Cat Inappropriate Elimination & Marking

Inappropriate elimination, marking and other causes of failing to use the litter tray

Cat Toilet TroubleOne of the most common behavioural and health problems cats have is eliminating outside their litter tray. In some cats, this is a sign of a urinary tract problem, such as urinary tract infection, increased urine production caused by diseases like diabetes, urinary pain from crystals/stones and other primary urinary problems. Defecating outside the tray may be a sign of bowel discomfort due to constipation or diarrhoea.

For cats with extreme urine marking, the problem may be a sign of anxiety or stress.  Some cats may require medication to help alleviate this. For cats with inappropriate elimination, which is neither marking nor medical, improving the nature of the litter tray and retraining their habits is key. Anxiety may also be component. In older cats, especially over the age of 12, arthritis may make travelling to or entering the tray uncomfortable, motivating the cat to go in other places.


The first steps in evaluating this disorder are:

  • Take a detailed history about what the cat is doing, where and how often. Include any changes in the household, such as changes in family members or pets living at home, changes in where the cat lives, home construction projects and the like. We have provided a questionnaire for you to complete before you come and see us.
  • Having reviewed this questionnarie, we will carry out a full physical exam and urinalysis to help determine any medical reason for the signs. If there is, it is critical to treat it as soon as possible.

If your cat has no medical condition,  the most likely cause of these signs is a behavioural issue,  sometimes in conjunction with anxiety/stress.  For these cats, a clear behavioural modification plan with improvements to their environment are critical.

We do not know why some cats become stressed by what may seem like small changes in their household, especially since other people and cats in the house may not show similar signs of stress. However, we do know that cats with inappropriate elimination as a response to anxiety may do so repeatedly.

Once a cat starts using an inappropriate place to urinate or defecate, it may become habit or attract other cats to also use that place inappropriately If any of your cats start to have inappropriate elimination, contact The London Cat Clinic promptly so we can start treatment and minimise the risk of ongoing property damage or bad habits developing.

When it comes to cleaning the affected areas avoid using ammonia-based cleaners, which smell like urine to a cat. Chlorine-based products will remove odours from concrete and vinyl floors. Scrubbing the affected area with a 10% solution of biological washing powder (enzyme-based laundry detergent) to remove the protein content of urine, allowing the area to dry, and then spraying with isopropyl alcohol to remove the fat component is also effective.

For more information or an appointment, please call 0203 740 1112 or book here.