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Why is My 10-Month-Old Cat Urinating Outside the Litter Box and Showing Other Worrying Behaviors?


Dear VetBabble,

I have a 10-month-old cat who has been displaying some worrying behaviors recently. He’s been urinating outside his litter box, making a coughing/gagging noise, eating and drinking less than usual, and his feces have had a sticky appearance. I know it’s impossible to tell without an examination, but I’m wondering if you could give me some possible answers to these issues? I will definitely be booking an appointment with my vet for diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Understanding Your Cat’s Litter Box Troubles

First, let’s address your cat’s urination outside of the litter box. This is a common concern among cat owners and can be due to various reasons. We’ve discussed this topic more extensively in our article, Why Won’t My Cat Use the Litter Tray?. Factors that could lead to this behavior include medical issues like urinary tract infections, kidney disease, or behavioral problems such as aversion to the litter substrate or location.

Since your cat is also exhibiting other unusual behaviors, it is essential not to rule out any medical issues that could be causing these actions. Booking a vet appointment is the best first step in this situation.

Potential Health Concerns

The symptoms you’ve mentioned, such as coughing/gagging, reduced appetite, and sticky feces, may be signs of various health conditions that need to be addressed by your veterinarian. A few potential causes are:

  1. Kidney Disease: While kidney disease is more common in older cats, it can still affect younger cats. Your cat’s increased thirst and changes in urination habits may be indicators of this issue. You can read more about this topic in our article on Kidney Disease in Cats.
  2. Upper Respiratory Infections (Cat Flu): Coughing and gagging noises can be symptoms of an upper respiratory infection, commonly known as cat flu. This condition is usually caused by viruses (such as feline herpesvirus or feline calicivirus) and can lead to sneezing, coughing, eye or nasal discharge, and appetite loss. Learn more about this ailment in Does My cat have a flu?.
  3. Gastrointestinal Issues: Your cat’s sticky feces and reduced appetite could hint at digestive problems like indigestion, food intolerance, or even a gastrointestinal obstruction. This may also cause vomiting. We’ve discussed common causes and remedies for vomiting in cats in our article Why is My Cat Vomiting?.

Please keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive, and only a thorough examination by your vet will be able to properly diagnose your cat’s condition. The information provided here is merely to help you understand the possible issues your cat could be facing.

Preparing for Your Vet Appointment

When you book a veterinary appointment for your cat, there are a few things you can do to prepare and help make the appointment more effective:

  • Be thorough in explaining all of the behaviors and symptoms your cat has been experiencing. Take note of any changes, including appetite, activity level, and litter box habits.
  • Gather any relevant medical history, including vaccination records and information on any previous health conditions.
  • If possible, bring a fresh stool sample for your vet to examine, as this can provide critical information about your cat’s gastrointestinal health.

By taking these steps and discussing your concerns with your veterinarian, you’ll be better equipped to identify and address your cat’s health issues. It’s essential to remember that early intervention can lead to a more successful recovery and a healthier, happier cat!

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