You come home from work to find a little puddle right beside the litter box. Your cat has always been good about using their box, so you're a little surprised, but quickly forget about it. A few days later it happens again. Now it's time to ask if your cat may have a health or behavioral problem causing this. A visit to a veterinary clinic like Bearss Animal Clinic can clear up the mystery. Here are some potential reasons why your cat is missing the litter box.
Urinary Tract Disease
Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), is a collection of problems in your cat's urinary system which cause pain when using their litter box. This includes bladder stones, infection, blockage of the urethra, and bladder cancer. Your cat may feel an urgent need to urinate and can't quite make it to the litter box. You may also see them strain to urinate, or spend excessive time licking their genital area because of the irritation. Treatment by the vet is needed to address any of the FLUTD-related health problems.
Mineral deposits in your cat's urine can create tiny crystalline structures that normally pass through their system without a problem. If these crystals become large enough, they can irritate the lining of the urethra. This can also cause a feeling of urgency and your cat may urinate wherever they happen to be. In males cats, this can provoke the spraying response to get rid of the irritation. Medication and a change in diet normally clears up this condition.
This causes the wearing down of the cartilage in your cat's joints that cushions the bones from rubbing against each other. As it gets worse and the bones begin touching as your cat moves, pain, swelling and irritation of the joints occur. Your cat may find it too painful to get to the litter box before they have to urinate. The sides of a tall litter box may also prove difficult to climb over for the arthritic cat. To help your cat, place several shallow boxes or trays around the house making it easier to get to and use.
Your cat may avoid the litter box because the granules irritate their paws. This can happen if your cat has a claw growing back into one of their paw pads. It can also happen to cats that have been declawed when the thin tissue covering the bone in the paw wears through exposing the bone. Your vet can trim your cats claws and treat any infection created by an ingrown claw. With the declawed cat, you may have to switch from granules to a softer material such as strips of paper, oat hulls or crushed corn cobs.
Finally, your cat may urinate outside of the litter box just to tell you that they are stressed. Cats love routine, so look for things that have recently changed in their life such as:
- change in diet
- different litter material
- change in the activity within the household
- new people in the house
- new pet in the house
With any change, you need to give your cat extra attention and help them to feel safe with the change. Until they become comfortable with the change, you may have to clean up a few puddles outside of the litter box.