Sound familiar? Then, this blog is for you!! Did you know, your cat is trying to tell you that they need help when they wee in the house? Although it may be incredibly annoying and smelly to you, your cat is showing you in the only way that they can that they are not well. They may have a medical problem or feel overly stressed and we’re here to help you both with those problems.
What is inappropriate urination?
This is a very common problem in cats and can severely damage the bond between you and your cat. Inappropriate urination can be defined as any urination outside of the litter box, from normal urination (i.e. squatting) to urine spraying.
It is best to deal with the problem as soon as possible. Don’t hope that it will go away because it probably won’t. Rather seek professional help before it persists for too long as it can become more difficult to treat the longer it continues. As soon as you notice that your cat is urinating outside of the litterbox, book them an appointment with us.
- Medical problems including bladder infections, urine crystals, bladder stones, pain and age-related issues.
- Stress and anxiety can be the underlying cause of this behaviour, particularly if the cat is spraying urine. Any changes in the household or other cats in the area that are intimidating your cat can cause spraying.
- Litter box issues: if you have too few litter trays for the number of cats that you have this can cause problems. Make sure you have one litter box per cat plus one extra, e.g. if you have 3 cats, you will need four different litter trays in different areas of the house. Cats are quite picky about the location of the litter tray, the litter and the cleanliness of the litter tray. You don’t like using a dirty loo, neither does your cat.
How can the problem be fixed?
- Never punish your cat for urinating in the wrong place. Remember, they are not doing this maliciously or out of spite – it is a cry for help. Punishment will increase their stress levels and actually just make it worse.
- Don’t try fix this problem at home! Your first step should always be a vet visit. There is often an underlying medical problem that needs to be addressed. Follow your vet’s treatment recommendations and make sure to bring your cat for follow ups.
- The vet may recommend a diet change to prevent urine crystals. It is essential to stick to the prescribed diet.
- Wash any urine-soaked areas with washing powder to remove the smell. Don’t use ammonia/vinegar or other strong-smelling chemicals. This will just more spraying. Sometimes you will need to replace carpets and other upholstery if the smell has soaked deep into the furniture. Another reason to tackle this problem with your vet as soon as it develops!
- Make sure your litter trays are correct. Ensure that there are enough litter trays, that they have litter in that your cat likes and that they are in a quiet, low-traffic area of the house. You like a private loo, so do they!
- Reduce your cat’s anxiety by ensuring that neighbouring cats can’t get into your cat’s house. Ensure that they have places to hide and rest. Products like Feliway or cat nip can help to reduce their stress naturally. But some cats may even need anti-depressants and anxiety medication to help them cope. Don’t feel ashamed or make light of the situation, this can have a drastic impact on your cat’s well-being, and it is up to you to help.
- After the medical issues have been addressed, your vet may recommend that you consult with a behaviourist. Be sure to check their qualifications and ensure that they have experience with cats.
What is the chance of success (prognosis)?
This is a multifactorial problem and may take some time (even months!) to find the combination of medications, food and environmental changes that work for your specific cat. If you work closely with your vet, communicate with them and bring your cat for check ups it will shorten the time to find the solution for your cat. Your cat may have to be on a special food for the rest of their lives. If the diet is changed then the problem can recur.
Although it is difficult to be patient with your kitty, remember that they can’t help it and they desperately need you to help them. Bear in mind that it can take 2-3 months before all the medication and food start working and you can see a difference.
Cats that receive treatment early on when the problem starts have a better prognosis.