Peeing outside the litter box, otherwise known as feline inappropriate elimination, is one of the most frustrating and common behavioral problems some cat lovers must endure. Feline inappropriate elimination refers to the location of the deed, and it is considered inappropriate by most cat owners because peeing on the bed, the rug, the curtains, the tile, the laundry or anywhere outside of the litter box is not considered appropriate!
What many cat guardians may not know is that urinating outside the litter box, or defecating for that matter, is a message from your cat. Cats have a natural inclination toward sand. They prefer to dig in the soil before they eliminate: that is why litter boxes are so effective, even in young kittens. Cats do not naturally choose flat, hard, or cloth-like surfaces, and they do not eliminate outside the litter box out of meanness or spite. Your cat is, in essence, letting you know that something is wrong and is asking for help.
Unfortunately, this frustrating habit can be a multifaceted, difficult to solve and is the number one reason cats are surrendered to shelters or forced to live outdoors. The list of causes as to why a cat suddenly stops using his litter box is long and potentially complicated, and can be a combination of both medical and behavioral problems.
In this video, Dr. Sarah talks about idiopathic interstitial cystitis, one of the most common medical causes of feline inappropriate elimination. Feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC) is the term veterinarians use to indicate that “the bladder is inflamed and we don’t entirely know why”. FIC accounts for 60-70% of urinary disease seen by veterinarians in cats younger than 10 years of age, and is marked by cats that pee outside their litter box, distressed meowing when urinating and/or possibly bloody urine.
In the first of this two-part series, Dr. Sarah talks about how you can recognize occurrences of FIC, the risk factors and possible causes of the disease.