Our question this week was:We received our cat Khan (male) from the SPCA. He's a purebred Persian. Everything was fine until my family decided to go vacation. Instead of putting him in a kennel I had my mom watch him. Well since he has been home he refuses to use the litterbox. My mom has 4 other cats, 2 of which are males, but all her cats as well as mine have been fixed. Khan does not use the litter box at all, total refusal. Is this him just kind of spraying or an underlying medical condition? Please help as I am desperate. He never had a problem before, and he didn't have a problem at my Mom's house.
Hi – thanks for your email. I'm very sorry to hear about your problem. I'm glad you asked the question– is the problem medical or behavior? So many cat owners assume inappropriate urination is behavior to later find out that it was medical. The only way to know for sure is to take him to your vet and have his urine tested. If it is a medical problem, the treatment is different.
Inappropriate elimination is the most common behavioral problem in cats. It is not uncommon for some cats to have this behavioral problem after a stressful event or a cat being placed in a high-stress situation such as a home with 4 other cats in a place he doesn't know. Kennels can be stressful as well. I think the least stressful way to leave a cat is to have a house sitter stay or care for your cat in your own home. This can be more expensive but is the least stressful option for most cats.
So, in summary – I'd recommend having your cat evaluated to determine if it is a medical or behavioral problem. If it is medical, follow your vet's treatment recommendations.
If it is behavioral, an article that might be helpful to you is Inappropriate Elimination in Cats
. Also this article is very good – Top Reasons Cats Won't Use the litterbox
. This goes through common reasons and solutions you can try at home.
Best of luck!
P.S. How do the rest of you handle a cat that urinates outside of the litter box? Any tips? Send me your pet tips
To read most recent questions Click here!Click here to see the full list of Ask Dr. Jon Questions and Answers!