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Is your cat peeing or pooing in the house? This is the HOUSE SOILING thread!

Discussion in 'Cat Training and Behaviour' started by Ceiling Kitty, Jul 7, 2014.

  1. Ceiling Kitty

    Ceiling Kitty Hides away from much through humour...

    Mar 7, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Is your cat peeing or pooing in the house? You are not alone!

    House-soiling is a very common problem in domestic cats. In the States, around 72% of all cats given up to rescue shelters are euthanased, and for many of them problems with house soiling are the reason. Fortunately I don't often have to PTS healthy cats, but those I have done have almost all been down to house soiling issues.

    Many of these cats can be helped. Many of these owners can be helped.

    I've started this thread to try and help cats who are soiling in the house. For some of them, it can be the difference between life and death! :( Much of this information is based on the excellent new Guidelines on Feline House Soiling recently published by the AAFP/ISFM. The full article is free to view and can be viewed here: AAFP and ISFM Guidelines for Diagnosing and Solving House-Soiling Behavior in Cats Alternatively, I've tried to summarise it and simplify a few things below.

    There is a wealth of knowledge and experience on this forum; I hope others will post their thoughts or advice on this thread to help other cat owners to help their house-soiling cats.

    Thread contents
    Part 1: Normal marking and elimination behaviour in cats
    Part 2: Why cats might pee or poo in the wrong place
    Part 3: Creating the ultimate litter tray!
    Part 4: Understanding the five pillars of a healthy feline environment
    Part 5: Ruling out medical causes of house soiling
    Part 6: How to tackle urine marking
    Part 7: Cleaning up after house soiling
    Part 8: I've done all that - what now?

    Part 1: Normal marking and elimination behaviour in cats

    Kittens learn to use litter trays, where provided, around the age of 5-7 weeks of age. They may start by lying down in the trays, but progress to covering their wee and poo by around 7-8 weeks.

    Cats usually squat quite low down when they go for a wee, adopting a more raised posture to poo.

    A weeing cat:

    A pooing cat:

    Cats prefer a private location to toilet, often opting for secluded spots when outside. The litter tray must be positioned somewhere in the house that satisifies this desire for privacy (more later). They also toilet away from any food or water sources, and away from resting areas. Nobody wants to wee and poop where they sleep and eat - cats are the same!

    Marking is different to regular elimination. Cats use four ways of marking their environment:
    1. Rubbing - glands in the cat's face spread pheromones onto furniture, people and other pets when they rub their faces against them.
    2. Scratching - this leaves visual marks on surfaces and deposits scent from glands between the footpads.
    3. Urine spraying - as the name suggests.
    4. Middening - deposition of faeces in strategic locations, for the purpose of marking territory as opposed to simply 'going for a poo'. This is less common than urine spraying.

    Understanding urine spraying

    Cats usually spray urine against vertical surfaces. They park their bottom at the surface, raise their tail and may be seen to 'twitch' slightly as they spray. Some cats will also squat down and spray on a horizontal surface as well. The volume of urine sprayed is usually quite small, and is unrelated to the 'regular' urine the cat routinely passes in the litter tray.

    A cat spraying:

    Cats spray for three main reasons:

    1. Sexual behaviour - cats spray to advertise their presence to members of the opposite sex. Both sexes spray for this reason. Neutering will greatly reduce this type of spraying - though it's a common misconception that it will stop it altogether. Around 10% of neutered male cats will continue to spray, and around 4% of neutered female cats will.

    2. Territorial spraying - cats spray to leave their scent as a 'calling card' to other cats. Cats are non-confrontational and do not usually communicate with one another directly. Instead, they spray to leave signals for other cats to pick up later and show that they were in the area. This is NOT intended to be threatening towards the other cats - there is currently no evidence to suggest that other cats retreat from spray marks.

    3. Reactional spraying - this is a reaction to any kind of stress. Any change in the cat's environment may make it feel as thought it needs to leave its own scent around the place to reduce its anxiety. This can be achieved by spraying.

    Obviously, reasons 1 and 2 are normal - number 3 suggests a problem, and cats that spray indoors need help to make them feel more secure.

    Why do cats go back to spray in the same place again and again?
    The urine odour in the environment changes over time. Cats will return to mark the same place again frequently, to keep refreshing the scent.

    Why do cats mark certain inanimate objects?
    Some objects, by their very nature, are more vulnerable to being sprayed by cats. These items are those that disrupt the normal odour of the household. The cat will mark these to make them smell more of 'home'. Examples include:
    - electrical items that warm up - toasters, ovens etc
    - items that change in scent frequently - bags, shoes etc

    Part 2: Why cats might wee or poo in the wrong place

    There are four main diagnoses for house-soiling cats:

    1. Medical causes
    - FLUTD (feline lower urinary tract disease eg bladder stones, UTI, bladder tumours) - causes uncomfortable and/or urgent urination
    - chronic kidney disease - causes excessive urination
    - diabetes mellitus - causes excessive urination
    - arthritis or other musculoskeletal pain - can make it difficult for the cat to reach and use the litter tray
    - hyperthyroidism - can cause behavioural changes including confusion
    - cognitive dysfunction/dementia - can cause confusion

    2. FIC (feline idiopathic cystitis)
    This is a complex condition of cats that focusses around the bladder, but can also involve other parts of the body as well. There is no test that can diagnose it. It causes abnormal urination, bloody urine, painful urination and, sometimes (particularly in male cats), blockage of the bladder. Some more information on FIC can be found in this thread: http://www.petforums.co.uk/cat-heal...ystitis-afternoon-reading.html#post1063656149

    3. Marking behaviour
    As we know from part one of this post, some marking behaviour is normal in cats. However, when it happens inside the house or when caused by stress it is considered abnormal. Stress is VERY complex in cats - please don't write it off in your cat without reading through first.

    4. Elimination due to problems with the environment or for social reasons
    This can relate to problems with the type or location of the litter trays, interactions between cats preventing normal access to the litter tray or issues with people in the household stopping normal use of the litter tray.

    IMPORTANT NOTE: There may be more than one reason why a cat soils in the house!

    For example, a cat may suffer with arthritis that prevents him or her climbing into the litter tray, and this could be treated with pain medication. However, it may not solve the problem if the cat has built up a negative association with the tray (ie they associate using it with pain) and therefore have a behavioural aversion to it as well.

    The key to solving feline house soiling problems is to understand why they are happening in the first place!

    Here are some reasons that are NOT why a cat might pee or poo in the house:
    - spite
    - 'naughtiness'
    - sulking
    - anger
    - trying to punish the owner for something
    Seriously, cats don't have the capacity to do this. If your cat is peeing on the mat near the door, it's not because they are cross that you won't let them out. There is something else going on. Look for it, and do what you can to help them.

    Let's have less of this:


    And more of this:

  2. Ceiling Kitty

    Ceiling Kitty Hides away from much through humour...

    Mar 7, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Part 3: Creating the ultimate litter tray!

    Whatever the reasons behind your cat's house soiling problem, a review and revamp of your litter tray situation will always help. The AAFP/ISFM Guidelines advise an overhaul of litter trays in every category of house soiling. Here's how:

    Number of trays
    Make sure you have an adequate number of trays for your household. This section should really be called 'creating the ultimate litter trays', as ideally you will never have just one tray.

    Points to consider
    - the rule of thumb is one tray per cat, plus one extra. So, if you have three cats, you need at least four trays.
    - cats in the same social group* may be willing to share trays.
    - two trays next to each other will be seen as just one big tray by the cat - you need to place them in separate locations.
    - you should have at least one tray per floor of your house.

    *cats in a household naturally divide themselves into social groups, where all the cats are happy to eat and sleep together. You may be lucky enough to have one big social group, but usually you have two or more. A social group may consist of just one cat, so it is possible to have just two cats in your household and yet two social groups. It is important to know how many social groups you have in your house, and to manage them separately. Please read: http://www.cats.org.uk/uploads/documents/cat-care-leaflets-2013/EG11_Cats_living_together.pdf (especially page 5)

    Size of trays
    Make sure all the trays you have are a sufficient size for your cats. Litter trays that are too small can be awkward and uncomfortable for cats to use, or may result in overflow of urine/poo over the side of the tray. Waste and odours also build up faster in smaller trays, which will put many cats off using them.

    Points to consider
    - aim for a tray that is 1.5x the length of your cat from their nose to the base of their tail.
    - an adequate size for the average cat is about 50x40cm. Large breeds such as Maine Coons may need a much larger tray.
    - if you can't find a tray big enough, improvise - see section on 'types of trays'.

    Types of trays
    Make sure you provide the right type of litter tray for your cat. Cats are individuals and have different preferences as to the type of litter tray they like to use. Sometimes it comes down to practical reasons too - consider your cat's age and any medical conditions they have when choosing trays.

    Points to consider
    - if you have more than one cat, you may need to provide more than one type of tray.
    - a 2012 study showed that cats were split about 50-50 as to whether they preferred an open tray or a covered one.
    - open trays are preferable whenever possible as they don't hold odours quite as much, and are easier to monitor and clean.
    - a high-sided box can protect your walls from wayward urine and help cats feel more secure. Make sure there is a low side so your cat can get in and out easily - especially if they are elderly or arthritic.
    - improvise if you need to! A plastic storage box with a side cut out (cover sharp edges with duct tape) is large and readily available. Concrete mixing trays from DIY stores make good trays as well.

    The high sides on this home-made litter box will protect your walls from getting peed on - note the low entrance point for old or stiff cats. I would advise covering the sharp edges with duct tape, though:

    Here's another. Not all cats will like the really high sides - some prefer to be able to see out when they are going to the toilet, so they can't be crept up on!

    Location of trays
    Make sure the trays are in the right place! This is REALLY important. If the trays are in an unfavourable location you will find that your cats may not use them at all, or will find it so stressful using them that they soon give up and pee/poo elsewhere instead.

    Points to consider
    - do not place trays close to food/water bowls or resting areas. Cats do not like to toilet where they eat or sleep (would you?). Ideally trays should be in a separate room to these areas.
    - don't put trays right next to each other unless you count them as one large tray.
    - place trays in quiet locations away from household 'traffic'. Cats will feel stressed using a tray in a hallway where people, dogs etc are constantly going past and may seek somewhere more private to pee or poo.
    - if you have more than one cat, consider how they interact throughout the house. Some cats can block others from using trays, or sit and stare at them while they are toileting. Try to place trays to minimise this type of behaviour.

    Type of litter
    Choose a suitable litter that your cat is happy using. Remember that litter is marketed to people, not cats. Don't choose what YOU like best, choose what you think your cat will like best.

    Points to consider
    - fill trays to a depth of at least 3cm (1.25"). If the litter is too shallow it can stop the cat from scraping/digging properly.
    - cats generally find deodorisers offputting - steer clear if possible.
    - try to avoid litter tray liners as well.
    - consider adding soil or peat to the tray at first if your cat is used to toileting outside. Gradually mix in the new litter.

    How can you tell if your cat is unhappy with his or her litter trays?

    Well, for a start they won't use it! :D But even if they do, watching them in the tray can give you an idea of how comfy they are using it.

    Cats with house-soiling problems tend to dig at their litter less than those who don't, so you can sometimes use the amount of digging/scratching in the tray your cat does BEFORE they pee/poo to get an idea of how comfortable they are with the litter. The more comfortable they are, the more digging they'll do.

    Perching on the edge of the tray, with only one or two feet inside it, is another sign that the cat is uncomfortable about the litter.

    This cat may not be comfortable about the litter in her tray. Note that she's only putting her back feet in:


    If you're still not sure, you can conduct a 'litterbox test'. Provide a number of different types of tray (high-sided vs low-sided, covered vs open) with different litters (wood pellets, soil, Catsan etc) at different depths, and see which your cat prefers. Go with their choice and you'll maximise the chances of them using the trays in the future.

    Managing the litter tray

    Scoop the dirty litter out at least once a day (you may need to do it more often, up to 2-3 times daily). Replenish with fresh litter.

    Do a complete litter change weekly.

    Wash the litter tray once every 1-2 weeks with soap and hot water. Don't use strong detergents or deodorisers; these can put cats off. Avoid anything ammonia-based. If your cat has a difficult-to-shift UTI, you may need to wash the tray daily until it is cured.

    Part 4: Understanding the five pillars of a healthy feline environment

    Just like optimising your litter trays, understanding and implementing the five pillars of a happy, healthy feline household is compulsory in all cases of feline house soiling, regardless of the underlying cause.

    The full AAFP/ISFM guidelines for feline environmental enrichment can be found here: AAFP and ISFM Feline Environmental Needs Guidelines This really is worth a read for any cat owner, but I've tried to summarise it below for the purposes of this thread.

    Here are the five pillars:


    1. Provide a safe place
    Always allow your cat to withdraw from the world if they want to. Provide hiding places, ideally at a height. This will give the cat a feeling of control over their environment and reduce their anxiety.

    2. Provide multiple and separated key environmental resources: food, water, toileting areas, scratching areas, play areas, and resting or sleeping areas
    Every cat in your household should be able to access all of these without being hassled by other cats, other pets or people. Provide separate feeding stations for each cat - never force them to eat together - and ensure there are lots of different resting places. Also provide multiple trays in private locations as outlined in the previous part of this post.

    3. Provide opportunity for play and predatory behaviour
    Boredom causes stress, not to mention obesity (which can predispose to diabetes, arthritis and FLUTD - all on our list of medical causes of house soiling). Play with all your cats every day and stimulate their natural hunting behaviour. Cats respond better to short, frequent bursts of play with different toys - this better resembles hunting than one long session with one toy.

    4. Provide positive, consistent and predictable human–cat social interaction
    Bond with your cat. Be kind to them, and initiate/stop cuddles on their terms.

    5. Provide an environment that respects the importance of the cat’s sense of smell
    In their household, cats recognise a collective odour, which consists of the combined scents of all the people, cats, other pets, furniture etc under that roof. Anything that disrupts this collective odour can cause stress to cats. Try your best to avoid introducing new odours that can disrupt the collective odour - new detergents, new deodorants, new furniture, new pets. Of course, sometimes you have to make these changes - when you do, be aware of the effect they might have on your cat and take measures to ease the transition for them (more later).
  3. Ceiling Kitty

    Ceiling Kitty Hides away from much through humour...

    Mar 7, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Part 5: Ruling out medical causes of house soiling

    As we saw in part 2, there's a long list of possible medical problems that can cause a cat to soil in the house. Some cats may suffer from one or more of these conditions. What's more, ANY medical condition can cause stress and behavioural changes that might cause a cat to soil.

    Obviously, a trip to the vet is the first step in ruling these out - what happens next?

    Before you go to the vet:

    It is very helpful to create a 'Cat Floor Plan'. Draw a basic floor plan of your house (it doesn't have to be exactly to scale, don't worry). Mark on it the following things:
    - litter tray locations
    - windows/doors
    - cat flaps
    - food/water bowl locations
    - scratching posts
    - house soiling areas (preferably in order of occurrence if you know - number them)
    Your vet may find this information useful when they are asking you questions about your cat's problem and planning tests.

    It is also helpful to collect a urine sample, if you can, and take it with you to the vet's.

    How do I get a urine sample?!
    - use a suitable container. Collect a specimen pot from your vet or doctor's surgery, or sterilise a clean jar or plastic container with boiling water and use this.
    - if your cat has peed on a non-absorbent surface, such as the kitchen floor, use a syringe or dropper to suck some up. Your vet will be able to provide you with a syringe if you pop in and ask for one.
    - non-absorbable cat litters are available (eg Catrine, Katkor). Pop them in the litter tray and syringe up the urine when your cat goes for a pee.
    - the fresher the urine sample, the better - anything over 12 hours old is not useful, unfortunately. If you need to pop the sample into the vet's before your appointment, go for it.
    - if you can't get a sample, don't panic. In most cases your vet can take a sample by gently popping a needle into your cat's side and into the bladder (more below).

    This is Catrine, an example of a non-absorbable litter suitable for obtaining a urine sample from your cat:

    What happens at the vet's?
    The vet will ask you loads of questions about the soiling and about your cat's health in general. They will also examine your cat for signs of any medical disorders, and may recommend further tests based on this.

    What tests might be needed?
    This really depends on the physical examination findings, and whether your cat is peeing or pooing in the house. Your vet will advise you on what the best course of action is. Here are some examples of tests that might be suggested:

    Tests for urine soiling
    - urine tests* to check the concentration of the urine and rule out UTI.
    - abdominal X-rays and/or ultrasound to look for bladder stones.
    - blood tests for kidney disease, diabetes and hyperthyroidism.

    *a urine sample caught at home is very useful for basic urine tests. If you are unable to catch a sample at home, or if your vet wants to send urine for bacterial culture, they may take a sample from your cat in the hospital. This is done via cystocentesis - gently popping a needle into the cat's side to drain a sample from the bladder. This is painless and takes seconds.

    Here's a video of cystocentesis:

    Tests for faecal soiling
    - faecal analysis - always collect poo samples over 3 days if your vet asks for a specimen to be sent away. This is more accurate than a one-off sample.
    - rectal exam under sedation or anaesthetic.
    - blood tests as for urine soiling.
    - abdominal/plevic X-rays.
    - if diarrhoea or constipation are involved, further tests to look at bowel function may be needed as well, including more detailed blood tests, abdominal ultrasound scans or intestinal biopsy.

    What if something is found on all these tests?
    You vet will advise you on the best options for treatment or further diagnostics. Hopefully, successful treatment should result in improvement or resolution of the house-soiling signs; however, it's important to be aware that your cat may also have developed some behavioural issues relating to toileting during their illness and there may be more work to do. To re-use an example from earlier - your cat may be diagnosed with arthritis and provided with pain medication, but they still might find it difficult to climb into the litter tray or may be averse to it because they associate it with pain. Using a litter tray with lower sides can help encourage your cat to use the tray again.

    And what if the tests are all clear?
    Then you are looking at a behavioural reason for the house soiling - your cat is either demonstrating marking behaviour, or not using the litter tray because of some environmental reason.

    NB - extensive tests cannot 100% rule out FIC (feline idiopathic cystitis). This is in itself a diagnosis of exclusion and there is no 'FIC test' that exists to directly rule it in or out.

    Some notes on the treatment and management of FIC

    A full discussion of FIC is beyond the scope of this thread. Your vet will be able to talk you through the management options, which can involve many of the environmental changes we mentioned here in parts 3 and 4.

    Also, iCatCare has an excellent page on the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and management of this complicated and frustrating condition:
    Feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC) | international cat care
    Torin., iUmka, ZoeM and 1 other person like this.
  4. Ceiling Kitty

    Ceiling Kitty Hides away from much through humour...

    Mar 7, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Part 6: How to tackle urine marking

    Part 1 of this post told us that urine spraying/marking is a normal behaviour in cats. It is a form of communication between cats for sexual or territorial reasons, or can serve to mark the environment with the cat's scent and help him/her feel more secure within it.

    However, it can obviously be a problem when it happens in the house! :(

    How do we resolve it? Remove the reasons to spray!

    Stop spraying for sexual reasons

    Neuter the cat. 'Nuff said.

    Stop spraying for territorial reasons

    1. Cats will return to previously marked areas to refresh the scent, so you need to break the cycle. Clean urine-soiled areas frequently, thoroughly and carefully. There is more on this in part 7 - be warned, it can be a mammoth task and you'll need time and commitment.

    2. Improve the cat's territorial security. If they're feeling secure in their territory, they won't feel the need to mark it out.
    - identify the social groups in your household (see part 3) and treat them separately: this means separate resting areas, water bowls, scratching posts etc.
    - feed cats alone. They don't need or want to feel like they are competing for food. It'll stress them out.
    - consider physically separating the social groups from one another if possible.
    - ensure that no strange cats are looking in from outside (more below).
    - review your litter tray locations, as in part 3. Make sure they provide adequate privacy for cats using them.

    3. Allow cats to regain group scent when they return from the vet, cattery etc. A cat that returns home from somewhere else will introduce new smells and may encourage other cats to start marking to recreate the 'normal' odour in the house. Confine the re-introduced cat to one room while they regain the scent - rub them with a blanket or piece of clothing from the house, and rub them with a cloth that has also been in contact with cheek glands of the other cat(s).

    Stop spraying due to insecurities and stress

    What are the causes of stress? To eliminate/reduce them, first you need to find them.

    If the spraying is happening near external windows/doors or catflaps, then the 'threat' is coming from outside. Other cats in the neighbourhood can be a significant source of anxiety for our cats.
    - if they're coming through the cat flap, consider using a flap that's activated by a magnet collar or your cat's microchip so that only your own cat(s) have access.
    - if they're staring through the windows, consider ways to block them. Block the windows with plants, blinds, opaque/translucent window coverings or temporary frosting.
    - put plastic carpet protectors upside-down outside the window/door. This will be uncomfortable and discourage other cats from sitting outside your house and stressing your own cats.
    - if your cats are indoor only, investing in motion-activated water sprinklers for the garden can discourage other cats from walking through.

    If the spraying is happening around internal doorways or in the middle of rooms, then the 'threat' is coming from inside. Again, assess the relationship between your own cats. What else could be a cause of stress? Your dog(s)? Children or other family members? Visitors? Be aware of, and address, these sources as best you can.

    Helping reduce stress in cats

    Feliway is a synthetic version of the feline facial pheromone (the one they spread when they rub their faces on things), which can help create a more welcoming environment for your cat. It is available in two forms:
    1. A diffuser that you plug into an electric socket, and it fills the room with the (odourless) pheromones. One diffuser will do one floor of an average-sized house, provided doors are usually open. If you have a lot of doors closed or your house is large then admittedly you will need more. At least place diffusers in the room(s) where the cats spend most of their time. Each refill lasts 4-6 weeks.
    2. A spray that can be applied to any new objects introduced into the house, or to any areas that are frequently sprayed on by the cat.

    Here is more information about Feliway: Feliway for cats

    Other measures include Zylkene and KalmAid, two non-medicated supplements containing natural remedies to help calm cats. Zylkene is a capsule to be emptied onto food; KalmAid comes as beef-flavoured (crushable) tablets, a caramelly liquid or a gel that you can put on the cats' paws to be licked off. There are no guarantees with these things but they are side-effect free (bar the odd tummy upset) and they don't break the bank. No prescription is needed.

    Zylkene: Home
    KalmAid: Nutri-Science» KalmAid

    A Feliway diffuser:

    Part 7: How to clean up after house soiling

    While you're busy identifying and tackling the causes of your cat's house soiling behaviour, you should also be hard at work removing the traces of pee and poo from your home. This is obviously important for hygiene reasons and your own sanity, but if you can do a good job of removing traces of urine from the environment then you will reduce the chances of your cat re-marking the same spots.

    If you can, get your hands on one of these - a UV black light. You can get them for just a few quid online. These will show up urine marks in the house and help you with the cleaning process.

    Note: with any cleaning products, always test an inconspicuous area first to make sure it doesn't damage or discolour the fabric or surface!

    Avoid anything with AMMONIA in it - this smells like urine to cats and will encourage futher marking!


    The best solution to use is a 10% solution of normal biological washing powder in warm water. This will remove the protein components of the urine. You will need to clean a BIG area - often a patch 2-3 times the size of the urine stain - because the scent will diffuse through the carpet.

    After doing this, spraying with isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol - widely available online, or ask your chemist) can help remove the fat component of the urine and complete the job.

    The trouble with carpets is that the urine soaks into the underlay and sometimes into the floor itself. You may need to pull up the carpet for a few days and clean the floor separately. If the underlay/foam layer is damp, cut out the affected section and replace it. Use a concrete sealer if appropriate or a polyurethane or other sealant product if there is wood

    In severe/prolonged cases, you may need to actually replace the carpet. :(

    Upholstery / fabric furniture

    Use a product intended for these products, such as leather or fabric cleaner. As with carpets, you will need to treat an area 2-3 times larger than the urine patch itself.

    Wooden floors or skirting boards

    The best way to clean these is with a wood soap (such as Murphy's: Murphy Oil Soap - Natural Wood Cleaner for Floors & Furniture) and then seal any gaps with a silicone sealant to stop urine getting into the cracks.

    Concrete floors

    We usually don't recommend using bleach when cleaning up after cat accidents, but concrete is one surface in which we make an exception. Make a dilute solution with warm water (1 tbsp of bleach to 4-5 litres water) and scrub the area clean. Keep pets and children away while it dries, and make sure you ventilate the area well. Don't use anything with ammonia in it!


    Pop in the washing machine using your usual detergent.

    For a bit more information on cleaning up after house-soiling cats, here's what iCatCare has to say on the matter:

    Part 8: I've done all that - what now?

    If you are reading this as the owner of a house-soiling cat, I sincerely hope that you haven't jumped straight to this section, or just skimmed the bits above. If you have, go back to the beginning and read it through properly, TWICE, then try some of the suggestions.

    If you have genuinely done everything you feel you can - had the all clear from the vet, made meaningful changes to your house, provided a good feline environment and taken measures to reduce stress in your cats, then it is understandable that you are at the end of your tether.

    Here are some options open to you:

    1. Medications
    There are a variety of medications available to treat house soiling in cats. Virtually all are unlicensed (which means they are not officially marketed for cats and have not been tested for safety or efficacy) and many have side effects. Many of them are anti-depressants. Some, such as the hormonal treatment Ovaban, are only recommended for use as a last resort if the only alternative is euthanasia. Speak to your vet about medications; they may feel that it is not a suitable option for your cat, or may need to look into it further.

    2. Referral to a behaviourist
    Difficult or refractory cases often benefit from referral (via the vet) to a good behaviourist. This can be costly, but is definitely worth it as these cases are often life-or-death for the cat. Ask your vet if you would like a referral.

    3. Rehoming
    House soiling cats are (understandably) very hard to rehome. Rehoming should only be considered if the cause of the house soiling has been identified as an environmental stressor that cannot be corrected. Examples of this may include the cat who is so stressed by living as part of a multi-cat household who would benefit from being an only cat, or the cat who has a medical condition but cannot be effectively medicated because the owner is elderly or disabled. Your local veterinary practice or rehoming/rescue centres may know of some potential homes that are suitable; Cats Protection operates a Home-From-Home scheme where they will 'advertise' the cat for rehoming on your behalf and carry out home checks.

    4. Euthanasia
    This should be a last resort. Most vets will (reasonably) be reluctant to do this and may refuse unless they know that everything else has already been tried.

    Final thoughts

    House soiling is a frustrating problem, but in many cases it can be managed. It always requires commitment and patience, and often money and investment. BE PATIENT - even in curable cases with excellent management, you cannot expect resolution overnight. It can take weeks or months for progress to occur, so don't give up.

    This forum is an excellent source of advice and support. I hope others will post below with their own experiences and suggestions.

    In the meantime, here are some links:

    ICC: Soiling indoors | international cat care

    The Guidelines: AAFP and ISFM Guidelines for Diagnosing and Solving House-Soiling Behavior in Cats

    If this thread helps just ONE cat, then I'll be happy.

  5. Polski

    Polski PetForums VIP

    Mar 16, 2014
    Likes Received:
    Didn't want to read and run, especially not after typing your fingers to the bone!

    I have a problem pee'er but without rehoming the other 6 cats I can't see me being able to change him and as he is so bonded to me I don't think rehoming him would work either, for him or me. It would be like giving away one of my kids. Ah well, I'm sure those that truly love me will put up with the faint whiff of eau de pee from time to time. :D
  6. mudgekin

    mudgekin PetForums VIP

    Apr 21, 2014
    Likes Received:
    What an amazing post. I had a cat 20 odd years ago that peed everywhere and it was really soul destroying. We didn't rehome or have her pts until she became ill but if I had had these tools available things may have been better.

    This needs to be a sticky.
    #6 mudgekin, Jul 8, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2014
  7. Citrineblue

    Citrineblue PetForums VIP

    Sep 28, 2012
    Likes Received:
    An amazing thread, clear fantastically useful information for anyone taking on a new cat and for those with issues.

    Thank you yet again.......
    Temporally_Loopy likes this.
  8. Charity

    Charity Endangered Species

    Apr 17, 2013
    Likes Received:
    That is really good reading, thanks Shosh for all your hard work.
  9. oliviarussian

    oliviarussian Meeoow!

    Sep 2, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Great to have all the info in one place....Maybe ask Mods to make it a stickie!

    Well done Shosh, I'm always so impressed by just how much time some members on here spend advising and helping out with kitty problems, It really is what makes this place special!
  10. Torin.

    Torin. PetForums VIP

    May 18, 2014
    Likes Received:
    Oooh, conveniently-timed info! Don't suppose you have a link to a suitable-but-cheap UVA light ("blacklight")?
  11. Forester

    Forester trained by Dylan

    Dec 2, 2012
    Likes Received:
    Wow !, Thanks Shosh.

    I haven't read every single word but that's the most comprehensive post I have every seen. You deserve an honour for all that you do to help the feline population and their slaves.

    I don't have a house soiling cat but if I ever do I would like to be able to refer to this mega post. It needs to be stickied. I'll PM a mod to request it in case it hasn't already been done.

    I hope that your fingers aren't too sore Shosh.
    #11 Forester, Jul 8, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2014
  12. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

    Nov 22, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Fantastic post Shoshannah! Brilliant! :)

    Thank you so much for that, it will save me loads of time, bless your heart.
    From now on instead of me typing my responses in detail to posts about house soiling cats, I can simply post a link to your thread.:thumbup1:;):)

    This thread absolutely MUST be made into a sticky! :) Please ask the mods a.s.a.p. :)

    Thank you again for all the great contributions you make to the forum.:)
  13. peecee

    peecee PetForums Senior

    Jun 28, 2010
    Likes Received:
    EXcellent source of information. Like the idea of making your own litter trays. I have a real problem with pee and poo on the walls.

    A bit of an unrelated question but why do some cats not cover?
  14. oggers86

    oggers86 PetForums VIP

    Nov 14, 2011
    Likes Received:
    I would like to know this too! The girls cover their toilet for the most part but Elsworth has never covered. He digs a nice hole but as soon as he is done he leaps out of the tray. If he goes back to an unscooped tray he will cover up the previous toilet, dig another hole and repeat the process.
  15. Ceiling Kitty

    Ceiling Kitty Hides away from much through humour...

    Mar 7, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Thank you all for your kind words. I read the article and thought: 'I/we see so many cats with house soiling problems, surely many of them can be helped with really simple changes?'

    I hope this thread is of help - if we all make contributions then it will be a great starting point for anyone who comes on here with a house soiling cat.

    So if you have any additions, clarifications or corrections, just let me know and I shall edit the posts accordingly. :)
  16. carly87

    carly87 PetForums VIP

    Feb 11, 2011
    Likes Received:
    This needs to be made a sticky!
  17. Torin.

    Torin. PetForums VIP

    May 18, 2014
    Likes Received:
    It was made one a good few hours ago heh.
  18. JBird

    JBird PetForums Newbie

    Mar 21, 2014
    Likes Received:
    Hi ShoShannah,

    Thank you for sharing all of this. I have 3 cats (2 7yr old sisters and a 15 month boy) and have had poo problems with one of the girls for about 6 months.

    I've sent a sample to the vets which came back with extra e-coli but nothing serious and have been trying different foods to stop her runs ever since. I've narrowed it down to Butchers (as long as I take the thick jelly layer off the bottom) and Ropo cat Sensitive. Poos are no longer loose.

    Additional tray upstairs, we had 3 in the kitchen already which all 3 cats used for wees. This has improved things a bit, she poos every couple of days on the floor now rather than every day.

    However, from your advice I'm going to try relocating another tray upstairs and see if this improves things & put it in a more discrete location.

    I'm also interested in the social groups. The girl with the poo problem is very much a loner, the other two are close. At the moment they are all fed together and often end up swapping bowls / stealing each others so it's logical that this causes stress.

    She always goes in the downstairs hall, against the porch door (cats never use this door, always out the back of the house), so I think that implies it's an internal stressor.

    I'll let you know how we get on, fingers crossed!! I'll try anything! :)
  19. Paddypaws

    Paddypaws PetForums VIP

    May 4, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Thank you so much for this information Shoshannah!
    I have been battling a complex situation with house soiling for several months now so it is a subject I am very interested in.
    I find the high sided storage boxes can be ideal for home made trays...Ikea sell the perfect size and they are opaque so the cats can keep an eye on any approaching enemies.
    I have found puppy training pads, or Incontinence pads to be very useful as temporary measures to block further damage to vulnerable areas.
    Lastly I have found this litter to be invaluable
    Cat Attract Clumping Litter 18kg (40lbs) | eBay
    cat seem to find it almost irresistible so it is worth the hefty price tag.
    Temporally_Loopy likes this.
  20. Ceiling Kitty

    Ceiling Kitty Hides away from much through humour...

    Mar 7, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Aw bless her! Yes, please let us know how you get on. Good luck! :) xx

    I hope you make some headway - have you read the original article? There is a link to it somewhere at the end of the post - it's free to view via the JFSM site. :) xxx
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