“Oh No, NOT again!!!”
You’ve heard it called many things. Inappropriate elimination, peeing outside the box, etc. And unfortunately, it is one of the more common reasons perfectly healthy cats are surrendered to the local animal shelter or dumped in a vacant lot.
Cats are notoriously clean and fussy about their surroundings, so it is doubly frustrating when your little cherub poops or pees outside its litter box on your bed or favorite bathrobe. And when it happens again and again, you are certain he or she is just being spiteful because you get so upset.
So what is going on, and can the behavior be changed?
Traditional wisdom says there might be a medical issue, but before you take Fluffybutt to the vet, stop and think.
Cats are creatures of habit. When something or someone creates a disturbance in that routine, it is upsetting. Eons of survival instinct send off the alarms that something is different. Do they fight or take flight? If the disturbance is not threatening but stressful, the way a cat communicates this is to deviate its routine until the disturbance goes away or the cat no longer feels threatened..
A disturbance can be a move to a new home, rearrangement of furniture, changing the location of the litter box or suddenly changing the kind of litter, ongoing noise, or changes to the household such as a new pet or a baby or the disappearance of a familiar person or other pet. Too few litter boxes and litter boxes that are not cleaned regularly can also cause a cat to experience stress.
What NOT to do:
It is natural to get upset when your favorite comforter or bedspread is soiled by the cat. The very worst thing you can do to an already-stressed cat is act angry, yell or punish the cat. That behavior will only compound and reinforce the stress. NEVER strike a cat. Unlike a dog who will crawl subserviently back and beg forgiveness, a cat never forgets and never forgives. Your relationship will be forever changed, and not for the better.
When you have ruled out all of the above possibilities, then it is time to visit the vet without delay. Urinary tract infections, inflammation, too much acidity in the diet, or the onset of disease are all possible medical causes for changes in your cat’s litter box routine. Delays in seeking medical attention can put your cat’s life in jeopardy and at the very least result in higher medical bills.
Your Cat Behavior Coach,
Personal Coaching available for You and Your Cat(s)
If you would like to feel empowered by learning more about the inside world of the lion or tiger asleep on your couch, cat behavior coaching may be just the answer. Whether you have one pet or many, you have a responsibility to be seen as the “emotional leader” of your tribe. When you understand the world from your cat’s point of view, you can handle behavior issues effectively to restore peace and harmony.
To learn more, please use the contact form to let me know the best time to reach you and briefly describe the issue you want to resolve.