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Why Do Cats Pee Outside the Litterbox

Table Of Contents
Usually, stuff happening outside the box is a good thing - thinking, getting your orders from Amazon, trying something new - all have to come out the box so we can enjoy nice things.

What we don’t want outside the box? Kitty mess.

Cleaning up after your pet isn’t the most fun part about having one (what, you thought those Netflix n Chill snuggles came for free??), but cats prefer using a litter box. The reason they’re choosing to do their business elsewhere means whatever’s in the box (if the box does happen to be the problem) is not working for them.

 It will take you a little while to figure out what the problem might be for your cat, but a little patience and problem solving (the last thing you need to do is have your cat associate the box with punishment or bad vibes) can help give both you and kitty relief.

Location, Location, Location

Where exactly is the litter box, in the far corner of the basement or just around the corner of your living room? 

We ask because cats love going in places that are quiet enough to concentrate (sometimes breath work is very necessary), but not so quiet they can’t hear/see what might be coming their way - or worse, feel “trapped” when they go in. 

Think of it as choosing to have your toilet placed in the bathroom, or a cave.

(Better) Litter Choices

That “flower field fresh” litter you bought on sale might as well be for your new rock garden (have you seen the size of those crystals?!) because there’s no way your cat is popping a squat on those jagged boulders. 

Unscented litter made with recycled newspaper, pressed sawdust, wheat, wood chips, or sandbox sand - ideally covering two inches - make for a way more comfortable box time. It’s also possible your cat might be allergic to the type of litter you’re using as well. Signs include sneezing, runny eyes, and lots of scratching — kinda like you everytime 
you need to dust anywhere.

Bonus tip: watch out if you find kitty eating the litter, it could mean anemia or another deficiency in their diet. If unchecked the litter crystals can get stuck in their tummies, and surgery’s the only way to get them out.

Bonus-Bonus tip: Cats tend to like the kind of litter their mommies used when they were kittens - nothing like childhood memories, huh?

Easy Access

Imagine grabbing a pole vault everytime you needed to use the toilet...yeah, no. Boxes that are too hard to find/get into doesn’t make an appealing bathroom option, ditto if your furry one happens to be older or have joint problems. 

Uncovered boxes with low sides in easy-to-find places means kitty is much more likely to see the box as a great choice. Know what else would make the litter box a great choice - other than it being uncovered with low sides and nice litter? 

Clean Litter Box(es)!!

No one has to tell you this - like, there’s a reason public bathrooms are a LAST resort for you. 
A dirty litter box screams no-go, and don’t even get kitty started if there aren’t enough boxes to go around for all their pet siblings. Ideally, you need to have one litter box for every cat, on every floor in your place, just to make life easier for everyone. If you’ve ever lived with someone who loved nothing more than spending THE ENTIRE TIME IN THE ONLY BATHROOM AVAILABLE, you understand. You probably also talked to someone about this (#Progress).

A clean litter box also means scooping at least once a day, and changing the litter completely every two weeks. Remember, cats have a strong sense of smell - what’s ‘not that bad’ for you is ‘absolutely disgusting’ for them. 

Something’s not Right

If you’ve scrolled straight to this point (because you’ve done all the other things #obvi) you might be wondering is something’s happening beyond the box, and not in a good way. There’s a scary chance your cat might not be going in the litter box because they’re hurting. 

Kidney stones, urinary tract infections, kidney failure, diabetes or cystitis can cause cats to go in places outside their litter box. 

If you think something more serious is going on, talk to your vet about your concerns, and maybe give our Scruffy Paws UT Wellness Chews or Kidney Vitalize Chews a try if it’s been confirmed something’s up with kitty’s urinary system. You can check out what our chews do, and what they’re made of here (for the Kidney Vitalize Chews) and here (for the UT Wellness Chews)

Scent Marks the Spot

Cats stress out when there’s competition, so the smell of their own urine actually helps them feel safer. For instance, if your friendly neighborhood cat happens to be in your front yard, your indoor cat might pee near the front door to indicate they are the fur baby of the family. This type of peeing is specifically known as spraying to mark their territory - and the more they’re stressed is the more often they spray. 


Your cat’s bathroom habits are specific and unique to them. Once you find what works for them, they’ll get in the box - and come out - loving you all the more. Which pet parent doesn’t want that?

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Related Posts

How often do you change cat Litter boxes ?

by Dr Linda Simon MVB MRCVS - Wed, Dec 08, 21

How Do You Safely Clean a Cat Litter Box?

by Dr Linda Simon MVB MRCVS - Thu, Nov 25, 21

Why Do Cats Pee Outside the Litterbox

by Aleksandra Bobak - Mon, Jul 20, 20


  • My female cat poops in her box, but pees on pee pads I put on the outside. Mainly for tracking liter ..

    Pati Bussart
  • One of my cats is in renal failure. Does not drink much but gets fluid once a week at vet until I can learn to do at home. Do you have any ideas for me. Thank you so much for any information.

    Nancy Heath

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