Cat Behaviour Problems House Soiling – Synopsis

House soiling or feline inappropriate elimination, is the most common behavioural complaint of cat owners. The problem may be urine and/or stool deposited outside of the litter box, or marking behaviours. When cats urinate on vertical surfaces, it is known as spraying or marking. Usually the cat backs up to a vertical surface, raises its tail, which may quiver, treads with its back feet, and directs a stream of urine backwards (see (42) Marking and Spraying Behaviour and (40) House Soiling).

The first step is to rule out medical causes. Any disease of the urinary tract that causes increased discomfort, volume or frequency of urination can cause house soiling with urine. Similarly any disease affecting the intestinal tract that causes increased discomfort, volume or frequency could lead to house soiling with stools.

Medical problems in which the pet cannot control its urine or stool (incontinence), and conditions that cause pain or stiffness so that the cat cannot comfortably enter and use the litter box should also be ruled out. Once a cat has persistently eliminated outside of the litter box for medical reasons, the cat may learn to eliminate in the wrong location. Therefore, even if the medical problem has been resolved, behavioral therapy may be needed to re-establish regular use of the box.

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