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Why won't she use the litterbox?!?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I've had Brian for almost two years now. She's sweet and adorable and I love her so much, but I've come to the conclusion that she just can't live here anymore being the way that she is, which is why I'm looking for a new home for her. I really don't want to give her away and I'm hoping that I can fix this problem and (maybe, if the boyfriend will go along with it....) not get rid of her.

She won't use a litterbox. Absolutely refuses, has since the day I got her. She's always gone behind my fireplace, or on clothes, or the couch, or my bed or just about anywhere else she feels like. And no matter what I put in the litterbox, or where I put it, she won't use it.

Even if I pick her up and take her to it and pet her and love her and give her kitty treats, she freaks out. She's terrified of it.

She has gotten a little better with it though, recently. She's started using it for pooing sometimes, so my fireplace feels (and smells..) a little better. But she still pees on all my clothes and my couch and my bed.

My boyfriend can't stand this. He's got no problem with cats, he likes animals, he just hates the smell of cat pee and I don't really blame him, especially since it's usually his clothes that get peed on (mostly because he leaves them on the floor, but that's a whole different issue, lol).

So...yeah...I'm just kinda at my breaking point with this cat. I've tried everything I can think of and nothing has worked, not even that fancy super-expensive cat litter that's supposed to attract cats. The vet says she's perfectly fine and she's healthy and happy otherwise. She's skittish a lot of the time when there's a bunch of people and dogs runnin' around but with just me here, she's meowing and purring and running all over the place.

I love her to death and I hate to give her up but I just don't know what else I can do with her. I hate to take her away from my other cat cause they adore each other but I just don't see how I can keep her anymore. It's stressing me out, it's stressing the boyfriend out and it's stressing her out I've taken to putting her in a closet when we leave and sleep, with a litterbox and some food and water. I tried putting a towel in there with her, give her something softer to lay on, but she just peed on the towel and made the whole room smell horrible. But if I leave her out or put her in the bathroom, she pees on everything. She'll pee on the washer or in the dryer if she can get to it, and if not, she pees on the counter or the toilet seat.

I have dirt in the litterbox right now. The other cats go in it without a problem, I think they even like it better than traditional cat litter and I figure, she uses dirt when she's outside, maybe she'll use it when she's inside. I think that's what got her pooing the litterbox in the first place. Now I just have to get her to do everything in there...Plus the dirt is easier to get rid of, I can just throw it in my compost pile or my garden.

Anyways....anything you guys can think of that will help will be greatly appreciated.
post #2 of 12
When you clean up the urine and the poop, you should you an enzyme cleaner, that does take stains out and odor out. I have a boy that marks everywhere because of the stray cats outside. I know thats probably not your problem, but if I use the enzyme cleaners and a plug in Feliway Difuser, that calms him down and the marking decreases considerably. Is Brian neutered? That can also play a part in it. Someone will probably have some more ideas for you. Good luck.
post #3 of 12
How old is Brian?

What have you tried as litter and what kind of litter box?

How many cats do you have and how many litter boxes?

How often do you clean out the boxes?

Does she *ever* use a box?

Some cats are fussy about litter boxes. She may not have liked the litter you have used or she may not like sharing a box with other kitties.

Give us some more information and someone may come up with a solution for you.
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the responses

No, she's not neutered. Funding has been very limited this year and we're waiting for one of those neuter/spay vans to come around again. They came when we first moved in, which is when we got the other cat fixed but they haven't come back yet. All the other low cost spay/neuter places are pretty far away...

Will the enzyme cleaner take the smell out of my couch? It's the boyfriend's and he's very upset that it smells like cat pee...plus it's not fun to sit next to..

Brian is about two. We got her when she was a few months old. She came from a house with waaaay too many cats in it and not nearly enough litter boxes, which is probably where she got the habit from in the first place...

I have two extra large litter boxes that aren't covered. I've tried the sand stuff, the clumpy stuff, the pellet stuff, the expensive cat-attract stuff, sawdust and cedar shavings, and now I'm using dirt, since nothing else works anyway and dirt is a lot cheaper and doesn't take up space in my garbage can. I clean them out at least once a day.

I have two other cats, one who's about three and one who's just a kitten. They both use the litter box with no problem at all and seem quite content with the dirt.
I'm being especially vigilant with the little one's training. Every time he wakes up or eats I put him in his box and he'll go without a fuss, just lots of digging. He likes lots of dirt in his box.

One box is in the bedroom, where Brian is currently not allowed to go. It's for the other cats, cause they LOVE the bed so I figured they should have one in there. It used to be next to the computer desk, tucked back in a corner where the dogs couldn't get to it, but I moved it when we got the kitten.
The other box is in Brian's closet so she can use it when she's in there. I leave the door open when I let her out so she can go in and out at will. Savitri, the older cat, will occasionally use it but mostly he sticks to his own. I plan on getting another box as soon as I can and putting it next to the computer desk again.

She will occasionally use the box for pooing. She went on my fireplace for the longest time until I started putting her in the closet when I wasn't home. After that, she started pooing in the box. I gave her hugs and kisses and treats and snuggles every time she did it, I made a such a big fuss of her I don't think she knew what to do with herself.
I don't know if she's using it currently...she's been escaping outside since we got the new kitten (she hates him....) but she still comes back the same day for food and such...but I haven't seen her use it in the last few days.
post #5 of 12
That might be part of the problem if she's upset by the new kitten, also if she goes outside not being spayed watch out for her having kittens. As far as the enzymes go they work really well, they break down the urine so theres nothing left behind. Urine Gone is good, so is natures miracle. My one cat that sprays, sprayed on a white stuffed animal of mine leaving yellow stains, I sprayed the urine gone on it and you could actually see thr stain disappearing as well as the odor. Vinegar is another very good odor and stain remover.
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
Yeah, I figured she's not using it now because of the kitten...I'm hoping she'll get over that soon and at least go back to pooing in the box.

She's not in heat right now....can cats get pregnant when they're not in heat? I don't know if she'd let another cat get near enough to do anything to her...she's pretty...anti-social, lol. Plus Savitri goes outside and he tends to discourage any other cats from coming near the house. He's pretty protective over her. They try to mate sometimes, but he's fixed. I'm pretty sure that she wouldn't let any other cat touch her, but I never let her out when she's in heat. I put her away before I open the door.
post #7 of 12
No they can't get pregnant if they aren't in heat, the only thing is she could just be going into heat and you are not aware of it. As far as her not letting anyone near her, when she's in heat, she wouldn't care if her arch enemy was trying to mate, she would let him. She would also roam away from the house to find a male. Maybe you could re-introduce him and the kitten like you would if this was the first time they were seeing each other. I had 2 toms that didn't really get along, I use to play with both of them with a stick and a string with a rubber spider attached to the string. I'd swing it back and forth between them, they were so busy trying to get the spider on their turns it was like a truce. Finally after a while they just learned to tolerate each other. I hope some of this helps.
post #8 of 12
Cats CAN get pregnant when not in heat - don't count on that myth. They may have a silent heat where you are not aware of things, but the local tom cat knows!

Spaying will help. But I would confine her to one room with her own litter pan and KEEP her there when you cannot supervise her. She has to learn to use a pan. She will continue using other spots if they are not cleaned properly.

And also have her tested for UTI. Try to get her spayed as soon as you can before she really is pregnant! Is she around or have access to ANY unneutered males? Kittens as young as 4 months old can and do breed.
post #9 of 12
A couple of thoughts before you rehome her.

Are you sure she doesn't have a health problem? Litterbox avoidance is very often associated with a health problem. I know it's been a long time, but if she's had a low grade infection, that really could be the issue. Also, one of our cats pees outside the box whenever she's in pain - that's how we found out she's got dental problems (and from a really young age).

I know money is an issue, but can you look into Care Credit? Or talk to vets to see if anyone will accept a payment plan? It's really important that she see a vet, that they get a urine sample to check for infections, and that she have her teeth at least looked at and get blood work done.

In the meantime, helping her feel more comfortable despite the new kitty is important. Give her extra "alone" play time - at least 10 minutes each morning and evening. This will help relieve stress.

Do things to help her associate "good" things with the new kitten. Rub the new kitty all over with a cloth, and put treats down on that cloth for Brian each morning and evening.

The rule of thumb is that you should have one more litter box than the number of cats you have, though it sounds like you're addressing that one.

Also, the positive reinforcement you've been giving her is really important.

Having the smell of cat pee not in the box encourages her to continue to not use the box(es). Yes, the enzyme cleaner WILL remove the smell of cat pee. But right now, it sounds like you're literally going to need GALLONS of it, and some of the places she's peed - especially the couch - are going to need more than one treatment.

The way you use it is to SOAK the affected area - and I mean soak. If on carpet, down to the floorboards. If on a couch, through the cushion, down the back - wherever it went. Let it soak for at least 10 minutes, then blot it up as much as you can with a towel or paper towels or something. Cover the areas with aluminum foil (just set it over it), and then, for like the couch, put a throw blanket over that so you can still sit on it while it dries. If done properly, if at all humid, it should take a couple of days to dry. And it will very likely need 2, maybe 3 treatments. Carpeting may just need one, but sometimes two, depending upon the quality of the enzyme cleaner. But it is important to let it air dry.

And at this point, I'd find a cheap black light. Go through your house at night with just the black light on. Any urine stains will show up as kind of orange. There may be places she's peed that you're not aware of.

So getting rid of that smell and covering the areas she's been using with aluminum foil will help.

But it also sounds like she needs to be completely retrained to use the litter box. Do you have a small room to which she can be confined alone? That has enough room for her, a bed for her, enough space to play with toys, a litter box and food and water far enough away from the litter box? Even better if there's enough room in there for you to spend time in there with her - at least a few hours every day? Maybe get a sleeping bag and spend the night in there with her? Because it sounds like she could use a week or two of this - and if she uses the box, then let her out again, once your house no longer smells like pee anywhere and there's lots of litter boxes to choose from.

Also, to minimize the stress, you can purchase Feliway. Again, if money's tight you'll have to give up something you'd normally spend money on for her. But the spray isn't too expensive, and it may really help. It is a synthetic hormone that mimics the "friendly" markers in cats' cheeks, and helps reduce stress. DO NOT SPRAY IT ANYWHERE NEAR A LITTER BOX.

Cats love to rub their cheeks on things - but not where they go to the bathroom. Feliway was actually developed as a way to help kitties with litterbox avoidance problems. Any place that has that scent on it has been "marked" as a place where not to go to the bathroom. It often helps, though not always. If using the spray bottle, it needs to be sprayed throughout the house every few days. We found it works best by spraying every two or three days for about two weeks, then not using it for two weeks (our issue was multi-cat household getting along with each other). They seemed to sort of get immune to it if we used it all the time.

And I know you tried the cat attract litter - but did you try the cat attract additive instead of the litter? If you decide to "litter box retrain" her by confining her to a smaller space (like a large bathroom or something), you might want to consider purchasing the additive, not the litter - and then spraying Feliway near her bed and near where her food and water are.

....and getting her spayed, sooner rather than later, really is important.

post #10 of 12
Something is definitly wrong. I wouldn't want to live like that and I don't blame your boyfriend for his reactions. I strongly suggest that you seek a second opinion with another Vet.
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
The cats are getting along much better.
A friend of mine gave me an old cat-tree thingy and all three cats absolutely adore it. I think it helps Brian relax a lot because she has her own area that she can go to and it's up higher so the dogs don't bother her. She gets very curious when the little kitten is sleeping on a lower level.
They were actually running around the house today and playing with each other. They're doing great so far!

I didn't know that cats could get pregnant while they weren't in heat. That's a very good thing to know, thank you.
I believe she was in heat a couple weeks ago, but I'm Almost certain that she wasn't for the two days she was outside and I've managed to keep her inside since.
The only time she has access to any males other than mine is when she's outside and I try to keep her inside as much as possible, but she's a quick little devil.

I should be getting some extra money in the next couple weeks and I was planning on spays, neuters and shots for everyone. Is it expensive to test for the UTI or the dental work?
The last time we took her to a vet, which was about a year ago now, I think...I know she's due for another one...anyways, the last time we took her they said she was perfectly fine, and she wasn't using the litterbox back then either, but I don't remember if I had them test for the UTI...
Unfortunately, I don't have a whole room that I can dedicate to just her, so I think I'm gonna have to put her in the bathroom, which is pretty small cause it's also the laundry room. But I think that if I take the carpets up and keep the clothes out of there as much as possible, it'll be ok. But she's going to be miserable if I keep her in there for two weeks...does she have to be in there all the time? Can I let her out for part of the day?

I think if I got a black light, my entire carpet would be orange....we also had a puppy in here who was learning housebreaking..It's everywhere....kinda scary, lol
Would shampooing the carpets help? Would that be quicker and easier than soaking the entire carpet in the enzyme stuff, and would that work, or would she still be able to smell it?
I think I did try the additive stuff, but I'm not sure...I've gone through a bunch of them, and honestly I think the cat attract stuff is too expensive for me to use on a regular basis...
Thank you for your awesome post, by the way!

And, last but not least,
I trust my vet very much. They do an excellent job and have never one let me down. My mother uses them for all the kennel animals that need vet care and she thinks they're wonderful. I've been going there for years and have a good relationship with all of them.
Plus, with money constraints, I don't think I have enough to get a second opinion. But I trust my vet.
post #12 of 12
I'm very glad to hear things are getting better. I've had great luck with white vinegar and water for a larger area. Molasses kept marking on one area of my rug, I used vinegar all over it, it worked wonders and its real cheap.
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