House-soiling, also known as inappropriate elimination, is one of the most common feline behavior problems, and one of the major reasons why cats end up in shelters. The majority of these cats will never find another home again.
The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) and the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) recently released new guidelines designed to aid veterinarians in diagnosing and treating feline house-soiling behavior. I found it encouraging that the guidelines replace the term “inappropriate urination” with the term “house soiling.” Words have power, and the term “house soiling” implies no misconduct by the cat, dispelling the myth that cats engage in this behavior out of spite.
The guidelines provide tools for veterinarians to assess and diagnose the four basic causes of house-soiling:
- medical issues
- feline idiopathic cystitis (also known as feline lower urinary tract disease/FLUTD)
- marking behavior
- elimination related to environmental or social factors
The guidelines also provide detailed treatment and management considerations for all cases of house soiling.
Two key pieces of the guidelines address proper litter box management, and meeting the “five pillars” of cat’s environmental needs. The guidelines go into great detail as to what an optimal litter box should look like, and also address how a healthy, stimulating environment can be key to solving this frustrating problem.
I’ll be covering both the litter box recommendations as well as the “five pillars’ in greater detail here in the coming weeks.
For more information, and to read the full guidelines, please visit the AAFP website.
Ingrid King is an award-winning author, former veterinary hospital manager, and veterinary journalist who is passionate about cats.