Inappropriate elimination in cats is a common problem and can obviously cause owners a lot of frustration. The first, and most important, step is to see your veterinarian to check for any medical issues. Urinary tract diseases can cause inappropriate elimination, and bladder infections can cause pain an increased urgency to urinate.
Other medical conditions that lead to discomfort of the nerves, muscles, or joints may cause your cat to be unable to climb into the box or get into a comfortable position for elimination. If elimination is associated with pain or if gaining access to the box is difficult for your cat, then urinating outside the box may occur. A complete physical exam by your pet’s veterinarian and additional diagnostic tests can help rule out medical problems.
If your veterinarian determines there are no medical reasons causing this behavior, consider the location of the litter box, the type of litter you are using, and any recent stresses in the household.
Generally, it is recommended to have a litter box for each cat in the house to reduce box sharing. Also, cats need a little bit of privacy and quiet and will use a box that is easy to get to. Many cats prefer the box to be very clean, which often requires daily cleanings. Keep in mind that different cats like different types of litter; some like clay litter while others may prefer clumping litter. It may take some experimenting before the correct litter box, location and litter combination is found for your cat.
The next step would be to determine if there is a pattern to the behavior. Is there any seasonal variation or time pattern, such as certain times of day when the improper elimination occurs? All of this information can help find the basis for the behavior.
Spraying is a common feline marking behavior. Cats may mark their territory due to stress, anxiety or the presence of other cats inside or outside the home. Again, many different things can cause this type of behavior, so it may take some investigating on your part to discover if any environmental factors are at play.
Although inappropriate elimination is a difficult problem to address, solutions do exist. Visiting your veterinarian can help to rule out any potential medical issues, and then he or she may be able to provide additional ideas to solving the problem based on your cat and his or her lifestyle. With patience and commitment, many cats can be retrained and treated appropriately to get them back to consistently going inside the box.