Yesterday, on my article about why cats pee on people, I received a comment from Tiffany, who shared her story about a 12 year old cat who 6 months ago stopped peeing in the litter box every time she went to the bathroom, and peed on her, but also seemed to pee everywhere else as well.
It wasn’t the typical comment, and because of her explanation of what the behaviour change coincided with – a new cat coming into the household – I felt I might be able to shed some light on this issue from a different angle, hopefully helping her to resolve this issue (crossing fingers!) if it turns out my analysis is right.
Here’s the comment, short and sweet; getting straight to the core of how drastically her cat’s behaviour has changed:
My cat peed on me!
I adopted her a year ago from a rescue, she is 12 yrs old. It all started 6 months ago when we adopted my daughters cat. She was fine up until then. It started as peeing on clothes or towels to peeing on the couch, on the coffee table then shoes now last night she climbed up on me as she would when we snuggle but just peed on me instead. I felt hurt. I know it’s a large statement for a cat to pee on it’s owner. Last time at the vet she was treated for a UTI and it continued. They think it is just behavioral and will have to medicate her. I feel so defeated
What Tiffany Did Right
First off, good on you for assuming it was a UTI and taking her straight to the vet to get her checked out. Good on you for getting her treated for a UTI just in case that was the problem.
And good on you for realizing that this is actually a big deal. That cat’s don’t just pee on their owners willy nilly, and the statement she’s making with that behaviour alone is quite large.
Good on you for looking up solutions to your problem, for trying to fix the situation instead of simply accepting defeat. For trying for 6 whole months to make things work, even though you adopted her only a year ago from the rescue.
So good – I commend you for all of this. But hopefully we can solve your problem, your cat will feel better and safer, and you won’t have to deal with so many messes and the other after effects of the problem any longer.
Here are my thoughts, and I could absolutely be wrong, but I really hope I’m not. If I’m onto the right answer, the fix is actually quite easy, and I’ve outlined how you can implement solutions below as well.
My Best Guess: The Problem Is Fear of Peeing in a Litter Box With the New Cat Present
Straight to the point, I think your old cat’s issue is that she’s afraid to pee in a litter box when the new cat is around.
The only reason I have this theory, which is one I think is incredibly likely to be the only culprit, is because you were observant enough to realize, then point out in your comment: “It all started 6 months ago when we adopted my daughters cat. She was fine up until then.”
Having integrated multiple new cats into my household at this point, I have to say, even if cats get along and there’s peace in the home, when it comes to resources – food, water, and especially litter – there’s sometimes extra trouble even when absolutely everything else is fine.
My alpha male, Avery, my first cat, was legitimately an only cat for too long. So long I feel like it was problematic when we took in our second cat, Bjorn. I had to watch him like a hawk or he’d pick fights.
Now, he and Bjorn, and even our third cat, Cleo, all get along stupendously. But I’ve taken in two other in our neighbourhood cats who were not handling outdoor life well at all, and the next one I’m trying to integrate into the home (I introduce Avery to one at a time until he’s happy with the living situation) will get picked on if he tries to use the water bowl or the litter box in front of Avery.
You might think, okay but my cats are not aggressive. They share resources well. And to this, I’d say, sure, but unfortunately, there seems to be something cats get ever-so-touchy about when it comes to litter boxes, even if all other resources are happily shared.
For instance, the two cats I recently took in from outside? They’re best buds. Have definitely been living together outside for years.
This is them sleeping together inside a cat condo I made for them –
They share everything. Sleep together, eat together, drink water together. But when I first took these two in, one of the two – Aramis, the female, who was obviously more dominant than the male – would hit the second, Athos, whenever he’d go into or come out of the litter box.
Strange behaviour? Having come from life where she lived outside only, I don’t think so. When you live outside, you don’t get your pee and poo cleaned out of your “bathroom” on the daily.
Things get dirty, and you’d probably rather your litter box be full of your litter, and not some other cat’s waste as well.
This makes a lot of sense from a hygiene perspective, and again, this is behaviour from cats that get along on every other front. Better than I can imagine nearly any other cats getting along. Really and truly they are so beautiful together, but still she didn’t want him using what she felt was “her” litter box.
I separated the two for most of the day if I wasn’t around so they’d each have access to their own litter box, as Athos started to be nervous about using the litter. He’d bang on the door and cry until I came, then immediately go use the litter box, as though he wanted company in the form of protection.
I’d watch Athos use the bathroom, and if Aramis came to pick on him when he came out, or heck, even before that when he was still using the litter at times, I’d shoo her away.
Over time, I honestly think Aramis stopped caring completely about being territorial over the litter box as she realized that day in, day out, the litter get’s cleaned and she’s not going to have to worry about having a dirty litter box because of that.
This defensive behaviour over the litter box has completely stopped now, though I’d say it took a couple months to be completely gone to the point where I no longer felt I had to patrol the situation.
The experience reminded me of when I first took in Bjorn, my second cat, and Avery, my first, would hit him and sometimes chase him whenever he’d leave the litter box.
Fair enough, Avery’s the alpha. But this next part might not be something you’d expect: Bjorn did this to Avery, too, probably more often than Avery did to Bjorn, hitting him for using the litter I feel he felt was his territory, which of course was literally any litter box in the house.
Now? These two are on good terms and there’s literally no litter competition, or resource competition at all for that matter. Though the litter box was absolutely the last thing to be happily shared (and that includes food).
The Crux of the Matter: Litter Box Competition is a Thing
Point is – litter box competition is real, it’s a thing sometimes even if you have cats that get along really well and share everything else just fine.
In my experience, it always goes away after long enough time has passed, and maybe with a little help from the humans – and a lot of help making sure the litter box stays clean (daily cleaning is absolutely fine).
To me, it does feel like the litter box is the last thing cats feel ease about sharing. And since cats can feel like every single litter box in the home is their territory, having the right number of litter boxes may not be enough to fix the problem, although it goes a long way.
It’s recommended to have one litter box for every cat in your home + 1 extra, scattered around in different areas of your house, not all placed in the same area or room, so a cat who’s being bullied can go to a different location and find a peaceful place to go (ideally)
This is definitely the pre-step to peace, but in my opinion, it may still not be enough, since chasing can happen, and stalking. No fun.
First step though – figure out if this is even the issue in your home, and if so, I’ll let you know what I think can fix this situation if that’s what’s going on in your household.
How to Diagnose Litter Box Competition
If you just want to know if this is the issue with your old cat, the diagnosis process is ridiculously simple if you have an extra room, and at least one litter box per cat (which you should absolutely 100% grab if you don’t yet – this is important even if they do get along in all other regards; 2 is the bare minimum, in two different rooms, with 3 being the ideal number of litter boxes for your two cats).
Try keeping your first cat in a separate room for a few days. One that has everything she could ever want or need. This means a litter box, her own food, her own scratch post, toys, everything.
Keep her in there some time. Does she return to peeing in the litter box as she did prior to the new cat?
Give it some time to sink in – there’s no other cat in that room with her who’s going to spook her and make her scared to pee in the litter box.
If she has an accident or two, give it a bit more time. Then if you wait a while longer and find the situation’s fixed, in my opinion, you’ve diagnosed your problem: it’s straight up litter competition anxiety.
So what do you do if you find out this is the issue?
How to Resolve Litter Competition Issues So Your Cat Stops Peeing Outside the Litter Box
Okay here’s the deal. There are two ways of fixing this problem, depending on how frustrated you are with the situation.
One is surefire pretty much forever, though it costs some money and you need to put a hole in a door and section off a room that’s specifically for the old cat. But it’s almost a sure bet.
The other solution is a little more up in the air, and may result in more accidents. It may work out better in the long term, but it might take a lot longer for things to be perfect.
Still you can do it starting today, and see if it works out. If not, and you find things aren’t working, you can always switch over to the surefire solution at any time.
So let’s start with the more guaranteed bet.
Solution 1: Give Anxious Kitty Her Own Room & Litter Box
Microchip cat doors like the SureFlap Microchip Cat Flap can be integrated into any door – internal or external, and you can allow access to cats based on their microchip, or if your cats aren’t chipped, you can also use them with RFID collar tags instead.
If you grab one of these and make your anxious kitty a room to herself, allowing her access in and out but keeping the new cat out of this space, your old kitty will then be able to use the restroom in peace without being afraid the other cat will potentially harm her while she’s in there.
It may also help relieve other anxieties your old cat has about sharing resources with the new cat that you might not be aware of. Say, in case she’s not drinking as much water as she should be out of fear, she should definitely go back to doing so enough when she has a space and resources completely to herself.
Solution 2: Patrol Litter Box Times & Give Anxious Kitty Pee Breaks in Another Room
Solution 2 is not so drastic. You still should have the same kind of set up, a room for your old kitty that’s got everything she could ever possibly want or need in it, but instead of having this off limits all the time to the other cat, it’s not off limits most of the time.
For about an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening, go on into the room with your old cat and close the door, so she has some time away from the other cat and will hopefully feel safe enough to do her business, drink, eat, whatever she feels too anxious to do in front of the other cat, in that time span.
Find your old cat does actually use this time to use the litter properly, but sometimes she still has accidents when she’s out of the room? Give kitty a larger chunk of time in the room by herself away from the new cat.
Over time, if you’d like your old cat to get used to sharing the space with the new cat, gradually decrease the time spent alone in the room, and increase the amount of time out.
Also do your best to patrol litter boxes when the cats are trying to use them for any aggression around them, make sure they all stay clean (once a day cleaning), and get 3 that are in completely different places in the house, but make sure all the places they’re in quiet places, with minimum foot traffic, that a cat will feel peaceful and at ease using, and not stressed.
Your Thoughts on Cats Peeing Everywhere After a New Cat Arrives?
Do you have any tips, tricks, or advice for Tiffany?
Is there anything in my article that you think she should concentrate most on? Anything you could add to what I’ve said? Has this situation ever happened to you?
Do you have any personal experiences with cats and litter box competition in general to share?
Do you have experience with cats peeing in odd places, or pretty much everywhere outside the litter box? Was your issue ever resolved, and if so, how did it get fixed?
Please take a moment to leave your thoughts in the comments down below!