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Issues with roommate's cats

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Hello Forum,

I'm a newbie here and am going to admit to something which will no doubt bring on the wrath of everyone: I'm not a fan of keeping cats indoors. I'm sorry, I used to think it was ok, but no longer. I'm not trying to Troll but I need some enlightenment on an issue which needs addressing and this may mean discussing hot issues.

I founded a new appartment with my room mate, who brought her long haired cats with her. I was cool with this as I'm not too complicated. What I wasn't prepared for was that she makes no provision for allowing the cats out of the appartment.

Well, I think this is wrong. This is where my tolerance of having cats indoors started to fade. Cats are not on this Earth for the sole pleasure of humans and it's against their nature to be cooped up inside all day and night. They're not cute teddy bears to purely satisfy our emotional needs. The cats previously lived somewhere where they were allowed out, but now she/we live in a busier area, they remain indoors.

The cats are insanely bored. They are not fighters, but scratch, pee, poop and vomit outside of their litter tray every other day. They constantly wag their tails from side to side. They prowl around with a piercing meowing which is beginning to drive me crazy. Night time is the worst.

They jump up on the furniture - something which I find inappropriate - and I'm always shoo-ing them off the dining table, coffee table, sofa etc. The sofa is a particular bugbear because I have to get my vacuum cleaner out every time I want to sit down and the fabric is now so scratched my sofa looks terrible. I'm embarrased when people visit because there's hair everywhere, even 20 minutes after cleaning, and clothes are covered etc.

I also have to live with leaving my room door closed all the time for fear of having them pee on my bed - this has only happened once - or find faeces on the floor - happened often enough. Also issues such as clothes in the wardrobe being covered in hair is no joke when most of your suits are navy blue!

I'm beginning to despair that my room mate only views the world through the relationship she has with her cats. This relationship seems to 'trump' any human relationship. The cats are the be-all and end-all and frankly give weight to the 'wacky cat owner' cliché. I really like my room mate, she's a lovely girl, but somehow in my naïvity I believe humans ought to have a stronger voice than a dumb animal. It seems the cats are never to be inconvenienced but I am. How does that work? I've heard a saying which seems to sum it up: Dogs have owners, cats have staff.

(This is where I put on my flame-proof helmet! )

Can someone - a cat lover who understands how this might affect a human relationship - offer any advice? I don't believe I should have to start using a blanket over my beautiful sofa just so the cat hair is no longer an issue; I don't want to have to remember to keep my room door closed all the time so my room stays clean; I don't think it's right cats clamber over every surface just for me to have to follow them around cleaning, disinfecting etc. and I don't want to have to clean up poo because that's just yuck.

I've tried all the tricks such as citrus, pepper etc to no avail.

My room mate gives me a baffled look if I even bring up the subject: it's like she's blind to the fact that she's abusing her animals by not allowing them out. They poo and pee everywhere in protest. And she snuggles up to them and says how wonderful they are and "Mommy loves you" which is very weird. Perhaps I am not so uncomplicated as I'd like to think, but I'm beginning to wonder what the cat ownership need is about: fulfilling the cats or indeed only the owners needs?

She's going on holiday for two weeks and has asked me to look after the cats. I'm dreading it - they're a pain the moment she walks out of the door until she comes back: goodness knows what they'll be like for 14 days without 'Mommy'.

Please help!
post #2 of 16
My cats are my family and of course more important to me than most people. I think that this is the case for most people you will find on this forum.
You room-mates cats are going through a difficult change from being outdoor cats to indoor. This will take a while and it wil be difficult on the way.
You will find that most people here keep their cats indoors. I don't but I agree that sometimes - as in a busy area - it's necessary.
Living with cats is not like living with dogs. Cats can be trained but they will never understand why the shouldn't have access to all nice places - as coffe tables and sofas, in their terriory. If a person has a hard time with this that person should have another kind of pet.
I understand your dilemma but there is no easy solution to it.
The cats will be cats what ever you do. Hopefully the litterbox issue will be solved when they get used to being indoors. More than one litterbox, which are cleand several times a day, might help. To brush the cats daily will decrease the amount of hair. If you want your sofa to survive the room-charing you will need to put a blanket over it.
Playing with the cats in the evenings might help to get them more relaxed when it's time to sleep.
Outdoor cats can be good indoor cats but it takes a while. We have taken care of seven feral cats who will be indoor cats untill they are completely tame. With two litterboxes, cleaned several times a day we have not had one accident yet.
Yes our home is messy and there is cathair everywhere but there is also a lot of joy. If your roommates cats were outdoor cats I can assure you there would be other things anoying you as living pray let lose in the appartement, dead mice under the sofa, black paw prints all over the place and even flea infections.
post #3 of 16
Althogh I am totally a cat person, I sympathise. I am not sure there is any answer to this problem. Two long-haired cats who are used to going out are going to shed hair and make noise, as well as scratch. There are no two ways about it. A certain amount of hair can be removed by daily grooming, but the behavioural issues will remain. Why, may I ask, did you move to an apartment in a busier area? You should have been looking for a place in a quiet street on the edge of town, or at least your room mate should. Many cats live happily indoors, but once they know what is out there it is very difficult to get them to re-adjust, I think. I assume they have had a vet check to rule out medical issues with the pooping and peeing? Would extra litter boxes help? Sorry but I can't think of anything else.
post #4 of 16
Okay, there are a lot of issues that are going on in your post, so I'll try to address them as best as possible:

The cats are insanely bored. They are not fighters, but scratch, pee, poop and vomit outside of their litter tray every other day.

How often are the litter boxes being cleaned out? I have two boys and I have to clean them out two to three times a day to make sure that they use them. How many litter boxes do you have? One should really have one per cat. Also, IMHO if a cat starts to pee or poo outside their litter box, and it hasn't done it before a vet trip may be in order.

I'm always shoo-ing them off the dining table, coffee table, sofa etc.

You may want to go out a buy a cat tree. It sounds like the cats aren't getting enough play time. If cats are bored they will act out.

You also may want to try giving the cats a play session at night right before you go to bed. This should cut down on some of the night time activity.
To me, it sounds like you should sit down with your room mate and let her know exactly how you feel. I realize everyone in this world may not be a cat person, but this is really impacting your relationship. However, I would NOT put these cats out doors just because you don't like them. It's not fair to your room mate and it's not fair to the cats.

I still feel like I haven't addressed all the issues in your post well. You may want to start your own thread in the behavior forum. Your questions may be answered a little bit better there.
post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 
Hello All,

Thank you for your comments so far - glad I feel safe enough to take off the fire-proof clothing!

I also see very few options, mainly because I feel my room mate is somewhat soft with regards to the behaviour of the cats. It is, in this analogy, right to say it's like with kids, in that 'Mommy' knows best. Staying on this theme, though, if I felt a 'Mommy' wasn't acting in the best interests of her kids, I would raise the matter with her. This is all well and good if the Mommy was willing to understand and wouldn't take my criticisms as hostile attack, but I'm having a hard time communicating that my issues are not selfish, cat-hating comments but matters which are interfering with my quality of life in my home, where I pay half the rent!

I have nothing against the cats themselves, the little devils, as they are the victims of my room mates compromises - I didn't know her before we moved in together: the busy area was actually one of the attractive reasons for me moving here. She was the one that came here voluntarily, but seemed to have ignored her cats needs. I feel it will turn into an argument, and eventually it'll be 'Either you leave or you love my cats' solution. Which would be a shame, I've only been here 7 weeks and won't be bullied out of my home, where I'm otherwise happy.

(Just cleaned 'protest' poop off the bathroom floor. What joy. My room mate's reply - "Oh, thanks." No mention of "Oh, sorry you had to do that. I really ought to find a better solution, you're very patient Uncle Max" etc.)

Can anyone help in suggesting a civilised way of raising the issue, perhaps in the light of the best interests of her cats, and to steer it clear from becoming personal?

Thank you! And greetings from Zurich Switzerland!
post #6 of 16
First, I think you should bring up the concern that all this pooping, peeing, and vomiting might indicate an illness and they should be brought in to the vet. The vomiting is really worrisome because that should not be a normal occurrence. Maybe she switched their food to something they can't tolerate.

Second, aren't the two of you responsible for keeping your apartment in good shape? Share your concerns that you might loose your deposit because of the huge mess the cats are making. It could cause permanent damage.

You could also mention that you think the cats need more exercise and more stuff to keep them interested. They might like shelves by windows to lay on, cat trees to scratch and climb and use as vertical space, new toys to play with by themselves, and interactive toys for your roommate to play with them.

I do keep my cats solely indoors and I have been through the ordeal of changing an indoor/outdoor cat to only indoors. The cats need lots of exercise and distraction. They also need consistent training to keep them off of certain areas like kitchen counters, but it sounds like your roommate has no interest in that.

Best of luck!
post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 
I think the best approach is to make it clear I'm thinking of the best interests of the cats, ie, when the cats are better provided for, perhaps they'll be less of a menace!

(They don't appear ill: the pee- and pooing seem definitely protest actions, the vomiting is just hair balls I guess, which is still kinda gross, ha ha)

Anyhow, I'll repost in a while with any 'improvements' in their behaviour. Thanks all for your support
post #8 of 16
I see you're really making an effort to come to terms with your roommate's cats, and the problems you're having with them. First off, they need at least two, but better three, litter boxes, located in "quiet spots" in your apartment.
Since they formerly "took care of business", i.e., excreted, outdoors, it might be a good idea to initially use potting soil (Blumenerde) in their litter trays, and then gradually switch to actual litter by mixing decreasing quantities of potting soil with increasing quantities of whatever litter you use. As far as shedding is concerned, if they're long-haired, daily grooming should cut down on the number of cat hairs. If they're not Persians, a "Zoom Groom" brush should help, so try "googling" for a local supplier. If that doesn't work, send me a PM - I live in SW Germany, but spend a month a year in the U.S., my native country, and stock up on the Zoom Groom every visit. I have an extra, and can mail it to you.
If the cats' misbehavior is due to boredom, try the following: Cat trees, if possible ceiling high, window seats, if possible with a bird feeder right outside the window, an interactive toy, e.g., a fishing pole toy, or a laser pointer (don't shine it directly into the cats' eyes). Do you have a balcony? I can send you a couple of links to suppliers of "cat net" and the requisite accessories in German-speaking countries.
My impression is that you're a native English speaker living in Switzerland - if so, what part of Switzerland do you live in, and what's the local "lingua franca!? My native langage is English, but my German is pretty fluent, seeing as I've been living in Germany for decades, and have been married to a "Kraut" for over 25 years. If you have questions, please don't hesitate to pose them (in English or German) by PM. What's your roommate's native language? if it's German, she should check out the forums at , very similar to TCS, but with an on line shop and vet.
post #9 of 16
Originally Posted by Uncle Max View Post
Hello Forum,

I'm a newbie here and am going to admit to something which will no doubt bring on the wrath of everyone: I'm not a fan of keeping cats indoors. I'm sorry, I used to think........
I used to think that cats should not be kept indoors either, but that was before I was a cat owner myself. After reading your posts, I am convinced of a few things, beginning with the notion that you are seeing a relatively poor example cat care. As jcat pointed out, those three cats should have three litterboxes. Some people would even suggest more. How many do they have now and how many times is the litter scooped every day? I have one cat and I scoop 3 or more times a day. Never is there any waste in the box when she is doing her next round of "business" in there. Some cats behave just fine with less boxes and less scooping, but when there are behavior problems among otherwise healthy cats, there is a higher chance that it is a cleanliness problem on the care giver's part.

I don't have the time to convince you that caring for an indoor cat can be done correctly, but there's a bigger issue with both you and your roommate anyway. You are not a cat lover like the rest of us, but I can respect that as long as you aren't mean and malicious to the cats and it doesn't sound like you are. Nevertheless, I'm convinced you would be happier if you didn't live with cats around. I could be wrong, but from what you've described so far, I get the impression that your roommate is a lazy care giver to some extent and taking care of three cats may be too much for her or too much for the amount of space they have available. Perhpas she's not providing them with enough attention. With that said, it may be best that you not live with her because before the cats change their behavior, she has to change her habits, and she has to want to do that. Then she has to learn how. Then the cats have to learn. Not being a cat owner yourself, having you tell her that she needs more litterboxes (among other possibilities) because you read it on the internet will be as welcome as a fart in a crowded elevator.
post #10 of 16
You should not have to put up with cats peeing and pooping all over your apartment. This is not normal and your RM should be trying to correct the situation, not let it continue as it may become a learned behavior.

Also, letting the cats outside will not solve all of your complaints. Indoor/outdoor kitties still shed, scratch and will still jump up on pretty much whatever they want.

My advice to you would be to find somewhere else to live. If she is not taking care of the animals in regards to the inappropriate elimination, brushing to reduce shedding, nail clipping, etc... then she is not respecting the person who pays the other half of the rent.
post #11 of 16
In all honesty, I think these cats need to visit a vet.
Simply the stress of moving, on top of now having their lifestyle changed, has possibly stressed them right into illness.
This should be done before any attempts at behavior modification as far as going potty outside of the litterbox.

All of the advice you've been given is really all the advice there is to give.
It's up to you now how you procede.
Best of luck to you and please, keep us updated.
post #12 of 16
Originally Posted by Uncle Max View Post
I founded a new appartment with my room mate, who brought her long haired cats with her. I was cool with this as I'm not too complicated. What I wasn't prepared for was that she makes no provision for allowing the cats out of the appartment.

Well, I think this is wrong.
It doesn't matter what you think. The cat isn't yours and you have no say in how she "raises" it.

If you can't tolerate how she manages her cat, perhaps you need to consider finding yourself a different room-mate.

Sorry, but I love my cats and I consider them my "children" and I do what is best for them and letting them roam around the city streets where they can get hit by a car/bus/'truck, attacked by other cats or a dog, or poisoned by some animal hater, is not my idea of looking after my "children".

Given your attitude I would have a huge problem having you look after my cats. I'd be afraid that you would boot my cats outside as soon as I was gone. Your room-mate should find someone else to look after her cats while she's away.

As for the peeing and pooping issue, it's possible the cat is sick and needs to see a vet. It's also possible that it is stressed from the changes and needs time to adapt. The others here have given advice on that issue.
post #13 of 16
I'd like to add my 2 cents worth:
DOGS leave poo and pee as "messages" - cats don't. they are NOT performing litter-box-nono's in protest. something is dreadfully wrong in the litterbox management.
1. Perhaps you could get your roommate a copy of "Cat Confidential" by Vicky Hall, an English cat behaviorist. You would probably benefit by reading it also - it's an easy read and presents very creative solutions.
2. IMO, the reason that you find "Mommy"'s attitude so annoying is that you instinctively realize that all is not right in the relationship. Too much smothering is annoying to cats, and these cats are DEFINITELY trying to communicate their annoyance. Sounds like she needs dogs instead.
3. Also, IMO, it's okay to ask cats to respect your spaces; but they also need plenty of spaces of their own. An apartment is small, so think vertical. Try to create some cat play areas; with shelves on the walls, or cat condos - doesn't have to be expensive - cats love cut-out cardboard boxes as much as children do Ditto for plenty of toys.
4. Make sure the cat litter is UNSCENTED! Cats have very sensitive noses and if the litter is perfumed, it may be too much for them. Also, some cats don't bury their waste because the perfume confuses them. You definitely need multiple boxes in multiple locations. Most cats prefer 2 per cat; one for pee and one for poo. My cats (except Andy) poop in JonnyCat clay litter and pee in a combo of laying mash/Arm & Hammer unscented clumping litter. the MAIN reason for separating toilet areas (and, ideally, having separate food & water stations) is that bored/annoyed cats can begin to bully each other, and will begin to do "Ambush at the Litter Box/Food dish". The victim then has no recourse but to pee and poop outside the box.
FOR THE CATS' SAKES - PLEASE, PLEASE do not give up yet!! They obviously have only you to hear them; you can actually make this a fun project - it takes real creativity, respect & intelligence to work with cats on this level. It also takes lots of patience; it's very similar to re-training horses - LOTS and LOTS of non-verbal cues are used. Although many dogs are simpler, certain breeds such as Border Collies; Papillons; Sheperds, and wolf-mixes are equally as challenging and rewarding as cats.
Please keep us updated on how things are going - I feel so badly for those poor, misunderstood kitties.
BTW, is there any chance that you could build an outside cat-play area that connects to a window??? Not total freedom, but a nice compromise.
AND....sorry, I know this is long, BUT STRESS CAUSES EXCESSIVE SHEDDING, too. As you find solutions for other issues, the shedding problem may diminish.
post #14 of 16
I was bothered by the comment "stupid animals". You are by far underestimating the feline mind if you think they are stupid. If your attitude towards the cats is negative, they will sense that and act out on it, IMO.

It sounds to me like your friend needs to spend more time caring for her cats (cleaning out the litter boxes, playing with them, etc) and that they both should be seen by a vet. Cats like consistancy. Sounds to me like the move, not being able to go outside anymore, etc, has had an effect on their behaviour and they are probably also acting out because they feel like you resent them, too. Cats sense things we feel in amazingly accurate ways.

Others have already given you excellent advice. Your RM calling herself their mommy, etc, is NOT weird. Cats form extremely close bonds with their people (yes THEIR people. my cats own me.. lol). Besides, they are royalty in their own minds (and in mine, too! lol), and expect to be treated as such. You are not going to be able to stop them from laying where they want to lay, etc. They do what they want, and likely no matter how many times you tell them no, they'll do it again anyways. Your best bet is to distract them with something interesting to them. lol

Thats my opinion.

My advice would be to move in with someone (or alone) who doesn't have any cats since feline behaviour seems to insult your "dominant human" beliefs/personality. Personally, i think of my furkids as equals, and I treat them as such.

Good luck!
post #15 of 16
I think most issues in your post have been covered by others so I won't repeat that advice, but I just wanted to emphasize that there appears to be lots of different issues that I think you need to separate in your own mind and deal with individuially. As far as the indoor vs outdoor issue goes, I respect your desire to let your cats have outdoor access but you also need to respect your roommate's desire to keep hers indoors. It sounds like you both have very different ideas as to how to care for a cat. The issues of pooping outside the box etc. do need to be addressed by your roommate for the sake of her cats and because the state of the apartment is your business too, but things like cats going on furniture and cat hair are really just down to differing attitudes - I'd guess that most of us on here allow our cats to go on the furniture (how on earth do you stop them, anyway?!). I suggest you have a talk with your roommate to see if you can come to a compromise that suits you both, but otherwise the only option may be to get a new roommate.
post #16 of 16
Originally Posted by urbantigers View Post
I'd guess that most of us on here allow our cats to go on the furniture (how on earth do you stop them, anyway?!).
I was wondering that myself. What some people don't appreciate is that a cat does not know that the floor is a floor, and a table is a table, and a counter is a counter, and that humans have ideas that these spaces have specific and different uses. To a cat, they are all just walking/sleeping places within his territory. Cats don't stay on the ground, and it's maybe a bit naive to expect them to know that you think the counter is for preparing food and the coffee table is for putting mugs of coffee on. My cat is certainly allowed on the furniture! I just keep him out of the kitchen when I'm cooking, for my hygeine and his safety.

To the OP: I think it is important for you to feel happy and comfortable in your home. I am not a dog person, and I would not share with somebody who owned dogs, because I would not be happy with dogs around all the time. I think the best solution would be to find someone without cats to live with!
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