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Litter Box/Kitty Door issues

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone. This is my first time posting in this forum. I've been a cat guy pretty much all throughout my life, but for some reason I never thought to look 'em up online until right about now.

Which, of course, brings me to the reason I am posting: Namely, litter box and kitty door issues.

My wife and I moved into a new home two years ago, along with our three male cats. We converted a second floor bedroom into our laundry room, and decided to make that room a "cat hangout." We had only had three cats for a few months at that point, and I don't know why, but for some strange reason, we thought we'd be fine with just one litter box. Well, obviously, this turned out not to be true. Keeping up with scooping it just wasn't possible. One of our cats, the big boy, Joey, started going all over the laundry room carpet.

Now, at first I thought this was no big deal. I was only finding, ahem, No. 2s every morning, and as long as I had a tissue handy, it was always a pretty quick cleanup. Before long, though, I realized he was urinating also. The reason I didn't notice at first was because he was doing it under the shade of a kitty sill on the window. Eventually, that spot, which was right outside the litter box, became pretty big and impossible not to notice. At that point, we added to our measly one-box arsenal. This did not solve the problem, however, because he was used to using the carpet.

So we had another idea. We installed a kitty door leading into the basement, where Joey and my third cat, Pepe, were always sitting and meowing all day anyway. Eli, our youngest (and also our first), smoothly transitioned into going downstairs to use the boxes. Joey's usually a genius, but it took him a few days, but in the end (what with the laundry room being closed) he finally figured it out, too.

But then there's Pepe. And Pepe's having problems. Here was a cat who, aside from frequent hairballs, never had a single problem when it came to using the litter box. Now that's changed. He's destroyed a series of tote bags (and their contents), and twice I caught him going on our bed. He got the hint when I smacked him on the nose and then immediately ran him down to the basement door. But yesterday, I went up to our little used third-floor guest room and found the bed looking like a terrible disaster. I'm talking piles of poo all over the blanket, and a gigantic, lake-sized puddle of pee.

If we push Pepe through the cat door, he doesn't fight it (he did at first). And he knows how to use it to get out of the basement, but he seems to be scared to use it to enter. We catch him creeping towards the door routinely, craning his neck at it, looking quite concerned. This seems to be the case whether the door is closed and there for the swingin', or even when we've propped it open.

Anytime we catch him looking at the cat door, he tries to run away. We always run after him, grab him, and put him through it, but he doesn't seem to learn. I feel like we've solved one cat's problem, but at the expense of another. Pepe never did anything like this. Now, compared to Joey's old problem, the issue is even worse.

Any hints?
post #2 of 4
Before anything, welcome to the Cat Site!

First, get him checked by a vet if you haven't lately! These issues are often a sign of him being sick, often a UTI, and those can have no other signs.

Second, you'll probably hear from a lot of people not to bonk or force your cat to do things. Seems to only makes things worse.

If you can rule out any sickness, then you should probably start by one, moving the littler box out of the basement and somewhere where he will use it. Get him back in the habit of using it. Then slowly move it back to where you want it. Two, you should also gently break him of his fear of that door. Probably take the flap off all together. Don't force him through it, but put him on one side, and you and some yummy treats and the other kitties on the other. Entice him through, teach him that this is a good door, a door to all sorts of goodies!

So, those are my suggestions. There are a lot of great people on here with even more experience than me, so hopefully one will answer you soon.

And good luck!
post #3 of 4
I agree with the positive association techniques. Get his favorite food or toy (whatever motivates him) and sit on the other side of the door, into the basement. Drag the food or toy across the threshold and entice him to get closer and closer and finally TOUCH the door and eventually come through it.

Will take some time, especially if he has felt traumatized by previous interactions with the door. But it is worth it to help him overcome this fear. He just needs to learn its safe and okay.

Also, you may need to add a box on the upper level still, just in case someone is having an urgent need. So you don't find any suprises. But before you do that clean the carpet and other areas that were soiled with an ENZYMATIC cleaner specially for cat messes. It is the only way to get it really clean and get rid of the smell that keeps the cats going back to do business. They return to the "smell of the crime"
post #4 of 4
Originally Posted by fifi1puss View Post
clean the carpet and other areas that were soiled with an ENZYMATIC cleaner specially for cat messes. It is the only way to get it really clean and get rid of the smell that keeps the cats going back to do business. They return to the "smell of the crime"
This Is a definite MUST!!! I could not agree more.
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