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Re-educating Rocket

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Some of you know about the problems I've been having with Rocket -- he began spraying when I brought in the little gray cat. The problem was addressed by allowing him to go out. It was actually my vet's suggestion. The thinking was that allowing him to expand his range into the outside would relieve his need to mark his territory on the inside. Going out was never intended to be the final solution. Well, that didn't work. He continued to spray inside, even after the little gray cat was gone. So now he's spending all of his days outside and his nights in the garage.

I've done some behavior modification work with him according to Pam Johnson-Bennett. But she said it might take 30 days, and if that's 30 days at each spot that's not going to work. So I came across this article while googling for information on spraying:


and I'm starting on the method of placing food down at each spot at each meal. This involves no less than 12 dishes down for just Rocket alone at each meal. And there's a 13th spot I'm not putting a dish down at simply because Twinkie and Mellie need to go in a room by themselves to eat, and that's where the 13th spot is. (So I equal the writer's most dishes ever record.) After four days of this, I'm going to just leave empty dishes down at all these spots and let Rocket stay in and see if he sprays anywhere.

The reason for posting this is if anyone has any thoughts on this technique. Do you think it's going to work? Anything else I can be doing? (I've done Feliway, treats, playtime and deterrents at the spots.) Do you think I'm going to be able to convert Rocket back to an indoor-only spray-less cat?
post #2 of 5
Pam Johnson-Bennett recommended that in one of her books. I can't remember which (I have read every one I could get my hands on). The key is getting the cat to reassociate the spot as "food or play or bed/den" rather than as an elimination spot.

I think you *can* get him to be indoors only again. As far as the spraying, you can hope for the occasional accident. Have you talked to your vet about medication? He may still smell the other cat and feel insecure. There are a few medications out there that are supposed to help with spraying issues. And on another board I frequent, a member had a cat on one long term. She helped me out when Raven started. We determined however, if he can't see/smell stray cats in "his" territory, he's ok. So I never explored medication as an option. Raven also had interstitial cystitis type bladder problems while this all went on--obviously stress related. He did get Amitriptylene for that.

My Raven practically hosed down our last apartment. We had roaming cats, and one sprayed our door--which didn't seal, and it came in. Viola. Instant spraying cat. Well our vet wasn't helpful but at the time Pam Johnson-Bennett had a message board on iVillage. So I followed her advice, and it made a huge difference. What we did is different from what Rocket needs. But some is the same.

I used a Feliway diffuser (1 because of our apartment size). I also had the spray, which needs to be reapplied to each sprayed spot. I thoroughly cleaned each spot. You should probably start him in a "safe" room, but not one that the grey cat occupied. And confining him will limit the locations sprayed while he gets situated.

I have read in other places that going outside often makes spraying worse. They can also come inside and have redirected aggression, so I would bring him back in ASAP.

Raven only has the occasional squirt now. Mostly in the spring when new cats are out roaming. But our current place has few strays, and there is one tom who seems to keep the riff-raff out.
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
Unfortunately, my vet is strongly opposed to medication. I'm not going to "shop around" for a vet who's going to medicate him. I don't want him medicated, except if it's necessary for a transition. My vet might do that, but not without a behavioral consult. I've used her behavioral consultation services before, and it wasn't productive. I have a call in to another local behaviorist, but am still waiting for a call-back. I'm willing to go through the motions and check off all the boxes if it's necessary, but I don't think a behavioral consult will offer me any other solutions or techniques other than I'm already aware of, and am already using, or plan to use farther along in the process, some of which you mentioned.

I'm aware of and do share your concerns about the possible ways this therapy could go wrong. The alternatives aren't acceptable. So it cheers me up to hear from someone who thinks this will work. Thanks!!
post #4 of 5
Originally Posted by coaster View Post
Unfortunately, my vet is strongly opposed to medication. I'm not going to "shop around" for a vet who's going to medicate him. I don't want him medicated, except if it's necessary for a transition.
Oh I definitely agree with that. That was one reason I didn't pursue that with Raven. He was on the amitriptylene to get his IC under control. It worked and we weaned him off of it a few months later.

I really think the other stuff *can* work. I was just worried about his going outside causing more issues. But you have him in the garage if I read the first post correctly? I mentioned the outdoor bit, because when I used to let my cats (just Raven and Nabu at that time) outside on leashes I had all kinds of trouble with redirected aggression. No problems now that they don't go out.

I think the empty dishes will definitely help. You can also try placing toys on those spots. Have you read her book Cat Vs Cat? I have found it very helpful. I never had a personal consult, just read her books and the board she used to host.
post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
Yes, I have all her books, even the first one, "Cat Love", when she was just Pam Johnson, and is no longer in print.
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