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An Urban Experience
K. Martin1
1TEAM Education in Animal Behavior, Behavior, Spicewood, USA
Feline Inappropriate Elimination: Tinkle or Sprinkle?
Kenneth M Martin, DVM, DACVB
Veterinary Behavior Consultations, LLC & TEAM Education in Animal Behavior, LLC
Spicewood, TX, USA
Feline inappropriate elimination (FIE) is de ned as urination and/or defecation in areas that are considered inappropriate by human counterparts. The condition may include medical, behavioral, and environmental components. FIE is the most common behavioral problem of house cats with approximately 1/3 of cats house soiling, spraying, or marking. In the order of which presentation is the most common, 52% of cats deposit urine alone (32% on vertical surfaces and 20% on horizontal surfaces), 28% of cats deposit both urine and feces, and 20% of cats deposit feces alone.1 There is
no gender effect for house soiling, but spraying/marking is twice as common in male cats. In one retrospective study, Persian cats were overrepresented for eliminating outside of the box.2 Problem cats often do not cover urine or feces with litter. In one study of inappropriate elimination in cats, they spent less time digging prior to elimination.3 Cats spent an increased amount of time snif ng the closer the box was located to the core area.3
A diagnosis of FIE is based on a thorough history and physical exam. Medical work-up is important to rule
out contributing factors. For simplicity, the primary behavioral diagnosis will either be one of house soiling, or urine spraying/marking, yet motivational factors for the behavior may vary.
House soiling
House soiling usually consists of a large volume of urine being deposited on horizontal surfaces. Usually this is a full void of the bladder deposited by squatting (toileting behavior). Soiled areas may consist of one or a few centrally located areas of the home. Elimination often may occur near the litter box, but not inside the litter box. Feces are seen on occasion with house soiling. The most common cause of house soiling in cats is medical disease. Diet, litter box factors, the smell of soiled areas, and stress may contribute to the condition.
Differential diagnosis for house soiling should include medical disease, urine spraying/marking, separation anxiety, lack of training, cognitive dysfunction, or other age related changes such as incontinence, or arthritis.
The minimum data base for FIE should include a
FeLV and FIV screening, a complete blood count, general chemistry, and urinalysis. Pending the clinical presentation, further testing may include urine culture, abdominal radiographs or ultrasound, screening for hyperthyroidism, and fecal screening for parasites. Any disease that causes polyuria or polydipsia and/or an increase or decrease in the frequency of defecation may lead to FIE.
Behavioral causes of house soiling may include a
litter box aversion, substrate aversion or preference, a location aversion or preference, associated with litter box management, the number of litter boxes, or the smell
of soiled areas. Litter box aversion may be due to the use of hooded litter boxes which retain odor. Lack of cleanliness in terms of scooping the box or the use of strong smelling detergents when cleaning the box can be a cause of aversion. Most cats do not like plastic bag lined litter boxes. A frightening or painful medical event
in the litter box can be a causative factor. Larger litter boxes that are easily accessible are preferred for most cats. Large size litterboxes should be 22inx16inx6.5in or approximately 1.5x the body length of the cat.4
Cats may have a substrate preference such as carpet rather than litter. Generally,  nely granular sand-like material is preferred for feline elimination.5 One study suggest clumping litter is preferred verses silica or crystal type litters.6 Changes in type of litter may lead to an aversion. One study suggests that Fresh Step Scoopable Litter is preferable to Arm & Hammer Super Scoop.7,8 Generally, use a  ne unscented clumping litter of at least 3 inches depth is advised.
Locations that are not preferred for elimination include basements and/or laundry rooms. In multi level residencies, a litter box should be located on each  oor. Litter boxes should be located in or just adjacent to feline lived in areas of the home such as a hallway or closet. Core areas in multi cat households should include a litter box. Some cats have a greater requirement for litter box management than others. Boxes should be scooped daily and not cleaned with strong smelling detergents. The number of litter boxes should be one plus the number of cats in the home when one or more cats are eliminating inappropriately. Soiled areas should be cleaned with an enzymatic cleaner to biologically remove pet odor. Previously soiled areas may be made attractive in a manner that decreases elimination through the use of Feliway spray (cheek pheromones). Cats may be less likely to eliminate in areas where they eat,

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