When your cat suddenly starts urinating all over the house instead of in the litter box, you should be concerned about more than your carpet and furniture. You should be concerned about your cat, too! This behavior is usually an indication that your cat is either suffering from a medical problem or is very unhappy in their environment. Here's a look at three common reasons cats urinate outside the litter box, and what you can do.
Urinary Tract Infections
UTIs can occur in both male and female cats of all ages. This is an infection of the urinary tract by bacteria such as Staphylococcus or Streptococcus species. It often starts in the urethra, but can easily move up into the bladder or kidneys before it is detected. Cats with urinary tract infections often lose control of their bladders, which causes them to urinate outside of the litter box. Other signs that your cat might be suffering from a UTI include:
- Meowing in pain during urination
- Blood in the urine
- Straining to urinate
- Passing only a small amount of urine each time
- At later stages, fever, lethargy and general irritability
If you think your cat might have a UTI, your vet can confirm it with a simple urine sample. After a week or two on antibiotics, your cat should be back to normal. However, your vet might recommend feeding a special food and encouraging your cat to drink more water in order to prevent subsequent UTIs.
Diabetes is most common in older cats and those that are significantly overweight. Diabetic cats' cells don't absorb glucose properly, so this sugar must be secreted in the urine. This causes your cat to urinate frequently. He or she may simply not be able to make it to the litter box in time. Other signs of diabetes include:
- Excessive thirst (drinking a large amount of water)
- Sudden weight loss
Your vet can diagnose diabetes with a blood test. If diagnosed, your cat will need regular insulin injections and a special diet. Your vet can teach you how to administer insulin to your cat; this typically needs to be done once a day.
Displeasure with Environment
If your cat does not have a UTI or diabetes, then ask yourself what has changed about your cat's environment. Chances are, you changed something, and your cat is expressing his or her displeasure by urinating outside of the litter box. Possible explanations include:
- You got a new cat, and it is chasing your other cat away from the litter box
- You moved your cat's food too close to the litter box, and now he is not using it
- Your litter box is now located near something "scary" like the washing machine
Try to identify what you may have changed prior to your cat's display of this behavior. Change it back, and the issue should dissipate. Contact a vet, such as at Stewartstown Vet Services, for more help.