Cat Peeing Over The Edge Of Litter Box (What Is Wrong?!)

As a cat owner myself, I have to admit that cleaning out my cat’s litter box if my least favorite aspect of cat ownership. When it is time to clean out the litter, a big part of me wonders if there’s going to be a surprise waiting for me, a nasty one that is.

I’m rather confident that many cat owners share the same sentiments as me.

It can be frustrating to realise that your cat has not been practising acceptable litter box habits when it comes to pooing and peeing.

But why is your cat peeing over the edge of its litter box?

This can be due to your cat having litter box issues. Your can might not be too happy with the current condition of the litter box to use it. Or there are some underlying medical conditions that could be preventing your cat from using the litter box properly.

In this article, we will be going through the most plausible reasons that are causing your feline friend to go on a litter box strike.

The Litter Box Is Too Small

This is usually the most common reason that can affect a cat’s litter box habit. Many cat owners are still using the same litter boxes that they bought for their cats as kittens.

It is like asking an adult to use a training potty for a baby as a toilet bowl. It definitely would not be comfortable for your cat at all.

Cats like a spacious litter box for their elimination needs and this is due to their natural survival instincts.

Cats in the wild tend to not use the same spot to bury their waste for fear of attracting predators. They will do so over many spots to not give their location away.

Your cat doesn’t need a litter box the size of the Gobi desert but it should not make your cat feel that it is burying its waste in the same spot all the time.

Furthermore, a small litter box just feels uncomfortable and cramped for your cat. It should be at least 1.5x the length and breadth of your cat.

If your cat is peeing over the edge of the litter box, observe your cat the next time it uses the litter box.

Here’s a little quiz to determine if your cat’s litter box is too small.

  • Is your cat able to turn a full round without hitting the sides?
  • Does its rear stick out the moment it squats?
  • Can your cat pee and poop at different parts of the litter box easily?
  • Does your cat look like a bear sitting on top of a sardine can?

If you answer no to any of the questions above, you need to get a new litter box that is big enough for dear kitty.

Here’s one kitty litter box video that’s just too hilarious.

The Litter Box Is Too Dirty

One of my biggest pet peeves in life is having to go in a dirty toilet. It just gives me the ‘heebie-jeebies’ and I rather hold it in until I get home.

The same goes for cats who are very clean creatures in general. They can spend many hours a day just grooming themselves. A creature that particular about cleanliness would expect a certain level of standard when it comes to litter box hygiene.

How often are you cleaning out your cat’s litter box?

Once every few days? Once a week?

If your cat pees or poos a few times a day, you need to clear out the waste on a daily basis. Otherwise, it will stink up your cat’s litter box fast.

Once the litter box is too dirty, your cat might start meowing and digging around in its litter box to show its displeasure and disapproval.

Your cat will start finding other more suitable places to do its business. Don’t be surprised if your cat starts peeing on your clothes in the laundry basket.

When scooping out the soiled litter from your cat’s litter box, make sure to not get any cat litter in your eyes as you might risk getting an eye infection and other painful complications.

It is far easier to make the effort to clean out your cat’s dirty litter box frequently than to discover pee in other parts of your home. As unappealing as it may sound, you are your cat’s dedicated toilet bowl flush.

Just don’t be a broken one.

Your Cat Doesn’t Like Its Litter Box Type

One thing that most cat owners would agree on is that they can be rather fussy and finicky about their preferences.

If you have recently changed the type of litter boxes for your cat, your cat peeing over the edge or outside the litter box is a sign of disapproval.

Take a look at your local pet store and you’ll be amazed by the wide range of litter boxes that you can buy.

Truth be told, many litter boxes are more for the convenience of pet owners than it is for the cat.

For example, a covered litter box is supposed to keep the odors and cat litter in, but no one tells you how the smell erupts like a nuclear bomb going off in your nose when you open the lid.

There are also automated litter boxes that can scrape out and empty your cat’s waste into an attached trash bag. Sounds good in theory but many cats aren’t fans of the mechanical sounds coming from their litter boxes.

You would be afraid too if your toilet bowl made strange gurgling and whirring noises out of the blue.

I’ve experimented with a few different types of litter boxes before and the one that works best is just an opened litter tray as opposed to a covered box.

Keep it simple.

Your Cat Doesn’t Like Its Cat Litter

Cats can also be very fussy when it comes to the type of cat litter that you use. There is also a wide range of cat litter to choose from and they each have their pros and cons.

The two most important factors I find that can make or break your cat’s litter preference is the smell and texture of the cat litter.

Smell Of The Cat Litter

Cat litter comes in many different materials like clay, pinewood, paper, silica gel, corn, etc. And they each have their own unique scent.

If your cat has been peeing ver the edge of its litter box with the new litter, it could be due to the smell of it.

It might smell fine to us but don’t forget that your cat has a sense of smell that is 14x more sensitive than ours. The smell of the new cat litter could really be affecting its toilet habits.

There are some cat litter that come scented. My advice is to stay away from those as many cats don’t like the artificial fragrance in it and it irritates their noses.

Texture Of The Cat Litter

The type of ca litter used will also determine its texture. Materials like clay or sawdust will be softer on your cat’s paws compared to pinewood pellets or silica get.

Your cat’s paws have many nerve endings and are very sensitive to touch. It could be that the cat litter is hurting its paws when standing on it.

Switching Your Cat To A New Litter Type

If your cat has been using the same cat litter for years, it might not like having to adapt to a new one.

There’s not much reason to change the type of cat litter unless it’s for health reasons. Some types of cat litter have lots of dust that can trigger asthma and allergy attacks in both cats and humans.

The best way to go about switching your cat to a new litter is to do it slowly. Start by mixing in some of the new litter into this present one.

Keep adding in more overtime till it is completely changed out.

Don’t just entirely replace the old with the new cat litter that will cause your cat to start peeing over the edge of the litter box.

Not Enough Litter Boxes

If you have more than one cat at home, making them share one litter box isn’t gonna cut it. Each cut should get its own litter box that is placed at different parts of the house if possible.

Cats are territorial creatures and tend to mark their territory with their scent. And to a cat, its litter box is considered its territory and cats prefer to not share its litter box.

There are scent pheromones in each cat’s pee and poo to signal to other cats that this litter box is taken.

If you have one cat who is more dominant than the rest, it might start peeing over the edge of the litter box to warn the other cats to keep away.

The best way to resolve this is to ensure that each cat gets its own separate litter box.

Just to side track a little here, ever wondered if cats pee and poop out of the same hole?

Your Cat Is Getting Old

This issue is rather common for an elderly cat. Their joints are getting weaker and stiffer as they get older. Older cats also tend to suffer from arthritis which can be painful and inconvenient for them.

If your elderly cat has trouble getting in and out of the litter due to joint issues or mobility, it can start to pee over the edge of the litter box or just outside of it.

You can get a litter tray that has much lower walls to make it easier for your cat to get in and out.

This can also cause a lot of litter to get kicked out of the tray when your cat is burying his waste so do be prepared for that.

If this issue is due to your elderly cat not being able to squat low enough to direct its pee properly, a litter box with just three high sides would help keep the urine inside the litter box.

Your Cat Is Having A Urinary Tract Infection

A urinary tract infection or UTI in cats is rare but can happen from time to time. Is it more common in male cats due to the narrower urethra or the tube where pee comes out.

UTI is caused by a bacterial infection in the bladder or urethra. It can make peeing painful for them. You will start to notice your cat going in and out of the litter box frequently without peeing or peeing very little.

Your cat will also meow or yowl loudly when peeing because it is painful. There can also be blood in your cat’s urine. Your cat will start to associate its bladder problems with the litter box which will then cause it to start peeing over the edge.

Any medical problem that affects your cat’s peeing like bladder stones, kidney issues and cystitis can cause it to also behave this way.

You will need to bring your cat for veterinary advice as it is very dangerous when your cat is not able to pee.  UTI in cats can be cured by antibiotics if treated early so please do not sit on it.

Your Cat Has An Injured Paw

A cat with an injured paw can also cause it to pee over the edge of the litter box. A cat’s paw is already sensitive and having a paw that is injured or has an open wound can be very painful.

This can be made worse if the cat litter is hard and affects your cat’s movement in the litter box. It might not be willing to find the perfect spot to pee or bury its urine.

It will just pee at the closest edge and get out of there.

If you accidentally stepped on your cat and injured its paws, you will be able to tell if your cat is limping or walking funny.

Your cat could have also gotten a wound on its paw from stepping on something sharp or hot.

Make sure to seek medical treatment for your cat immediately to prevent the injury from getting worse.

Your Cat Has A Bad Habit

If there is nothing wrong with your cat’s litter, litter box and health, then it could just boil down to a personal habit of your cat.

This would be more likely for cat owners who have recently gotten a new cat.

All is not lost as it is still possible to train your cat to use the litter box correctly. What you will need to do first is to protect the surrounding area from your cat’s urine. You can add wall protectors or place the litter box on a large waterproof mat for easy cleaning.

Everything you notice that your cat has positioned itself at the edge of the litter box, carry it and put it closer to the middle.

You might have to keep doing this repeatedly until your cat gets what you are trying to communicate.

As frustrating as it might be, please do not scold or hit your cat out of anger as this will only make it worse.

Be patient with your cat and it should start keeping its pee inside the litter box.


Trying to get your cat to use its litter box correctly can be a rather challenging endeavor. As you can see, there are many reasons that can cause a cat to pee over the edge of its litter box. If this issue is happening with a new cat, chances are it is due to the type of cat litter and litter box.

But if your cat has started doing this out of the blue then it is most likely due to a medical issue and should be checked out by the vet.