Cats are unique, independent, and clean creatures, so when one starts urinating outside the litterbox, its time to pay attention. This is your cat’s way of saying something is wrong, either medically or emotionally. It could be anything from pain during urination, a stray hanging around outside, or even new furniture they do not approve of. We first rule out and address any medical conditions, then work on environmental and emotional stressors and enrichment.
Litter Boxes – It’s common for owners to not provide an adequate number of litter boxes. The rule of thumb is the number of cats in the home plus 1. So in a house with 2 cats, there should be 3 litterboxes. Placing them in different locations around the house will provide a private and comfortable bathroom experience for your cat. Cleaning the litter box at least once daily will encourage your cat(s) to use it and gives you an opportunity to keep track of daily output and any potential medical conditions.
Dining Experience – Keep your cat’s food and water in a separate room from the litter box. It has also been proven to reduce stress in a cat if there is a personal connection with their owner during feeding time. Take some extra time to give your cat a tablespoon of canned food twice daily. The moisture content will help flush their bladder and you are showing them love and reducing stress.
Automatic Water Fountains – Cats usually enjoy to drink (and drink more frequently) from running water which will help flush their bladder. Indoor cats will seek out sources such as the faucet or shower. A more efficient and consistent alternative would be an automatic cat water fountain. These are fairly inexpensive and are available online or local pet store.
Feliway – Feliway is a feline facial pheromone, a man-made version of the substance a cat deposits when it rubs up against something. It is an effective and natural way to control or eliminate unwanted behaviors in cats. The smell assures cats they are in a safe place, and it can relax and calm an upset or stressed cat. Available here at the hospital or online in both a spray or diffuser.
Weight – An overweight cat is more at risk for diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, urinary problems, decreased stamina, respiratory difficulties, and improper grooming which can cause skin infections or ulcers and reduce life expectancy.
Stimulation – Both mental and physical stimulation is a crucial part of maintaining a happy and healthy cat. There are many fun things you can do for a cat, those include playing chase with a laser pointer or putting a bird feeder outside a window to watch.
Learn more from the OSU Indoor Pet Initiative Here
“Kill the Bear”
Has your cat ever suddenly pounced on your feet, pant leg, or hands, wrestled and bit at you? This is your cat’s outlet for predatory play and is not truly trying to hurt you or another pet. This is normal and necessary play behavior that all cats do, just some more than others. All kittens go through an “attack” phase and some will simply never grow out of it.
So what is there to do? Extreme disciplinary actions such as squirting water at them, yelling, or throwing things will not cease these attacks. This will only make your cat avoid you and may cause them to become more aggressive out of fear.
Instead, you want to give them an outlet for this behavior. Providing a stuffed toy such as a teddy bear for your cat to “kill” will focus this attacking behavior towards the stuffed toy. This is a far better option than disciplinary actions or getting another cat in hopes of playing to relax the attack behavior.
1.) Get a stuffed animal such as a teddy bear or bunny that is roughly the same size as an adult cat. An old cast off from a child will work fine. It should be big enough for your cat to grab with its front and back legs, bite at the head, and wrestle with it. If the toy is too small the cat will not be able to do all the needed actions of predation (grabbing, biting, treading, etc.) and will still seek out a prey item for this, which could be you again.
2.) Keep this toy out of reach and maybe bring it out once a day. This will keep it fresh for the kill.
3.) Throw the toy low like you were skipping stones on water. This motion is what will get your cat’s attention to take action and pounce.
4.) Leave your cat alone while they start to attack or mouth the toy. Keep in mind, if you shake the toy by hand, your cat could potentially grab your hand in the process and thus link biting your hand with part of the play. You don’t want this.
5.) Once they stop and leave the toy, throw it again to restart the play. Continue this until your cat it tired. It could take a couple throws, it could take 10 throws but your cat has to feel that they have killed the toy. If the playing stops too soon, your cat will continue to go after you or another pet.
6.) If your cat gets excited over grabbing the toy as you reach for it, you can use long kitchen tongs to grab it. Or you can tie a fat ribbon about 4 feet long to pull the toy back to throw it again.