Peeing/Pooping Thinks & Blinks

Why Your Cat Might Be Peeing Outside the Litter Box

Cats and spite peeing isn’t a thing.

Peeing outside the litter box is such a difficult topic to tackle in one post, but I’m going to do my best to give you an overview and some easy tips you can try as a starting point. By no way can I cover everything here, so I’ll definitely be writing about it again.

Cats Are Sensitive Creatures

They feel everything! Changes to their environment, animals outside, a new person in the home, a baby, a dog … you get the idea. That’s why it’s hard to diagnose issues sometimes, because it could be something obvious or something small. Peeing can also be the result of something minor to us but important to our cats.

Rule Out Health Issues First

Neutered and spayed cats without health or physical issues rarely have accidents. Spraying is also rare for fixed cats.

Separataely, litter boxes can be painful for declawed cats because their toes have been partially amputated.

Take your cat to the vet to rule out health concerns. If they are healthy, then you know the peeing is behavioral.

Spite Peeing Isn’t a Thing

We’ve all heard it from someone, “I got home late, so Mr. Meowza peed on my bed.”

Um, no, that’s not how that works. Many studies have been performed on animal behavior and NONE show that cats or dogs are capable of the spite emotion. They are not peeing out of spite.

Think about it. If cats peed when they were mad, they would hold their pee until you got home and pee on YOU, not the bed, because they are mad at YOU, not your chic chevron bedspread.

Ever see angry cats fighting and then pee on each other? Nope. It’s not a thing.

The Sad Truth: Your Cat Has Bad Self-Esteem:-(

Something in your environment upsets your cat and causes insecurity, causing them to feel the need to mark.

Yes, it is frustrating to deal with, but remember that it’s even more frustrating for your cat who can’t explain to you why she’s upset.


1. Playtime=Self Esteem Boost

The best way to grow self esteem is to play with your cat. All cats are motivated by something, so you just need to find the right toy that your cat like and spend 15-20 minutes a day playing with him. Include head scratches and even treats. Make him feel important, special, loved, and secure.

And, if there is a person who visits or lives with you who Mr. Meowza doesn’t like, that’s the person who must play with and feed him. Once your cat associates that person with good things, the insecurity fades.

2. Rule out other cats.

Do you have more than one cat inside? Is your cat being bullied by another cat? If so, that’s a completely separate issue for another post. Relationships between cats are super complicated, but if it’s REALLY bad, please put the cats in different rooms and reintroduce them slowly, as a short-term fix.

Do you have strays? Let me answer for you, you probably do. Unless you’re a nosy neighbor looking outside your windows at 3 a.m. when colony cats hunt, you wouldn’t necessarily know. Unaltered (unfixed) strays can cause a lot of stress for your indoor cats. These cats will spray the perimeter of your house, and be seen as threat to your cat’s territory. Even a neighbor’s indoor/outdoor cat can cause problems for yours.  Buy ultrasonic repellers and spray to keep all other cats away.

3. Clean up pee with the right cleaner.

Regular cleaners don’t cut it. Your cat still smells his pee. Use an enzymatic cleaner designed to remove animal pee/poo, because the enzymatic bacteria in the cleaner basically have a smorgasbord with the ammonia crystals and organic crap until it’s gone.

My pick: Rocco & Roxie Professional Strength Stain & Odor Eliminator. It’s gentle, safe, chlorine free, enzyme-powered AND you can use it on everything – floors, furniture, bedding, kennels, carriers, etc.

4. Worth a shot: Add a litter box.

Yes, there are rules someone at sometime made up about how many boxes you need, but all you really have to do is listen to your cat. It’s so easy to just add another box and see if that fixes the issue.

5. Put a litter box in the area where the cat pees.

Sometimes, cats don’t feel comfortable in a certain room for what ever reason, so they pee to make themselves feel secure. It’s worth at least trying to give them an acceptable option to see if it resolves the problem.

6. Make previously-peed-on areas unappealing.

This can be challenging, but I’m sure there are things your cat doesn’t like. All cats hate citrus so leaving orange rinds or putting candles with a citrusy smell might keep them away.

7. Retrain

Look, I know Mr. Meowza is your baby, but he will survive a few days in a bathroom. Give him food, water, toys, and a litter box to see if he uses the box.  After a few days, you can try letting him out again and see if the retraining worked.

8. Different types of litter boxes and litter.

Some cats are super picky about their boxes. A box isn’t just a box. There are covered, non-covered, high back, shallow – so many different types. Try them and see what your cat likes, just make sure you use the right size for your cat. A big cat in a small box isn’t going to work – it will be uncomfortable and may cause him to pee outside of it.

As for litter, see if your cat prefers one over the other. Some you can try:

  • Clumping clay
  • Non-clumping clay
  • Wheat
  • Corn
  • Pine (my fave!)
  • Newspaper
  • Crystals

9. Softer is better for declawed or arthritic cats.

Declawing is a partial toe amputation. Arthritis comes with aches and pains. If your cat associates pain with the box, that’s another reason he might not want to pee in it. Try newspaper litter. It isn’t the best for odor control, but it is really soft.

10. Use diffusers, calming sprays, or calming collars.

Sometimes they work, sometimes, they don’t. In my opinion, they’re always worth a shot. You can try Feliway or Jackson Galaxy’s oil essences.

Pee Is Complicated

There aren’t easy answers to the peeing topic, and I wish their were, because it’s one of cat owner’s top complaints. So many factors can contribute to low self esteem. We’ll keep talking about it in future posts, because who doesn’t want to talk about cat pee?

Missed my last Thinks & Blinks post? Read 5 Rules for Greeting Cats.

By LizsKittyBootCamp

Hi, I'm Liz, and I'm a cat behaviorist who provides advice and insights on cat behavior.

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