How to Get a Cat to Stop Urinating

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In order to get a cat to stop urinating in abnormal places, it's important to first take the cat to a veterinarian to make sure that the urination isn't a part of a more serious health problem. Discover why changing a cat's urination behavior may be as simple as cleaning its litter box with help from a veterinarian in this free video on stopping excessive cat urination.

Part of the Video Series: Cat Health
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Doctor Carrie Burhenn and I'm a veterinarian at the Feline Medical Clinic in Vancouver, Washington, and today I'm here to give you a little information about inappropriate urination in cats. Cats can actually urinate in abnormal places, not their litter box, because of a variety of reasons. Sometimes this can be due to behavior and sometimes it can actually be a medical problem. You should always take your cat to the veterinarian at the first sign that there is any kind of abnormal urination, because it could indicate an underlying, very serious health disorder such as a urinary blockage or a systemic illness that should be taken care of first. No amount of behavioral conditioning will ever correct a problem if it has a medical origin. Once a medical problem has been ruled out, many times the abnormal urinations will go away, because they're often a result of the cat experiencing an illness and feeling insecure. There can be other reasons, though, that a cat may urinate outside a box, and that can be because it was previously sick and is now insecure and needs reassurance to be able to use it's litter box properly again. But it can also be due to other factors that a lot of owners don't understand as far as keeping the box clean, the box and the location that the cat likes to use, and that also, again, the type of litter that's used in the very first place. So let's talk a little bit about some of these things. First off, most cats don't like covered litter boxes. Some do, but the great majority of cats don't go into little caves in the wild to defecate. So it's really important to have a box that's open and the cat feels it can actually see the surroundings and that's filled with a litter that it actually likes. Most scented litters, cats do not like because they often don't like the fragrance that we pick. They usually like a nice, fine, sandy texture for the litter, as well. And enough litter that they can scratch around in and dig a little hole to urinate or defecate in. If you don't provide these things for the cat, and they find a more suitable location, that's the first thing that they will do. If the litter box is located in a noisy porch area or where there's a washer or dryer that makes too much noise, they may avoid using it as well. If there's multiple cats in the house, and you're having a urinary problem, some cats like to have an absolutely clean litter box, and so sometimes providing more boxes, even if each one is smaller, that is filled with clean litter that's scooped at least twice a day, especially if you have multiple cats, will help considerably with helping a cat feel more reassured about it's environment and where it's actually going to urinate. Again, just to summarize, you should always make sure that your cat has no medical problems before you start modifying it's behavior, and that behavior modification works best if medical problems are taken care of in the very first place. But, oftentimes you need to use the two things in conjunction, and then once you've actually determined that the cat is healthy, trying some situations where you can actually keep the cat comfortable while it's urinating and re-acclimating to it's box will work best.

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