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New and got a problem, any advice?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
hello everyone!

I am new to the site and i am mainly here to get some insight about how to make my kitties happy. I have one female, Autumn, who is 5 years, and an unfixed male, moksha, who is about 7 months old. i have some minor but compound behavior and health problems, and i was hoping i could get some feedback from more experienced cat owners. i am only 17 and have just graduated high school. i am looking for an apartment and i want to get some of this stuff out of the way before i move out.

I have been learning a lot about cats lately, and i deeply regret not having known this stuff before and as a result, treating my cats wrongly. however, i still am a novice at this, and i don't have a whole lot of money or resources. yesterday my family was angry at me because moksha must have sprayed somewhere - the whole house reeked! i have done tons of research and made some purchases, but i still want some information from someone who knows what i am going through.

my family keeps telling me to get rid of the cats or get out and stuff like that. i don't want to get rid of them, i love them, and i can't quite get out if they are going to ruin my new apartment. At my wit's end, i called a local vet that i had been recommended only be be dissapointed at the outrageous cost that taking them in would entail. i have arranged low cost vaccinations and gotten a coupon for spay day, but who knows how long it will be before i can get in to get him fixed.

They seem to be pretty unhappy. my female is spayed and rather timid, and my male is overly energetic, not fixed, and has never been to the vet. she has only been to a low cost clinic when she first got spayed and vaccinated. i want to get them both checked up to make sure nothing is wrong, and i imagine she must need to renew some shots or something.

here is what has happened:

*either one or both cats are peeing and/or spraying around my basement, which is where they live. both have gotten upstairs and peed on a few things as well. i got each thier own midsize litter box and trashed the covered one that i had before. my cat autumn has always had the covered one, and she has always peed on the corner wall. i could never figure out why, and i was worried she would do that with the new one, and it seems she has been- there is a reocurring puddle in that same corner near the box. i sthe box just too small, maybe? or what?

* i have not caught either one actually in the act of peeing somewhere, the only way i know is by that horrible smell.

* I can't tell where any spots are around the basement because we have this terrible dark green carpeting that makes it difficult to see anything, even with a blacklight.

* The cats seem to kind of like eachother's company, and they lick eachother sometimes and stuff, but they also seem to fight a lot. they both have some minor scabs from this, especially autumn. i feel really bad, and my efforts to stop it seem to sometimes make them even more crazy. i have been trying not to yell and just using the spray bottle as discipline, but it doesn't seem to be doing much.

* I most likely will not be able to get moksha in for a neuter for some time, because i have to do the low-cost thing. I need some advice on how to handle him in the meantime.

* Autumn has been vomiting. she did it a lot a couple weeks ago, and i switched to indoor food and that seemed to help, but she still does it. sometimes it is food, sometimes hairballs. in the past couple days, though, she has puked something that doesn't really have an odor and dries to be whitish. it looks like spit or something.

here are my questions for anyone kind enough to answer:
* do i need to have moksha vaccinated before i get him neutered? because i have already reserved an appointment in early march which is the soonest i could get in, and i don't want to cancel because i had to pay 25 dollars. I am hoping to get him fixed in february, because i have a coupon for low-cost.
* How often do they need to be vaccinated/ checked up? autumn only has been once years ago. does she need to get new ones?
* should i just try a bigger litter box to stop the peeing outside the box? should i try those side sheild things, or are those bad?
* what have you used to calm the fighting?
* is there anything i can do to keep moksha from spraying until he gets fixed?
*has feliway worked for you? i got some, but it is very pricey.
* do you know of any good interactive type toys or anything that could occupy them when i am not there so they won't fight?

Any ideas?
sorry this post is so long, my future ones won't be. i would be so grateful for any feedback you could give me. i just want my kitties to get along, use the damn litter box, and not puke on my things. (don't we all, *sigh*)

Also, if you are good at penny pinching, i would also appreciate any info on how to get the most for my cats with my money as far as products and services. i am young and broke and it sucks, and i just feel like i have to spend so much money on them. being a DIY type person myself, I know there has got to be another way.

please, anything would help.

thank you for taking the time to read this (if you made it to the end- sorry)
and i sincerely wish you the best of luck with your own cats and situation.

post #2 of 5
I am not an expert and most of what I am going to say is probably from reading it on this site. So with that said I will try to answer as many of the questions as I can.

* How often do they need to be vaccinated/ checked up? autumn only has been once years ago. does she need to get new ones?
At least once a year for Vaccinations/check ups I have also heard about 6 month wellness checkups for cats --but mine just go yearly (unless there is a problem)

* what have you used to calm the fighting?
I have heard really good things about Feliway-But I have never used it myself.
*has feliway worked for you? i got some, but it is very pricey.
see above answer

* do you know of any good interactive type toys or anything that could occupy them when i am not there so they won't fight?
Mine love the little rabbit fur mice. But you can also try the cardboard tube from TP or Paper towels, Crinkled up paper, or a kitty ball tied to a string-this can even be hung from a door frame. Just to name a few things.

As far as the spraying goes the only thing I know of is to get him fixed.
As far as the litter box goes--I would go back to a covered box for you girl-if it wasn't broke-don't fix it IMO.

And as far as the vomiting goes--she should really see a vet. It could be a sign of something worse. Cats are really good at hiding it if they feel bad. If you are in a big enough city there are typically low cost programs that you can contact and hopefully use. There are others on here with much more information than I have but hopefully this will get you started.

I hope that things work out well for you.
post #3 of 5
Are you sure they are fighting and not just playing? Someone in the Behavior forum described an easy way to tell the difference. If they are wrestling and you make a noise or call their names lightly, they will probably look up at you. That means they were playing, as they are not so intense that they are unwilling to look away from the other cat. If they completely ignore you and are causing each other injury, they are more likely to be fighting. My boys spend a lot of time wrestling, and they look rather vicious with the kicking and biting each other's heads. But they really are just having fun, and when I interrupt them, they look at me like, "What did you do that for?"

A larger litterbox is a good idea, perhaps even a second one so that they have choices. Some cats are very picky about their litterboxes and will pee outside the box if it has been used at all. I have three litterboxes for my two boys. One is a plastic under-the-bed storage box without the lid. One is a covered box, and the other is the same kind of box without the cover. You might also try a couple of different litters to see which one they like.

If your boy is spraying, the neutering is likely the most effective treatment. I would call the place you'll be taking your cat to for neutering and find out if they require vaccinations first--some require the rabies vaccine first. Feliway may or may not help. I found it useful when I first brought Zek home because he had sprayed at the home of the first people who adopted him. I set up the Feliway diffuser when I brought him home, and I never saw any signs of a spraying problem. I don't know if that was because of the Feliway or if his previous "owners" (who had him for less than a day) put him in a stressful environment.

The most important thing you can do in the meantime is to get a good enzymatic cleaner like Nature's Miracle/Petastic, Kids 'n Pets, etc. Make sure you follow the directions--they aren't effective until the area has dried completely after you apply the treatment. If the spots aren't cleaned up, your cats will be likely to return to them to pee or spray again.
post #4 of 5
The only solution to your un-neutered male's spraying is having him neutered. And the longer he goes without being neutered, the more likely it is that he'll continue to do it after being neutered because it's become part of his habit-driven-by-instinct.

I looked up spay/neuter places available to St. Charles, IL. I found:

Stop the Overpopulation of Pets, Inc.
PO Box 1103
Dundee, IL 60118
Call for certificate to be used at participating vets.

Lake County Animal Protection
Northern Illinois locations
You'll have to call to see if there's a location near you.

This is listed as being 40 miles from St. Charles (we drive 45 minutes to the vet):

PAWS Chicago
Lurie Family Spay/Neuter clinic
3516 West 26th Street
Chicago, IL 60623
Call for appointment. Low cost spay/neuter and low cost vaccinations, tests, Frontline, and Heartgard.

Will County Humane Society
4109 West Seil Road
Shorewood, IL 60431
29.0 miles
(815) 741-0695
Hours: Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday noon to 5pm and Saturday 10am to 5pm

Animal Welfare League
10305 Southwest Highway
30.0 miles
(708) 636-8586
Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 11am to 5pm. Tuesday and Thursday 11am to 7:30pm.

Evanston Animal Shelter
2310 Oakton Street
Evanston, IL 60202
31.0 miles
(847) 705-2653
Hours: Monday to Thursday 6pm to 8pm, Saturday and Sunday 12pm to 3:30pm, closed Friday

Animal Welfare League - Wabash Shelter
6224 South Wabash Avenue
31.0 miles
(708) 667-0088
Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 11am to 5pm. Tuesday and Thursday 11am to 7:30pm.

Community Animal Rescue Effore (C.A.R.E.)
P.O. Box 1964
Evanston, IL 60204
32.0 miles
(847) 705-2653
Hours: Please call for information.

Here's a link at SpayUSA to fill in a form for a referral or certificate: http://www.spayusa.org/search/default.asp

....if you can't get to any of the above places, you may want to call around to local vets. A neuter usually costs around $85 or so. Maybe you can talk to your vet about a payment plan? Or maybe you can find a vet that will let you make several payments? Is there something you can sell to raise the money?

As to Autumn's vomiting. The white foam, if it doesn't happen often, can be hairballs that are not coming up and that she is not passing. Sounds very much like she needs hairball treatment regularly. When she has hairballs, it should be given every day. To help prevent them, it should be given twice a week or so, depending upon the hairball remedy. Read the instructions.

As to the fighting. If ears aren't back, there's no growling, and no tufts of fur, they're probably not actually fighting. However, giving each cat an alone time of 10 - 15 minutes of play each morning and evening can help use up some of their energy. If it is fighting, you can help them like each other a little more by taking a couple of rags and rubbing each cat all over with several. Put treats out for Autumn on the rag that smells like Moksha, and put treats out for Moksha on the rag that smells like Autumn. Do this twice a day.

Remember - just like with little kids, you cannot expect behavior to change overnight. It takes time, so give it at least a month.

We've found water bottles to be completely useless. If one of the cats is actually attacking the other, rattle an empty can with coins in it. If they're just playing, it'll confuse the heck out of them wondering what they did wrong, but if you're worried about someone drawing blood it's the best tool.

To teach kitties not to do stuff you don't want them to - like jump on counters (I know they're in the basement) - or play with hands (this should not be used for them playing or fighting with each other) - is to talk to them in their own language. Blow a short, sharp puff of air directly in the face and say "no" sternly. They learn what "no" means - the puff of air in the face is like a hiss, and they know what that means.

Kitties really should see a vet for an annual check up. A lot of people do not do this, and only take kitties when they appear sick. If you can't afford to take them every year, consider taking them every other year. This may help you catch something before it progresses past the point of being able to take care of it. As indoor-only kitties, they don't really need the vaccinations, though the Rabies is required by law every year.

To find the pee places, buy a blacklight. They're around at prices that are not too expensive. In the dark, pee will turn up as an orange splotch in the black light. Any area that has been soiled MUST be cleaned up with an enzyme cleaner. This is the only thing that will work from the kitty's perspective. Use a LOT of it. Carpeting must be soaked down to the floorboards. !!!!!!!!!!!! It should take days to dry, really. It may take more than one treatment. Our couch took three. Use the spray to soak the wall - it will likely need several treatments. In the meantime, you may want to tape up aluminum foil around the corner - make it easier to clean.

Autumn may just be spraying over the edge of the box. Try a large covered box and just take the swinging door off. Or try a fairly large rubbermaid container (use it without the top) rather than a "litter box." If she won't jump over the edge to get in it, cut an entrance in the front that faces away from the wall.

Are there windows in your basement? Can you put food outside it for squirrels and birds? This will provide entertainment. Make sure they've got something to get up on to watch up close.

Make sure you have a lot of vertical space for them. This will help a lot with the dominance issues.

Gary and I lived in an RV for the first two years after we started rescuing kitties. It was 37 feet long and 8 feet wide, and we had up to five cats in there at a time. We managed it by creating huge amounts of vertical space, putting out lots of beds and places for them to scratch - both posts and mats.

Call around to local appliance stores - ask them if there's any way you can pick up some of the boxes used. If you have lots of large, sturdy boxes, you can make stacked cat condos. Here's a great example. Check out the 3rd pic down in the first post of this thread: http://www.thecatsite.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=153763. This is made of rubbermaid/tupperware stuff, but if you don't have the money for it, you can do it with sturdy boxes. We also make cat mazes by cutting holes in the boxes and taping them together - we've gotten them three stories tall - this keeps them occupied. Especially if you toss some treats inside the maze for them before you take off in the morning.

Another thing - do NOT leave all their toys out for them all the time. They get bored of them. Rotate them, and only leave a few out at a time. You can make wand toys out of anything. A stick, duct tape, thick string or a leather shoe lace, and a furry mouse tied to the end. A wad of paper taped to the end. Or just the shoelace! Just make sure you do NOT leave anything with string - whether made of cotton, nylon or leather - out. Always put stuff like that away inside a closet or something where kitties can not reach it, or you may find yourself at the vet getting surgery on a cat that ate it.

Hope these ideas help,

post #5 of 5
If you say youve already blacklighted and nothing shows up, it could be they have not urinated on the carpet. Its very possible they are having strong smelling eliminations from other health issues, the smell may not necessarily be coming from peeing in the wrong places.

I have 4 cats, and I keep the litter boxes (2) in the bathroom. I have myself in the habit of scooping them every time I use the bathroom since I have to wash my hands after anyway. If I am gone for a day or otherwise slack in the scoop duties, the poop hits the floor. It may very well be your kitty doesnt want to get her paws dirty and so is "hovering" over the box instead of climbing in, thus missing and hitting the floor.

Be sure to clean both boxes daily, this could solve a lot of your urination issues. I personally adore arm&hammer scoopable. It turns good and solid for easy scooping and LOCKS the oders up.

A great "community" toy for my 4 kids is a round tube with paw slits in it, with a ball inside. I got mine for $6 at petsmart and all 4 just love it. Its big enough they can sit on each side and bat the ball back and forth, and its very cheap.

If it turns out your kitties are just playing a little too rough, you can also try Softpaws. They are great rubberish covers that dont interfere with natural claw motion and retraction. They will keep them from breaking skin on eachother and give you a chance to try to teach them to play nice.

Male cats have several reason they spray. Most of the time, if they are secure and feel they are the king of the house, those reasons will lessen to the point of going away. Does your boy feel like he has to show the little lady who's who? He may be marking because he feels she is threatening his territory. Also, do you associate closely (perhaps at work or school) with people who also have pets? If you, precious master, come home smelling like a strange tom.... well your boy is going to mark everything to make sure you smell like him! Quick fix- can of lysol or other good deoderizer (not air freshener) by the front door. Come in and hit your shoes, coat, backpack, ect. anything that may have picked up "rival" scent. Or even cheaper method, try the smells-like-your-cat rag mentioned in the above post and rub it on yourself when you get in so your babies are the top smell!

Just a few idea, hope they help. Nothing replaces a good vet check!
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