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Cats And House Soiling

At least ten percent of all cats develop an elimination problem. Some cats stop using the box altogether, while some only use the box for urination, and some cats go both in and out of the box. Most litter box problems stem from a change in the cat’s preferred substrate or location of the box, or when the cat develops an aversion to the box or the area around the box. Sometimes an elimination problem will develop as a result of conflict between cats in the home.

What cats want
The majority of cats prefer:
- a large box that is easy to enter, with a low to moderate level of litter;
- an uncovered box;
- either the type of litter on which they were trained on or clumping litter;
- unscented litter;
- a box that is located in a quiet but not “cornered” location—i.e., the cat likes to be able to see if someone is approaching, and they like to have more than one exit;
- above all, cats want a CLEAN box.

1. It is imperative to evaluate and rule out a medical cause for the problem. Have your cat checked thoroughly by your veterinarian first.
2. Remove covers from litter boxes.
3. Give the cat a choice of litter types. Cats generally prefer unscented clumping litter with a medium to fine texture.
4. Scoop at least once a day. Once a week, clean the entire box with warm water (no soap) and completely replace litter.
5. Clean “accidents” thoroughly with an enzymatic cleanser designed to neutralize the odor.
6. If the cat is soiling around just a few spots in the home, place litter boxes there. If it is not possible put a box in one of these spots, place the cat’s food bowl, water bowl, bed, and/or toys in the area to discourage elimination.
7. Offer different types of litter in boxes placed side-by-side to allow the cat to demonstrate his preferences for litter type.

- Do not rub the cat’s nose in his elimination.
- Do not scold the cat and carry or drag him to the litter box.
- Do not use an ammonia-based cleanser. Urine contains ammonia, and cleaning with an ammonia-based formula could attract the cat back to the same spot to urinate again.

Special Tips for Multi-Cat Households
As a general rule, the number of boxes available should be at least one more than the number of cats in the home (i.e. 3 cats = 4 boxes).

Sometimes an elimination problem develops as a result of conflict between cats in the home. If you have multiple cats and aren’t sure which cat is soiling, speak with your veterinarian about administering fluorescein, a harmless dye, to the cat (either by injection, Fluorescite injection 10 percent, 0.3 ml subcutaneously, or orally, 0.5 mL of the same solution). The dye does not stain carpeting, but causes the urine to fluoresce blue for 24 hours under an ultraviolet light. Alternatively, cats can be confined, one at a time, to determine which cat is soiling.

Information courtesy ASPCA