Why Would A Cat Pee In A Food Bowl? (Is It A Call For Help?)

why would a cat pee in a food bowl

Cats can be very difficult to read and understand at times. There have been many times when my cat’s actions have defied all logical explanations.

When your cat starts peeing in its food bowl, it is natural to feel concerned and puzzled. This isn’t normal behavior for cats.

But what could be causing your cat to behave in this manner?

When a cat starts peeing in a food bowl that usually signifies a problem. This can be caused by an underlying medical condition, stress or litter box aversion. Seeing a vet will help your cat with this problem.

In this article, we’ll explore the possible reasons behind this unusual behavior and provide helpful tips and solutions to prevent any future mishaps.

Understanding Your Cat’s Toilet Habits

“The majority of cats are very particular and conscientious when it comes to using the toilet.”

Unlike dogs who have no qualms about peeing or pooping out in the open, cats prefer to do it in private and away from prying eyes.

It isn’t because your cat is shy but it’s due to its careful nature.

Although cats are amazing predators, they can be preyed on by bigger animals as well.

By eliminating in a private area and burying their waste, it helps to lower the risk of being detected.

Having a cat that is peeing out in the open does go against this innate trait.

The majority of cats are very particular and conscientious when it comes to using the toilet.

Here are some common reasons that can cause your cat to start peeing in its food bowl.

Urinary Tract Infection

cat in litter box

A urinary tract infection or UTI is a very common issue in cats.

My own cat has gotten it more than once out of the blue.

In humans, UTI is more common in females but it can happen to both genders for cats.

And surprisingly, male cats get it more often due to having a narrower and longer urethra.

A UTI can be caused by a wide variety of reasons:

  • Bacterial infection
  • Bladder stones
  • Diet high in minerals
  • Lack of hydration
  • Kidney disease
  • Poor immune system
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Obesity

These reasons can cause the cat’s urethra to become inflamed which makes it difficult to pee.

When your cat is trying to pee in its litter box, it will be painful. The cat will start to develop a negative association with the litter box.

The cat may choose its food bowl to pee in, seeking to avoid litter box discomfort.

A cat that is having UTI will have a frequent urge to pee as well.

If its litter box is located too far away when the urge strikes, your cat will just pee at the nearest suitable spot.

Other common symptoms of UTI include:

  • Blood in urine
  • Meowing when urinating
  • Straining to pee
  • Loss of appetite
  • Going into hiding

Treatment For UTI

“When treated early, a course of antibiotics should be enough to clear up the infection.”

All cat owners need to have a sense of urgency when their cats have trouble peeing.

A UTI might not seem serious at first but it can quickly turn life-threatening if your cat is unable to pee.

Take your cat to the vet the moment you notice it has trouble peeing.

The vet will have to do a urinalysis or diagnostic imaging to find out what is causing the UTI.

When treated early, a course of antibiotics should be enough to clear up the infection.

For more serious cases, the cat will need to use a catheter to drain out its pee from the bladder.

Litter Box Blues

I am someone that is very particular about my toilet environment, right down to the type of toilet paper.

And so is your cat.

If your cat doesn’t find its current litter box conducive enough, it will start to pee somewhere else.

There are a couple of factors that can make or break your cat’s liking of its litter box.

Type Of Litter Box

cat in litter box

The main aim of the litter is for your cat’s convenience and not for the cat parent.

Many pet companies are coming up with litter boxes that look more like a puzzle to solve than a litter box.

My cat has been using a simple litter box that only cost me $10 since he was a kitten.

Covered litter boxes or automated ones might seem great on paper but not many cats like those.

No one likes going in a porta-potty as well.

Type Of Cat Litter

Choosing the right kind of cat litter for your cat’s litter box can take some trial and error.

Not all cats like the same kind of litter and can be choosy about it.

The more commonly used ones are:

  • Paper
  • Wheat
  • Walnut shells
  • Corn cob

Stay away from cat litter that is scented as those can easily irritate your cat’s nose with its sensitive sense of smell.

Litter Box Cleanliness

No one likes using a dirty toilet, even your cat.

Having a dirty litter box will discourage your cat from using it and encourage it to pee in its food bowl.

Your cat can even start peeing over the edge of the litter box if it’s too dirty.

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

I make sure to do it at least once or twice a day depending on my cat’s usage.

Territorial Dispute

“Your cat might be peeing in its food bowl to assert dominance and claim its space.”

Cats are very territorial due to their solitary nature. Out in the wild, the more territory a cat has, the more resources and protection it has. 

Most cats are happy to share their space with its human but not when it involves other cats.

Territorial issues are very common in multi-pet households. It can also happen when you have a third cat that is trying to fit in

Your cat might be peeing in its food bowl to assert dominance and claim its space.

Its urine contains pheromones to mark its territory and communicate with other cats. 

This also serves as a signal to other cats that the area, including the food source, belongs to them.

Resolving Territorial Disputes

It might seem like an uphill task but assuring your cats that they don’t have to compete for resources can help diffuse the tension. 

Make sure that each of your at has its own bowls and litter box. 

Cats do not like sharing these items and can start to get territorial over them. 

Having more litter boxes at home will lower the risk of one cat dominating the toilet. 

When that happens, the other cats will have nowhere else to pee. 

Don’t be surprised to find them peeing in their food or water bowls.

Whenever you bring a new pet home, make sure that it is well-socialized with your current pets. 

This can help reduce the risk of them getting into disputes. 

Cats that are not neutered or spayed tend to be more territorial than their fixed counterparts. This is due to having higher amounts of testosterone or estrogen. 

So if your cat isn’t fixed, please get it done as soon as possible. 

The Love For Plastic

This might seem incredulous to many cat owners but there are some cats that love plastic

If you are currently using a plastic food bowl for your cat, it can be attracted to the smell, texture and sound. 

Another logical explanation is the use of animal fat in the manufacturing process of plastic. 

Your cat’s nose is sensitive enough to pick up on this scent and many animals are naturally drawn to the smell of fats. 

This increased interest in the food bowl may lead the cat to mark its territory or relieve itself near or in the bowl.

Change your cat’s food bowl to one that is stainless steel. 

Many cats are actually allergic to plastic and can get feline acne when eating out of a plastic food bowl. 

How To Prevent My Cat From Peeing In The Food Bowl?

cat near food bowl

It might not be totally possible to stop your cat from peeing in its food bowl but there are a couple of things that you can do to lower the reoccurrence rate. 

Use An Enzyme Cleaner

If your cat has peed in or around its food bowl, there will be traces of its urine left. 

Even if you cleaned it well, your cat will be able to still pick up the scent. 

The residual scent tells your cat that “I have peed that before and it is ok to do it again”.

To really get rid of the smell, use an enzymatic cleaner that can thoroughly break down your cat’s urine odor molecules. 

Get the cleaner from a pet store so that it is pet-friendly and not toxic to animals. 

Remove The Food Bowl

Don’t give your cat a reason to pee in its food bowl by leaving it at the usual spot. 

Once your cat is done eating, wash it and keep it on the dish rack or cupboard. 

Don’t Punish Your Cat

Avoid spanking or rubbing your cat’s nose in the mess. This approach reportedly only teaches the cat to fear you. 

Rubbing its nose in it and spanking them will not correct this behavior as it cannot connect the punishment with the act of peeing in the food bowl. 

Do Cats Pee Where They Eat?

Cats generally do not pee where they eat as they are very clean animals. They prefer to keep their eating and elimination areas separate. 

So please don’t place your cat’s litter box next to its feeding area.

Why Is My Cat Peeing In My Dog’s Bowl?

Rest assured that your cat isn’t peeing in your dog’s bowl out of hatred or spite. 

Maybe it is. 

Your cat is showing such behavior due to medical or territorial disputes with your dog.