There are so many reasons to love cats- but there is one, universal reason that no one can tolerate, as much as we love them...and it's cat pee.
There is nothing as bad as cat urine.
The smell is unmistakable and is nearly impossible to clean entirely. And worse, even if you think it's clean and can't smell it anymore, chances are, your cat will still smell it and this can continue to affect them long after you've put it out of your mind.
I had a cat once that peed on everything- even the most unimaginable things including the stove and a friend's laptop. Needless to say, this did not make me popular with my roommates- or my husband when he moved in and the cat welcomed him by peeing in his drawer.
I could never get rid of my baby, but I also couldn't live with it, because hey, no one can. It becomes a constant battle- and the longer it goes on, the harder it is to fix.
Inappropriate litterbox habits are the number one reason people give up their cats- and as a result, also the number one reason cats are considered for euthanization at shelters.
But there are things you can do to fix it!
It's not easy and you do have to exercise a super-human amount of patience but the chances are good you can make it work and eventually live happily ever after.
We spoke about this in our podcast, Rescue Shit, noting that unfortunately typically the first thing people assume is that it's revenge. Everyone seems to jump to the assumption that their cat is mad and wants to punish them- when very often this isn't the case.
Rather, inappropriate litter box issues are usually a cry for help. So you must listen!
Cats typically hide their stress and pain and it comes out (literally) when they potty. Many times there is a specific medical reason behind their actions, so it's especially critical that the first thing you do when urination or defection outside the box starts is head straight to the vet.
Cats typically have kidney problems and can even develop crystals, especially males. Feeding wet food can help as often cats don't drink enough on their own, but medications and special food may also be required. This is a medical issue that cannot be managed without veterinary intervention and support- and these can kill your cat when unaddressed, leading eventually to blockages and or kidney failure later in life.
There are so many other factors to consider too, before just assuming your cat hates you and knows exactly how to push your buttons.
Stress is typically the next biggest issue affecting cats. Think about your cat's stress like a bucket (really, this applies to people too!).
Your cat may be pretty chill, easy-going, and have a pretty big bucket with not much in it. But then you get a new dog, or have to move or have something stressful happen- many times things that YOU don't realize are stressful to your cat. Maybe nothing happens after one event, but maybe there's a second or the dog won't leave the cat alone- or maybe you change litter.
Whatever it may be, change is difficult for cats and will add to the filling of their bucket. Maybe some of these things are temporary and even while they are building up, you do not notice a change in your cat- but he had a big, relatively empty bucket to start with.
But perhaps your cat has a bucket the size of a Dixie cup and it takes almost nothing significant for it to overflow before you have a problem.
It's the difference between a big, empty bucket and a nearly- full Dixie cup that determines when and if you may have an issue- but you can never really know until it happens...or unless you're very aware of your cat's behavior (which most people are not).
Other issues that can contribute to problems are not cleaning the box enough, the type of litter, putting on or taking off a litterbox lid, having enough boxes for the number of cats and floors in your home- and even whether your cat is declawed.
Declawed cats are more likely to have litterbox issues than not (and more likely to become biters). This is typically because declawing is not a mere nail trim, rather it's the equivalent of cutting your fingertips off at the first knuckle.
The pain they experience afterward can actually be life-long and can permanently affect them every time they go to scratch in the box. They quickly begin to associate the pain with the litterbox and start choosing other places to go instead.
You may need to consider CBD (we have a great brand called Zoorentity, which works for many animals, including dogs) or other pharmaceuticals, pheromone diffusers/ collars such as Feliway, as a way to help your cat with literal emotional support, to help them through this period.
You also need to thoroughly clean your environment, getting rid of even the proteins in the urine that soak into things and remain even when it appears clean to you. Enzymatic cleaners and ozone ones can also help.
We have used Nonscents, which works amazingly well and has a variety of products for different uses within your home, beyond just cat pee smells!
In all, your cat is not trying to piss you off (pun intended), they need your help. Their litterbox activity is the first indicator of their health, happiness, and well-being.
Your cat needs you to advocate for them so they can shed their stress and pain to live long, purrfect lives with you.