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HELP! At wits end with cat...

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
My cat is peeing on my couch. It is purely behaivoral, I am sure, because she only pees in her litter box and on the couch. If I move the couch, she still pees on it. I've had the cushions off for a while, stacked in the corner, and even though I am sure she can smell her scent on them, she won't return to them - but she continues to pee on the main part of the couch, and only on the seat portion, not the arms or the back.

I've had her checked by the vet and she is completely healthy. She only started doing this a few weeks ago. I hadn't been home much for a week or so, then was fully out of town for a week, and then still not home much after I got back in town, and that's when she started doing it - about a week after I got back in town. I always give her plenty of attention when I am here, but I'm just not home much right now., and she is a very affectionate cat who loves attention.

I got a Feliway plug-in which is plugged in by the couch. I got the Cat Attract litter additive. I've been using both of those for a couple of weeks now. I got the Dumb Cat spray and completely doused the couch and cushions in it in an attempt to get rid of her scent (she pee'd on the couch twice more after that). I even moved the couch and drenched the carpet underneath where it was sitting before in case it leaked through.

My vet gave me a brochure about a medicine to try for her and upon looking into it further I find out the medicine isn't even meant for cats - it was designed specifically for dogs!

Sometimes I get hopeful because she will go a day or two without doing it, but then she's right back at it again. As I'm typing this I look over and see her sniffing at one of the recent spots (and licking it??). About half the time when she pees on the couch it is when I am home, usually in the other room sleeping or getting ready for work or something.

I've had her since she was about 2 months old and she is 4 years old now. I've never had this problem with her. The only other time she has pee'd outside the litter box was when she had an infection.

This has been going on for a few weeks now, and I've about had it. I love my cat dearly. She has personality and is a sweetheart. I don't want to get rid of her, but my entire living room is in shambles! Furniture torn apart and moved around, the constant smell of cat urine. My steam cleaner is on constant stand-by because I'm cleaning the couch every few days. I just can't keep doing this. I don't want to rehome her, but if I can't figure out a way to make her stop peeing on my couch, then I will have to do that and try to find her a home where she can get more attention than I am able to give her. The thought of doing that bothers me, not only because of giving her up, but also because I know that it will be very traumatic for her because she doesn't like strangers, so moving to a new home would be a huge thing to her. I'm all she's ever really known, but I really just can't deal with this much longer.

If anyone has ANY suggestions, I am all ears. Please, anything at all is worth a try right now.
post #2 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by dreambastion View Post
My cat is peeing on my couch. It is purely behaivoral, I am sure, because she only pees in her litter box and on the couch. If I move the couch, she still pees on it. I've had the cushions off for a while, stacked in the corner, and even though I am sure she can smell her scent on them, she won't return to them - but she continues to pee on the main part of the couch, and only on the seat portion, not the arms or the back.

I've had her checked by the vet and she is completely healthy. She only started doing this a few weeks ago. I hadn't been home much for a week or so, then was fully out of town for a week, and then still not home much after I got back in town, and that's when she started doing it - about a week after I got back in town. I always give her plenty of attention when I am here, but I'm just not home much right now., and she is a very affectionate cat who loves attention.

I got a Feliway plug-in which is plugged in by the couch. I got the Cat Attract litter additive. I've been using both of those for a couple of weeks now. I got the Dumb Cat spray and completely doused the couch and cushions in it in an attempt to get rid of her scent (she pee'd on the couch twice more after that). I even moved the couch and drenched the carpet underneath where it was sitting before in case it leaked through.

My vet gave me a brochure about a medicine to try for her and upon looking into it further I find out the medicine isn't even meant for cats - it was designed specifically for dogs!

Sometimes I get hopeful because she will go a day or two without doing it, but then she's right back at it again. As I'm typing this I look over and see her sniffing at one of the recent spots (and licking it??). About half the time when she pees on the couch it is when I am home, usually in the other room sleeping or getting ready for work or something.

I've had her since she was about 2 months old and she is 4 years old now. I've never had this problem with her. The only other time she has pee'd outside the litter box was when she had an infection.

This has been going on for a few weeks now, and I've about had it. I love my cat dearly. She has personality and is a sweetheart. I don't want to get rid of her, but my entire living room is in shambles! Furniture torn apart and moved around, the constant smell of cat urine. My steam cleaner is on constant stand-by because I'm cleaning the couch every few days. I just can't keep doing this. I don't want to rehome her, but if I can't figure out a way to make her stop peeing on my couch, then I will have to do that and try to find her a home where she can get more attention than I am able to give her. The thought of doing that bothers me, not only because of giving her up, but also because I know that it will be very traumatic for her because she doesn't like strangers, so moving to a new home would be a huge thing to her. I'm all she's ever really known, but I really just can't deal with this much longer.

If anyone has ANY suggestions, I am all ears. Please, anything at all is worth a try right now.

It sounds like she could have a severe case of separation anxiety (in regular people terms, she misses you very much!); can you try confining her with her litterbox and of course, her food and water, toys, and bedding, to a room with linoleum/tile/other washable flooring while you are away, and then let her out when you are home and able to spend quality time with her? It is really not advisable to rehome a beloved family member, which I hope and trust is what she is -- after all, if one has a kid that is destructive or is not toilet trained, most people don't entertain the thought of getting rid of the kid. Elders, the same way. Cats should also be the same way. When we adopt, barring catastrophic circumstances, we should make the commitment for life.

Sure hope you are able to find a win/win solution for this problem. btw, Nature's Miracle Just For Cats is an excellent enzymatic cleaner for those "accidents".
post #3 of 21
If she is going back to the place where she has peed before and is sniffing it, you haven't removed the smell yet. Make sure what you are using is a urine neutralizer, such as Nature's Miracle For Cats, Urine Gone, Nok Out, etc. Spritzing it is not enough - you need to fully saturate the area and might have to repeat the process a few times before the smell is entirely gone.

As Tarasgirl stated, you might consider confining her to a smaller room with her litter box for a while. Once you are certain she is using the litter consistently, and you have fully treated your sofa, let her back out under supervision.

Rehoming is not the answer. If she does this at your home, she might do it at others and the new adopters might not be as tolerant as you have been. Cats like these unfortunately often land in a shelter.
post #4 of 21
I don't have experience with this but sister went through it. My suggestion is to toss the couch -- get rid of it and the cushions -- the whole thing. When my sister's cat peed on the carpet she had to tear up the carpet, Kilz the floor and replace the carpet. Sometimes, no amount of enzyme cleaner will help.
post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 
To the suggestions of confining her to a room while gone - I have considered that, but currently the only room in my apartment where that would work (and where her litterbox currently is) is the pantry/laundry room, and it isn't very large, and as much as I'm gone I don't like the thought of leaving her in that space that much. Plus, part of the time I'm gone, the dog is home (not always as the dog goes to work with me) and it seems so unfair to let the dog free but lock the cat in the other room. However, I'm willing to try it for a while and see if it helps. (side note - I do already close off the bedroom area of my apartment because the dog likes to sleep on my bed, so the cat only has access to the main living area when I am gone)

As for getting rid of the couch - I did that back when she first started doing this (has been about a month now) because I knew the scent was there and that couch was hard to clean (she had pee'd on it ages ago when she had an infection, but she hadn't pee'd on it since then until this started). I got another couch and within the first 2 days of having it she started peeing on it, too. I just can't afford to keep replacing my furniture.

And the spray - Dumb Cat is an enzymatic cleaner, and all the reviews I read about it were great, which is why I was trying it out. I've only had it on there about a week and just did the second treatment. I will go get the suggested cleaner and see if that works better.
post #6 of 21
Have you changed litter types, litter boxes.. moved the litter box or changed anything that you can think of (besides your schedule)?
post #7 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CatsAreBetter View Post
Have you changed litter types, litter boxes.. moved the litter box or changed anything that you can think of (besides your schedule)?
No, nothing changed around that time except my schedule. I moved into my apartment almost a year ago, and her litter box is the same one, in the same spot as it has been since I moved in. I changed litters about 6 months ago, so I ruled that out as an issue because she went 5 months with it fine before this new phase started.
post #8 of 21
Are you able to spend any time with her? It does sound like it's related to lack of attention or your schedule change... perhaps a companion animal would work for her. One of these days I'll be a behaviorist, but I'm not knowledgeable enough to give advice for it yet...

I believe that there are some reasonable costing behaviorists out there... I know I've seen a few from between $75 an hour and $150 an hour.. and that "hour" is an hour on the phone discussing it, after you fill out an extensive questionaire and then it has free email follow ups for an certain amount of time. If you have the money, I'd think it was at least as good of an investment as taking her back to the vet... and I'd ask you vet if there's a behaviorist that he can recommend.

If you're interested I can try to help you find one. I just did a search on cat behaviorist and a long list comes up. Most of them don't need to come into the home, since cats rarely behave normally when someone is in the house anyway (in other words, getting them to replicate the problem behavior is usually not successful during the home visit).
post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 
I do spend time with her whenever I am home - I make sure to pet her and let her lay in my lap while I'm on the computer or watching TV. I'm just not home as much these days.

I might look into a behaivorist - I think I will call my vet and let her know how things are going and see what other suggestions she might have. She had mentioned medications before that might help - I don't really have that sort of spare money, but I'll discuss it with her and see what the options are.
post #10 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by dreambastion View Post
I do spend time with her whenever I am home - I make sure to pet her and let her lay in my lap while I'm on the computer or watching TV. I'm just not home as much these days.

I might look into a behaivorist - I think I will call my vet and let her know how things are going and see what other suggestions she might have. She had mentioned medications before that might help - I don't really have that sort of spare money, but I'll discuss it with her and see what the options are.
Good ideas. And don't forget -- another CAT would be a wonderful friend for her and help allay boredom and frustration when you are away!
post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 
I thought about another cat, but she has been an only cat since I had her sister put down when they were kittens (sister cat was ill and couldn't be cured). Anytime my cat is around another cat she freaks, so I am more scared of what she would do if I brought another cat in than I am of the damage to my couch right now. Plus, I have the cat and a black lab in a one bedroom apartment - not sure I really have room for any more animals.
post #12 of 21
A behaviorist would also know what types of medications (mood or behavior altering meds, anyway) would work or what to suggest. They would probably also know what sort of course to put them on, for how long, and how to wean them off when the new behavior should be habit.

Most behaviorists will want to change the behavior without meds, though, I think. Actually, I think you'd save money in the long run (cheaper than having to medicate).

Anyway, either way, good luck.. and if you talk to a behaviorist, let me know how it goes. I'd like to hear how the methods are working.
post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by dreambastion View Post
I thought about another cat, but she has been an only cat since I had her sister put down when they were kittens (sister cat was ill and couldn't be cured). Anytime my cat is around another cat she freaks, so I am more scared of what she would do if I brought another cat in than I am of the damage to my couch right now. Plus, I have the cat and a black lab in a one bedroom apartment - not sure I really have room for any more animals.
How about getting rid of the dog? Then you'd have room for another cat!
post #14 of 21
I think she's kidding with that....

Does she only potty inappropriately when you are home, or does she do it other times too?

What is the sequence of events when you notice her doing it and then what do you do when she does it.. etc? Maybe I can find something in one of my books about a solution...
post #15 of 21
The only thing I can think of is she is getting your attention when she does this and whether your reaction is positive or negative, your attention to the problem seems to signify a reward for her.

I know you are focused on the problem. Just in case she is reading something else into your behavior, I would be sure not to talk to her or pay attention to her when you find another pee. Just ignore her and focus on the problem. Keep the time you spend interacting with her completely separate from the time you spend interacting with the problem. This is just in case there is an association in her mind.

Also try and keep at least some basic structure in your routine with your cat. Cats who depend a lot on structure really freak when they do not have it. So feeding, litter box cleaning, play routine, should be somewhat around the same times. And unfortunately then when you go on vacation you will want to either board her, or cover your couch with the tarp and make sure the cat sitter comes at the exact same time each day.

I had this problem with a kitty years ago who was obsessive about routine and who would freak out if I even came home from work a few hours later than usual. I too have had my couch entirely replaced. One day I tried covering the couch with pillows and various other stuff before going to work, just to see what would happen, and she peed on them too.

She also peed on the bed in my guest room and the only thing that worked was encasing the mattress in plastic and dismantling the entire bed for a month.

You could try turning your couch upside down for awhile. Another thing might be to cover it with a swimming pool tarp (and tuck it in) when you are not using it. I realize that ruins your house and your basic comfort but it might shake her from the behavior.

An easier solution, but I'm not sure it will work since your cat seems determined to mark: I always suggest to people that they put loose sheets of aluminum foil where they do not want their cat to mark again. Make sure she hears the tinny noise when it shakes back and forth when you put it down. Don't crumple it; leave it loose so it retains that noise and tin texture.

What I learned from my experience with my structure-obsessed kitty was to keep some basic structure in her life (not super structured though or she would look for me at X time) and to be prepared to deal with extended "recovery" periods if her world got upset.

Good luck and keep us posted. I used a behaviorist in North Carolina and I did have some success for awhile. They are always good to use because they will have you document every tiny detail before even talking to you, so you will get insight into your kitty no matter what.
post #16 of 21
I was also thinking another possibility is clicker training... while it wouldn't specifically address the peeing, it may in fact stop it just because you're interacting and she's highly interested and the communication increases. I just finished reading a book that was pretty informative, and I'm just starting clicker training with my cats (although our first session was a disaster due to not seperating them like it was suggested in the book). From what I've read of this, it solves a lot of "attention" behaviors because the level of communication and interaction is drastically increased.. and then also she finds other ways of getting your attention.

The book I just finished (and it wasn't very long) is "Getting Started, Clicker Training for Cats" by Karen Pryor



I also thought it was possible that she was getting reinforcement for the behavior.. positive or negative, in some way..
post #17 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by CatsAreBetter View Post
I was also thinking another possibility is clicker training... while it wouldn't specifically address the peeing, it may in fact stop it just because you're interacting and she's highly interested and the communication increases. I just finished reading a book that was pretty informative, and I'm just starting clicker training with my cats (although our first session was a disaster due to not seperating them like it was suggested in the book). From what I've read of this, it solves a lot of "attention" behaviors because the level of communication and interaction is drastically increased.. and then also she finds other ways of getting your attention.

The book I just finished (and it wasn't very long) is "Getting Started, Clicker Training for Cats" by Karen Pryor



I also thought it was possible that she was getting reinforcement for the behavior.. positive or negative, in some way..
That's a GREAT idea!
post #18 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BarbB View Post
An easier solution, but I'm not sure it will work since your cat seems determined to mark: I always suggest to people that they put loose sheets of aluminum foil where they do not want their cat to mark again. Make sure she hears the tinny noise when it shakes back and forth when you put it down. Don't crumple it; leave it loose so it retains that noise and tin texture.
I actually did this just a couple of days ago and she won't even TOUCH that part of the couch that has the foil on it. So I know she hasn't peed on the couch in those few days. I've been checking the house for other spots and haven't found any yet, so maybe the foil will help force her back to the litter box on a regular basis.

In answer to some of the other questions - she pee's on the couch both when I am gone and when I am home, but never when I am in that room of the house. If she does it when I am home then it is while I am sleeping or getting ready for work (and therefore in the back part of the apartment away from the couch).

What time I am home is on a fairly regular pattern - morning, right after work, and later at night, or I get home from work and just stay there through the night. She always gets fed at about the same time in the morning (give or take a half hour either way depending on when I get up). Litterbox cleaning always happens on the same days (when I do my house chores).

I don't give her any attention at all one way or the other when I find a pee spot. I just clean it up and leave it at that - I know punishing her isn't the answer, and I don't want to 'reward' her by giving her good attention, so when she does get attention it has nothing to do with the couch.
post #19 of 21
I found this in the book I am currently reading by a behaviorist... so I thought I'd post it. Apparently sometimes there are behavioral issues when the "meowmy" changes their schedule abruptly.

She said, and this isn't a direct quote, that the cat needs to absolutely keep a faithful schedule of interactive play sessions and you may even need to increase them.... she suggests one right before you leave, when you get home, and right before bed. I think the length was about 15-20 minutes per session. They suggest playing this video sometimes when you're home so that the cat gets used to doing other things while you're home other than gluing herself to you.

She also suggests adding things to the house to occupy their attention.. a cat tree by a window, the cat entertainment dvds, putting a bird feeder outside a window to attract birds for her to watch.. creating tunnels out of boxes and hide toys in them.. putting treats in the "play-n-treat" balls.

Hope something helps! The situation she described was just what you're describing, where the kitty starts peeing on things that smell like you, because she's trying to mix your scent with hers.
post #20 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by dreambastion View Post
I actually did this just a couple of days ago and she won't even TOUCH that part of the couch that has the foil on it. So I know she hasn't peed on the couch in those few days. I've been checking the house for other spots and haven't found any yet, so maybe the foil will help force her back to the litter box on a regular basis.

In answer to some of the other questions - she pee's on the couch both when I am gone and when I am home, but never when I am in that room of the house. If she does it when I am home then it is while I am sleeping or getting ready for work (and therefore in the back part of the apartment away from the couch).

What time I am home is on a fairly regular pattern - morning, right after work, and later at night, or I get home from work and just stay there through the night. She always gets fed at about the same time in the morning (give or take a half hour either way depending on when I get up). Litterbox cleaning always happens on the same days (when I do my house chores).

I don't give her any attention at all one way or the other when I find a pee spot. I just clean it up and leave it at that - I know punishing her isn't the answer, and I don't want to 'reward' her by giving her good attention, so when she does get attention it has nothing to do with the couch.
Sounds like you're doing the right things -- keep it up with the foil and being patient and loving with her. And if necessary, you can always try confinement to a room with her box and dishes and toys and bed...
post #21 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CatsAreBetter View Post
She also suggests adding things to the house to occupy their attention.. a cat tree by a window, the cat entertainment dvds, putting a bird feeder outside a window to attract birds for her to watch.. creating tunnels out of boxes and hide toys in them.. putting treats in the "play-n-treat" balls.
She has a cat tower that sits by my sliding door and I usually leave the blinds open enough that she can see out - it looks out on a big tree where the squirrels and birds love to roost.

I have toys for her (balls and small mice and such), but I don't like to leave them out because they are all small enough that if the dog got a hold of them she would likely swallow them whole, which wouldn't be a good thing, and I don't really have a way to separate the two animals in the apartment short of putting the cat in the laundry room, which isn't very big. The tunnel idea wouldn't be bad, as long as I make them small enough and sturdy enough that the dog can't get into them or tear them up.

She's never really paid any attention to the TV when its been on, but I might look into one of the DVDs as additional distraction for her when I'm not home.

Thanks for all the suggestions - I'm trying out the ones I can. I got that Natures Miracle just for cats and completely drenched my couch in it, and I'm keeping the foil on it so the cat has been staying off of it so far.
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