Ask the AKC Animal Behaviorist: Help! My Cat Is Peeing All Over the House

More on PawNation: akc, cat behavior, cat pee, cat urine, cat uti, CatBehavior, CatPee, CatUrine
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Meet Mary Burch, American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen Director and Paw Nation's new expert columnist addressing your questions on animal behavior. Dr. Burch has over 25 years of experience working with dogs and she is one of less than 50 Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists based in the United States. She is the author of nine books, more than 200 articles and has been a lobbyist on legislation concerning hazardous dogs and responsible dog ownership.

My husband and I own a mixed-breed cat who we absolutely adore. We have had her for four years and have experienced no issues with her using the litter box until the now. For the past two weeks, she has been urinating on the carpet all over the house. She still uses the litter box for defecating. Any idea what might be going on?

When an animal who has had no problems with house training suddenly has a change in habits, the first thing I suggest is a quick trip to the vet. This may be a behavioral issue, but you want to rule out any possible medical issues. These could include urinary-tract problems or other diseases.

Once the vet says the cat has no health problems, it's time to look at possible behavioral causes. Is she scent marking or flat-out urinating, i.e. does she leave puddles of urine? Have there been any changes in the environment? Did you get new carpet, new furniture, a new pet, or change the brand of litter you're using? Changes in a cat's world can cause the cat to "mark" the new items so that everyone knows the house belongs to this kitty.

Also think about whether there is anything happening to cause the cat to be nervous or feel a need for your attention. Are you or your husband gone more than usual? Has there been a change in your schedule or focus so there is less time and affection for the cat? If so, that may be what is setting her off.

Finally, remember that cats are clean creatures. Are you cleaning the litterbox regularly? If there is waste in the litterbox, a cat may choose the bathtub or carpet rather than tiptoe around in a dirty litterbox. Now that your carpet has the scent of urine in it, it should be cleaned it with an enzyme urine removal product (from your local pet store). As long as the carpet smells like urine, unfortunately, there is a good chance the cat will continue to use it as a potty area.

Mary R. Burch, Ph.D., is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and the Director of the American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen Program. Dr. Burch is the author of "Citizen Canine: 10 Essential Skills Every Well-Mannered Dog Should Know."

Do you have an animal behavior question for Dr. Burch? E-mail your questions to

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