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Ask the Veterinarian/Infrequent non-litterbox use


We've had a 2-3 year old rescue cat for a year or so. Very infrequently (1 to 4 times per month) she will urinate (never defecate) in an inappropriate spot. It's usually somewhere like a crumpled towl on the floor (at first, it was almost always on our bedsheets if we didn't make the bed... once we started ALWAYS making the bed in the morning she's left that alone). Some facts:
* She is unspayed.
* When we first got her we had a neutered male cat who I originally suspected of most/all of the inappropriate urinations until he went to live with my son a few weeks ago and our female has done her "bad thing" a couple of times
* We have 2 families on our street who harbor feral cats. As a result, there are often "stray" cats around. My wife is convinced that our girl is reacting to their presence (thus explaining the infrequent, unpatterened nature of the occurrences).
* She is a 100% indoors cat
* She gets dry cat food except for a couple of tablespoons of moist at night.
* I am VERY conscientious about keeping her litter box clean (some time ago, we'd changed to some "super odor eliminating" litter and upon reflection later we THOUGHT we noticed a correlation between that change and her behavior, so we switched back to "plain" litter; the occurrences SEEMED to decrease, but that's based on our possibly faulty recollections)

So, I suppose I have a general question a couple of specific ones.
*What input/advice do you have about "sporadic" non-litterbox usage by female cats?

* Is there ANYTHING to my wife's theory (about the stray cat's presence triggering the incidents)?
* Would spaying be of benefit (I've been pushing to have this done anyway, but I'd like to know if that would likely help)

Thanks for your time!

Hi Dave,

Cats may tend to do like this when something in their environment or routine changes.So your wife's theory cannot be completely ruled out.  May be  she's anxious and is marking her territory to reassure or assert herself.But usually marking territory is by means of spraying rather than peeing outside the litter box. So there is difference between peeing outside the litter and spraying.The spraying behavior tends to reduce with neutering,especially in tomcats.  
Since this is sporadic in nature, the possibility of UTI is very remote..But if the frequency increases, get it checked by the vet to rule out UTI.

One trial for solving this problem is to put the crumpled towel inside the litter box( You have to clean it of course) and watch for any decrease in frequency.

Please go through the ASPCA site and probably you will be able to find out the actual issue and sort out a solution.

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Dr S Bindu Anand


Large and Small Animal Medicine and Surgery, Farm Management,Preventive medicine


A Senior Veterinary Surgeon with more than 25 years’ experience in the field of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry. Mixed animal Practice that will utilize my skills in medicine and surgery, public health, client relations, and developing relationships within the community, such as humane society

Veterinary Consultant with Department of Animal Resources,Ministry of Environment,State of Qatar (Present). Animal Husbandry Department, Government of Kerala, India. Oakland's Park, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom. Severnside Veterinary Center, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom. Saud Bahwan Group, Sultanate of Oman. Trivandrum Regional Co-operative Milk Producers Union,Kerala,India.

BVSc & AH (Bachelor of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry) 1990. College of Veterinary & Animal Sciences, Mannuthy, Thrissur, Kerala, India under Kerala Agricultural University. Certificates Of Accomplishments- Equine Nutrition- University of Edinburgh Principles of Public Health-University of California, Irvine. AIDS- Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. General Environmental Health – EPHOC-Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. Food Protection-EPHOC-Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. Zoonoses:University of Minnesota-School of Public Health online. Food Safety:University of Minnesota-School of Public Health online. Occupational Safety and Health-EPHOC-Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. Rabies Educator Certified -Global Alliance for Rabies Control. Animal Handler & Vaccinator Educator Certified -Global Alliance for Rabies Control. Wildlife Conservation-United for Wildlife. Health Promotion & Disease Prevention-Boston University School of Public Health. Bioterrorism, Bioterrorism Preparedness-EPHOC-Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. Good Clinical Practice-London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

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