As a behaviour counsellor with a special interest in feline behaviour, one of the most common problems I am called about is inappropriate urinating in the house.
Here are ten reasons why this might be happening:
1. Aversion to the type of litter used. Sudden changes to the type of litter can put them off using it. Ones that have a very strong scent are often not tolerated.
2. A negative association with using the litter tray. For example if a cat has a urinary tract infection they will experience pain each time they pass urine. This often results in them linking using the tray with something unpleasant and so they start urinating in other places.
3. Insufficient litter trays. In multi-cat households each cat requires its own tray (plus another extra). Plenty of space between each of them is important too.
4. Intimidation by another cat. In multi-cat households, a confident cat may prevent another, more timid individual, from using the tray.
5. Over- zealous cleaning. This can be very off-putting especially if very strong smelling disinfectants are used.
6. Stress is often linked to inappropriate urination. Urine can sometimes be used as a self-appeasing behaviour. Identifying conflict and the emotional status of the cat is important
7. Physical pain. Elderly cats can suffer from arthritic changes, making it difficult for them to climb into the litter tray. Because cats hide pain, inappropriate urination can be the first indication that there is a problem
8. Lack of privacy. Placing a litter tray in a busy place in the house is not a good idea. Some cats even prefer a covered one. Provide them with an open and closed one to assess their preference.
9. Urine is used as a marker to advertise territory. If urine is primarily around doors, windows and cat flaps it can indicate that the cat feels threatened from something outside.
10. Cats do not like to toilet close to where they are fed. Place the litter tray some distance away from their core territory.
If you want to learn more about feline behaviour I run full day courses throughout the year. Or if you are experiencing behaviour problems with your cat I can arrange a home visit or if you are out of my area a skype consultation can be arranged.
Caroline Clark is a consultant in animal behaviour counselling and you can find more information at www.peteducationandtraining.co.uk