So my cat reacted once we had our first child. My cat is 16 years old and was very cuddly so I'm fairly sure this is part of the problem. We had noticed she had started peeing around her litter box, probably quite frequently. The smell got awful with ammonia so we did a major cleaning up of the whole area, which was a mess and not helping the situation. While cleaning, we found a white plastic bag she had peed on that had dark red urine in it. She is only peeing in the basement, not in any other room so incontinence seems unlikely.

I got her checked at the vet: urine analysis, x-ray, etc. The urine analysis showed no blood cells but was a bit clearer than normal, showing signs of early kidney failure, which the vet said is normal around this age. There were some crystals in the xray but not so much. Vet said we might benefit from another xray in a month as the crystals sometimes change position and there may be more than we know. This leads me to believe she might have had interstitial cystitis from the stress of adding the baby.

We bought a cleaner for cat pee in a pet shop and cleaned up all of the basement floor with it twice. We also got a new litter box in case that would help, bigger with lower sides. We kept both for now. I think she is peeing outside the box less often now, but still does it about once a week that we've noticed. We live in a split level and our daughter rarely ever accesses the two bottom floors so the cat uses the bedroom there most of the time to nap quietly. Our daughter sometimes hang in the kitchen where the cat's food is but it's infrequent and she's usually in her high chair.

According to questions I've read, my thinking is just to keep cleaning and maybe get a black light but I'd like a 2nd opinion on what I could do to prevent my cat from peeing around her litter box.

  • Is your cat declawed?
    – Zaralynda
    Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 2:55
  • @Zaralynda Declawed in front only and spayed
    – curious
    Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 3:08
  • @Zaralynda what difference does declawing make to this kind of behaviour? Genuine question.
    – user6796
    Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 3:46
  • 2
    @YvetteColomb declawing is a practice made illegal in most places. In addition to making cats more defenseless against predators, it also results in non use of litter box by them
    – Sonevol
    Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 12:51
  • @Sonevol yes I wrote this pets.stackexchange.com/a/502/6796. I was unsure how it related to this particular issue.
    – user6796
    Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 14:01

2 Answers 2


The problem may be that your cat is declawed. When a declawed cat becomes elderly, they are significantly more likely to develop arthritis in their paws. With arthritis, walking on litter becomes much more painful. When the cat is also in early kidney failure, they are using the litter box much more often. They come to associate the litter box with paw pain, and thus avoid it.

If you haven't tried different litters yet, some folks report success switching to a newsprint based litter (but be aware that especially with a cat in kidney failure, this is going to require a lot more work from you). I've heard some success with corn based litters, but not as much as newsprint.

To be honest, we have an arthritic cat with early kidney failure who's not using the box, and we currently have puppy pads all around the area and change them out 3x a day. It's a hassle, but we're not constantly cleaning the floor while we try different litter configurations.

You can also take your cat to the vet to ask about arthritis treatment. There's nothing that is guaranteed to work in cats (the most common medications for human and dog arthritis are NSAIDS, but cats shouldn't take them long term). Your vet may offer Adequan (off label for cats, approved for dogs) or dietary supplements.

You can also manage her pain by making sure she doesn't have to jump/climb to her favorite spots, and giving her a heating pad (our elderly girl practically lives on her heating pad).


Updating to answer my question after a year has passed.

In the end, it does seem like my cat had a stress reaction or something along those lines. We did a really thorough clean using a specialized cleaning product, used the black light to be sure we covered everything and kept at it if needed.

Also bought a new litter box that is a little wider and lower in case it was arthritis like Zaralynda had mentioned (she doesn't seem to specifically prefer it nowadays although I do believe she has some arthritis, thanks for the pointer!).

I also made sure to give my cat more attention which was a bit scarce with a newborn. The behavior has completely stopped, thankfully!

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