Feline Inappropriate Elimination, also known as house soiling, is a term that incorporates any bathroom behavior that occurs outside of the litter box. Examples include urinating outside of the litter box, defecating in various places, and spraying/ marking behaviors. Unfortunately, this is one of the top reasons that cats are either euthanized or surrendered to a shelter facility. There are many reasons why a cat may stop using the litterbox, including poor litter box management, physiological diseases, painful conditions, litter box aversion, and stress.
Let's talk about some of these conditions:
- Urinary Tract Infection: This is probably the number one reason that cats stop using their litter box. There are several reasons why a cat may stop using his/ her litter box when they develop an urinary tract infection. The main reason is that the pain and discomfort that accompanies a UTI cause the cat to have a negative experience in the litter box. They associate this discomfort and pain with the litter bax and simply stop using it. Another reason that they may not use the litter box with a UTI is that there is an increase urgency to urinate. This urgency, or burning sensation, is typically sudden and makes your cat want to urinate right away.
- Physiologic Diseases: There are many diseases that may cause inapproproate elimination. Many of these conditions are due to the symptoms of Ployuria and Polydypsia. These are fancy terms meaning too much urine and too much drinking, respectively.
- Litter box aversion/ avoidance: There are a few reasons that a cat may not want to use his/ her litter box. One simple reason may be a change in the litter that is placed within the box. The new litter may have a new odor or texture; and, let's face it, nobody likes change! Another reason may be that the litterbox is too small. A third reason is due to the buildup of odors (the litter box is dirty). Covered litter boxes are a fourth reason for avoidance, due to the trapping of odors in the enclosed space.