While some cats struggle to use the litter box due to the placement of the box or the type of litter, avoiding the litter box may be a sign of a medical problem. Here are 5 medical reasons your cat may be avoiding the litter box and all are plenty of reason to take your kitty to the vet.
1) Spraying: If your cat has not been spayed or neuter, it is likely that he or she will start spraying urine to mark their territories or attract mates. While this behavior is more common in males, females are also known to spray. Neutering or spaying your cat while they are still kittens will likely prevent them from spraying indoors. If you wait until they have reached sexual maturity before neutering, your cat may continue the spraying behavior.
2) Urinary Tract Infection/Problems: On top of urinating out of the litter box, other symptoms of urinary tract problems in your kitty include straining to urinate, frequent urinating, and bloody urine. Your veterinarian can provide you with special litter that will allow you to collect a urine sample for testing. Treatments vary depending on if the symptoms are being caused bacteria, stones or crystals, etc.
3) Blockage: Usually caused by urinary crystals, stones, or other debris, complete blockage of the urinary tract can be fatal. The blockage may happen in the urinary tract itself or in the bladder and may require surgery. Urinary blockage is relatively common in male cats and should be treated immediately. If you are concerned that your cat may be blocked, call your veterinarian or your local emergency veterinary clinic right now.
4) Arthritis: This diagnosis may seem unrelated to urinating in the house, but this is directly related to the litter box itself. If your kitty has got joint inflammation or other pain, it may be too painful for him or her to step into the litter box or climb to a different floor of your home to get to the box. Your veterinarian will need to do a physical exam and may perform x-rays on your pets to determine if arthritis is playing a roll in your cat’s behavior.
5) Thyroid, Liver, or Kidney Problems: While the thyroid controls hormone production, the liver and kidneys perform detoxifying functions to the body. Issues with any of these organs can lead to frequent urination along with other symptoms. Blood and urine tests should be performed to rule any of these conditions out.
Keep in mind that if your cat is doing something differently than usual, it’s his or her way of trying to tell you something is wrong. Your cat may be avoiding the litter box simply because the process of urinating is painful and he or she may think “maybe if I go somewhere else, it will hurt less.” Another note to remember is that all of these conditions should be treated by a professional veterinarian. Here at Emerald Animal Hospital, we are able to run blood and urine tests, administer x-rays, and even perform surgeries. Call us at 216-749-7161 with your questions and to set up an appointment for your feline friend.