Housesoiling is one of the most common reasons cats are abandoned or surrendered to a shelter, which often leads to euthanasia. Cats don’t urinate and defecate all over their home out of spite, but rather because something is lacking. If your cat’s social, physical, or medical needs aren’t being met, housesoiling commonly is how she will indicate that something is wrong. But don’t despair if your home has become a giant litter box—many methods are available to treat, manage, and prevent inappropriate elimination.

What causes inappropriate elimination?

Your cat didn’t urinate on your new boyfriend’s sweatshirt because she’s jealous. Instead, she may be stressed that her home life has changed. Housesoiling is categorized as medical or behavioral—unfortunately, they often are closely intertwined, so differentiating between the two can be an extensive, frustrating process.

If your cat is inappropriately eliminating due to a medical condition, she may be suffering from one of the following:

Medical conditions are easier to resolve than behavioral issues, which may include:

Inappropriate elimination often has no single cause, which makes it difficult to accurately diagnose and manage.

Diagnosis of inappropriate elimination

Schedule an appointment with your AAHA-accredited veterinarian if your cat is eliminating inappropriately. Finding the root cause of housesoiling is challenging. First, all medical conditions must be ruled out before concluding that the reason is behavioral, which requires several diagnostic tests, including bloodwork, urinalysis, fecal examination, and potentially, X-rays and an ultrasound. If these tests are negative for medical conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, bacteria in the urine, intestinal parasites, bladder stones, or arthritis, your veterinarian will study your pet’s at-home behavioral history for environmental factors.

Stressful situations often lead cats to marking behavior, which is determined by these characteristics:

Be aware that the diagnosis process can be lengthy and convoluted—the correct cause only can be established through trial and error.

How should I manage housesoiling?

Managing housesoiling can be as challenging as finding the cause, but don’t give up! There are many methods and a combination of treatments often is necessary. Depending on the root of the problem, you may need to try methods from each of the three categories of housesoiling management: medical, behavioral, and litter box-related.

Cats are extremely picky about litter and litter boxes. Create an attractive feline elimination station by:

Inappropriate elimination is one of the most common, frustrating problems to plague cat owners. Housesoiling can be an emergency if your cat has a urinary blockage or other medical condition. Contact your veterinarian at the first signs of inappropriate elimination and be patient through the diagnosis and management process to restore your bond with your beloved feline friend.

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