House Soiling’s Causes and Solutions

If you have a cat who fails to use the litter box consistently, you may want to alert his veterinarian to a new set of guidelines for preventing and treating the problem.

The American Association of Feline Practitioners and International Society of Feline Medicine have issued the comprehensive 21-page document in an effort to decrease the number of house-soiling cats who are abandoned or relinquished to shelters, where, they say, “Many are euthanized as unadoptable.”

The groups stress that house soiling isn’t due to spite toward the owner, but the cat’s physical, social or medical needs being unmet. In fact, they replace the terms “inappropriate urination” with “house soiling” to avoid suggesting cat misconduct.

The guidelines cover medical and behavioral causes, methods to optimize litter box use, and ways to enrich the environment, such as providing opportunities for scratching, play and predatory behavior, and consistent human interaction.

The “2014 AAFP/ISFM Guidelines for Diagnosing and Solving House-Soiling Behavior in Cats” is available at A brochure specifically for cat owners is forthcoming. ❖