Punishing a cat for peeing on the carpet is a no-no. Cats do not pee outside of their litter boxes without a reason, and punishing them for doing so is confusing and harmful to the cat. The cat caretaker has to take steps to discover why the cat is peeing on the carpet, rug, or furniture in the first place, and then take action to remedy the situation.
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There is no punishment that works for cats to stop them from peeing outside of the box. The best remedy is a clean litter box as well as a clean bill of health.
Cats that have been spayed or neutered are much less likely to urinate outside of the box. Spraying behavior usually goes away after the pet has been fixed. Sometimes females will urinate around the house before they go into heat. Getting them spayed eliminates this behavior. A clean and private area for your cat's litter box is the most appealing to felines. A black light can help you identify where the cat is peeing. Pet stores sell these lights now. If you're moving to a new home, get some Feliway and spray it around the new home to relax the cat and reduce their need to "mark" the house as their territory.
Reasons your cat may be peeing outside the litter box
There are many reasons your cat may be avoiding their litter box. We'll get into some of them below.
Disease or other health issues
A cat that urinates outside of the litter box, especially if that behavior is new and seems "out of nowhere," could have a physical disease. Cats develop urinary tract diseases occasionally (male cats are especially susceptible to them), and they can be quickly fatal. Take your cat to the vet for a check up to make sure that the inappropriate urinating isn't health-related.
Dirty litter box
Most cats insist on having a squeaky clean litter box. The Humane Society states that it's very important to scoop the litter box at least daily.
How often you change your cat's litter depends on your situation. If you have only one cat and you use clay litter, you should change the litter and clean their litter box once every two to three weeks. Multiple cats and other types of litter require other frequencies. For a comprehensive list of what to do in other situations, check out our guide to how often you should change your cat's litter.
Tip: If the clean litter is not enough to encourage your cat to use it, try switching types of litter. Some cats have very sensitive feet, and they may not like the feel of their litter. Most cats like clumping litter because it is softer than other types.
If you want to get advanced (and to spend some money), you might consider a self-cleaning litter box.
Marking their territory
Although this falls into the realm of "litter box problem," it's a bit different from the other issues. According to the ASPCA, a cat who is urine marking will use the litter box, but will urinate outside of it in addition, usually in specific places. If you think this might be the case, it's best to consult your vet or a cat behaviorist to ask how to remedy this issue.
Cleaning up after your cat has peed on the carpet
When you find the places where the cat has been urinating, clean them thoroughly and use an enzyme spray to get rid of the smell. You can get these enzymes at pet stores or grocery stores. If the urine is on the carpeting, you may have to use the enzyme treatment several times to completely get rid of the odor.
Never punish your cat for peeing on the carpet, as it will confuse and frustrate your cat, and achieve nothing. Instead, take your cat to the vet to make sure nothing is wrong with them, then try to figure out why they're not using their litter box.