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On this page you'll find questions/letters sent to us by customers about their pee issues, as well as our responses. The identifying info has been deleted or modified to protect the parties involved. We'll address a variety of issues related to pet odors, indiscriminate urination, failure to use the litter box, cat behavior issues and all things related to house soiling. We don't get a lot of questions from dog owners, but some of those letters might make their way onto this page as well.
► Case #1:Nancy,
I need your help, if you have time to lend me your virtual ear, as I am at my wits' end.
I have a serious cat problem.
Today's the one-month anniversary of the day we adopted a cat from the humane society. I saw this cat in the adoption area at the (national pet supplies) store on the north side. He'd been put there by (a rescue organization), who foster animals from the humane society, because they had no animals old enough among their fosters to put up for adoption. To make a long story short, I tracked him down, managed to convince my nearest and dearest that I'd fallen in love with the cat, and adopted him on April 21.
He'd been relinquished by prior owners who said he had no behavioral problems. Aside from an ear which desperately needed cleaning and an injured tail from which the last two inches fell off after an injury, he seemed healthy and lovable. He's neutered and declawed. I called him Walter after my paternal grandfather. He's a 12.5-lb. orange tabby.
I took him to our vet for a full checkup and fasting blood work. Everything checked out okay.
I tried to follow your pet introduction recommendations to integrate him with our existing cat (Stella, female, spayed, not declawed, slightly bigger than Walter, and a real prima donna). There was some posturing and hostility, but things seemed to settle down. I did notice that he plays rough, and the few times he really seemed to be picking on Stella, I confined him to my office with food, water, and his own litter box for a few hours to a day.
Till the beginning of last week, I thought things were great. Then (when, shall we say, he and I were in the bathroom at the same time, and he was using litterbox #2), I saw him start to stand up before he'd finished peeing. Some urine got on the (tiled) wall and (tiled) floor. I cleaned up and thought almost nothing more about it.
Tuesday morning (a week ago tomorrow), Bob was in the bathroom getting ready to take a shower. Walter came and started to eat out of what nominally is supposed to be Stella's dish. Bob nudged him away, finally taking him in here to my office and putting him in front of his "own" dish. Bob returned to the bathroom. So did Walter, again to Stella's food. Bob nudged him away again. Walter got into the litter box, stood up and sprayed the wall. Bob called me upstairs. I cleaned up and put Stella back in segregation in my office.
Both cats eat the same food. Both litter boxes use the same litter (clumping, nominally unscented). Both are lined with plastic garbage bags.
In the hope that this might be solved with a taller litter box, I got a bigger storage bin at the home improvement store and filled it with brand new litter yesterday after another incident in which I think he was trying to spray, but I wasn't in the room to observe. I just found a few spots of pee. This stopped some urine which landed partly up the side wall of the litter box yesterday evening but stayed inside the box. This morning, however, I found pee at the intersection of the box wall and box bottom, some pee on the inside wall of the litter box, and a small spot of pee on the floor (carpet) next to the box. I crated Walter for 40 minutes, following a suggestion from (the animal communicator) (whom I called last Thursday) that I make the stakes clear to him: pee outside the litter box and you cannot live here.
I have a Feliway diffuser in here. I've sprayed Feliway on the spots where he's peed. I cannot let him out of this room and into the rest of the house unless he stops peeing where he's not supposed to, as Bob's musical gear is all over the place and he will not tolerate damage to it, reasonably enough.
He's due at the vet's tomorrow for a dental cleaning. I've asked them to do a urinalysis while he's there, on the off chance that he has a problem. He does seem to groom his privates more than I'd expect, but maybe I'm just grasping at straws, since he has none of the symptoms of a UTI (no squatting, no crying when peeing, etc.)
The animal communicator says Stella doesn't like Walter much because he's talkative, and because Stella is a bit of a narcissist. She's not sure how well these two are likely to fit, but she didn't offer discouragement.
Any suggestions? I either solve this problem really, really soon, or Walter goes back to humane society. I cannot deal simultaneously with everything I have on my plate. My life is a mess at the moment, and this just is not helping. Sorry to make it sound as if this is about me, but I've got a boatload of money I don't really have into a cat whom I love dearly but cannot allow to ruin my home.
Please help. I am beside myself.
Hi. Sorry to hear about your plight. I can imagine how you (all, including the cats) feel.
I can surely empathize, having been in your situation many times over the years. I know you're at your wits' end and feel the world caving in around you.
Not what you want to hear, I know, but a month is too short a time to really allow two cats to establish a pecking order. This doesn't make it impossible to accelerate their learning to get along, but it's akin to speed dating...except with pee. (That's a good one; I'm going to use it in our advertising.)
Experience tells me that I think you're exacerbating the situation by doing what most of us would think would be the correct thing to do: separating the cats and giving them "their own" water, food, litter box, etc. Our experience has shown that once everyone feels they're a part of the family community, things settle down. Separation, literally or figuratively, discourages this and encourages Walter to resent Stella.
I have found, as noted in the educational article on the website, that tone of voice and—sorry to get airy fairy—vibe have a lot to do with the cats' sense of stability. A high, nervous tone of voice and actions/thoughts/tone that indicates you're unsure about them and their behavior has a lot to do with their ongoing lack of feeling the security they need. Here's an example.
I recently visited a couple south of Indianapolis. He's a doctor; she's the daughter of a prominent man in the business world. They've rescued a bunch of cats and have their hearts in the right place. Very kind people. The fellow is more laid-back than she, and she was speaking in a high, baby-talk way to the cats, which put them on edge. The fellow and gal have been at each other's throat over the peeing and there's been a lot of arguing. I met with them, helped clean their carpet, subfloor, etc., and spent a few hours talking to them about their situation. I petted all the cats who seemed to gravitate to me. I spoke in my soothing way to them (the cats, not the people) and taught the couple about interacting with the cats. Wouldn't you know it: since I dealt with the cats that day, the ones who were fighting/peeing have begun to get along a lot better and the situation has begun to settle down. The "fraidy cat" has come out of her shell and is now better integrating into the population. The owners are spending time sitting on the floor, petting and brushing the cats. I encouraged them to buy some rotating-tooth combs, which cats love. The gal is speaking with the cats in a more soothing way (this was key). I recommended the documentary The Secret to them (www.thesecret.tv) and they've begun to put it into practice. The situation isn't totally solved yet, but they've made enormous progress in a few weeks. I bet you can, too, in much the same way. I've revisited the home and the cats have come over to me for loving/talking to, with one of them (the one who instigated the peeing) literally trying to climb up into my arms. I held him like a baby and talked to him in a way he loved. Does this help keep him from feeling like he "needs" to mark? Absolutely. You can get your guys' mentalities turned about, too.
In addition to the communicator, you might achieve some success by letting Kathy Barr work with your animals. She helped us with the hospice/passing of our cancer kitty, Georgette, who REALLY benefited from Kathy's work.
You might consider putting one or both cats on Paxil during this transitional period. Talk with your vet, with whom we've also worked for years, about it. I have an inexpensive source for it (name-brand, not generic or bathtub), so don't let the quoted prices scare you. We still have our cat, Gracie, on it, though at a very small dose we could probably stop.
Many cats are averse to using boxes with liners. I suggest getting away from these. The spraying inside the box (either a conventional-sized box or the tubs from the home improvement store) is normal in these situations. It's a good sign that Walter is at least doing it in the box. The spraying over the side is, unfortunately, normal behavior, too, for some cats.
DooDoo Voodoo can really help deter the cats from remarking and can help stop them from developing a peeing habit, which is harder to break than sporadic indiscriminate urination.
An all-natural clumping litter like ours (Editor's Note: our litter is only available in Indianapolis) can really help, too. Make sure it's unscented, unbleached and completely natural.
By spending time sitting on the floor, brushing/combing them and talking to them, you'll begin to draw them into the family mindset and they'll begin to associate each other with good things/feelings, not bad things (separation) and feelings (he/she is eating out of my dish, using my litter box, etc.)
Stay the course. It absolutely WILL get better for you guys. You're making progress every day, and this situation really presents a good opportunity for you to establish a long-term bond with Walter...and even improve & strengthen your relationship with Stella.
I know you've not been one who likes visitors to your house, but if you want me to drop by, I'll make time to.
Let me know if I've helped and whether you'd like me to drop by. You're a good person for caring enough about Walter to give him the stable home he deserves. Now we're in the tweaking phase. Remember, Bob didn't become the person you wanted him to be in one month, either. :-)))))))))))))))))))))))