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Is he unhappy? [Litter box issues]

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I've posted before about my cat, Gus, and his many issues but I'm really starting to wonder if he is unhappy here. Gus both defecates and urinates outside of the box. It is almost daily. It's one or the other, urinating being more frequent, but sometimes he does both in the same day. He also uses the litter box the majority of the time. He's very stubborn and destructive. I think a lot of it is boredom. We do have one other cat but he is very laid back, whereas Gus is very high strung. The majority of the time that Gus goes on the floor is when he's locked up while our other cat eats. (Gus has to be locked up for 2 reasons. 1, he has allergies and can't eat the other cat's food. 2, he would steal every drop of it in under 30 seconds and the other cat would never eat.) Gus is never locked up for more than 10 minutes at a time though. The two cats do play together daily, just not as much as Gus needs. We also give him lots of human attention. I just don't know what to do to get him to stop going on the floor as we've tried a million things already. It's hard to live with a cat that uses our home as a litterbox, but we love him so we've put up with it for an entire year now.

Another thing is, we spend a lot of time at my in-laws. A couple of months in the summer, and a few weeks at a time during the holidays. My in-laws have a cat that matches Gus's energy level. They play hard all day. Gus doesn't go all over the floor when he's there, which makes me wonder if it's possible that he's just not happy living here with us.

Any thoughts or opinions?
post #2 of 13
Dumb question - can you add another cat?

I'm not familiar with the situation....but is he only have LB issues when he's locked up?
post #3 of 13
Is the room you lock him in big enough for you to be in there with him? Could you spend the time playing with him while the other cat is eating?
post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 
Unfortunately we cannot afford another cat. There's just no way we could come up with the money, so it would be pretty irresponsible, even though I think it would help a lot.

The room we lock him in is the bathroom, but it's quite large (about a 8x8 with another tub/shower area adjoining). I have two issues with not being able to spend time with him when he's locked up. One is that our other cat refuses to eat unless I sit near him. The other is that when Gus is locked up it's about the only time the other cat can get any play time or petting in, because if Gus is around he completely takes over and then Ramsay just sits here watching. When Gus is locked up he has food and water (but he eats much faster than Ramsay), a cat tree, toys, etc.

He goes on the floor a lot when he's locked up, but other times he's just going on the floor, walking right past litter boxes to get to the areas he likes to go on the floor.
post #5 of 13
Have you had the kitten checked by a vet to make sure he doesn't have a UTI or other medical issues? If you're sure it's strictly a behavioral problem there are several things you can try. First, clean the areas where he goes outside the box with something that neutralizes the odor. Otherwise he'll keep going back to the same spots. There are several special cleaners available. Try Cat Attract litter. I've never had to use it, even with the kittens, but a lot of people here have had good results. A Feliway diffuser might help, too, although that is not specifically for litter box issues. It's suppose to be calming in general for cats.
post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 
He has been to the vet 3 times and initially we determined that he has food allergies, but that's been solved for about 7 months now. He was last at the vet 4 weeks ago and still had no medical issues present.

He has gone through phases where he's used the box like a champ, but then he reverts back to going anywhere he pleases. We do use Nature's Miracle to clean the floor. We clean it with the NM, then spray a layer of NM over the area and let it dry just to be sure we covered the entire area.

The litter and the box have also gone through changes in the past year, which helped get him through the negative association/avoidance that we suspected he was going through before we settled his diet properly. (Just to note, we changed litter types as well as going from a large covered box to an underbed storage container. We tried multiple boxes in the areas he likes to go on the floor and he'd just go next to the box. We tried cleaning them constantly to leaving them dirty and everything in between just as a test. He's never at any point stopped using the litter boxes altogether.)

It seems he goes on the floor out of anger, boredom and spite as he does this when he's been behaving particularly bad (out of control, getting into things, destroying things out of apparent boredom) or when he's locked up during feeding times. Occasionally it happens over night so I'm not sure what the deal is at those times.

We haven't tried the feliway. I've only heard of people using it for fighting or changes in the home so it never occurred to me. Do you suspect that would help in this situation?
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hmm, I guess not many have much input. I do feel like I've exhausted most of my available resources. (Getting him a playmate just isn't one of those any time soon.) I've just ordered the feliway diffuser, so we'll try that for a while. We're starting to think we should ask my in-laws if they'd like to take Gus in.
post #8 of 13
We definitely have input - it's just been a busy weekend for all, I suppose. I have heard rave reviews about that Feliway diffuser. Didn't work here, but it may help with calming. Gus sounds like my Dusty - he's pretty wild, too.

Good luck, and I hope all works out.
post #9 of 13
Try the Feliway diffuser, although it doesn't work instantly. And, read the box to see how many you need - depends on the size of your home. Also, did you try the Cat Attract litter yet? If not, I really suggest you give it a shot. Petsmart generally carries it.

How much and how do you actually play with him? A lot of run around play, like with a laser or Da Bird? Does he have a lot of places to climb, like cat trees (I'm just grasping at straws here - it's clear that he's getting enough love in your home).

I'm guessing you've already tried feeding him in the spots where he's gone as well, after you've cleaned? Usually, they won't use food spots as bathrooms.

And, have you looked into an appointment with a feline behaviorist? I'm wondering if an eyes-on look at the situation would yield some suggestions.
post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
I only ordered one feliway plug in. It says up to 650sf and we have about 750sf. Our bathroom, and his favorite spot to pee, is directly in the center of the apartment so I figure I'll plug it in in there and that should work (The door is always open, too.)

He does get fed in the bathroom already, but he pees in about every corner in there. And it's after he's finished eating and he's still locked up that he pees a lot of the time. Our other cat takes a good 10 minutes to eat his meal, whereas Gus is done in less than 2 minutes, so Gus has to wait.

We do have a cat tree, also located in the bathroom. That's really the only vertical space that we have for them though. All of our windows are set 6inches in so there's enough room for the cats to lay in the window sills, as well as having a large window bench where they like to watch birds. We try to remember to rotate the toys that we have out so they don't get bored of them. My husband plays with them a lot more than I do, but he gets him running around after a toy similar to da bird (it's not actually da bird) about 15 minutes in the evening.

We started using canned air to curb some of his other bad behaviors, and that seems to be helping. We tell him no, and if he doesn't stop what he's doing we spray. We don't actually spray it at him (or near him for that matter) but the noise is enough to send him running. He has habits like stealing food right off your plate or off your fork. My mother was really ticked when he swipped a huge pawful of cream from her Napoleon. He also likes to go on the counters or bookshelf and knock things down just to watch them fall. So, the canned air has been helping the last couple of days. This morning I caught him eying up my quiche and I just had to tell him no and he walked away. Now if we can get this litterbox issue eliminated.....

I hadn't even thought of contacting a behaviorist. I would imagine it's very expensive. How would I go about finding one in our area to even inquire the cost? If I'm going to shell out for a behaviorist I'd want the best so that I get the best advice. I'd have a hard time trusting anyone that I just looked up on the internet or something. (Also, our regular vet is not local so they wouldn't be able to help.)

Sorry this got so long!! I just want to be thorough.
post #11 of 13
OK, this is a REALLY stupid question, but in reading through the thread, I didn't see, and just need to make sure - he is neutered, right?

Assuming that he is, I have another quick question. Because he's high strung and seems to stress at being shut in while your other kitty eats.... can't the other laid back kitty be shut in the bathroom to eat instead?

And other than my post in your other thread (, my only other suggestion is to just make sure to play with him a LOT. At least 10 - 15 minutes of "alone play" with just him, twice a day. I'd consider rotating his toys, including whatever wand toys you use with him.

I think you're going to have to get creative with his boredom problem.

Things to consider:

Are there treats he can eat? Or something that can act like a treat? Hide treats for him to find around the apartment before you leave for work.

I don't know how the windows on your apartment work, but on our RV we've put up suction cup bird feeders. The cats love watching the squirrels as much as watching the birds. Any way to get feeders up on some of those windows?

Collect large-sh cardboard boxes. Build 3D "condo" mazes. You just need a sharp knife or scissors and tape! We'd use as many as 12-14 boxes. Leave little access holes in your configuration so you can toss a toy (or treat!) in a center box but kitty has to work through the maze to find it.

Get various independent toys, and change them every few days too:

What about a gerbil? (Obviously in a secure cage!)

You're a love for sticking by him.

I do think that with medication, a LOT of attention and activity, and some creativity, you may be able to beat this problem.

post #12 of 13
Unless I missed it, it sounds like he only has one litter box. Is that correct? If so, he needs two. Most cats do not like to defecate and urinate in the same box. Try adding a second box and see if that resolves the problem. You also have to make sure they are cleaned out constantly as some are very picky about odors and won't use it if it's not to their standards.
post #13 of 13
I thought LDG had great ideas, including maybe feeding the other cat in a closed room.

My boy has had litter box issues, I believe mostly due to being locked up in the 'introduction room' when I first got him, and then deciding he rather liked peeing on carpet when stressed. He never actually stopped using the box altogether, and mostly would pee (and the occasional poo) right by the box.

Assuming your boy is still checking out ok physically, per the vet, I really think you should try to set up a a few boxes with a few very different litters to see which, if any, he chooses - including Cat Attract, nonclumping clay, paper, regular Tidycat, etc. It sounded like you did that, but I don't think you mentioned trying Cat Attract or the additive - I had tremendous luck with that, and my non-picky kitty also loves it.

Also, a few different sort of boxes in different locations - high sides and low sides, maybe one in a corner where no one can sneak up on the sides, the other totally out in the open (yeah, my place looks great too!). Also, one trick I tried was to sort of heap the litter from a deep side to a low side (sort of like a kids pool). Turns out my guy really enjoys having an inch of litter to play with, and doesn't particularly like deeper litter levels.

Also, I am firmly behind the idea of getting more than one box and now follow the old rule of one box for each cat plus a third...that's also helped immensely. I also scoop at least twice a day - my boy seems to wait for me to come home and clean at night, if he can.

Also, if you have any questions about the odor hanging in there even after Nature's Miracle, try Zero Odor. I've also had wonderful luck with that. And if your vet can't direct you toward a certified behaviorist, maybe email Cornell or one of the other vet schools for a reference. Good luck - I do know how frustrating it can be.
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