Urinating in the House

peeing in house
One of the main reasons people give up their cats is because they stopped using the litterbox and the owners no longer want to deal with the inappropriate urination in their house. We are not veterinarians, but we have come across many cats over the years who do not use the litterbox. Please remember that any advice we give here comes from our experiences with these “problem cats” and what we have done to handle the situation.



  1. Always go to your vet before doing anything else to make sure there is no blood in the urine or stones blocking the cat from urinating. The cat may also be suffering from a urinary tract infection and medication may be the answer to your problem. If you think of the litterbox as the cat’s “telephone,” he is certainly not going to broadcast that he is not feeling well. He will try to hide his illness by soiling the carpets and floors rather than use his box.
  2. Cats are clean animals by nature and their litterboxes should be kept very clean, especially if you are using a covered box. The ammonia fumes from the urine get trapped and the cat may not want to step inside. The litterbox should be cleaned twice a day and fresh litter added as needed. The litterbox should be washed and disinfected at least once a week with a gentle cleaning solution not dangerous to the cat.
  3. The rule is one litterbox for each cat plus an extra one. This may not always be possible if you don’t have enough space, but make very sure you keep the litterboxes VERY clean. Many cats don’t like to share litterboxes and some cats urinate in one box and poop in the other.
  4. Is there a litterbox on each level (upstairs and downstairs) or at each far end of your house? This can really help, especially with very young, very old or ill cats.


  1. Is your cat spayed or neutered? If not, problems can occur when there is a territory dispute in the house.
  2. Is the litterbox in a quiet, out-of-the-way place where the cat is not disturbed when using it?
  3. Is the cat being bothered by another cat or dog or child when trying to use the litterbox?
  4. Have you tried changing the type of litter you are using? Many cats prefer litter that feels like garden soil rather than the feel of some of the pellets or stones on the market today. Also, your cat may not like scented litter and you might want to try the non-scented type.
  5. Is the litterbox the correct height and size for the cat? Senior cats and kittens usually need lower sides on the litterbox. Large size cats like to “stretch out” when using the litterbox.


  1. Is the food of a good quality and does your cat enjoy eating it?
  2. Do you take your cat to the vet each year and have his teeth checked? Infected teeth and gums can be a major source of pain and illness. Have his ears and feet checked as well. Bring a stool sample and have his urine checked.
  3. If you allow your cat to go outside, he may have lost interest in his litterbox because he has a much larger “territory” to take care of outside. Sometimes the inside and the outside become the same to the cat and he makes no distinction when he urinates. Keep him inside and see if this changes things.


In the last few months, we have taken in cats from owners who have been told that their cat was displaying bad behavior because the urine seemed normal. In several cases, we had x-rays taken and found stones or gravel in the urinary tract. Two of the cats actually required abdominal surgery to remove stones that they could not possibly pass on their own. They now use their litterboxes regularly. It is believed that the cat associates the litterbox with pain and therefore stops using it. Please ask your vet to take x-rays before making a decision about “bad behavior.”


Always remember that you can call your local cat rescue organization or your vet for advice on house-soiling problems. It isn’t always bad behavior!

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