Providing your cat with the ideal toileting set up indoors can be a challenge.
If your cat prefers to urinate in the shower or bath there may be something your cat doesn't like about his or her litter tray. Loud noises such as the washing machine or clothes dryer can be enough to discourage a cat from using the tray.
The golden rule is to provide a tray for every cat in the house plus an additional tray. That means, if you have two cats, you should have three trays. The litter trays that can be purchased from the supermarket are too small; the ideal litter tray would be approximately 60cm long X 40cm wide. Litter trays with a cover or hood or that contain a tray liner are not recommended as often most cats prefer an open tray. There are various types of kitty litter on the market; you may need to experiment with clumping clay litter, paper, sand and crystal to see which litter your cat prefers.
Provide an area that is your cat's 'domain' where it can eliminate in peace. Be careful not to place food and water too close to the tray, as cats don't like to eliminate where they eat. Try using different rooms or areas where the food, water and bedding are in one room and the litter tray in another. If your elderly cat is missing the litter tray this can be due to them having difficulty squatting caused often by arthritis. Medication can be offered to alleviate some of the discomfort caused by arthritis.
Don't forget, abnormal elimination can be an indicator of more serious medical problems, such as an inflamed urinary tract or a urinary infection.
Symptoms that may indicate your cat has some urinary tract disease:
- Pain while urinating – meowing/crying
- Straining – Bladder irritation, Urinary obstruction, Diarrhoea, Constipation
- Increased frequency of urination
- Noticing smaller amounts and more frequent urination
- Blood in urine
- Abnormal smell of the urine
- Urinating outside the litter tray can indicate that they prefer that place better than the litter tray and litter (Large volume of urine) or is territory marking for possibly anxiety reasons (Small volume of urine)
- Excessive grooming of genitals
Common causes of unusual urinating behaviours are:
Infections, stones or crystals in the urinary tract, anxiety (separation from owner or anxious about another close by animal) or your cat doesn’t like the litter tray.
A good urinary behaviour history, physical examination of the cat and urine test will usually determine the cause. Appropriate treatment can only be given once a diagnosis is made. We must appreciate that urine territory marking is normal cat behaviour.
This problem is the most common reason for cat euthanasia so please speak to Dr Nicholls or the nursing staff if you have any concerns about your cat’s urinary health.