Why does my cat soil out of the litter tray?First, we need to understand that our cat is not messing out of spite but that such behaviour expresses discomfort, so it is pointless punishing the them!Let's look at the possible causes of inappropriate elimination or marking (spraying):
– Physical discomfort: the cat may have cystitis or bladder stones that make it painful to pee. So the first thing to do is visit your veterinarian for a urine test. If the cat dirties with faeces, it could have an intestinal problem so again, you must go to the vet for a stool test to rule out any medical problems.
– Psychological discomfort: The cat may also associate the litter tray with stressful or negative events, for example being attacked by another cat or being given therapies that it does not like, such as combing, cutting nails or being given a pill etc.
How to solve this problem?With psychological problems, it is essential to enlist the help of an expert in pet behaviour who, once they have analysed the situation, will give you their professional advice. However, some methods can immediately be applied and they can be used both for inappropriate elimination and marking. These include:
– Avoid punishments: they are useless and damaging. Your cat will not understand the reason it is being punished and will become anxious, which may make the problem even worse!
– Maintain the cat's odour references: try to not clean the furniture with chemicals to a height of at least 20cm from the ground so as not to remove the pheromones deposited by the cat. Also, provide your cat with a scratching post because if its reassuring markings disappear, the cat will probably start marking with urine or faeces again.
– Choose appropriate cleaning products: avoid the use of bleach or ammonia to clean because, for the cat, these products have a similar odour to urine meaning the cat will tend to repeat the behaviour in an attempt to cover up the smell of another cat! It's much better to use products containing “enzymes" that can destroy the odour; you can find these in specialised stores where you buy detergents.
– Change the type of litter or tray: the cat might not like the litter or the litter tray we use. Often, we tend to choose litters with fragrances or that require little maintenance, according to the manufacturer. But often, these choices do not match our cat's needs who show their discomfort by not using the tray.