Why is my Cat not using the Litter Tray?

Why is my Cat not using the Litter Tray?

Why is My Cat Not Using The Litter Tray?

It’s been a long day at work and you come home to find a little present on the carpet- or bed- from your feline friend. No, this isn’t a sign that your kitty is mad at you. Nor is he/he having a little practical joke. Inappropriate toileting is your cat’s way of telling you that something is wrong.

Cats are naturally very clean animals and are taught to use the litter by their mothers from a young age. Toileting outside the litter tray is highly unusual behaviour and a sign that it is time for your kitty to visit the vet.


Causes of Inappropriate defaecation Causes of inappropriate urination
–        stress

–        diarrhoea

–        arthritis

–        stress

–        stress induced cystitis

–        UTI

–        Natural spraying by undesexed males

 What happens at the vet visit?

Physical exam

Your vet will perform a thorough physical examination to check for any underlying disease. Some causes of inappropriate toileting such as arthritis will be evident on physical exam.

Urine testing

Your vet will likely require a urine sample for further diagnosis. Urinalysis allows your vet to determine the functionality of the kidneys as well as assess bladder health. This may involve taking an on the spot sample with a needle or sending you home with special litter to collect a sample and bring in later.

Urinalysis involves scanning urine for the presence of blood, crystals, bacteria and inflammatory cells. Testing also allows your vet to measure the concentration of urine, pH, glucose and ketone levels. If a bacterial infection is found your vet may suggest sending the urine to a laboratory to culture and identify the bacteria to aid their choice in antibiotics.

Additional testing

Your veterinarian may suggest additional testing such as blood tests, ultrasonography or CT depending on the history of your cat and their findings on physical exam.

Stressy cat? Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (Stress Induced Cystitis) may be the cause.

Cats are very sensitive animals and are easily affected by stress. The most common way that stress presents itself in cats is inappropriate toileting habits. Cats are creatures of habit and anything which varies in their usual routine can be a source of stress. Moving, a new cat in the environment, new people in the house and even new furniture may cause a cat to stress.

It is common for a highly stressed cat to present with idiopathic cystitis. Idiopathic cystitis is inflammation of the lining of the bladder of unknown cause. Cats affected by this disorder will commonly urinate outside the litter tray. Urine may contain small spots of blood and your cat may appear to strain or be in pain when he/she urinates.

At a vet visit your vet will likely request a urine sample and/or trial therapy with an anti-inflammatory. Idiopathic cystitis is not caused by bacterial infection, if no bacteria is found on urinalysis antibiotic therapy is unnecessary. Your vet will also suggest ways to reduce stress in the household including:

  • Provision of more litter trays- one tray per cat plus one on opposite sides of the house
  • Separation of feeding areas of litter areas
  • Providing ‘safe’ places to hide in the house away from children and other animals
  • Spraying the feline synthetic relaxing hormone ‘Feliway’ around the house
  • Separating water bowls from food