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Why Does My Cat Pee on the Floor? 8 Likely Reasons

Written by: Brooke Billingsley

Last Updated on February 16, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

brown cat peeing

Why Does My Cat Pee on the Floor? 8 Likely Reasons

While it is annoying to have your cat to pee on the floor in your house, it is a relatively common occurrence. Many things can cause a cat to do this, and identifying the cause of this behavior is the only way to begin working on fixing it.

There are medical and behavioral causes of this behavior, and it’s important to begin working toward a diagnosis and treatment plan as soon as you identify the problem. Some causes can indicate serious issues that require rapid intervention and care to cure.


The 8 Reasons Cats Pee on the Floor

1. Spraying

Spraying is a territory-marking behavior often associated with intact male cats. However, any cat can spray, and this behavior is sometimes seen in neutered males and intact females in heat. This behavior is recognizable by the distinct urination on a vertical surface, like a wall or door, which may then drip down and pool on the floor. Most cats will also vibrate their tail while spraying.

How to Remedy the Behavior

Spraying can often be remedied by having your cat spayed or neutered. This surgical procedure removes a significant amount of the cat’s sex hormones that often lead them to spray. Your vet may also recommend behavior-modifying medications to reduce the likelihood of this behavior occurring.

tabby cat spraying outdoors to mark territory
Image Credit: Helen Liam, Shutterstock

2. Litter Box Issues

Cats can be very particular about their litter box, and the smallest changes can cause your cat to stop using the litter box. This can be as simple as changing the type of litter or the box itself for a new one. Sometimes, when cats have medical conditions that make using the litter box uncomfortable, they may begin urinating or defecating inappropriately. This is because the litter box becomes associated with pain or discomfort, and in their cat brain, going elsewhere might take away some discomfort.

How to Remedy the Behavior

If you think that litter box issues may be what’s causing your cat to pee on the floor, begin working through any recent changes related to the litter box. If you’ve recently changed the litter or the litter box, or moved the box to a new part of the home, try undoing the changes to see if this encourages your cat to pee in the box again. If that doesn’t fix the issue, talk to your vet about potential causes and treatments.

3. Stress

Cats can be very sensitive to changes in the home and are easily stressed. Stressed cats may begin acting out by peeing outside the litter box. Stress can be caused by everything from the addition of a baby or a new pet to the home to feeling unsafe or exposed. Stress has often been building for days or weeks before a cat will begin peeing on the floor.

How to Remedy the Behavior

To fix stress in cats, it’s important to identify the cause. While there can be medical causes of stress, they are often environmental. It isn’t always possible to undo the cause of stress for your cat, but you can work to make the environment feel safe and comfortable for your cat by providing hiding places, calm, quiet areas, and high-up places to spend time. Your vet may also recommend medications to help soothe your cat’s stress.

cat with pee stain on the carpet
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

4. Litter Box Disagreements

If you have multiple cats, one or both of them may begin peeing on the floor due to a disagreement over the litter box. If one of your cats is showing territorial behaviors surrounding the litter box, it may lead the other cat to look for another place to urinate. Territorial behaviors like this are more common when one cat is new to the home, but sometimes they can develop suddenly as well.

How to Remedy the Behavior

Work to identify the cause of the behavior. If one of the cats is new to the home, for example, begin working on proper introductions between the cats. You should also make sure you have enough litter boxes for the number of cats you have. The rule of thumb for litter boxes is one litter box per cat plus one extra, so for two cats, you should have at least two or three litter boxes. Aim to have at least one litter box on each level of your home as well.

5. Reduced Mobility

As cats age, they may begin developing arthritis and other conditions that can lead to reduced mobility. This can lead to inappropriate urination if your cat is having difficulty getting into and out of the litter box. If your cat is experiencing reduced mobility, you may also see them having difficulty jumping to or from high surfaces and furniture and spending less time being up and moving around throughout the day.

How to Remedy the Behavior

Arthritis and other physical changes associated with aging and injury can often be treated or supported medically. There are prescription medications to help keep your cat comfortable, as well as supplements that can help improve joint health and mobility with regular use. Some supplements can also help prevent or reduce further deterioration of mobility.

cat pee on carpet
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

6. Confusion

Some cats may develop confusion and cognitive changes as they age, which can lead to inappropriate urination. Some cats may forget where the litter box is or how to properly use it, while others may lose the ability to determine when they are urinating. This level of confusion is not a normal part of aging for most cats.

How to Remedy the Behavior

If your cat is showing confusion or forgetful behaviors, they will usually not be specific just to using the litter box. You may see difficulty eating, getting stuck or lost in places the cat is familiar with, pacing, and excessive vocalization. These behaviors warrant a vet visit.

7. Lingering Urine Smell

If a cat in your home has a history of urinating outside of the litter box, this can lead to further inappropriate urination if the urine is not cleaned properly. Cat urine can leave behind a potent smell, and cats are able to smell it even after it has been cleaned with most cleaning products. This can cause your cat to either think this particular spot is an appropriate place to pee or cause them to feel the need to mark their territory over the old stain.

How to Remedy the Behavior

This issue is easy to remedy by properly cleaning up urine stains. There are tons of commercial cat urine cleaning products that work to break down the urine, leaving little to no detectable scent behind. Most household cleaning products will not fully remove the urine stain and lingering odor, so make sure to invest in a proper urine cleaner to avoid any confusion the stain may cause for your cat.

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grey british shorthair cat pee urine carpet
Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

8. Medical Causes

There are a large number of medical reasons a cat may start peeing on the floor. These include, but are not limited to, urinary tract infections, kidney disease, feline lower urinary tract disease, bladder stones, cystitis, diabetes, and cancer.

How to Remedy the Behavior

Any new behaviors of peeing on the floor should be a cause for a vet visit. Since there are so many medical causes of this behavior, your vet will need to rule out these medical causes. Most of the medical causes have better outcomes with early diagnosis and treatment, so it’s best to start by assuming you’re dealing with a medical cause of this behavior. Your vet will be able to rule out medical causes and guide you in determining a treatment plan if the cause is determined to be behavioral.

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There are several medical and behavioral reasons your cat may be peeing on the floor, and some cats may be experiencing multiple types of issues that are all leading to the behavior. The best starting point is always a vet visit to rule out any medical causes of the behavior and to ensure your cat gets the appropriate treatment needed for the cause.

Featured Image Credit: nanniezwawa, Shutterstock

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