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Protest Pissing: Why Your Cat Is Peeing Outside the Litter Box

29 Jul 2022.


It can be frustrating if your cat is protest pissing in inappropriate places. By nature, our furry friends are tidy creatures, and peeing outside his litter box can be a sign something isn’t right with Mr Whiskers. Is your cat protest pissing or leaving little ‘gifts’ outside his litterbox? Cat in a Flat dives into why your kitty might be peeing outside his litterbox and what you can do about it. 

What types of cat protest pissing are there? 

Marking behaviors 

It’s normal for cats to mark their territory in the wild. If you have a garden, you may have noticed your feline backing up to squirt urine onto bushes or fences. This is called marking. It alerts other cats that this is your fur friend’s territory. However, sometimes kitties bring outdoor marking indoors, which is not only unhygienic but also annoying for their humans. 

Note: Marking behaviors are more common amongst unneutered cats. There are many pros to neutering your cat, so consider doing so if you haven’t already. Not only will this help with marking behaviors, but you’ll have a happier and healthier fur friend too! 

Urine/stool deposits outside the litter box

This type of protest pissing can manifest in various ways. Your kitty might pee inside the litter box but poo outside, vice versa, or both pee and poo outside their litter tray. 

Reasons my cat is protest pissing

There can be a few reasons why your cat is protest pissing. Every kitty is different, and any type of inappropriate urination must be managed on a case-by-case basis. If your cat is protest pissing, they are trying to tell you something. Felines are very tidy and wouldn’t suddenly stop using their litter box or begin urinating around the house without good reason. 

Medical causes

If your kitty suddenly stops using his litter box, the first thing you should do is consult a vet. Inappropriate peeing, struggling to pee, or the sudden frequent need to pee can all be signs of a sick cat. For example, cystitis is a painful ailment that makes it difficult for your cat to pee, and can lead to so-called protest pissing outside the litter tray. Other illnesses like kidney and liver disease can make your fur friend thirstier, hence they’ll experience a frequent urgency to pee. In this case, the frequent need to urinate may mean Mr Whiskers isn’t able to reach his litter box in time and must resort to urinating elsewhere. 

Behavioral causes

If your vet gives your kitty a clean bill of health, then you will have to consider other reasons for why your cat is protest pissing. Inappropriate urination could indicate that your feline is feeling frustrated, stressed, or anxious. Felines are creatures of habit, so any sort of change—from moving house, to traveling with your cat, to introducing a new kitty into the home—can cause your fur friend to feel stress. Hence, he may be acting out by protest pissing outside the litter box. 

What to do if my cat is peeing outside the litter box

Mimic your cat’s scent

If your neutered cat is spraying the walls or furniture, he is most likely marking his territory because he’s anxious. Here are some ways to help your kitty feel more secure: 

  • Clean the marked area thoroughly with a ph neutral cleaner.
  • Rub your kitty’s face with a soft cloth to collect his unique scent. Rub the cloth on the furniture and walls where your cat sprays. Repeat this daily until your kitty stops spraying.
  • Spritz a pheromone agent like Feliway around the area — this mimics your fur friend’s scent and will help him to feel more relaxed. 

Change/update your cat’s litter box

Your cat may be peeing or pooing outside the litter box because he doesn’t like it or doesn’t want to share. Here’s what you can do: 

  • Make sure you have one litter box per cat, plus one more. This means if you have two fur friends you need three litter trays. 
  • Make sure any enclosed litter boxes are large enough for your kitty to comfortably stand up inside. Our fur friends prefer large, open litter trays and a too-small box could cause your cat to protest piss where they shouldn’t.
  • Make sure you have the right litter for your kitty. There are many options available, and you may have to try a few to find out what your cat prefers. Be patient! 
  • To stop protest pissing, make sure you top up the litter box with enough litter on a weekly basis. Also make sure to clean the litter tray at least once (or twice, if possible) a day. 
  • NEVER punish your cat for peeing or pooing outside their litter tray. Not only will this be damaging to your relationship with your fur friend, but it can lead to more protest pissing. 
protest pissing in cats

Help your cat adjust to changes

Changes in a cat’s life can often lead to unhygienic behavior such as protest peeing or pooping. Here are a few ways to help your kitty adjust to changes such as a move or a new pet in the home: 

  • If possible, introduce changes gradually over a few weeks. 
  • Make sure your feline has access to hiding places or elevated spots (such as cat trees) where they can feel safe. Cats love boxes because they make great hiding spots, so why not set a few around the house for your fur friend?
  • DON’T over handle your cat. While it may seem like the ideal way to comfort your kitty, picking them up, holding them, or over handling them can increase their feelings of stress. The best approach is to give your cat space to adjust and decompress. 

Help stop toilet bullying

Toilet bullying can occur if you have a multi-cat household. Sometimes when one kitty is using the litter box the other might attack the opening. This can cause one cat to associate their toilet with a bad experience and lead them to pee or poo outside the litter box. Here are some ways to prevent toilet bullying:

  • Make sure that there are enough litter boxes around your home so that each cat has access to their own (plus one extra). 
  • Avoid litter trays with hoods or lids as these only offer one way of escape. An open litter tray can make your kitty feel safer as they’ll be able to see if anyone is approaching while they are in the toilet. 
  • DON’T place litter trays in the open. The ideal location for a litter tray is in the corner of the room. This way Mr Whiskers can use the toilet while facing the room and still feel protected from behind.  

Note: Many kitties get stressed when their humans are away from home. If your cat is prone to protest pissing when you’re away, look for a cat sitter with experience dealing with anxious felines. You may also want to consider booking a cat sitter for twice daily visits. This way, Mr Whiskers will feel less stressed when you’re gone. 

Want to learn more about how felines communicate? Check out our blog posts on what your cat’s tail is telling you and a guide to your kitty’s facial expressions!

  • #cat behaviour
  • #catinaflat
  • #catsitting
  • cat behaviour
  • cat protest pissing
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