Our rescue receives calls daily from people who want to surrender cats that are urinating or defecating outside the litter box. It’s a frustrating problem, but there are solutions. This is an issue that will take time and effort to resolve, but be patient, persevere, and you can get your cat back to regular litter box use.
Over the next few days we’ll bring you a series of posts to help you solve your cat’s litter box issues. Today we’ll look at potential medical causes of inappropriate elimination.
Is the problem medical or behavioral?
First and foremost, spaying or neutering your cat is perhaps the best way to make sure your cat does not urine mark simply for the sake of marking. If your cat has not been altered, (spayed or neutered), it’s best to get them fixed immediately.
Should your cat begin to soil areas outside the litter box, the first step is to determine the probable cause. Frequently, it’s a medical issue, especially if it’s primarily urination. Bladder, urinary, and kidney infections are fairly common in cats. Take your cat to your veterinarian first to rule out any of these potential problems. Your vet can determine if your cat is dealing with bladder crystals, kidney stones or a urinary tract infection and treat it.
Often, in addition to medication, your veterinarian may prescribe a veterinary diet. However, according to Dr. Jeffery Young, most cats do not need to be on prescription food for the rest of their lives. Cats can be moved to a high quality grain free diet after the causal issue has been resolved.
Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they should only eat meat. They lack the enzymes necessary to digest grains and vegetables. Diets high in corn, wheat, soy, and rice can lead to urinary issues down the road. We strongly recommend that canned or raw food be a part of your daily feeding regimen. Cats do not have a particularly high thirst drive as they obtain up to 70 percent of the moisture their bodies need through their food. Dry food alone does not provide for your cat’s hydration needs. Check out Cat Info for more in-depth information. Surprisingly, some prepared raw diets are even more economical than canned to keep your cat healthy.
Make sure your cat has fresh water at all times. A pet fountain that continually circulates water can encourage some cats to drink more frequently. Also, some cats may dislike their bowl. We suggest staying away from plastic as it degrades over time and may leach chemicals or become porous and harbor bacteria. Stainless steel or lead free ceramic are better options. Some cats may be frightened by the reflection in stainless bowls, so if you don’t see your cat drinking frequently, consider trying a less reflective bowl style.
If you do choose to feed only dry, make sure you feed a grain free food and that your cat is drinking plenty of water. Fillers like rice, corn, wheat, and soy found in many foods do nothing to meet your cat’s nutritional needs. You’ll see less waste produced on a better diet and when it comes to dry food and you’ll feed your cat 30 to 50 percent less food than you would with a kibble that contains rice or other fillers.
If your cat is defecating outside her box, make sure her stool is normal. If it is softer than normal, contains blood, or looks in any way unusual, you may want to bring a sample to your vet. If your cat is having an issue controlling her bowels, you will want to have your vet make sure that all is well with her digestive system.