Why do my cats urinate and defecate outside the litter box?

I have two indoor cats (one male and one female, both fixed) that have developed their own habits that seem to be only moments apart. The male has started pooping on my side of the bed in one particular spot and the female urinates in the middle of my bed. This happens once a day for the last week. Shutting them out of my bedroom until I come home works, but when I'm not looking they slip in and do it.  What can I do? I can't put them outside because they are declawed. Any miracles up your sleeve? Lewis

Hi Lewis,

Wow, it sounds like you have a really frustrating problem!

It's instinctual for a cat to use a litter box because in the wild, they would need to cover up their scent to avoid prey. They also of course have times where they spread their scent around to "mark" their territory. Sometimes indeed these two things do collide, especially when a cat is not fixed. But most often a cat has a strong, instinctual desire to go inside a litter box and "cover up."

Your cats have been fixed, so there’s probably something more going on that needs to be uncovered.

When cats urinate or defecate outside the litter box, chances are it is because of something that is bothering them. Have there have been any dramatic changes at home that may be upsetting one or both of the cats?  You may want to talk to your vet about the true root of the behaviors. Inappropriate elimination can be caused by illness, anxiety or external changes in their environment.

I suggest you take the cats for a veterinary visit. Be sure the one who is urinating on your bed gets checked for urinary tract infection, because urinating outside the box is a common symptom.


Written by:
Kristen Levine, Pet Lifestyle Expert

December 03, 2010

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