We all love our cats, but it can be very frustrating if they start using our homes as a toilet. Cats are normally very clean animals, so if they are suddenly peeing or pooping around the house it can be a sign there is something wrong. The behaviour team at Cats Protection is here to explain why your cat might be dodging the litter tray and what you can do to stop it.


What could cause your cat to pee outside of its letter tray (inappropriate elimination)?

  1. Medical issues

There could be lots of reasons why your usually hygienic cat has suddenly started to toilet inside the house, but it’s important to first rule out that there are any medical concerns. Get in touch with your vet and arrange to take a urine or faecal sample. Your vet will provide you with sample pots and talk you through the different ways to collect a sample. If the test shows up any issues, your vet will be in touch to explain the best healthcare options for your cat.

  1. Location, location, location

Just like humans, toileting is a very vulnerable act for cats. They need somewhere that is quiet, private, far away from their bed, and nowhere near their food and water bowls. When deciding where to place your cat’s litter tray, think about where you would feel comfortable using the loo – would you want to use a toilet next to your bed, in the kitchen or in a public space with lots of people? Probably not! Once you relocate the litter tray to a more private place, you may find your cat stops peeing around the house and starts using their tray.

  1. Things need a clean-up!

Your cat may shun the litter tray if it isn’t cleaned as regularly as they would like, so it’s important to make sure you are keeping their litter fresh. Cat owners should scoop out any urine clumps or faeces at least twice each day, as well as replacing the litter and cleaning the tray weekly. Some cats may prefer one tray to urinate in and one to defecate in. If you have a multi-cat household make sure you have separate litter trays for each cat plus a spare.

  1. Stress build up

If your cat normally goes to the toilet outside but has suddenly taken to doing their business in your house, it could be because they feel stressed. Stress can be caused by anything that disrupts your cat’s daily routine. Something outside may have spooked them – perhaps a fox or another cat. If this is the case, you can try placing a litter tray in a hidden quiet area outside or training them to use an indoor litter tray.

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Other things such as a new baby or pet, DIY work, and noisy neighbours can also affect toileting behaviours. If you are trying to understand what could be upsetting your cat, have a look around for any sudden lifestyle changes or loud continual noises. If you can’t work out what is causing your cat to feel stressed, get in touch with your vet and they will offer you the best advice and support.

  1. The wrong type of litter

That’s right! There is such a thing as the wrong type of litter. Cats learn to associate toileting with the material they used as a kitten, and many cats will prefer to still use a fine sand-like litter. It can be tempting to pick a scented litter to cover any nasty odours, but cats have a very sensitive sense of smell and are unlikely to use it. Remember cats like to dig to hide their faeces, so make sure to provide 3cm of litter so it’s deep enough to dig but not too deep.

  1. Bigger is better

It turns out, size does matter! Cats prefer to use larger litter trays, so if your cat is turning its nose up at a small tray, try upsizing.

  1. Keep it clean

If your cat persists with peeing inside, try breaking the habit by keeping them away from the area they toileted in for as long as possible so they can no longer smell any scent. Wash the area thoroughly with a 10% solution of biological washing powder and warm water, then rinse with clean water and leave to dry (do a small patch test first to ensure there is no damage to furniture or carpets).

For more information about cat behaviour and toileting indoors, you can visit cats.org.uk


Cats Protection is the UK’s largest cat charity


Cats Protection is the UK's largest cat welfare charity and have experts in all aspects of feline welfare. They help around 200,000 cats and kittens every year thanks in no small part to their network of over 230 volunteer-run branches and over 30 centres.