How to Stop House-Soiling Cats
To have a cat urinating or defecting in your home outside of his littler box is one of the must frustrating things about being a cat owner. However, there are a few things you can try to stop house-soiling cats that will save you heartache.
72 percent of cats surrendered to animal shelters in the US are euthanized, according to the National Council on Pet Population. Research shows house soiling as the primary reason for most cats to be given up.
Many owners may think that the cat is acting out of spite, however this behavior stems from physical, social or medical needs not being met. It's important to make an appointment to visit your vet to determine a cause and treatment to remedy and stop house-soiling cats.
There are instances where cats may avoid using their litter box because they have bladder stones or intestinal parasites. Some cats get urinary obstructions and have difficulties using the litterbox which many owners have mistaken before as acting out. It is important to first check with your vet to determine the cause of the behavior and then begin a treatment plan.
In some special cases, if physical or medical need isn't determined, it is beneficial to get additional assistance from a veterinary behaviorist.
Marking: Sexual or reactionary?
Another key point is to be able to determine if the cat is urinating or marking/spraying. Most cats stand upright in order to mark more efficiently along vertical surfaces. When urinating, most cats assume a squat position in order to relieve themselves in larger amounts on a horizontal surface.
There are occasions where a Litter box aversion can be a result of environmental circumstances. Here are some tips to make going to the litter box comfortable and convenient for your cat:
• Keep the litter box away from noisy appliances and where children play
• Clean out the litter box every day
• Wash the litter box every one to four weeks
• Place one litter box at each level of a multilevel home
• Have two litter boxes in two separate locations for a single cat
• Have at least one more litter box than the total number of cats in separate stations
• Avoid placing food and water close to the litter box
• Place the litter box at the location of the house soiling, and once the cat begins to use it, gradually move the box to a preferred location
• Use a litter box that is at least 1.5 times the length of the cat from nose to tail
• Avoid aromatic litter, litter deodorizers, and liners
• The litter should consist of a fine, sand-like, unscented, clumping material
• The depth of the litter should be at least 1.25 inches
What's the difference between marking and spraying? Although it looks similar, the reasons for it are different. Cats that are not spayed or neutered exhibit sexual marking or spraying in order to advertise their availability and presence. If your cat is spayed or neutered, this habit will decrease dramatically.
Neutered and spayed pets may mark their territory if a new pet, person, furniture or objects are added to their environment. These new things change the smell that they're used to and indicate threat. Keep things like backpacks, suitcases, shoes and other items that may pick up scents from outside of the household away from your cat. It's also a good idea to keep electronic equipment or warm temperature items such as home appliances away as well. Most frequently, marking behavior will occur near windows and doors as the threats that are possible to enter would come from those places. Block their view of windows and doors if the marking seems to be triggered by animals outside. Double check your cat's food, water and rest area and place them away from these areas. Stairways, hallways, and doorways, or center of the room being marked usually indicates stressors originating from inside the home.
Looks like marking but isn't
Spraying many times can occur for other reasons such as being unable to urinate properly due to medical issues. Sometimes, bladder stones or stress may cause spraying. It's important to have your cat examined by a vet and have diagnostic tests performed in order to identify the medical problem as soon as possible to stop house-soiling cats.
A key point to remember is to not physically or verbally punish the cat during or after a house-soiling incident. This creates stress and will in turn increase the motivation to soil in less obvious areas. Try behavior modification instead and focus on positive reinforcement for desired behavior. Treats, rewards, affection, positive attention or anything else your cat may enjoy are all good reinforcement for good behavior. Positive reinforcement is a good way to stop house-soiling cats from repeating unwanted behavior.
Cats generally soil the same areas time after time. They do this to keep the odor consistent. It is important to clean urine-marked areas often and completely. This will reduce the amount of repeate marking. Cleaning the soiled area with 10% biological washing powder or enzyme-based laundry detergent will help reduce the amount of residual odor. Allow the area to fully dry after cleaning with enzyme-based laundry detergent and spray with isopropyl alcohol. Chlorine-based products remove odors but are often not suitable for fabric, carpet and upholstered surfaces. Avoid using anything ammonia-based as cats will assume the smell to be urine. Cleaning affected areas fully and often in general will help detract house-soiling cats to repeat the same behavior.
Therapy using pheromones is sometimes suitable. Synthetic hormones used in a phermone diffuser near the litterbox may make the location more appealing for your cat to use. Studies have shown that synthetic pheromone use can result in up to a 90% decrease in urine spraying.
Regardless of the cause, it is important to first have your cat examined by your veterinarian and work together on a treatment plan to stop house-soiling cats and remedy the situation.