Why Is My Cat Peeing Outside The Box? Here Are 9 Reasons

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Cats are creatures of habit. They’re curious, of course, but also seek security and comfort just like every other animal on the planet.

We don’t expect them to think outside the box too often, and pee outside the box even less. But unusual peeing habits may indicate a medical problem or frustration with a recent change. A cat isn’t going to write you out a list of symptoms, so observation and inference are the best tools to work with if you want to understand the root cause of the behavior.

If you notice your feline friend has started leaving her business outside the litter box, it may be due to one of the following reasons.

9. Declawing Surgery

Those sharp rocks in the litterbox are painful on tender paws. Especially those that have been recently declawed.

According to Perfect Love, cats that have been declawed may be in a lot of pain already, and may avoid using the litter box in favor of other more comfortable alternatives.

“Can you blame them for not wanting to!? The cats who do not show signs of pain after this likely have lost the feeling of those nerves,” the site maintains. “This can happen right away or years down the road. Most people don’t even realize this has happened…”

Declawing is illegal in many countries where it is perceived as cruelty, and is known to be a painful surgery with lifelong implications, similar to amputating a human’s fingertips from the last joint. In addition to some rest and recuperation, animals who have been declawed should be given some time to work their way back into the litter box, preferably one filled with softer substrate like fiber shavings, and not scolded for doing their business elsewhere.

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8. Crystals in the urine

The right food can help your cat feel healthy, just as foods that aren’t as nutritionally sufficient can lead to health issues. Calcium oxalate crystals have a tendency to grow in the systems of animals for four main reasons, PetMD warns. These include:

  • Concentration of insoluble crystallogenic substances in urine (similar to how kidney stones form)
  • Very high or very low urine pH
  • Diagnostic agents or medications
  • Dietary upset

In many cases, crystalluria is a temporary issue that is readily treatable. But since the condition can worsen, and even the slightest bit of discomfort may turn your cat away from the litter box, it’s always worth checking with a veterinarian to determine the best course of action.

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Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee. Find more about Matthew on his personal website.