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What to Do When Your Cat Is Peeing Outside the Litter Box

Getting Pissed Off After Getting Pissed On…

Okay, so you know I want to make a bunch of pissed on and pissed off jokes right now. But seriously, when your cat is peeing outside the litter box, it is not even close to being funny. It is incredibly frustrating, and upsetting. This morning, I played with the cats like I normally do when I wake up. Doja, being a baby, was extra hyper. And even after our play session he kept jumping on Ellie, my fluffy adult female cat. (Learn more about Doja here.) So, I decided to shut the bedroom door while he was in there, just while I got their breakfast ready. A few minutes later, I heard a lot of crying coming from the bedroom. Doja is a noisy little boy most of the time, so I didn’t think much of it. Pretty soon the crying stopped, and not long after I opened the door to bring his breakfast in, I realized that there was a puddle of pee on my bed, right on the side I sleep on. Now, I’m only human, so my first instinct was to get pissed… ha… (this is the last time I’ll bring that up, I swear). It was upsetting. But I know that cats are excellent communicators, if you learn to understand their language. I knew there was a perfectly valid reason (from his perspective, not mine) that he had peed outside of the litter box. So, instead of getting mad… I took a deep breath and evaluated the situation. I know how frustrating it is when your cat uses your stuff like it’s their personal litter box, and I created this post to help you deal with this kind of situation. Below are the steps to take, so you can begin to understand what’s actually going on. What To Do When Your Cat Pees Outside the Litter Box  Pinning Image for Pinterest

Cats Do Not Do Anything to Purposely Upset You

If you take anything away from this post, please let it be the assurance that your cat does not do anything to purposely upset you. Ever. He is not doing anything out of spite, or just to make you mad. He’s not doing it to watch you, laughing on the inside, while you have to spray your sheets down with enzymatic cleaner again. Seriously, I cannot tell you how often I hear this from people, and it breaks my heart. Your cat is reacting the only logical way he knows how, to the situation that he has been put in. He is acting on instinct, not emotion. Don’t put these negative human qualities on your cat…
Cat Jib Jab GIF - Cat JibJab Smile GIFs
Terrifying, right? Of course, you’re going to want to clean the area/object. I will be creating another post on what to do, and what not to do when cleaning up cat pee, and I will link it here when I do so. Aside from cleaning, the first thing you’re going to want to do is begin to look for, and understand the root cause of the issue. I want to share with you some beginning steps to take toward rectifying this problem. What to do, what not to do, the significance of where the deed was done, and the factors that may be influencing this behavior.

Step One: Do NOT Punish

Purpose is to convey that a squirt bottle should never be used to punish a cat Now, I know this is tempting for a lot of you. I get it. There are times when I want to get upset and yell. But I promise you, this is not going to work. Not only does your cat have no clue why they’re being punished, or what punishment is for that matter, but they don’t even understand that what they did would be upsetting. This is because, unlike most humans, cats do not think in terms of right and wrong. So, they do not even realize that what they did is wrong in the first place. And furthermore, punishing them [such as with a squirt bottle, rubbing their face in it, hitting (I shouldn’t need to say this, but don’t ever hit an animal), yelling, chasing, etc.] is only going to break your bond with them even more. They associate you with the punishment, not what they did.

Step Two: Look For Factors of Influence

  • Have there been any recent changes in your household? New baby, animal, furniture, etc?
  • Is the litter box dirty, and do you clean it less than you should?
  • Have there been recent visitors?
  • How many litter boxes do you have compared to the number of cats? Is it enough for them?
  • Did you go on vacation, or leave for a longer period of time than usual?
  • Have you changed cat litters?
  • Is the litter box a good place for a cat to get ambushed by another cat? Or dog?
  • Have there been cats hanging around outside?
All of these factors, and many more, could play a significant role in your cat peeing outside of the litter box. [tqb_quiz id=’5236′]

Step Three: Consider Social Significance

What I mean by this is, where did your cat pee? And why that spot in particular? Is it a spot where you spend a lot of your time? Or a spot that seems unfamiliar/threatening to your cat? Is it a spot where she can stake her claim? Or maybe it’s just a spot that seemed suitable when their litter box was too dirty.


  • Bed
  • Clothes/Shoes
  • Right outside of litter box
  • Sinks or bathtubs
  • Couches
Your bed, couch, and your clothes are saturated with your scent/pheromones. Cats may not be able to smell as well as dogs, but they can smell around 14 times better than humans, so they certainly know a socially significant spot when they smell one. Peeing on a spot that is soaked in your scent is an insecure cat’s way of meshing their scent with yours. Peeing right outside of the litter box can be a way of staking a claim, or marking territory. Certain cats in a multi-cat household may even guard those territories. If this is a problem, it’s important to move litter boxes into an open area, and make sure they do not have a lid. (Peeing right outside of a litter box can also signify that the box is not clean enough.)

Step Four: Make Sure it is not an Illness

purpose is to show that cat guardians need to rule out any underlying medical condition If your cat is going outside of the litter box consistently, and it seems completely unprompted and random, take them to the vet. This could be indicative of an underlying illness or infection.

What Actually Happened with Doja

These steps are just a jumping off point to help you start to get inside of your cat’s mind. Usually, there are a few factors that play into each other. They could be any of the aforementioned, and more. For my situation this morning, it was simply because I had changed the litter in the bedroom from clay to pine pellets, and Doja wasn’t comfortable using it. There are normally two litter boxes in there, but I had taken the other one outside to wash it. Purpose of image is to show the pine pellet litter that Doja doesn't like So, instead, he found the most comforting socially significant spot to relieve himself. It just happened to be the worst spot for me… I promise, creating harmony between cats and humans in your household is attainable when armed with the right information and strategies. Sometimes it is fairly simple, and other times it takes some serious investigative work. Feline behavior is a deep topic, that relies on a myriad of factors. So, all I can really do in one post is give you the basics. For more in-depth information on specific behaviors, read my other blog posts as well! I post every week, and I will be diving deeper into the different aspects of why your cat may be peeing outside the litter box. I will give actionable steps to take in order to rectify the problem. Thanks for reading! Please leave me a comment 🙂
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