If your cat has been urinating outside of the litter box, you’re feeling understandably annoyed. Plus, you might be overwhelmed with carpet cleaning or laundry chores. But there’s another reason to be concerned, and it has nothing to do with smells or cleanliness: Litter box avoidance can actually be a sign of a serious health problem in your cat.
It’s important to remember that cats don’t rationalize things quite the way we do. If urinating hurts, they associate that pain with the place in which the pain occurs. So while it seems illogical to us, your cat might assume that his litter box is the source of his discomfort. Then he will try urinating in other spots around the home, searching for a place where he can relieve himself comfortably.
Of course, as we humans know, a medical problem won’t disappear just because he urinates in a different spot. But he doesn’t know that. In the meantime, he’s trying out your carpet, your bathroom rug, and maybe your laundry or your bed. You want to get a handle on this situation fast, both for his health and your sanity.
If your cat is experiencing pain when he urinates, medical conditions can be the culprit, such as…
- A urinary tract infection
- Crystals or stones in the bladder
- Kidney or liver disease
- Joint, nerve, or muscle pain
- Mobility issues
You might even hear your cat yowling when he uses the bathroom, or notice visible signs of distress.
Of course, pain might not be the problem. It could simply be that your cat is experiencing increased urinary frequency and urgency, and can’t make it to the litter box on time. He could be developing diabetes or other medical conditions.
And finally, stress and other “behavioral” issues could be to blame. But because litter box avoidance can often signal a serious medical problem, we should evaluate your cat’s health first. Make an appointment with us for a checkup. Then, if your cat receives a clean bill of health we can discuss other potential causes for this concerning behavior, and help you solve the problem.