Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Written by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years Leslie Kasperowicz

Melanie Musson is the fourth generation in her family to work in the insurance industry. She grew up with insurance talk as part of her everyday conversation and has studied to gain an in-depth knowledge of state-specific car insurance laws and dynamics as well as a broad understanding of how insurance fits into every person’s life, from budgets to coverage levels. She also specializes in automa...

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Reviewed by Melanie Musson
Published Insurance Expert Melanie Musson

UPDATED: Nov 18, 2020

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Do your cat’s bathroom habits drive you crazy?

Cats peeing outside the litter box is a common problem which can happen for many reasons.

If your cat has taken up the habit, some detective work is required to get to the bottom of the problem and correct it.

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FACT: Pet insurance pays up to 90% of vet bills when your pet is sick or injured!

Why is My Cat Peeing Outside the Litter Box?

There are a number of reasons why your cat may be peeing outside the litter box. While it may just be that they don’t like their cat litter, it could also be a sign of a more serious health problem.

Health Problems

cat peeing outside litter box

The first step is to work out if your cat has a health problem or if the issue is behavioral.

Think about the following questions:

  • Is my cat drinking more? Increased thirst means the cat needs to empty his bladder more often, and they may not always be able to make it to the litter box.
  • Is my cat losing weight? Weight loss can be a sign of health problems linked to increased thirst, such as diabetes, kidney disease or overactive thyroid glands.
  • Is there blood in the urine? This can be a sign of infection or bladder stones.
  • Urinating little and often? Small puddles and frequent urination are signs of bladder discomfort.
  • Excessive grooming? If your cat spends an excessive amount of time washing his rear end, this can be a sign of urinary discomfort.

If you answered “Yes” to any of the above, the problem may be physical, not mental, and a vet checkup is essential.

Indeed, any cat that pees inappropriately should first see a vet to check for physical problems.

Your vet will reach a diagnosis by running some of the following tests:

  • A physical exam: The vet checks the size and feel of the bladder for tenderness or discomfort
  • Urine culture: A sample is sent for culture to check if bugs are present
  • Urine analysis: Urine is spun down and the sediment looked at under a microscope to check for crystals which chaff the bladder lining
  • Ultrasound exam: A bladder scan to rule out stones, polyps, or cancer
  • Blood tests: Screening the cat for diabetes, overactive thyroid glands and kidney disease, which can lead to poor bladder control

Behavioral Problems

If the tests are normal or negative for any health issue, your cat has a behavioral problem.

Cats are fussy about their toilet facilities and easily put-off. Common reasons include:

  • Not liking the cat litter
  • The tray is too smelly
  • Too many other cats use the same tray
  • The tray is not private enough
  • The cat was frightened while using the tray
  • The cat experienced pain while on the tray

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8 Ways to Keep Your Cat from Peeing Outside the Litter Box

Use these 8 tips to improve your cat’s litter box behavior.

1. Try Different Cat Litters

Some cats prefer softer litter made of recycled paper, while others prefer the feel of a harder litter under their paws. Also, avoided scented cat litters as these offend a cat’s sensitive sense of smell.

2. Increase the Number of Trays

The golden rule is:

One tray per cat plus one extra. Having two cats means a minimum of three trays.

One of Your Cats Might Want His or Her Own Litterbox

Sometimes one or more cats in a household will control access to litter boxes and prevent the other cats from using them.

Even if one of the cats isn’t actually confronting the other cats in the litter box, any conflict between cats in a household can create enough stress to cause litter-box problems.

Related: 10 Things You Must Know Before You Buy Pet Insurance

3. More Frequent Cleaning

Scoop at least once a day; dump the entire contents once a week and wash the tray. This can also help reduce cat allergies.

4. Change Location of Litter Box

If you have multiple stories, put one litter box on each floor.

If your litter box is too tucked away, somewhere inconspicuous, your cat may not bother to go find it.

If your cat keeps peeing in the same spot despite your best efforts, try moving the litter box over that spot and then slowly moving it back to where you want it.

5. Quiet & Secure

Put the trays in quiet places where the cat has privacy.

Avoid placing trays next to a washing machine, which suddenly goes into a spin cycle and frightens the cat.

6. Treat Any Litter Box-Related Pain

Treat urine infections promptly so the cat doesn’t associate the pain of straining with the litter tray.

7. Deodorize Accidents

Clean up urinary accidents with an enzymatic cleaner to remove all traces of scent which could attract the cat back.

8. Pheromones

Using Feliway diffusers in the house helps a cat to relax and reduces stress-related spraying.

Real Cost Savings from PetFirst Clients


PetFirst saved his parents


Artemis was a beautiful and friendly cat to all who were willing to pet him. Unfortunately, he developed feline diabetes which required regular vet visits and medications that his Mother could not otherwise afford on her fixed income. Having PetFirst insurance, she called and discussed the problem with a friendly PetFirst agent. To her surprise, she found out that Artemis’ ongoing required vet visits and medication would be covered by his PetFirst insurance. Artemis was able to live out the rest of his life with proper medical care and medicines thanks to PetFirst insurance.

Stress Can Cause Litter Box Issues

Stress can cause litter-box problems. Cats can be stressed by events we wouldn’t think as traumatic.

Changes in things that even indirectly affect the cat, like moving, adding new pets or family members to your household—even changing your daily routine—can make your cat feel anxious.

Look around your home to think of anything that has changed that might be the source.

Even construction or a new kitty in another home can cause stress.

Final Thoughts on Cats Peeing Outside the Litter Box

Remember, any cat at any age can start peeing outside the box.

Distinguishing medical from behavioral causes is vital but can be costly.

Wise cat owners invest in pet insurance so their cats can receive prompt treatment and prevent peeing outside the litter box from becoming a habit.


Other articles you may find helpful: 


Best Pet Insurance Companies

Is Exotic Pet Insurance Necessary? 

The Best Pet Insurance By State 

What Is Pet Insurance?

Fun Facts, Dog FAQ, And Unsolicited Dog Advice

5 Training Commands to Save Your Dog’s Life

The Ultimate Guide to Safe Foods for Dogs

Dog Health Problems

Dog Breeds


Cat Health Problems

Cat Breeds


We have worked hard to provide you with all the free resources possible to help give you insight into the best pet insurance for cats, additional cat breeds info, common cat health issues, and a fun look at frequently asked cat questions.


Other Frequently asked cat questions and some unsolicited catty advice… 

Why do cats groom so much?

Why your cat ignores you when you call it?

How to stop your cat from scratching the carpet?

Can you make a feral cat a pet?

Why does my cat pee outside the litter box? 

Why do people walk their cats on a leash?

Why do cats need to knead? 

4 Ways to prepare for a new kitten

DIY cool cat toys

10 hidden hazards for indoor cats

Why changing your cat’s food is risky

Apple cider vinegar for cats