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As I mentioned in another question, my cat has been peeing on things outside of her litter box. So far she’s done it three times right in front of me, so either she doesn’t realize that she’s in the wrong place, or she’s challenging my authority. The cat isn’t peeing outside the box very often (about 2–3 times per month) or in the same spot (every room in the house except the kitchen).

The first time I caught her, I tried to pick her up and direct her toward the litter box, like I would do with a puppy, but unfortunately I was too late and she just kept peeing on the general area (including herself). The other two times, I couldn’t reach her but I tried to shoo her away with a firm “no,” but again I was too slow and it didn’t help at all.

My fiancée raised the cat, and she says the technique that usually works for her is to startle and herd the cat toward the litter box by yelling and shuffling her feet. I’ve seen other people recommend yelling or picking up the cat. The cat is already stressed out by moving, so I would like a technique that is both reliable and less likely to cause the poor cat further stress.

Also, if the cat is specifically challenging me, methods to establish dominance might also be helpful.

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Dogs are from Mars, cats are from Venus. The cat is not challenging you, and it will not recognize the idea of discipline or dominance. First thing I would do is to change the brand of the cat litter, and preferably buy it from a good pet store. While you are there shopping perhaps a new larger litterbox might help too. The old box may be too small, or smell bad, or it is in the wrong place (bathroom?). There is a few possible reasons to this problem, so it would be good to start with the possibilities easiest to fix, i.e. easiest to eliminate from the list of possible reasons. –  Esa Paulasto May 10 at 2:46

4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

When a cat pees in a particular spot, it is trying to mark territory through the release of scent, not challenge your authority through the action of peeing.

If you try to discipline the cat in any way, you are likely to confuse the cat (who will think you are disciplining her for peeing, not for peeing in an unapproved location).

The best thing to do is startle the cat in a way that cannot be connected to you (clap your hands from a hidden location, toss something in the cat's direction, etc). If you prevented her from peeing, you can quickly lock her in a small room with her litter box and no other candidate materials. If not, then get out the enzyme cleaner and black light.

She is NOT challenging you. She is likely confused and scared and (if you haven't had the vet look at her) possibly in pain.

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Twice this week, about 2-3 times a month otherwise. The cats moved into my place in March, and Otto has peed on stuff about half a dozen times that we know of. (We haven't confirmed with a blacklight yet, but we don't smell cat pee.) So it's not an everyday thing, but it's frequent enough that we can't put down rugs or leave doors open until we can get it under control. Since she does pee right in front of me most of the time, I was hoping for a low-stress way to help discourage/distract her when she does it. –  Bradd Szonye May 10 at 1:25
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@BraddSzonye Yeah, that frequency it's likely just a training problem and that will take time and consistency to solve. –  Zaralynda May 10 at 2:38
    
To complement @Zaralynda's remark about not confusing the cat: that's even more true in your case as you said you recently moved! Cats have other ways (glands) to mark their scent. Maybe a daily supervised tour of the house will help. –  Cedric H. May 10 at 5:41

Since you've said you recently moved, if there are no other medical issues involved, you've probably got a mix of stress and confusion causing the problem. As others have said, cats really don't like change.

I'd suggest starting with a collection of small, disposable litter boxes around the house (this is temporary, to get the cat used to peeing where she should again). That way, there's always one close by. When I had a 5-week-old kitten, I used old cardboard boxes (with liners where needed) and tossed everything when the litter needed changing.

As soon as you see the cat go into the squat with her tail up, gently pick her up and set her in the nearest litter box, then stay with her and talk to her - again, gently and praising her - while she goes. Once she's done, give her lots of attention for being such a good cat and going where she's supposed to. She should quickly get (or re-get) the idea that the box is where she's meant to do her business.

You definitely need to clean everything she's hit with odor neutralizer (if possible, clean the whole house with it, several times, because even black light isn't going to find everything in my experience).

Once she's reliably using litter boxes, you can start gradually moving the small ones towards the main box. Any boxes she doesn't use can go away altogether, but the ones she is using need to move maybe a foot a day at most so that they're close to the main location. The idea here is to gradually ease her to the main litter area (because no matter what you're going to be cleaning stray kitty litter and potentially other stuff from around the temporary boxes - how much other stuff depends on how vigorously she scratches, whether you use clumping litter or not, and the quality of the litter). Keep the odor neutralizer handy and use it on the area the box used to be each time you move it.

Whatever else you do, don't punish her for peeing where she shouldn't. As Zaralynda says, she's not challenging you: she's confused and scared and she wants you to reassure her. Having you take her to where she should be going and make a fuss of her will help reassure her (even if you don't catch it in time and she ends up going all over you... You'll figure out the signals quicker next time!).

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  1. After you clean the spot, you could feed your cat near that area. Cats are not going to pee in a place where they eat. That's probably why she is not using the kitchen as her litter-box.
  2. Speak to your cat.. when you notice her peeing outside the litter-box. Never shout but speak and sound disappointed, and gesture towards the litter-box (point and tap the box). I noticed that cats are very intuitive and can sense our intention by the tone of our voice.
  3. Also many a times I have used a paper to clean the spot, then place it in the litter-box and then place the cat near smelling distance of the paper. I guess that helps them register that they should be peeping in the litter-box and not anywhere else..

I have two pet cats, had one prior to these two and briefly looked after 5 kittens so picked up a thing or two along the way.. :)

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Sounds like a scent marking action. Is there another cat getting in (a tom). Has your cat been neutered, if not, could she be in season, and is leaving calling cards - for toms? Once cleaned up, try sprinkling pepper powder.

I would also maybe take a visit to the vets, you don't state how old the cat is, but there may be a urinary tract problem, you are unaware of.

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We have two female cats, both neutered, both indoor-only. –  Bradd Szonye May 10 at 19:45

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