Firstly, a hands-on examination from your local Vet would be a great place to start. Medical causes need to be ruled out first. Vets may even recommend a blood and urine test as a great way to assess your cat’s health. A urine sample can be collected by your Veterinarian and examined for the presence of blood, bacteria and crystals. Sometimes it’s necessary for the urine to be sent to an external laboratory for testing.
If all medical reasons and tray issues are ruled out, the inappropriate urination can be presumed to be behavioural. If your cat is otherwise healthy, next steps are:
Regularly clean the litter tray
Thoroughly clean the area that is dirtied (the scent must be eliminated or your kitty will continue to return to the same spot. Their sense of smell is far more sensitive than ours and regular cleaning products won’t do- try a product such as Urine-Off)
Relocate your fur baby to an area they are yet to christen
Identify any changes at home that may be a source of stress (home perfume, litter type, house guests etc.) and remove or address if possible
Multicat households need a litter tray for every cat, plus an additional tray. This gives the cat/s plenty of choices and if one tray is dirty or not ‘ideal’ in the cat’s eyes, there is another option
In the case of anxiety, it's worth trying a stress reducing device such as Feliway (artificial feline pheromone which is calming to cats). This plugs into an outlet and is best used in the room they are spending most of their time. However, some extreme cases may require medications from your Vet.
If your cat is unwell, or if the inappropriate toileting is paired with reduced appetite, vomiting, lethargy, blood in the urine, straining to urinate (producing no or small amounts of urine) they will need to see the local veterinarian for a hands on examination as soon as possible. Straining and producing reduced or no urine can be a medical emergency.
Please note that due to their anatomy, male cats are more susceptible to urinary tract obstruction. This can be a life threatening condition so inappropriate urination should never be ignored in male cats (or any cat for that matter!)
Written by Dr Claire Jenkins. Claire is a QLD graduate with over 15 years experience as a neighbourhood Veterinarian in Australia and the UK. Animal lover and the founder of Vetchat, born from a passion to help pet carers everywhere access trusted advice earlier, for healthier, happier pets. Grateful to be carer to her beautiful Red-dog.