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Help w/Gracie,our 1/2 cat- elimination issues in Alaska

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
Gracie, is our 12 yr cat we moved with to Alaska over 11 years. We got Gracie as a stray. She is in a household with 3 other cats, 2 males and another female, (her mate and 2 offsprings). She is neutered and I consider her semi-feral.

Her pattern is to be an indoor cat during the winters and an exclusive outdoor cat during the summers disappearing for 6 months at a time without us ever seeing her during this time. I presume she lives off of voles and squirrels. I don't think other people take care of her. She fattens up during the winter as she seems to only eat and sleep. This year she came back a little skinner than in other years, but seems healthy enought.

She does not really get along with the other cats. Once the kittens became adults she didn't tolerate them very well. Her son has been aggressive towards her. This has gotten somewhat better through the years. She will hiss at them but tolerates other cats being in the bathroom with her now.

A few years back we started having elimination problems with her. I believe they started with the male cat being aggressive, although she takes other cats just sniffing her as being aggressive. I think if one of the other cats cornered her in a corner she would eliminate as a response.

I can tell she gets stressed because she starts shedding a lot as the winter progresses.

For the past two winters she has stopped regularly using litter boxes. She had been banished to our large bathroom for many years. She escape out and go hang out under a bed or in a closet - never out in the open.

Now she seems to eliminate where ever has been sleeping, where ever she is. She stays in our wide bathroom closet and I've cleared out a space for her on one of shelves so she has some height and can see the comings and goings. I also have a couple of covered cat beds which I turn the opening away from the door so she has some privacy and doesn't notice as much the other cats coming in the bathroom to use one of 4 liter boxes in our house. These practices have helped create peace in the household.

The problem now is her eliminating. I'll leave some towels on the shelf, but she'll pee or poop on them. This week I even tried putting the liter box on the same shelf, but she just pooped right next to it, as if she's forgotten what it's for.

I would give her away to another household that didn't have other cats but she has a couple of issues (her eliminating practices is one) that make placement difficult for her.

A few years back she came back earlier than usual. Apparently her collar had gotten stuck on something and she managed to get her paw through it so that it went around her neck and under her front leg causing the hair and skin to wear away at her armpit. The vet didn't recommend surgery but was a $400 cost. The wound has never healed. You can see her flesh but it doesn't seem to bother her.

I have been hesitant about spending much vet $ on her because of these issues and that she's gone for half the year, yet she keeps coming back and is causing damage to our house.

As soon as the snows gone, we scoot her out the door and she comes back in about 6 months once it snows or gets really cold, ( ~10 to -10). We have some vacant land a couple of blocks away on several side of our block.

We're about to get our bathroom redone, and I know we'll need to replace the drywall in the closet due to her habits. I don't want the new bathroom getting trashed. We used to keep her in the downstairs bathroom and the pee had seeped into the cement pad as well as the drywall. It's bad too when I keep hoping she won't come back this year, but she has.

Any ideas? I posted this on the Stray/Feral forum as Gracie's situation is rather unique. Her full name is Amazing Grace and she has certainly lived up to her name. We got her from another state, then moved to Alaska. She stubbed her nose on a moving car, and lives on her own six months out the year. I don't want to put her down, but life with her is difficult.

My husband almost put his foot down this year, but he was gone the week she came back. I kept hoping it would be better this year and it is and isn't.

Thanks, Katrich
post #2 of 3
I am new to the board but when I read your story I was amazed at her age for being an "outside" cat. It could be that the years are catching up with her and some medical conditions are forming that make her eliminate indoors. Have you had the vet check her out for such? I know how hard it must be to take her into the vet, you didn't mention how she was with people but I can only assume wary at best.
post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 
Gracie is tame and likes to be petted, except when the air is so dry that we get static electricity.

Her age doesn't help. I haven't watched her close enough lately to see if she ever uses the liter box. It's harder with 3 other cats who used the liter box in the same bathroom.

I have thought about putting her in a dog kennel with a crate to sleep on top and the liter box underneath. Its rather bulky with a kennel inside the house and not really enough room in the bathroom but I'm getting desperate.

Her wound is 5+ years old and hasn't really ever changed, so I'm not as concerned about it. One vet recommended an ointment used for burns, but it has to made up by a special pharmacy 15 miles away and has a short shelf life and would have to be used for months for an affect $50 each time. I gave up on that.

After reading about feral cats, she's really on the edge between feral and domesticated cats as she doesn't mind being petted, touched and will often purr as a result. But she definately is a free roaming cat. Not sure what she would do if we didn't have such a long winter that prevents her from staying outside year round. It hasn't gotten much below 0 this year so far, but will get -20 and even -40 for a spell. The other cats become solely indoor cats once there's a few inches of snow on the ground.

I didn't find taking her to the vet terribly helpful when I have done so. I did treat her with antibiotics just in case she had a UTI. I suppose I could take her temperature to make sure she's not running a fever. Her urine is clear.

My inclination is to think it's more of a behavioral issue rather than a health issue. My guess is that she got bullied while using the litter box. We used to have a covered one and she would have felt trapped if another cat came to her while she was using it.

Would appreciate other thoughts and suggestions on the matter!
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