Does this sound familair: Your cat, once well-behaved and clean, pees everywhere all of a sudden. Who feels the same: the cat, once well-behaved and clean, suddenly makes everywhere. Almost every day your cat pees behind the sofa, your cat pees on the rug, your cat pees in the corner – and nothing helps!
Here’s what we did to stop our cat from peeing in the house.
How our cat started having problems
Apart from some accidents Garrus had when he was small, he was a well-behaved cat for a long time. He accepted his litter box well
However, after a few years we noticed that all of a sudden he had started peeing outside the litter box occasionally. He liked to choose old cardboard boxes and corners, once he peed in the middle of the room while we were right there watching him.
Garrus‘ journey to becoming a clean cat
When your cat starts urinating outside of the litter box, the first thing to do is to try to find the cause. I’ve already written about how to find the cause for your cat’s peeing in another article at great length. This is about our concrete journey with our cat Garrus. This is how the story goes:
Cat pees behind the sofa
At some point we noticed that our cat had peed in the corner behind the sofa several times. The floor (laminate) was slightly uneven and of course it stank.
We wiped it all up with a cat urine odor remover to get the smell out and hopefully stop him from peeing their again. Unfortunately it didn’t take long for him to pee behind the sofa again.
A trip to the vet and Feliway
Next we took our cat to the vet. It’s important to rule out any health issues when your cat suddenly starts peeing outside the litter box. Urinary tract infections can hurt your cat when peeing in the box, so he might pee ouside the litter box to see if it hurts less somewhere else.
Our vet couldn’t find anything wrong with Garrus, but recommended Feliway in case the peeing was caused by our two cats fighting. They do occasionally fight, but they also spend time lying next to each other or grooming each other.
So we bought a Feliway Diffuser Kit to see i that would help. We didn’t have the impression that the cats fought any less, and the peeing unfortunately also continued.
Is the cat litter too dirty?
Next, we blocked off all the places Garrus peed in by putting cardboard box, his cat carrier or something similar.
This worked to some degree, but he then started peeing at the front door, which is hard to block off. He also started peeing in the cat carrier, which was easy to clean but still annoying.
In most cases if a cat pees outside the litter box, this is due to problems with the litter box. So this is also something we looked at.
We tried out different types of cat litter and started cleaning the cat litter more often. (We scoop it several times a day, but then started washing out the cat toilet and adding fresh litter more often.)
We did not, however, find that there was any connection between the cleanliness of the cat litter and the cat’s peeing on the floor.
Even though our apartment is not particularly large, I ended up putting in a third litter box, as this is what Jackson Galaxy recommends. This is also something Pam Johnson-Bennett recommends in her excellent book Think Like A Cat.
In the end, even that didn’t help. He peed in it once, but then peed right over it into the corner.
Using a calming collar
As the peeing seemed to get increasingly worse, we eventually bought a calming collar. Ours was by a company called Felisept, but several other companies make similar collars.
These collars give off a particular scent, much like catnip pillows, which calms cats down and supposedly doesn’t have any side effects. A friend of ours recommended the collar as he had used it for his cat who licked herself so much that her hair started falling out. The collar helped them immediately.
These collars only last about a month according to the description, so they’re not exactly cheap because you have to keep buying them. We were desperate at this point, though.
The collar definitely had an effect on the cats. They sniffed it and drooled all over the floor. While Garrus was wearing it, Wrex‘ behavior to him changed and he’d occasionally jump at him and be aggressive.
So in the end, we took the collar off gain to prevent this. Also, one review on Amazon mentioned that their cat got their mouth caught up in the collar and injured himself and I didn’t want to risk it.
What you also need to consider if you’re using a calming collar is that you’re not really treating the cause, you’re treating the symptom. After all, if you’re stressed in life, it’s better to get rid of the stressors than to tranquilize yourself to get rid of the symptom.
I did cut the collar in half and put it on the most frequented pee spots in our apartment, though, in the hopes of associating the pee spots with positive feelings rather than with the smell of urine.
Clicker training our cat to stop peeing
At around the same time, I followed another piece of advice and tried to reward the cat whenever he used the litter box. This also goes back to Pam Johnson-Bennett’s book in which she is very adamant that cats learn through positive reinforcement.
Whenever Garrus came to the bathroom with me – he often did this in the mornings or at dinner time – I watched for him to step into the litter box. When he eventually did and peed, I immediately used the clicker and gave him a treat.
At this point, I had already trained him to like the clicker, as mentioned in this article.
Garrus immediately understood the concept and in the next week or so tried to figure out what would cause me to reward him. Did stepping into the litter box work? Eventually he learned that only peeing in the litter box worked, stepping into it alone did not work.
And that was all it took! Since then, our cat eagerly uses the litter box and enjoys the reward he gets for it.
Note that at this point, we don’t always reward his peeing in the litter box – only if we’re there coincidentally, which happens often in the evenings before dinner. We’ve only found a pee once since then and so far since several months he has not re-offended.
Clicker training or Felisept – What helped?
There’s a little bit of ambiguity since the calming collar and the clicker training both happened at roughly the same time. I can’t be entirely sure that it was really the clicker-training that helped, but considering the fact that we never exchanged the collar and it’s only supposed to last for 30 days, my money’s on clicker-training.
If this doesn’t work for you, go over to my article Why does my cat pee everywhere? and maybe you’ll find a suggestion there that works for you. Also, don’t forget to take your cat to the vet to make sure the problem is not caused by a medical issue.
Don’t get stressed out
If you haven’t found the right solution for your cat yet, try not to stress out too much. I know it’s hard having a cat that destroys your furniture, your floor or your carpets, but it’s not your cat’s fault.
Cats don’t pee out of spite. If a cat pees outside the litter box, there likely is another reason for it and it’s important not to blame your cat or be aggressive towards him or her.
I know the stress my cat caused me for months whenever he went behind the sofa because I feared for the worst and constantly checked to see if he was peeing. No doubt your cat reacts to that sort of attention, and not always in the way you hope.
Pee pads will help you take the emotion out of the situation and be a bit more relaxed if your cat has another „accident“.
I hope this helped you – best of luck with trying these tips for yourself. I hope this works as well for you as it has for us!