Caught Kitty. 3 Ways to Stop Your Cat From Peeing Everywhere

Understanding Why Cats Urinate Outside the Litter Box

There are several potential reasons why cats may urinate outside of their litter box. Some of the most common causes include:

Medical issues like urinary tract infections or diabetes can cause a cat discomfort or increased urgency when peeing, leading them to go outside the box. UTIs cause a burning sensation during urination, while diabetes leads to increased urine production and urgency. In both cases, a vet visit is recommended to diagnose and treat the underlying condition.

Stress or anxiety can also lead to litter box avoidance. Cats are sensitive creatures and things like changes in home environment, introduction of new pets, loud noises, or negative interactions can cause anxiety and lead them to stop using the litter box. Addressing sources of stress and providing calming supplements or pheromones may help.

An unclean litter box that is not scooped frequently enough can deter cats from using it. Cats prefer a pristine box and will seek alternatives if theirs gets too dirty. Scooping at least once daily can help prevent this issue.

Some cats develop preferences for peeing on certain textures or locations. Providing multiple litter box options with different litters, box types, and locations can help accommodate these preferences.

Urine marking is another reason cats may pee outside the litter box, especially on vertical surfaces. This territorial marking of their environment can occur if other neighborhood cats are visible outside the home. Limiting outdoor access for your cat and blocking window views may curb this behavior.

First Rule Out Medical Issues

If your cat suddenly starts urinating outside the litter box, the first step is to take them to the veterinarian for a complete medical workup.

Discuss with your vet any recent changes or abnormalities you’ve noticed in your cat’s urination patterns. Issues like an increased frequency of urination, blood or straining while urinating, can indicate medical problems. According to Cornell Feline Health Center, medical conditions that interfere with normal urination are a common cause of inappropriate elimination.

Your vet will perform a physical exam and may run tests like a urinalysis, blood work, or imaging to check for infections, bladder stones, tumors, kidney disease, or other medical issues. Treating any underlying illness will be the first priority before behavior modification.

Evaluate the Litter Box Setup

The litter box setup can often be the main reason a cat starts eliminating outside of the box. Make sure to evaluate the following:

Is the box clean and scooped regularly? Cats prefer a clean litter box and can be put off by one that isn’t scooped daily. Scoop solid waste at least once per day and change the litter completely every 1-2 weeks or when visibly dirty (source).

Is there enough litter depth? Most cats prefer litter that is at least 2-3 inches deep. This allows them to dig and bury their waste. Using too little litter can cause a cat to go elsewhere (source).

Is the box style/location optimal? The box should be in a quiet, low traffic area and away from their food and bedding. Some cats prefer uncovered litter boxes for more freedom. Make sure the size is appropriate – larger cats may need bigger boxes (source).

Are there enough litter box choices? The general rule is number of cats + 1 litter boxes. This prevents bullying at the box. Also have different box styles/locations so cats have options (source).

Try Litter Attractants

One way to encourage your cat to use the litter box is by adding a litter attractant. These products contain cat-friendly scents that attract cats and entice them to use the litter. Using a litter attractant can help retrain your cat to see the litter box as an attractive place to urinate and defecate.

Some common cat-attracting scents used in litter attractants include catnip and synthetic feline pheromones. Catnip triggers a response in cats that makes them want to roll around and rub against the source. Synthetic pheromones mimic the natural pheromones produced by cats that signal safety and contentment. Exposing cats to these pleasing scents in the litter can make it more appealing. According to Dr. Elsey’s, their Cat Attract litter contains herbal essences that naturally attract cats.

There are many litter attractants on the market to try. Look for formulas made specifically for cats. Add them to the litter as directed on the packaging. It may take some time for your cat to respond to the attractant, so be patient. Consistently pair the attractant with positive reinforcement when your cat uses the litter box.

Use Deterrents

Deterrents can help discourage your cat from peeing in unwanted areas. Laying down aluminum foil or double-sided tape on soiled spots can deter your cat from peeing there again, as cats dislike the feeling on their paws. You can also use citrus or strong perfume scents, as cats tend to avoid areas that smell strongly. According to PetHelpful, “A home remedy I use is a homemade citrus cleaner made with orange peels. You can also use a good old-fashioned warm water and vinegar solution.”

There are also automatic deterrent devices like SSScat that will spray a quick puff of air when they detect motion, startling your cat away. Just make sure to move these devices around occasionally so your cat doesn’t learn to avoid the specific spot where it’s placed.

Clean Soiled Areas Thoroughly

Removing cat urine odors requires cleaning soiled areas thoroughly. The most effective cleaning agents for cat urine are enzymatic cleaners like Nature’s Miracle (Hill’s Pet Nutrition). Enzymatic cleaners work by breaking down the compounds in cat urine that cause odors. Follow the product instructions closely and allow the enzymatic cleaner to soak into the soiled area. Avoid using ammonia-based cleaners, as the ammonia smell can trigger more urination from your cat.

For absorbent surfaces like carpet and furniture cushions, the urine odor may persist even after cleaning with an enzymatic product. In those cases, you may need to completely replace the soiled absorbent materials to fully eliminate odors. Removing subflooring or drywall soaking in urine may also be necessary in severe cases. Thorough cleaning and odor removal are essential to prevent repeat incidents.

Try Anxiety Treatments

Anxiety is a common cause of inappropriate urination in cats. Treatments aimed at reducing anxiety can help resolve this issue. Using pheromone diffusers or collars that emit synthetic cat pheromones can provide a sense of calm and security. Studies show these pheromones reduce stress behaviors in cats. Place the diffuser near your cat’s feeding area or sleeping spot for best results.

In severe cases, your vet may prescribe anti-anxiety medication for your cat. Medications like fluoxetine and clomipramine have been shown effective for anxiety and stress in cats. However, medication can have side effects, so discuss the pros and cons with your vet.

Increasing playtime, exercise, and enrichment is another way to curb anxiety. Provide puzzle toys, scratching posts, cat trees, and other engaging environments. Consider adopting a second cat so your cat has a playmate. Just be sure to introduce them slowly. With patience and the right approach, you can reduce your cat’s anxiety and resolve their litter box problems.

Restrict Access

One effective technique for stopping inappropriate urination is to restrict your cat’s access to problem areas in your home. This limits their opportunity to urinate outside the litter box. There are two main ways to restrict access:

  • Close doors to problem areas – Identify rooms or furniture where your cat tends to urinate. Keep those doors closed so your cat can’t access those areas. This removes the temptation.
  • Confine cat to limited space like crate or room – Limit your cat to one room or a crate when you are away or can’t supervise. This prevents accidents around the house and helps re-train good litter box habits.

Just be sure the confined space has adequate room, toys, scratching posts, food, water, and of course a clean litter box. You don’t want to confine too tightly or your cat may be uncomfortable. Work up slowly from a small space to a larger one as your cat improves. Restrict access until the undesirable urination stops completely. (Source:

Reward Litter Box Use

One of the most effective ways to encourage good litter box habits is to reward your cat whenever they use the litter box properly. Giving treats and verbal praise immediately after your cat eliminates in the litter box helps reinforce this desired behavior. You want your cat to develop a positive association with using the litter box.

Keep some small treats handy near the litter box area. As soon as your cat exits the box after doing their business, offer an enthusiastic “Good kitty!” along with a tasty reward. This positive reinforcement helps motivate your cat to continue using the litter properly. Just be sure to only reward them when they actually use the litter box, not just for hanging around it.

You can also try placing a toy next to the litter box so your cat can play after finishing up. Playing is another reward that builds a positive connection. With patience and consistency, rewarding desirable litter box habits will help get your cat back on track.

According to experts, “the best way to re-train a cat to use the litter box is through positive reinforcement and rewards.” By giving your cat treats and praise for appropriate litter box use, you encourage the behavior you want to see while avoiding punishment.


Be Patient and Consistent

Behavior change takes time and diligence. Retraining a cat to use the litter box after peeing outside of it can be a frustrating process that requires patience. Cats thrive on routine, so it’s important to stick to the plan and not revert back to old strategies if you don’t see immediate results.

According to experts, it can take anywhere from 2-8 weeks to fully retrain a cat to use the litter box consistently [1]. Don’t get discouraged if your cat has accidents at first. Stay calm and continue with the training techniques. Consistency is key – you must reinforce wanted behaviors and restrict access to unwanted potty areas every single time.

If your cat stops having accidents for a period but then regresses, stick with your training plan. Reverting to old strategies or getting angry will only confuse your cat. Cats do not understand punishment and will become more anxious. Remain patient and keep rewarding your cat for using the litter box. With time and consistency, your cat will learn that the litter box is the only appropriate place to relieve themselves.

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