Inappropriate elimination is the number one behavior problem that leads to the unfortunate euthanasia of otherwise healthy cats. The problem is defined as urination or defecation that occurs ANYWHERE outside of the litter box. The onset of this problem is often followed by a breakdown in the human-animal bond and it causes major damage to a once productive relationship. The saddest part inappropriate elimination is often preventable and treatable.
There are many things that a caring owner can do to help prevent inappropriate elimination. Cats are often very clean animals, and prefer to eliminate in a clean environment. Simply scooping your cats litter box once a day will help prevent many problems. Other things to keep in mind are: you should have one litter box plus one for every cat in your house and some cats may not like scented litter or covered boxes. Adding additional cats to your household will increase the likelihood that your cat will have a problem. Also, less issues occur in households with cats of the same sex rather than having individuals that are both male and female.
If your cat suddenly starts eliminating outside of the litter box, then a full medical work up should be performed. Unfortunately, urinary track infections cause urgency and lead to urinary indiscretion. Also, discomfort that occurs as a result of the infection may be associated with the litter box and lead to an avoidance of it. If this is allowed to persist, the medical problem can lead to the formation of a bad behavior pattern. Thus, if not treated immediately, your cat may continue to eliminate outside of the litter box after the infection has been cleared up.
Once the behavior pattern has been established, it is much more difficult to retrain your cat to use the litter box. Difficult, but rarely impossible. It is only because owners become frustrated with the problem, and often seek help long after the behavior has become established, that drastic measures need to be taken.
If at any point you are experiencing behavior problems with your pet, PLEASE feel free to contact our clinic. With early intervention and appropriate treatment, most behavior problems can be handled and you can maintain the harmonious relationship with your pet that you have come to rely on.