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Articles and Advice from our Pet Expert

Why does my cat pee outside the litter box but poop inside the box?


I have a problem with one of my cats. I have 2 females, one is middle aged and I had her since she was 6 weeks old. The other cat is almost 3 and we got her from the Humane Society when she was 10-12 weeks old. The cats play, fight, clean, and sleep with each other.

The younger has used the litter box without a problem for almost 2 years now, but now she urinates on carpet and walls in the hall right outside or near the cat area. We have a litter robot, so the cat litter is constantly freshened automatically. The litter robot was broken periodically for two months, so I know it couldn't have been as fresh as they were used to. Also, the limit of weight in the globe of the litter robot was 20 lbs. They said it is comfortable for 15 lbs., and she is 17 lbs. I got an extended globe that has a clear extended back to make more room, and let light in. We have used various products and sprays (including injecting it under the carpet), and have diffusers plugged in everywhere. I have a high powered black light flashlight to see all her areas. I bought the newest SpotBot, which seems to clean very well, but I am afraid she will continue to do this.

What else can I do?
Why would she pee outside the box but poop inside the box?
Could I be doing more harm than good?

Any Ideas would be much appreciated!


Dear “fed up with feline urination,”

Wow, sounds like you’ve tried a lot of ways to fix this annoying problem!

First of all, it is instinctual for a cat to use a litter box because in the wild, they would need to cover up their scent to avoid prey. You mentioned that this kitty used to urinate in the box, with no problem.

Of course, there can be times when they feel a need to spread their scent around to "mark" their territory. This usually happens if the cat is not fixed, or if they’ve had a significant change to their surroundings (new cat, dog, move, etc.) most often a cat has a strong, instinctual desire to go inside a litter box and "cover up." If your female cat is not spayed, this could be the reason.

When cats urinate or defecate outside the litter box, chances are it is because of something that is bothering them. Have there have been any dramatic changes at home that may be upsetting one or both of the cats? It could also be a symptom of an underlying health problem you are unaware of. Cats are really good at hiding health problems, so observing their changes in behavior may be your only hint that something is wrong.

I suggest you take the cats for a veterinary visit and talk to your vet about the possible roots of the behaviors. Inappropriate elimination can be caused by illness, anxiety or external changes in their environment.

Be sure kitty gets checked for urinary tract infection, because urinating outside the box is a common symptom.

Best of luck!

Kristen Buck60x60

Written by:
Kristen Levine, Pet Lifestyle Expert

July 27, 2011

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