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All sorts of problems

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

I've got a blended family: two (male) cats of my own, and two (female) of my husband's. My two were always problematic, as they apparently faked liking each other at the shelter, and started a bitter war the second we got home. But I think the addition of the two girls has sent Duncan over the edge.

Dunc is my older boy, probably around 9 or 10, and he has turned into a defensive, aggressive, litter-box ignoring, spraying nightmare. Every single day, I clean up at least cat pee, sometimes sprayed on the living room wall, sometimes just poured on the brick hearth. He'll squat down to poop right in front of a freshly cleaned litter box. I'm at my wits end.

He's been to the vet; they've found no UTIs. I adopted him three years ago, and, luckily, discovered that I was a little allergic to Duncan, which meant I was usually too stuffed up to really suffer over the cat pee. But here's the kicker...

Now I'm pregnant, and my sense of smell is in perfect working order. My house reeks. The pantry smells horrible; the living room; the fireplaces; the upstairs hall. Vinegar, lemon juice, Cat Odor-Off, baking soda, bleach... I'm out of ideas for clean-up, and I'm starting to feel really hostile toward this poor cat. I think he just hates the other cats and this is how he expresses it. What on earth can I do?

The problem is exacerbated by one of the female cats, who's also made my %&$% list. Dominique is a long-haired snowshoe siamese who refuses to groom herself. I've tried brushing, I've tried bathing, but she's just a mess, who also has the delightful habit of putting her front paws in the litter box and relieving herself on the floor. Oh, and then, she wipes her butt across the floor. I'm beside myself here.

I feel like it's me and the house against these two animals, and I don't know what to do. It breaks my heart to think about giving them away, and I don't imagine either would have an easy time finding a new home. Please give me some advice before I lose it.

post #2 of 8
I don't suppose I'm a real expert, but I've been around cats all my life and I don't think you have much hope of solving your problem quickly. If you are pregnant it could really cause problems. Boy cats do crazy things, that is just life.

We had a young cat go into my daughter's bedroom, (she was 14) and sprayed. He would come into the house and immediately go spray her room. It seemed to have something to do with her monthly.

It's hard to part with a cat, but you should find the boys a new home.

Good luck with cats and babes.
post #3 of 8
Is everyone spayed and/or neutered? That might help things calm down a bit if they're not. You'll need to clean the areas that have been sprayed and urinated on with an enzymatic cleaner like Nature's Miracle or Zero Odor, You might also want to get some Comfort Zone with Feliway diffusers (not cheap but worth it if they work) to see if that calms everyone down.
post #4 of 8
I don't think issues automatically mean the boys have to go! Not all boys are crazy. It seems harsh to immediately discard a pet that's acting up.

I assume all cats are spayed or neutered?

With the female... does she have a sanitary shave? It could help a little. Have you tried a different litter? Maybe she doesn't like putting her feet on it?

With the male, everything is going to have to be deep cleaned to have any chance of getting him to stop. Maybe a carpet shampooer?

How were the cats introduced? Maybe that has something to do with it?
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the responses. Yes, all the cats are fixed, and we've tried several different litters. Dominique does not have a sanitary shave, but frankly is probably going to get a full body shave because she's just so unclean we need to start over.

I wish I could shampoo carpets, but it's an 1835 farmhouse with wood floors, so that's what the pee has sunk into. I went on a PineSol rampage today, scrubbing the whole downstairs on my hands and knees, and it does smell better. So, there might be hope.

I'm in no rush to be rehoming anyone, so don't worry... And my other boy is definitely staying; he's feisty but gets out most of his misbehavior outside.

Oh, on their introduction... The boys were at the shelter together, and were tried together in a room with me. Rocky swiped at Duncan's tail (he was a kitten), and Dunc acted like he couldn't care less. No hissing, no anything. But, got them home and it turned hostile. As for meeting the girls, they showed up at the house with their man. As I recall we let them roam freely from the get-go; Dominique closeted herself and slowly started interacting.

The kicker is that none of our cats are really overbearing. No one demands to play, or shoves anyone else away from food or toys... The only one who hisses, growls, etc., regularly is Duncan, who's clearly feeling threatened despite the fact that the other cats seem utterly uninterested in bothering him. Sigh. Maybe there's some cat-drama playing out while I'm not looking, but honestly, it looks like it's all defense, no offense.
post #6 of 8
How many litter boxes do you have (hope I didn't miss that)? You need atleast 3 in different areas of the home with 4 kitties.......... It is going to be a challenge to correct the situation at this point. The scent of urine in the home can easily start another kitty to pee outside the box. I would try keeping them confined to a smaller area, maybe separate, and a definite hardcore cleaning, possible refinishing is necessary!
post #7 of 8
How long has this been going on? Were things better before the merger? How long ago was the merging?

The first thing I would do is confine Duncan and a litter box to a room that is easy to clean and where he is away from the other cats. While he is confined make sure that all the cat pee has been cleaned up (because cats like to remark old spots). Let him out after he is regularly using the box (this might take some time).

You may also need to do the same thing with Dominique, but take her to the vet first to make sure there are no medical problems.

Important considerations are:
1) What kind of litter are you using? Have you tried "Cat Attract"? Often cats do not like scented litter. Also, food-based litter is sometimes unpopular. The safest thing is fine-grained unscented clay litter, but you need to find out what they prefer. If they are going near the box, or in it but not covering, they might just be trying to do their business as fast as possible and then get away because they don't like the litter (the smell and/or texture). If they are going far away from the box then they are probably having a problem with stress rather than litter. Confinement helps them destress and relearn how to use the box.
2) What kind of cat boxes do you use? Are they big enough to fit the whole cat comfortably? (Dominique?) Are they covered? Covered litter boxes with a door are especially bad because the smell gets trapped in the box. Uncovered boxes are least likely to harbor odors.
3) How many cat boxes do you have? Each cat needs to have one box, and then there are some cats who will not poo and pee in the same box so you need an extra. That means 5 boxes for 4 cats, spread out around the house and not in areas that are too frequented. Also, do the cats ever sabotage each other upon exit of the cat boxes?
4) How often are the boxes cleaned? Clumps need to be scooped at least once a day, and the whole box should be cleaned out about once a month (depending on usage and popularity of the particular box).

Hope that helps. I've had similar problems with one of my kitties. The temporary confinement really helped. Best of luck!
post #8 of 8
Last post was great advice, my sister has three cats and there was definately some litter box dominance going on, eg 1 kitty guarding the box and swiping any other cat that came by and that led to weeing all over the house by the other cats! I feel for you in this situation especially with a baby on the way. I also agree with putting Duncan in his own room just to take the pressure of you both and for him to re-learn the box and to feel able to use it without being nervous of the other cats. Also, do you free feed? It might be easier for a while to try to feed at set times. Cat nip and feliway are great too. Bigger boxes were good for us, our cat is not fat but biggish and he found it difficult to move around so we got bigger boxes which really helped, sometimes he missed and it went on the floor! W did only have one box for one kitty, we have a very large kitchen so it was in there but I decided to get another box and put it in on of the bathrooms and he loves it in the bathroom, we think its because thats where we go!!! So difference rooms can have a different appeal too. I hope you manage to sort this and I commend you for your patience and dedication to keep them all and work it out Good luck with the kitties and with the rest of your pregnancy and the new arrival
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