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Doc Sara
Doc Sara, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 952
Experience:  I am a dog and cat veterinarian with a lifetime of experience in our family veterinary hospital.
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My cat urinates on carpet when i go away on a short or trip.

Customer Question

my cat urinates on carpet when i go away on a short or long trip. he is an inside/outside cat but is inside when i am away. i always have someone come in to check on him daily when i go. he is 10.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Doc Sara replied 1 year ago.

Good evening, I'm Dr. Sara. I'm a licensed veterinarian who works exclusively with cats and dogs. I'm sorry to hear that you're having difficulty with your kitty and his litter box habits. I know from first hand experience how difficult this can be - I've been there. There will be a delay of 5-10 minutes while I type up some thoughts for you.

~Dr. Sara

Expert:  Doc Sara replied 1 year ago.

Firstly, even though it is very likely behavioral, it's still always a good idea to have your kitty checked out by the vet for health problems like thyroid disease, kidney disease, diabetes, and urinary tract inflammation and infection. If he gets the "all clear" medically, then we've confirmed a behavioral issue (which I highly suspect).

The first thought that I have about your situation in particular is that if he's only urinating inappropriately when you're away, it's likely stress related. I would focus on using products like feliway - it's a pheromone product that calms anxieties in kitties. My favorite way to deliver feliway is though a diffuser (it's like a glad plug in). The Sentry Good Behavior collar contains similar ingredients but it's worn on the kitty 24/7 so it's always there. Confining him to an area where there are fewer options for him to pee on would also be a reasonable idea when you're going to be away. If he's used to being let outside, then this is very likely to be his way of complaining about not being able to get out. Perhaps if you have someone to stay at your home who could allow him to follow his usual routine, it would help. I know when we are on vacation and our cats don't get outside they absolutely trash the litter boxes and pee and poop next to them.

I think that the above suggestions are the most important, but I'm going to include everything else that I've got on house soiling in case anything is new for you:

Cats are super fastidious, so some are very sensitive to a dirty litter box. Some cats absolutely will not pee or poop in a box that's not immaculate, so watching the boxes for cleanliness is important. Cats also tend not to like hoods on their boxes (especially bigger cats - they get too cramped) so I always recommend removing hoods from boxes. Cats also don't like to eat and potty in the same place, so food and water dishes shouldn't be near the litter box.

The ideal number of cat boxes is the number of cats in the home PLUS ONE. Each box should be in a separate spot - a cat will look at two boxes right next to each other as one box, so spread them out. Make sure there's at least one box on each floor of your home too, in case stairs are an issue, perhaps for an older arthritic cat. Boxes should be far from very noisy or unpredictable areas. A washer or dryer or furnace kicking on at just the wrong time can startle a cat and turn them off from the box entirely.

It's also a good idea to try a new type of litter. I usually recommend ADDING a new box rather than changing any of the existing boxes. If you're using clumpable litter, I'd rotate through trying pine litter (Feline Pine), recycled newspaper litter (Yesterday's News), crystal type litters, or corn cob litter. Sometimes you'll find that he will like one of these new litters better.

Lastly, I would consider a course of anti-anxiety medication like fluoxetine. In many of my patients this alleviates or eliminates the problem. Social stresses in a multicat household or other anxiety disorders in cats will commonly manifest as house soiling.

As I said, I absolutely appreciate how difficult this problem is - I've been there myself. I'm sorry that you're having to deal with this. Please let me know if I can elaborate on any of those individual things that I mentioned - as I'd be happy to do so :)

~Dr. Sara

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Expert:  Doc Sara replied 1 year ago.

I regret that I'm not able to communicate by phone, however your request is active and available to all the other experts.

What other questions can I answer for you?

~Dr. Sara