Feline Inappropriate Elimination (Part 1)

Feline Inappropriate Elimination (Part 1)

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.

Cat Sniffing The Litter Box 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.

Comments (8) -

  • nancy

    4/27/2010 5:14:29 PM |

    This was very well done and informative.
    Thank you for this information, as I too have a cat that goes outside the box...

  • Johanna

    4/27/2010 7:05:49 PM |

    Here you talked about urine problems.  My long haired cat (just l- 1/2 yr. old, and her sister a short haired tabby, are mostly outdoor cats.  During the winter cold months they were inside more. The long haired one began using my dining room rug occassionaly to "poop". The few times this happened I began putting
    her outdoors around noon and not in again until evening. That helped.  Why would she choose to do this?  Deterent spray on the spots on the rug did not keep her from another location in the same room.  Thanks for any information

  • Debbie Damesworth

    4/28/2010 10:00:05 AM |

    Great information, Dr. Sara!!  I have 2 cats and look forward to your part 2 video, as my cats are 100% indoor.

  • Roena

    4/28/2010 4:36:28 PM |

    Extremely informative.  I wish it were that simple for my sweet big boy.  Smokey has been urinating in inappropriate places (primarily hard surfaces like the stove top, counters, computer keyboards and tables).  He was seen by several vets, tested for everything under the sun, given a variety of drugs including Valium with no change.  My choices were to either turn him outside (not a choice), adopt him to someone able to cope with this behavior (not really a choice), have him euthanized (NO WAY) or keep him confined.  We built him a 6' x 4' x 5' high enclosure in which he has been living for about a year.  My oldest cat decided to pick up this behavior (she is very easily stressed) and after determining that this was behavioral rather than physiological, Daisy joined Smokey in this enclosure.  None of my other cats - and I have a total of 10 in a 4000 sq.ft. house - have displayed this abberation.  The few times Smokey was out of the enclosure, he urinated inappropriately, generally on the kitchen countertop.

    I'm looking forward to Part II of this video presentation.  Thanks again for the insight.

  • mildred

    4/29/2010 5:02:40 AM |

    Thank you.  Now I know what the problem may be but--I don't know what to do about it. I know I can't medicate him because he will bite me-which he did once which caused me infection and swelling of my hand.  His name is flake and he is almost 10 yrs. old and very overweight. He is an indoor cat.

  • April Downing

    4/29/2010 2:03:48 PM |

    Thank you for this informative video. I have taken two of my cats into the vet as both spray all over the house, virtually ruining my home. I have 6 cats which have all been spayed and neutered.
    The last two cats that I took in were strays that came to me. Not being able to turn any stray away I took them in as members of my family. The first being a neutered male about 6 yeas old and the second also a male that I took in and had neutered who was guessed to be approximately 2 years old.
    They are relentless in stalking each other, spraying all over the house and consistently fighting. It is making me crazy...I feel like I am constantly breaking up fights between two kids!!!
    I have had them both for over a year now with many trips to the vet for infected bite wounds and inbedded claws. There has been no sign of any urinary tract infections and appear to be perfectly healthy.  All of the other cats get along fine with each other, who are all females.  It's just these two darn males that just won't quit!!
    Please, any help or information that you may be able to give to me would be so very much appreciated. I just don't know what else to do!!
    Thank you,
    April Downing
    Auburn, Washington

  • Roena

    4/30/2010 6:19:15 AM |

    @ April Downing:

    Have you tried Feliway?  I had them plugged in all over my house.  Sadly, my Smokey's behavior is habitual at this time.  The Feliway - comes in plug in and spray - worked fine with my other cats to tame aggressive behaviors.  I have 10, of which 3 are male.  Only one of my males (Smokey) has demonstrated inappropriate urination.  My newest addition was a starving kitten who had been either kicked or hit by a car and was unable to walk very well when I found him.  He will stalk my girls and sometime my other male cat but they settled into a routine after almost a year.

  • Roena

    4/30/2010 6:20:54 AM |

    @ mildred:
    Some of my cats resist being medicated and I find that a pill inserter works for pills.  For liquids I wrap the "victim" up in a towel and squirt the liquid in through the cheek.

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