How to make sure your cat uses the litter box

Posted at 12:38 PM, Oct 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-08 13:42:16-04

One common problem cat owners note is their furry friends urinating outside the litter box or inappropriate elimination. In return, this has become one main problem why owners give up their cats to a shelter.

Although this may be a frustrating issue, it can be resolved. Dr. Carly Patterson, a clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, said it can be prompted by several reasons, but the two main causes are behavioral or medical.

“Medical problems may predispose a cat to change urination habits, whether it is due to underlying pain or the increased volume of urine produced…” Patterson said.

Behavioral issues are usually associated by marking, this occurs when intact cats mark their territory as part of their normal habits. Patterson said it’s an easy observation to decipher between marking and normal urination.

“Marking behavior is characterized by a cat in a standing posture with the tail raised. Usually, the cat will spray back against an object and the tail may flicker slightly as a small amount of urine is sprayed,” she said. “In contrast, cats observing normal elimination habits will typically dig before fully emptying their bladder or bowels in a squatting position…”

Environmental change is another factor, owners should consider. Is there a difference in the family dynamic or a new animal in the household? Cats can feel anxiety with a change in their environment and may develop the issue.

Owners should keep a complete detailed history of the cat’s elimination habits, this will crucial when trying to decide whether a behavioral or medical issue is in play. Owners should also consult their veterinarian, to develop a treatment plan.

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