litter type in it. This will tell you which litter your cat prefers.

Plastic boxes -- Plastic absorbs odors over time, and this may offend sensitive kitty noses. At some point, it's time to get rid of the old box and get a new one.

Major (or even minor) changes in the household can throw things off, and as I've mentioned, your being away, or simply the stress could be the trigger.

I hope that helps. Please let us know how things turn out.


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Jun 11, 2016
Kitties are tricky
by: Ashleigh

Finding out if urinary issues in cats are caused by health issues or stress can be tricky!
Another thing to consider is if the urine outside the box is typically on a vertical surface or on the floor. Typically when cats spray territorially or from stress, its on a vertical surface. If it's on the floor where they would have had to squat, it's more likely to be a health or litterbox issue. If possible, you may want to try to set up a camera to catch who it is, when it happens, and if something happens behaviorally before they do it such as an altercation or litterbox guarding. I would definitely add more litterboxes to start. Kurt has amazing advice, by the way! On top of the Feliway spray, there are calming collars as well. That could help with stress.

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