Inappropriate elimination happens when a cat chronically urinates outside of the litter box.1 This is an annoying behavior that is not easily tolerated in a home.
In addition, you will find it very difficult, if not impodssible, to find a safe place for your cat. Even cat-loving friends or family will be extremely wary of a cat with this history. Most shelters or rescues will refuse outright, knowing that the cat is likely to be unadoptable.
For this reason, your cat's best, possibly only, hope at life is for you to work diligently to solve the problem. You will find help on this page. Note that in the vast majority of cases, the behavior can be corrected, but you must be patient and methodical. You will find useful information and references on this page.2
Inappropriate elimination can be caused by medical or behavioral issues. If not treated, a medical problem can lead to a behavioral problem. This makes treatment difficult, since the behavior may persist even though there is no longer a medical problem.
Various illnesses can lead a cat to urinate outside of the litter box:
- A urinary tract infection (UTI) or bladder stones may cause your cat to seek alternate locations in hopes of avoiding the pain of urination. In addition, your cat may hold the urine for long periods of time (to avoid the pain) and then have a sudden urgency to urinate.
- Several diseases, notably diabetes and chronic renal failure (CRF) can make your cat urinate very frequently. Your cat may find it necessary to urinate immediately, regardless of location.
- Arthritis and other orthopedic diseases can make walking, and possibly climbing into the litter box, difficult for yor older cat. He may not be able to make it to a box in time to avoid an accident.
Behavioral causes of inappropriate elimination fall into two main caregories:
- Litter box aversion: in which a cat develops an aversion to something related to the litter box. This could include the type of litter, the location of the box or even the kind of box. A medical problem could cause the initial aversion, which your cat may recall even after the medical issue is cleared up.
- Marking: in which the cat is marking his territory, due to aggression or anxiety.