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indoor cat enclosure

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

My wife and I have two 11 year old cats who live in our apt (and are not allowed outside). They've been very well-behaved but in the last year (since I've gotten married), they have been acting out. One cat poops right outside the litter box, and the other one has started urinating outside the litter box. In the last three weeks, I've taken them to the vet for a full check up, blood work, etc, and everything is fine-- they're quite healthy.

The veterinarian believes it's a behavioral issue (which is what we thought but we had to rule out something medical), and her recommendation was to keep them in the bathroom w/ food and their litter box for up to four weeks without letting them out. She believes they won't go to the bathroom so close to where they eat and that this will force them to start using the litter box ('cause the bathroom is such a small space). Well, it's not a very practical solution as our bathroom is very, very tiny; it's also too hard for my wife and I to go in and out of it and not have the cats run out. Most importantly, I feel the space is too small to confine two cats. But my wife and I have been thinking of apportioning a part of the apartment, near a window in the living room, where we can confine the cats w/ their food and litter—something a little bigger than the bathroom.

The problem is we don't know how to confine them to a specific area and not let them escape. We can't think of anything to block off the space-- something that's so tall that they can't get around or above or below it. We'd like something for our apartment that is kind of like the fences used to keep babies from going up or down stairs or out of the kitchen…. but for a cat. Our one idea was to use empty refrigerator boxes (which are tall) filled w/ weights (so they won't move). Are there any inexpensive, easy-to-build options you can think of/recommend? Hopefully, we're only going to be using this for a short time, so we don't want to spend too much money.

Any information or suggestion(s) would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance,
post #2 of 15
With some lumber, saw, hammer and nails, and chicken wire, you can construct a lightweight wall from floor to ceiling enclosing the area you want to confine the cats in. It's nice you want to give them a window. I think every indoor kitty should have access to a window perch.

You can google online for instructions on how to build a wall. All you need is the frame, then you can cover the frame with chicken wire. And a door of sorts so you can go in and out. You could probably get by using 1x2's instead of the usual 2x4s. You'll need to figure out some way of attaching the end plates to the floor, ceiling, and walls. If you're good at patching plaster, you can use screws. Caution: don't drill holes through carpet; you can catch a thread wrapping around the bit and cause a runner. Nails would be better for the floor. You'll never see the holes when you pull them out.

This DIY project could be fun!!
post #3 of 15
To me,that would seem more like punishment,which they probAbly wouldn't understand, and may actually make the situation worse. I have to many litter boxes do you have? Have you changed brands of litter recently or clean their boxes differently? I really wouldn't box them into a corner unless you have tried all other possibilities.
post #4 of 15
If you have only one litter box, try adding a 2nd one and putting them in two different rooms. That's probably the reason for the territory problems.
post #5 of 15
I had a problem with one of my cats doing that and by adding enough litter boxes, as already mentioned, immediately eliminated the problem.
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for the replies. I appreciate all the help. As you might imagine, I don't want to build an enclosure for the cats. Aside from being an inconvenience, it also seems to me to be mean-- plus I'm not sure the cats will understand why they're being separated. The reason I'm considering it is 'cause my vet recommended it.

I haven't changed litter recently (I use a brand called World's Best cat Litter), and I try to buy a new litter box at least twice a year. The idea of adding another litter box is a good one, and I think I should try it before the enclosure idea. The tricky thing is that the cats are mostly urinating and pooping about three feet from the litter box. So if I add a new box I'm not sure how big a difference it'll make. The vet also suggested putting the litter box over where they've been going to the bathroom and then slowly move it back to the original location. That didn't work so well though.
post #7 of 15
Its really important to clean the area with an enzyme cleaner you can get at a pet supply store to completely eliminate the odor.

When I had this issue, he did it just outside the litterbox. I had never had a problem with this before, it was something that happened after several years of it not being a problem at all.

I made sure I added eough boxes (I have 5 cats) so I made sure there were 7 total and I really never had another incident after I added the boxes. It just completely stopped.

Sometimes cats jsut develop quirks and in my case thats what happened.

I hope adding the boxes works for you too. The "rule" is one box for every cat plus one. You may want to make sure you have 3 for 2 cats for now and later you can go to 2, if it solves the problem.
post #8 of 15
I think they're probably a little jealous of your 'new' attention to your wife and are trying to tell you they don't like it, but I think in time (maybe a little longer) if not stressed by more changes, they should settle down. I don't think the enclosure or bathroom ideas are going to help anything, but if possible more play with you might. Does your wife feed them - that could help too I think.
post #9 of 15
I would put the litter pans in separate rooms so there is no real competition side by side. And if you have an open one, try one of the hooded litter pans - maybe one or the other wants more privacy.
post #10 of 15
Originally Posted by yojuan View Post
.... As you might imagine, I don't want to build an enclosure for the cats. Aside from being an inconvenience, it also seems to me to be mean--....
But you were talking about putting them in a refrigerator box
Originally Posted by yojuan View Post
... Our one idea was to use empty refrigerator boxes (which are tall) filled w/ weights (so they won't move). Are there any inexpensive, easy-to-build options you can think of/recommend? ...
I offered the enclosure as a better and more humane alternative.
post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
No, no, no, I wasn't going to put them inside a refrigerator box. I simply meant I'd thought that a bunch of tall refrigerator boxes could be used to section off an area of the apartment. I was thinking of a tall-ish barrier to use so they couldn't get out of the enclosed, cordoned-off space. In other words the refrigerator boxes would be used as walls.

Since posting my last email I bought two more litter boxes (for a total of three) and after 18 hours (and counting) the cats still haven't used them-- but they've each used the original litter box. And we've been rewarding them for using the litter box (w/ cat treats).

Thanks again for everyone's suggestions,
post #12 of 15
Did you get the enzyme cleaner? Nature's Miracle is excellent. Pet stores sell it, and follow the instructions on the label. You might also want to cover the actual floor of the area near their litterboxes, to protect your floor from anymore indignities and keep smells away from it.

We got a few large rolls of plastic matting (completely waterproof, comes in a variety of colors) from Jo-Annes' Fabrics for under our litterboxes, and if you have an exceptionally large area you can duct tape two sheets of it together. My JA's had all the stuff on sale last month, soit might be worth a quick stop to the fabric store--I am sure the employees there will know what I am talking about. In any case it will keep your kitties from further layering the floor with urine/fecies so it will be easier to get the smell up later.
post #13 of 15
OK, Jon, my misunderstanding. Sorry about that. I thought I was giving you another option for what you wanted to do. Have you tried using Cat Attract litter?
post #14 of 15
I would continue to keep the other pans there just in case. Did you get a hooded one?
post #15 of 15
Have you put a tablespoon of the most recent waste on top of the new litter so they understand what they're for? Can you stand them on top of it and just scrabble their front feet a couple of times on top so they get the idea (it's what you do with kittens)?
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