We love nothing more than mail from our patients, especially if they tell us how they can achieve a happier, healthier life. This inside scoop on our patients’ thoughts and feelings can help us guide pet owners on providing the best for their four-legged companions. Check out this letter we recently received from Pepperoni,* a handsome red tabby cat who was unhappy with his litter box accommodations.
Dear Countryside Veterinary Hospital,
I need help.
In the past, your team has always been incredible at handling my problems, whether bad breath from my dental disease, or that embarrassing bald spot on my hind end because my mom forgot to administer a flea preventive to my flea-allergic self. But, my current issue is much more delicate than a naked butt—I need help in the bathroom.
My family doesn’t seem to understand my pleas for help when I urinate in better accommodations, such as their bed, living room rug, or pile of clean clothes. Instead, I’m scolded and shunned when I ask for help. I also overheard my dad threatening to take me to the animal shelter.
I’m in dire straits here, and need someone to tell my family what is bothering me, since they don’t seem to listen to me. Here is my list of demands—ahem, I mean litter box requirements:
- My litter box shall be scooped out twice daily to ensure no large clumps can interfere with my business.
- My litter box shall be thoroughly disinfected weekly to maintain proper hygiene and cleanliness. No reusing the old litter, please!
- My litter box shall be placed away from prying eyes. I prefer to go to the bathroom in private, thank you very much.
- My litter box shall be large enough for me to comfortably fit inside and allow room for scratching.
- My litter box shall not be covered. I’m claustrophobic.
- My litter shall be a fine substance that clumps well and is unscented. Remember, I’m a manly tomcat, so no perfumed toilets for me.
- My litter box shall be placed in a quiet location. The rumbling washing machine and dryer do not help a cat concentrate on important business.
- My bathroom facilities shall consist of at least two litter boxes, more if you add another cat to the household. A man’s gotta have options when choosing the perfect elimination station.
Really, is it too much to ask my family to fulfill these requirements? I don’t think I’m being unreasonable. They flush their toilet after every use, but I’m stuck waiting for someone to scoop and refresh mine, which sometimes is hours! Can you really blame me if I search for a clean spot to urinate? Not to mention, the new puppy is stressing me out, and always trapping me when I’m most vulnerable. Baby Rover does not understand proper bathroom etiquette, and I really need privacy.
If the Countryside Veterinary Hospital team would be so kind as to relay this message to my family, I’d appreciate it. And please tell them that once these litter box issues are resolved, I promise to use my box appropriately, and not look for different accommodations.
Thank you in advance for your assistance,
Why do cats urinate outside the litter box?
In Pepperoni’s case, stress and inadequate litter box hygiene led to his inappropriate elimination. However, numerous medical and behavior issues can also cause a cat to urinate and defecate outside the litter box, including:
- Urinary tract infection
- Feline idiopathic cystitis
- Kidney disease
- Intestinal parasites
- Gastrointestinal disease
- Anxiety caused by intercat aggression, or environmental or schedule changes
Cats are highly sensitive, and any change in routine can upset their bathroom habits. Rearranging your furniture, having a party, or adding a new household pet can cause your cat to eliminate outside their litter box, as can dirty litter, the incorrect litter type, or a poorly placed box. Ruling out hygiene issues and medical causes is the first step, as these problems are the easiest to resolve. Behavior issues can be more difficult to diagnose and manage, and can take time to correct. Whatever the cause, a thorough physical exam and diagnostic testing is necessary to ensure your feline friend doesn’t suffer from a painful urinary tract infection or stress and anxiety.
If your cat isn’t such a skilled letter writer as Pepperoni, schedule an appointment with our Countryside Veterinary Hospital team. We’ll get to the bottom of your cat’s inappropriate elimination and help them find their way back to the box.
*Pepperoni is a fictional cat. Of course, we know cats don’t have thumbs that can grip writing implements, but his letter states what we think a cat would say when they are unhappy about their bathroom facilities.