When a cat pees outside the litter box, it can be extremely frustrating for owners.
Instead of quickly scooping the litter tray, you’re now having to scrub and deep clean the floor or furniture. And if your cat keeps peeing in the same spot, the issue becomes worse and worse!
As a pet parent myself, I understand the frustrations of a trained cat that refuses to use the litter box. From medical conditions to stress and anxiety, there are all kinds of reasons for this unwelcome behavior. In this article, I discuss just a few of these in detail and why even one bathroom accident can cause ongoing toilet troubles.
I then give you ten top tips on how you can stop a cat from peeing in the same spot. You might need to adjust the litter tray, get better at cleaning, or even take your cat to the vet. Keep reading to discover them all and put this unwanted behavior to a stop for good!
Why Does My Cat Keep Peeing in the Same Spot?
Cats that are litter box trained should be able to successfully pee and poop inside their tray 99% of the time. All cats have occasional accidents, but these should be few and far between. Therefore, trained cats that refuse to use their litter boxes are a sign something isn’t quite right.
If a cat is urinating outside the litter box, it is usually down to one of three reasons:
- Medical Conditions: Issues like bladder stones, urinary tract infections, kidney disease, or even diabetes can cause cats to pee around your house instead of their litter tray. Cats with these diseases have a frequent urge to pee. Therefore, bathroom accidents are common and can happen anywhere around your home.
- Stress or Anxiety: Cats that are extremely stressed or anxious also pee outside the litter tray as a coping mechanism. Their pee contains proteins called pheromone which help cats feel calm. When this is the cause, they will often urinate on objects that they associate closely with their owner. Examples include clothing, laundry, or even your bed.
- Disliked Litter Box: No cat will use a litter box that isn’t up to standards. It needs to be clean, the right size, the correct design, and in the perfect location. It also needs to be filled with the type of cat litter that your cat prefers. Get any of these factors wrong and your cat might find somewhere else to pee instead.
But why do cats keep peeing in the same spot again and again and again?! Well, our furry felines have an amazing sense of smell that is fourteen times as strong as ours. They use this epic sense of smell to navigate the world and learn about their environment. When cats have peed somewhere before – even if just once – they can smell the lingering scent of cat pee for a long time.
As this spot now smells like cat pee, our kitties associate this area with the bathroom. Perhaps they have chosen your couch, your bed, your carpet, or even your laundry. The location doesn’t matter – as long as the smell persists, your cat will keep returning to the scene of the crime over and over.
This causes the smell to become even stronger, and the situation becomes worse. Your cats will start peeing here more frequently, your furniture or carpet will become more damaged, and you’re getting further away from finding a solution.
How Do I Stop My Cat from Peeing in the House?
Most healthy adult cats will pee around twice per day on average. When cats refuse to use their litter box, this means you’re cleaning up at least two puddles of urine each day. Or for anyone with more than one feline friend, you’ll be cleaning up four or more puddles of smelly urine!
It follows that if your cat keeps peeing in the same spot, you’ll want more than anything for them to stop. Having dealt with this issue myself, here are my ten tips on how to do just that. Try one or two, or implement all my advice for the biggest impact and cleanest home.
1. Use a Cat Deterrent
It can be annoying when cats urinate in the same place over and over again. However, the good thing about this is that it is predictable and repetitive. Although it is not in the litter tray, you know where your cat is going to pee. Perhaps it’s the couch, your bed, or on your new plush carpet.
This means that cat deterrents are often an effective solution. You can use a deterrent in your cat’s favorite bathroom spot and it might just stop them from peeing there. There are special cat repellent sprays available online, but there are also DIY solutions you can make at home as well, such as:
- Vinegar: Why does vinegar deter cats from peeing? Well, vinegar has a strong acidic smell that cats hate! Simply mix vinegar with water at a ratio of 1:1 and spray it on the areas that you want to stop your cat from peeing.
- Double-Sided Tape: Double-sided tape has a sticky surface that feels unpleasant to walk on. Therefore, this can also help to deter your cat from peeing in the same spot. Simply put a line of sticky tape around the surface where your cat pees, or block them off from an entire room.
- Citronella: Like vinegar, citronella also has a strong scent that is best known for deterring mosquitoes. However, it is also unpleasant for cats. You can mix one part citronella with four parts water and spray the area where your cat keeps peeing.
Cat deterrents and repellents – be that physical or odorous – are effective for stopping most kitty accidents. However, always check they won’t damage the surface before applying. They’re also not effective in stopping a cat from peeing on clothes, as you don’t want to be walking around smelling of vinegar or citronella, or covered in sticky tape!
Therefore, always think about the precise place that’s the issue before trying this trick. Sometimes it works amazingly, but for others, it doesn’t quite do the job.
2. Purchase Special Cat Litter
Oftentimes, cats stop using their litter tray as they hate the feel of the litter inside it. They much prefer the feel of your carpet blanket under their paws, so keep peeing in this spot over and over again. Moreover, many cat litters are high in dust and have strong artificial fragrances. Both of these factors can further put your cat off its litter tray.
Therefore, putting an end to your cat’s unwelcome bathroom habits could be as simple as changing their cat litter. There is specific litter for cats who pee outside the box, which is generally (1) low dust, (2) fragrance-free, and (3) of a granular consistency. Try swapping your cat’s litter for a brand that ticks all of the boxes and see if there is an improvement.
3. Change Your Cat’s Litter Box
It might also be the litter box itself that your cat has issues with. Cats are notoriously fussy about their litter trays, and there are multiple factors you need to get spot on if you want to ensure consistent use. For example, you need to consider:
- Litter Box Size: If you notice your cat peeing over the edge of the litter box, it’s likely too small for them to use comfortably. On the converse, a litter box that is too large can make cats feel vulnerable when inside and deter them from using it. Always aim for a litter tray that’s around 1.5x the length of your cat for the optimal size.
- Cleanliness of the Litter Box: There is little more cats hate than a dirty litter box! Make sure you scoop away clumps of poop and urine every day, and always completely empty, clean, and refill the tray at least every couple of weeks. This helps to keep your cat’s toilet as clean and fresh as possible.
- Litter Box Entry: How cats enter the litter box is important. For example, kittens might struggle to jump onto the lid to get inside a top-entry design. Likewise, timid cats might struggle with using hooded boxes with swinging doors, or arthritic cats may require special low-entry trays.
- Closed or Open Design: According to veterinary research, most cats (70%) show no preference for open or closed litter boxes. However, 15% prefer enclosed designs, while the other 15% prefer open-top litter trays. Consider your cat’s preferences and give them what they want when deciding on the perfect litter box.
4. Clean Up Accidents Properly
When a cat keeps peeing in the same spot, there is a high chance it can still smell its previous bathroom accidents in this location. Therefore, it assumes this place that smells of pee is its bathroom and keeps going there repeatedly.
As mentioned earlier, cats have a sense of smell that is fourteen times as strong as humans! Therefore, even if you think you’ve done a great job cleaning up and can’t smell any lingering cat pee, it doesn’t mean your furry friend can’t. As they pee in the same spot continually, the smell gets stronger and the issue gets worse and worse!
Therefore, always use an enzyme cleaner for cat urine when cleaning up accidents. The enzymes in these products break down proteins which cause cats to mark in the same place repeatedly. They’re more effective on fresh urine though, so always ensure you clean smells and stains away ASAP.
The best thing about these cleaners is they’re super versatile too. You can use them to get cat pee out of a couch or off of your carpets. You can even find enzyme detergents for laundry. Always do a test patch before though applying the product through to ensure you don’t damage the surface further. Otherwise, you might end up with an even bigger problem on your hands!
5. Change the Litter Box Location
Changing the location of the litter box can help if your cat keeps peeing in the same spot. If possible, try moving the litter box in front of their new favorite area. For example, if your cat keeps peeing on the same spot on the couch, move the litter box close by. They’ll hopefully start peeing inside here instead of on your sofa.
In some instances, this isn’t an option though. My cat keeps peeing in the same spot on my bed, but I don’t like the idea of keeping its litter box in my bedroom. Moving the location of the tray to here simply isn’t going to cut it for me.
Yet moving the litter box can still be helpful! Try moving it to a location that ticks all of the following boxes and see if it helps with your issues:
- Low Traffic: Many people keep the litter box in a place that receives a lot of traffic, and cats feel exposed and unsafe when using it. Move the litter box to a quiet location and put it against a wall so your cat has a view of any approaching dangers.
- Not Totally Isolated: Don’t go the other extreme and keep the litter box in a totally isolated spot either. These areas of the home are often not the most easily accessible, and cats will prefer peeing in a place slightly more “in the action” of the home.
- Away from Food & Water: Keeping the litter box near your cat’s food and water bowls is also a big no-no! You wouldn’t want to do your business where you’re eating, and neither does your cat. Seeing as they can’t move their food and water, they’ll pee elsewhere instead.
6. Provide More Litter Boxes
You might also benefit from purchasing multiple litter boxes for your cat. Firstly, having multiple litter boxes means your cat has options. If one isn’t quite right or isn’t clean enough, they can use another litter box instead of peeing somewhere they shouldn’t.
Secondly, having multiple litter boxes means you can place one on each floor of your home. This is great if you live in a big house, as cats might not always have time to climb the stairs or travel to a different area before doing their business. This is also extremely beneficial for older cats with reduced mobility, or those with cognitive decline that struggle to remember where the litter box is.
Having multiple litter boxes is also essential if you have more than one cat. Cats are territorial creatures, and not having at least a litter box per cat can result in conflict. Waste and urine odors also accumulate at double the speed, which puts cats off using their litter tray even more!
7. Reduce Stress Levels
Another reason cats pee in the same spot is to help them manage stress. The scent of their urine in this location is telling them to relieve themselves again as a coping mechanism. Therefore, one of the best ways to stop a cat from spraying indoors is to keep their stress levels to a minimum.
All cats have different stress triggers, so you need to pay attention to any changes in the home environment or your cat’s routine when they urinate around your home.
Some of the common changes that could be stressing out your cat include:
- New people or animals entering the home
- Redecorating or moving the furniture around
- Moving to a new home entirely
- Starting a full-time job when you’re usually home during the day
- Adjusting your cat’s usual feeding schedule
- Loud noises such as fireworks or construction
Once you have pinpointed the cause, try and eliminate these from your home. For example, if your cat doesn’t cope well with visitors, avoid having big groups of friends over at once often. When you do have guests over, make sure your cat has a private area to escape to. Also, warn your friends your cat struggles with people so they know now to smother it.
8. Rule Out Medical Conditions
If your cat keeps peeing in the same spot, it is commonly due to a stress-related cause or an issue with their litter box. However, if you see your cat peeing everywhere all of a sudden, it might suffer from a medical condition. This is usually coupled with other signs of distress, such as straining to pee or crying when trying to pass urine.
Cats can also have issues with defecation. Therefore, a cat suddenly pooping outside of the litter box could also be due to health reasons. Once again, this is often coupled with other symptoms. You might notice a strange stool consistency, bad-smelling poop, or straining when defecating.
If you spot any of these signs of distress, it is important to speak to a vet. They’ll be able to run tests and recommend a treatment that will have your cat feeling well again. Even if there are no other clinical signs, it is advisable to book an appointment to rule out medical conditions just in case.
9. Use Pheromone Products
Spraying and urinating around the home helps cats deal with stress as it leaves behind feline pheromones. The presence of these pheromones has a calming effect on your cat. They’ll often return to the same spot, as this causes their pheromones to smell stronger and stronger.
Thankfully, some products contain artificial pheromones which have the same effect. The artificial pheromones mimic the real pheromones in the urine and help cats feel calm. Therefore, they don’t need to pee around your home and use their litter boxes instead.
There are a few different types of pheromone products you might be interested in:
- Pheromone Sprays: For cats that keep peeing in the same spot, pheromone sprays will suffice. Simply spray the product on your cat’s chosen peeing spot. Next time they go to urinate, they’ll smell the pheromone and stop what they’re doing. These do need to be reapplied frequently to be effective, so bear this in mind.
- Pheromone Diffusers: I personally prefer pheromone diffusers to sprays as there is no need for constant reapplication. You just plug the diffuser in the room in which your cat keeps having bathroom accidents to help ease stress levels. Once the diffuser has run out, simply then replace it.
- Pheromone Collars: Finally, there are pheromone cat collars. Cats wear these around their necks like regular collars and pheromones are released into the air surrounding them. They, therefore, help to stop cats from peeing anywhere they go and keep your cat permanently feeling calmer.
10. Form Different Associations
As mentioned, cats always return to the scene of the crime as they associate this area of your home with the bathroom. Therefore, you can stop a cat that keeps peeing in the same spot by forming different associations with this location. What do I mean by this?
Well, say your cat always pees on your couch. Next time your cat is near the couch, start getting out their favorite toys and playing with them. If you do this repeatedly, cats will start to see your couch as a place to play rather than a place to pee!
You can do the same thing with treats. For example, if your cat always pees on your bed, entice them up there with treats before they get the chance. They will eventually learn to associate the bed with food and won’t want to pee here. Be careful with this though, and never give your cat a treat after it pees where it shouldn’t, as this can reinforce bad behavior.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS
When your cat keeps peeing in the same spot, it can be incredibly confusing and frustrating! Cats usually pee outside of their litter box due to stress or an underlying medical condition. A distaste for the litter box itself also prompts cats not to use their tray and pee elsewhere instead.
Unfortunately, once a cat has peed somewhere else once, they keep returning to the scene of the crime. But you can put this unwanted behavior to bed! Use all of the ten tips listed above and you should see an end to this bad behavior for good.