Cats’ peeing in unusual places

Cats’ peeing in unusual places is a clear sign that something’s wrong because cats are, by nature, fastidious about their toilet.

If your cat is suddenly peeing on your bed, in the shower, or somewhere else unusual and had stopped using the litter box, she’s telling you there’s a problem.

Cats’ peeing in unusual places: possible causes

Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) is a term used to describe conditions that affect the urinary bladder and lower urinary tract (urethra) of cats.

The most common of these disorders are:

• Feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC)

• Crystals and stones in the bladder and urethra

• Urethral plugs, consisting of sloughed tissue, blood and inflammatory cells.

Other causes include bacterial cystitis (older cats), anatomical defects and neoplasia (new, or abnormal tissue growth) of urinary tract.

The focus of this article will be on FIC.

In 60 -70% of cats with FLUTD the cause of inflammation in the bladder is not known (not stones or infection). This is called FIC. There is evidence that the immune system, nervous system and endocrine system play a role in FIC.

Cats that are middle-aged and overweight are at higher risk.  Also cats that don’t exercise or have restricted, or no, access to outside. FIC is also more prevalent in multi-cat households.

Cats’ peeing in unusual places: symptoms

• Painful and increased frequency of urination.

• Blood in the urine

• Urinating outside the litterbox or in unusual/inappropriate places like the bed, bath or washbasin.

• Overgrooming around the genitals or abdomen: this is due to pain, irritation and inflammation of the bladder and urethra.

• Behaviour changes in litterbox use, like aggression or irritation.

• Straining to urinate. This is more common in males as their urethras are thinner and longer than those of females.

The condition is usually self-limiting and will resolve in about 3-7 days. Subsequent episodes occur acutely, and once or twice a year. As your cat gets older the severity and frequency of episodes can increase. A small number of cats have chronic symptoms.

Cats with FIC can develop functional obstruction of the urethra because of swelling and spasm of the urethra. Mechanical obstructions can also occur due to plugs forming in the urethra.

If your cat shows any of these symptoms it is important to take it to your vet to make sure what condition you are dealing with. The inability to pass urine can become life-threatening.

Manage your cat’s environment

We know that stress plays a huge role in FIC so managing your cat’s physical environment and social interactions is very important.

Sources of stress could be other cats (multi-cat household, intruder cat), a change in weather or diet, lack of activity, litterbox placement, litter type, owner’s work schedule, or the addition or absence of people or animals.

Manage stresses by:

• Providing a quiet hiding place away from foot traffic and other cats

• Erecting a climbing post and supplying your cat with toys to encourage movement

• Providing enough litterboxes in quiet, low-traffic areas for all of your cats (number of cats +1)

• Pheromone collars and sprays can also ease your cat’s emotional state

• Your vet might suggest changing to a prescription food, and more tinned food if possible.

The importance of water

It is essential to try to increase your cat’s water intake. This dilutes the urine and reduces the amount of inflammation-causing substances.

• Ensure easy access to fresh water.

• Use bowls with a wide surface area to avoid the cat’s whiskers touching, and always keep the bowl full.

• Offer a variety of water types – distilled water, warm tap water, cold tap water. Some cats prefer running water.

• Water can also be flavored with tuna or flavored ice cubes.

• Your cat might prefer a  glass, ceramic or stainless steel bowl. Experiment with each.

• Place  water bowls well away from litterboxes and don’t share bowls between cats.

• Feed the correct prescription food (canned form) in multiple small meals.

FIC is a very painful condition and your vet will prescribe painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs

A new type of cat litter that can detect small amounts of blood in the urine will be available soon. This will help in the detection and management of this condition.

Article by Dr Esmaré van der Walt, EberVet Pet Clinic

Department of Health COVID-19 updates available at


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