Why Is My Cat Peeing Outside of the Litter Box?
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Why Is My Cat Peeing Outside of the Litter Box?

Est. read time: 7 min.

Cats peeing outside of the litter box can be a frustrating and worrisome issue that many pet parents face. While your first instinct may be to get angry, one thing to keep in mind is that your cat is not peeing outside of the litter box to seek revenge against you. If your cat is suddenly peeing everywhere, there is probably a very good explanation for it! Instead of getting frustrated, try to find the reason behind the behavior.

Top reasons for cats peeing outside of the litter box

There are several reasons why your cat may be peeing outside of the litter box. Whatever the reason may be, it is important to consult your veterinarian to make sure your cat is medically sound.

Medical issues

When a cat is peeing outside of the litter box, it often indicates there is something going on with their health that needs to be evaluated by a vet—especially considering this is probably not normal behavior for your cat. Common medical issues that can result in cats peeing outside of the litter box include diabetes, urinary issues, chronic kidney disease, and arthritis

If it is painful or difficult for your cat to get into their litter box, they may search for a different place that is more comfortable for them. Your cat may begin to associate the litter box with pain if they have urinary disease or arthritis. 

In this case, cats may search for anywhere other than their litter box to go, as long as there is less discomfort. Whatever the case may be, you should get your cat to your veterinarian as soon as you notice any changes. 

Stress or anxiety

You may think to yourself, can stress cause a cat to pee outside the litter box? The answer is, absolutely! Any disruption to your cat's everyday routine can cause them to feel stressed or anxious. This can include adding a new pet to your household, or perhaps a new baby. 

One other factor that can contribute to stress or anxiety in your cat could be a change in routine. Many people are heading back to the office after a year or more of remote work. A change to their home life can make your cat feel vulnerable—and therefore, they may pee outside of their litter box. 

Dirty litter box

It is important to stay on top of cleaning your cat's litter box. In the same way that humans do not want to use a dirty restroom, your cat will not want to use their litter box if it is filthy. If you haven’t had a chance to properly clean your cat's litter box, they may begin peeing everywhere except their box. 

Scooping their litter box daily, or even multiple times per day if there is more than one cat in the house, can help ensure your cats continue using their litter box. It’s also important to switch out their litter every few weeks and make sure you are cleaning the litter box at the same time. Or, use an automatic, self-cleaning litter box that provides a clean bed of litter for every use. 

Type of litter

It’s possible your cat may not like the type of litter you bought for them. If you got a kitten that spent time with their mother prior to coming home with you, it’s possible they learned what type of litter they’d like from their mother.  Luckily, there is a large variety of cat litter alternatives to choose from. You may have to switch several times before finding the litter that works best for your cat. Generally, cats prefer unscented, clay-clumping litter.

Litter box location

Another problem that may need to be addressed is litter box location. If you have recently moved the litter box, your cat may not like the new location. This can cause your cat to pee on the floor or furniture until the box is in a more suitable place. It’s also important to consider your cat’s health. If the litter box is too high or in a spot that is difficult for them to get to, they may simply not be able to make it to the litter box in time. If your cat is older and has arthritis, this could be a major factor as to why they are not peeing in their litter box.  

Is it normal for my cat to pee everywhere?

While it may be a common issue that cat parents deal with, it’s important to note that it is not normal for your cat to have a change in behavior that includes peeing outside of the litter box. If you have ever found yourself looking up reasons why your cat is peeing everywhere, you may need to have your cat evaluated by a veterinarian. There is almost always an underlying issue that needs to be addressed in order to get your cat to use their litter box again.  

How can I stop my cat from peeing around the house?

If cats peeing outside of the litter box is an issue in your home, follow these tips to stop the incidents:  

  • Address any underlying medical issues with your veterinarian.
  • Stick to routines to the best of your ability and introduce any new pets or family members to your cat slowly.
  • Keep the litter box clean.
  • Make sure you are using a litter that your cat likes.
  • Keep the litter box in a location that is easily accessible for your cat and try not to move it if you can help it.
  • Clean all accidents properly and thoroughly to discourage repeat accidents.

Don’t give up on your cat

While it may be frustrating to deal with cats peeing outside of the litter box, don’t give up on them! There is always a reason for your cat's behavior. It can be as simple as cleaning the litter box more often or moving the litter box—or it could be an in-depth issue that requires medical assistance. 

Siberian cat using Litter-Robot self-cleaning litter box next to houseplant

However, if it is as simple as keeping the litter box clean, you can always make the switch to the Litter-Robot 3 Connect. The Litter-Robot does all of the daily cleaning work for you; it even alerts you when the waste drawer is full and needs to be emptied. The Litter-Robot keeps the litter box clean, helps reduce odors, and makes life easier on you–and your cat!

Can stress cause a cat to pee outside of the litter box?

Absolutely. If your cat is feeling stressed or anxious, they may not be feeling safe. When a cat is feeling unsafe, they may pee outside of their litter box as a way to cope with their feelings. 

Does vinegar stop a cat from peeing?

Using vinegar to clean your cat’s accidents can prevent additional accidents in the same areas. Cats do not like the smell of vinegar, which can help deter them from returning to pee again. However, it will not stop them from having accidents if the underlying cause has not been addressed.  

Will cat urine smell ever go away?

It’s important to neutralize the odor with an enzyme-based cleaner when cleaning cat urine. If you have eliminated the underlying cause as to why your cat is peeing outside of their litter box, you could also try switching to the Litter-Robot 3 Connect, which eliminates waste and reduces odors within minutes.

Cover photo by Jonas Jaeken on Unsplash

brown tabby cat sitting on couch covered in plastic - why is my cat peeing outside of the litter box?