Reasons Why Your Cat May Have Missed The Litter Box

Posted on: 29 March 2016

Your cat is normally a very clean pet, using the litter box whenever they need to relieve themselves. Stress is one reason you may periodically find little puddles outside of the box. But if it happens consistently, a physical issue may be the problem. Here are some of the conditions that may cause your feline companion to deviate from their normally tidy routine.

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)

Various urinary tract issues fall under this category of diseases. Your cat may have to suddenly urinate and can't make it to the litter box. Or they may leak urine while somewhere else in the house.

Some of the health problems that cause this include:

  • bladder stones
  • bladder infection
  • urinary tract infection
  • urethra blockage

You may see your cat strain in the litter box or make uncharacteristic noises when urinating. A veterinarian exam will uncover one of these problems. They will likely give your cat antibiotics to clear up any infection. They may also recommend fluid therapy to flush out the kidneys and bladder.


Tiny crystals can form in your cat's urine in response to changes in the chemistry of the urine. These crystals typically move through your cat's urinary tract without causing problems. Should the crystals grow large enough, they can irritate the bladder and the lining of the urethra. This can cause a sense of urgency and your cat may try to relieve themselves before they can get to the litter box. Male cats may start spraying in response to the irritation of the crystals. The animal hospital will have medications that dissolve the crystals so they no longer cause irritation.


Pain in your cat's joints can make it difficult for your cat to get into the litter box. If you notice that your cat has trouble stepping up into the box, find a litter box with a lower lip or use a large tray lined with paper and cat litter. Your veterinarian can prescribe medication to ease the pain. Arthritis is not curable, so you'll want to permanently change the litter boxes to something that your cat can use comfortably.

Irritation of the Paws

Some conditions can make stepping onto the rough litter painful for your cat. These include:

  • ingrown claws
  • infected paw pad
  • sores over the bones on a declawed cat

If you see your cat limping, shaking their paws or licking their paws excessively, take the cat in to your vet. To help your cat be more comfortable, replace the rough litter with strips of paper, oak hulls or crushed corn cob litter. These will be much gentler on your cat's feet.