Why Cats Make Indoor Messes

If your cat is leaving urine surprises around your house you’re not alone. There is a veritable mob of urine haunted cat owners. The good news is that most of these criminal cats can be reformed.

There are lots of reasons why cats do this. Kittens raised in cages, like in many shelters, can become so accustomed to eliminating on hard surfaces that they revert to using similar places in the home.

Another common reason for around-the-house messes is that your litter pan management may not be working for your cats. Cats are fastidious creatures with a sense of smell literally about 1000 times as acute as ours is. If their litter pan has ANY trace of urine or stool, it may smell too much like a latrine at Boy Scout camp. Some cats will just urinate elsewhere; others hold their urine, risking bladder disease. Interestingly, while they avoid a stinky litter pan, many cats will return to that naughty place in your home to repeat their mortal sin. Here are the simplest ways to help your cats reach litter pan heaven:

  • However many cats there are in your home have one litter pan per cat plus one. This makes it much easier for a cat who needs to go to find a place to go.
  • Provide soft litter. Premium clumping litters are usually best. Scented litters are off-putting to many cats.
  • To make your litter offerings as appealing as possible it may be necessary for you to experiment with several different types of litter at varying depths to find what your cat will use consistently.
  • Avoid pans with hoods. They can feel claustrophobic and trap odors.
  • Clean the pans at least once daily and dump and wash them at least weekly. Avoid ammonia cleaners.
  • Or make it much easier for yourself and get a self-cleaning model like a Littermaid or Litter Robot (www.litterrobot.com) and make it easier.

Where you locate the litter pans also matters.

  • Avoid high traffic areas of your home. Nervous cats need peace for those special moments.
  • Forget the laundry room. It is common for a cat to quit using a litter pan if the sound of a thumping clothes washer or a buzzing drying startled him at just the wrong time.
  • The best location for your pans is the corner of a room where you won’t forget to check for its 5 star hygiene.

Law enforcement is important, but make sure these good boys or girls-gone bad don’t return to the scene of their crimes when you’re off duty. Eliminate ALL urine odors by using Anti-Icky-Poo (www.antiickypoo.com) everywhere your cats has urinated. Then lay sheets of aluminum foil or upside down carpet runners on those old urine areas to make them unfun for a return performance.

Healthy correction of this horrible habit may require any or all of the following:

  • Cats who eliminate in the same room should be prevented from entering that room for at least one month to forever.
  • Reduce stress by enriching your cats’ indoor environment. There are lots of fun ways to do this. Have a look at the Environmental Enrichment article in this section of my website.
  • Make those favorite bad places unappealing by remote correction with a Ssscat (www.ssscat.com) or Scat Mat (www.scatmat.com). Using these automated devices keeps you out of the punishment business and preserves your relationship with your cat.
  • Punishment won’t work. Forget the nose rubbing. Only correction at the time of the behavior sequence (the turning, sniffing, and squatting they do just before they open the spigot) will work. Start a new life as a sleuth who hides in the dark shadows waiting for the unsuspecting feline felon as she prepares to defile your rug. You can’t wait, can you?

This is important. Many cats who practice graffiti art by spraying the insides of their homes end up in animal shelters. But with the appropriate behavior modification and, in some cases, medication, nearly every spraying cat can be managed and kept in his owner’s lives where he belongs. Check out the article “Cats Who Eliminate in Very Bad Places”. Just go back to the home page and click “Pet Behavior Info”.