My cat jumps into the litter box but pees outside. Help!

This is an “inappropriate elimination” cat behavior problem with several possible reasons.

The situation is as follows:

The cat jumps into the litter but regularly pees outside the litter tray. I have made the presumption that he pops into the litter tray and then jumps out and pees somewhere else. Or he just pees outside but close to the litter tray while in the litter tray. The litter is 4 inches deep. The cat is a tamed feral kitten, now an adult. He has being doing this for 2 years. He has had several urinary tract infections. The vet says he is prone to them.There is another male cat in the home. There are four litter boxes in the home. They are kept clean.

Cat in litter box
Cat in litter box. Photo by eviltomthai
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I will assume that the boy is neutered and is not spraying sometimes. In other words the problem is solely about inappropriate elimination.


There seems to be several possibly relevant factors. The first thing I would do is to try and eliminate the urinary tract infections.  The vet says he is prone to urinary tract infections. But has the vet discussed diet and stress? He probably has but as a reminder these are things I would look at.

Dry cat food can make a cat that is prone to UTIs contract the disease. If he is on dry food all the time, change to wet but do it in stages. Wet food has much more water in it which helps to flush out the cat’s urinary tract.  Also feed foods such as boiled raw fish or microwaved raw fish with added water. This makes a sort of soup which encourages drinking water. Your cat may be slightly dehydrated and a poor drinker. Make sure the water is fresh and well sited. Changing the position of the water and the type of bowl may encourage drinking.

He may be on Hills c/d which is a dry cat food designed for cats prone to UTis. However, I would still try a high quality wet food diet instead.


Stress can bring on cystitis, a urinary tract disease caused by a bacterial infection. Your cat might be stressed for any number of reasons. Two common ones are another cat who is dominant and an owner who is not at home much that causes cat separation anxiety. I guess you know that UTIs such as cystitis can cause a cat to pee almost anywhere. Incidentally feral cats have a lower incidence of cystitis. A dominant cat might bully the other when going to the litter tray.

I am not sure how you can successfully deal with stress caused by the other cat as this has being going on for a while and each cat’s emotions towards the other are well entrenched. However, playing with a cat should help decrease stress and reduce weight if he is overweight. Obesity can exacerbate getting UTIs.

Glucosamine supplements can help to prevent a recurrence of a urinary tract infection.


Does he need retraining to use the litter tray? Is the litter tray big enough and well sited?

Assuming he is free of urinary tract infections and still prefers to pee outside the litter tray, I would:

  • clean the tray even better than you are;
  • use a different cat litter and keep trying different ones. It should be as dust free as possible, unscented, absorbent and easy to manage. Ruth (Monty’s mom) in the USA recommends World’s Best Cat Litter. I have the feeling that he does not like the current type of litter;
  • vary the depth of litter;
  • move the litter tray around the home to find a place that he prefers. Are they in quiet places?
  • Eliminate the smell of urine from those areas where he has urinated outside the box by using a specialist enzyme cleaner. Areas that smell of his urine will encourage him to use the same areas again as a toilet.


More work should be done on eliminating the infections which may resolve the problem and if not alternatives to litter tray size, litter placement, type, position and depth could be tried. Feliway an artificial cat pheromone may help your cat feel less stressed.

1 thought on “My cat jumps into the litter box but pees outside. Help!”

  1. I missed this article somehow – it didn’t show up in my reader. I will go back and see what happened and let you know if it was not my error (probably was 🙂 )


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