Ask Dr Claire

I have a 10 year old male desexed cat who progressively over the past few months has started urinating and defaecating outside of his litter trays. I live in a unit with no outside access, so this is becoming a real problem.

Cat’s toileting in “the wrong places” i.e. anywhere but the litter tray or outside of it is quite a common problem that we see our clients encounter.

This change in behaviour can be understandably very frustrating and cause a disconnect between you and your beloved cat.

Inappropriate toileting is really just a symptom and can be the result of many underlying causes. In this case, we really need to find the cause of it so that we can treat your cat’s problem (not just the symptom). This will help us reach the best treatment plan too.

Some of the underlying causes might be:

  • Urinary tract infection (bacteria, inflammation)
  • Crystalluria (crystals form in the bladder causing pain and can also obscruct urine flow)
  • Arthritis or pain getting into the litter tray – make sure they can get in and out of easily.
  • Litter tray aversion: cats need their trays cleaned daily, poop removed daily and in home with more than one cat – one tray per cat plus one extra.
  • Stress – identify any changes at home that may be a source of stress (new pets, change in routine, stray cats in the window, house guests etc) and remove or address if possible. Sometimes medication is needed to help with this.

Enrichment of his environment as an indoor cat is essential-make sure he has vertical space to climb, and plenty of hidden holes as well. He also needs areas where he can scratch.

Play time for 30 mins twice daily: with a laser point light or a toy mouse on a string (don’t leave him with string when you’re not supervising)

A hands-on examination from your local vet to rule out a medical condition would be a great place to start, and as soon as possible. 

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Chat soon,
Dr Claire

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