Inappropriate urination in cats
There are several reasons that cats urinate outside the litter box and it is one of the most common and most frustrating problems for cat owners. Get help from your veterinarian asap or things will get worse.
1. The litter box is not clean, they don’t like the litter or too many cats for one litter box (the rule is have one extra litter box per cat- if you have two cats, have three litter boxes)
2. Your cat has a urinary tract infection- you need to have an exam and urinalysis done to find out if your cat has an infection. It is best to also have a culture and sensitivity done to find out if there are any bacteria present and to choose the correct antibiotic. Diabetic cats sometimes urinate outside the box- a very large amount of urine.
3. Idiopathic cystitis or Stress- these cats generally strain to urinate, urinate small amounts and sometimes you will see blood in the urine (they also do this with an infection so you must have a urinalysis to determine which is which). There are many causes of stress, including other cats, stress in the household, changes in the household and not enough exercise or stimulation.
4. Marking behavior- These cats usually urinate a normal (large) amount of urine, sometimes stand up and spray and do not strain when urinating. This is generally a marking behavior used when a cat is claiming its territory from other cats or new people or other animals or is threatened by cats outside or around the house. It is activated by stress and a urinalysis will show that the urine is normal.
Diagnostics- a urinalysis and culture and sensitivity of the urine is essential to determine the cause of inappropriate urination. Often blood tests need to be performed as well, to determine the health of the kidneys and to find out if your cat is a diabetic.
Treatment- Treatment depends on the cause. Some of the following may be recommended or prescribed.
1. Exercise and environmental enrichment. Cats need exercise and an interesting environment filled with safe places (little tents or cardboard boxes) to get away by themselves. They need lots of toys spread throughout the home- hanging from walls or doors, up high on cat scratchers, lasers, fishing pole toys for activity to keep them from being stressed out. They also need plenty of clean litter boxes to use at all times.
2. If your veterinarian determines your cat has a urinary tract infection, antibiotics will be chosen in response to the culture and sensitivity and should be used at least 2-3 weeks. The urine should then be tested again to make sure it is gone. Blood work should be performed to make sure the urinary infection wasn’t caused by a kidney infection or other problem. If your veterinarian determines there are crystals in the urine, the proper diet is utilized and you need to have the urine retested in approximately 30 days to make sure they are gone. If your cat is a diabetic it will be treated with insulin.
3. Idiopathic cystitis- distress the household and use exercise and environmental enrichment. Your veterinarian may also prescribe pheromone sprays (Feliway) or diffusers, anti-anxiety medication, anti-depressant medication, a medication that will help relax your cat’s sphincter to allow easier urination or other medications that will help your cat relax and prevent further problems.
4. Special preventive medical diets may be prescribed for cats with crystals in their urine. Your cat must stay on these diets throughout its life or the problem can recur.
5. Marking behavior can be reduced by environmental enrichment, separating cats, limiting exposure to outside cats and reducing stress in the household.
Bottom line- Do not get upset with your cat! They can’t help it. They don’t know any other way to express that they are unhappy and need your help. Getting angry with them will only increase the anxiety and make things worse.