One or maybe all of our three cats recently started urinating out of the litter box. It started after my husband built an elaborate, decorated cabinet for the litter box in the living room. Now either all or one of the cats is urinating on the sofas across from the cabinet. What can we do to stop this?
Although your new cabinet may be lovely to look at, it is not a good litter box housing solution for a number of reasons. Cats prefer eliminating in places where they don’t feel they can be ambushed or trapped. They can’t see if other animals are lurking outside the litter box cabinets ready to pounce. Your cat is choosing to urinate on the sofas because these are areas where she feels safe. She has a perfect view of the living room and can see and escape from any potential threats.
Another reason cabinets don’t do well doubling as litter box enclosures is smell. Cats have highly developed sense of smell and they find litter box odors offensive. Even if the litter boxes are scooped every day, the cabinets retain their odors.
Instead of hiding the litter box in the cabinet, place several uncovered litter boxes in different locations throughout your house. Because you have three cats, ideally there should be four litter boxes, one for each cat plus one extra. Locate the new litter boxes in low-traffic areas where the cats have expansive views of the whole room. Avoid placing litter boxes in closets, behind doors, in cabinets and bathrooms because of the ambush potential.
Litter box issues are probably the number-one reason cats are surrendered to shelters and euthanized. It is also a problem that can be easily fixed with a little understanding of cat behavior, improving litter box management and behavior modification.