Shannon Stacey

Need cat advice

I’m trying so very, very hard not to go postal on one of my kitties. They’re five now, and the torti one, Gizmo, has gone well beyond trying my patience.

She no longer pees in her litter box. She just goes wherever she pleases. Most often in some hidden corner of my recently remodeled—and carpeted—office. We had to replace TK’s backpack a mere month before end of school because she peed on it. Thankfully I caught it before it seeped through to papers and books. Leave a bag on the dining room table? She’ll pee on it. A sweatshirt that slips off the hook and onto the floor. I have to throw things away every single day, and my house has to smell. I can’t even tell anymore. I dread coming home after a weekend away.

It’s been an issue with Gizmo forever, but lately she’s not even pretending to give a damn.

I’ve reached the point where I’m actually crying in frustration, and I don’t know what to do with her. I hate to say it, but if not for the boys, she’d probably be gone. I hate thinking that—if the Short Kid ran around peeing in corners, I wouldn’t give him away. I would only consider it because I’m afraid I’m going to hurt her. She’s fast, though, and skittish when she knows she’s been bad. Fortunately and unfortunately, she’s not actually going anywhere.

Cat people, is there ANYTHING I can do? I’m very, very open to suggestions!

13 comments to “Need cat advice”

  1. Larissa Ione
      · May 21st, 2009 at 10:39 am · Link

    Ugh — this is a horrible problem, but really common!

    Could be medical — if she had a UTI or something, and felt pain while peeing in the litter box, she could fear it. Also, diabetes can affect litter box behavior. When my cat was in beginning stages of diabetes (I didn’t know it at the time but now recognize the sign,) she started doing that. So you might get a medical checkup.

    Could also be emotional — if she was going to the bathroom at some point and was frightened of something — attacked by the other cat, maybe, she might associate the litter box with terror. Is it a covered box? If so, try removing the cover. Cats with this issue don’t like to go into something that makes them feel trapped. You can also get another litter box and place it in one of the favorite potty spots to give more options.

    Also, there’s a fabulous product called feliway that helps calm kitties and stop them from spraying-type behavior. Worth a try.

    One thing that worked for my male who decided he didn’t want to use the box anymore was antidepressants. Yeah, sounds crazy, but the vet gave me a prescription for elavil, and boy, that REALLY helped!

    Good luck — I know this is TERRIBLY frustrating!!!

  2. Charlene
      · May 21st, 2009 at 10:40 am · Link

    There is stuff you can spray to discourage cats from peeing there, but this sounds to me like a territorial issue. Start w/ taking her to the vet to rule out a health problem because they sometimes do this for attention when there’s something wrong. But then deal with territory. It may be that she hates sharing her territory with so many other pets and the only answer might be to find her a home with fewer invaders in her turf.

    There’s also medication. I had a cat who was insanely territorial and we had to give her kitty prozac. Good luck!

  3. Shannon
      · May 21st, 2009 at 10:47 am · Link

    I’m going to call the vet. I was seeing it as a discipline issue rather than a health issue and how the hell do you discipline a cat?

    I’ll also take the cover off the box.

    Hopefully it’s not having a full house. She and Jinx are sisters—littermates—so nothing changed there, and she had issues with this before Mini came.

    I battle constantly to keep my husband from tossing her outside. They’ve always been inside cats and with this neighborhood’s stray and traffic problems….I don’t want that.

  4. Natasha A.
      · May 21st, 2009 at 11:05 am · Link

    Great advice from the others….
    I know my girl pees on stuff when we are bad owners and forget to change the litter.

  5. Jewell
      · May 21st, 2009 at 11:12 am · Link

    I totally agree on the fact it might be a health issue. Sometimes when a cat develops liver or kidney problems they will act this way. My cat started with peeing directly outside the litterbox, then everywhere else. I didn’t realize what the problem was at the time, but found out too late to really treat her. She seemed healthy in all other respects.

    Also, cats can be really odd creatures. Sometimes just out of the blue they decide that they don’t want to share a litterbox. But just adding another litter box doesn’t always solve the problem. Darn hard to train cats that “this is your box, and this is your box”. (My cat also pulled this stunt before she was sick when we added another cat to the house, and after a while, no more litter box until the other cat was out.)

    I feel for you, babe. Cat piss reeks and the smell is darn hard to get rid of.

  6. Larissa Ione
      · May 21st, 2009 at 11:13 am · Link

    Heh…I came back to mention the territorial thing but Charlene has already covered it! :) The Feliway and elavil really help with that issue. Just make sure everything she’s peed on has been well cleaned with enzyme cleaner made for cat urine, so it’ll help discourage repeat offenses in same area once kitty is on meds.

    Larissa, who seems to get more than her fair share of animals with medical and emotional issues… :gaah:

  7. Jill Sorenson
      · May 21st, 2009 at 11:36 am · Link

    Health issue was my first thought, too. I used to work for a vet. Drinking and peeing a lot can indicate a kidney problem.

  8. azteclady
      · May 21st, 2009 at 11:38 am · Link

    How many litter boxes do you have?

    I have three cats, and one of them had that issue for a while, but when I upped the number of litter boxes, she stopped.

    Apparently part of the issue was an exacerbated sense of smell.

    First: the vet visit, definitely.

    Second: make sure to empty said litter boxes at least once a week–use less litter if you want, but make sure they get clean litter once a week minimum.

    Third: find a litter box deodorant [I use Amr&Hammer myself] and use it every time you change the litter.

    Fourth: wash everything she’s peed on with borax–it will neutralize the scent, so she won’t be ‘called’ back. This includes carpets and furniture, backpacks, whatever. Just soak them with a borax solution, then rinse well in cold water (hot water fixes the scent–NOT good) Just make sure that if any of your pets licks furniture or carpet, you rinse the borax out really well.

    Good luck, Shannon, I know how difficult this can be.

  9. Lynn
      · May 21st, 2009 at 5:20 pm · Link

    One of my boys went through the same thing (after six years of using the litter box with no problem) and after visiting the vet and making sure it wasn’t a kidney issue, we quarantined him temporarily in my office (which has a tile floor) with his own litter box and nothing else for him to tinkle on. While I had the carpets cleaned and detoxed, I kept him under quarantine. He would not go on the tile, so he had no choice but to use the litter box. I also spent quit a bit of time watching him, and praised him and gave him a treat whenever I saw him actively using the litter box.

    We did this for about a month before we let him out for short periods to see how he’d behave. It worked, although now he won’t use any other litter box except “his” in my office. :)

  10. Greta
      · May 21st, 2009 at 9:47 pm · Link

    Larissa – said all the things I would have said. I get all my kitty advice from her. I’d rule out any medical problem first.
    Good Luck and keep us posted.

  11. Natalie J. Damschroder
      · May 22nd, 2009 at 5:31 pm · Link

    I agree about the medical checkup and all the other recommendations, plus…

    We’ve had two cats with this issue. One just simply likes the carpet in the basement. We put a gate up at the top of the stairs. She never goes outside the litter box now.

    Definitely more litter boxes, if you only have one, though it might not help. I had two before, but both cats used the same one and ignored the other. I got a giant box when we got the third cat.

    Feliway did not help with either of my cats’ problems.

    The newest cat developed an inflammatory problem after a year. She didn’t go outside the litter box, but was in it every five minutes with no production. After lots of expensive tests ruled out illness or anything, we put her on Cosequin, and after a month, her symptoms disappeared and she’s been fine. So that’s a possible treatment, too.

    Good luck!

  12. Annmarie
      · May 23rd, 2009 at 10:40 pm · Link

    My cats do this if I don’t change the litter box often enough. For 3 cats I have 2 litter boxes that the cats insist I change every 4 days.

    They loved the Litter Maid but when it broke, I couldn’t afford replacing it.

  13. Cat
      · April 11th, 2010 at 12:40 am · Link

    Does anyone know of a good organic cat litter that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg and is unscented? Thanks.

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