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Cat stopped using box!

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I have three neutered male cats, all nearly one year old (2-4 weeks away). They grew up together, I've had them all since six weeks. I love each one of them dearly.

I had turned the office into a "cat room". I kept their litter boxes in this room, sometimes I wouldn't scoop every day and they would end up pooping next to the boxes. I realize this was entirely my fault so I stepped up my game and scooped their boxes every day, got clumping litter, and changed the litter out at least once a week. Things were fine for months. A few weeks ago, poop was showing up on the floor again, despite the fact that I was taking great care of the boxes.

I retired the old boxes, got a jumbo sized box with pricier cat litter (the kind made of grain). I thought maybe the dust and drying clay were bothering the cats. I scoop twice a day and I plan to retire the litter twice a week.

Two of my cats go in their new box every time. Here in the living room, where I moved the box, I can monitor their performance. Then one of my cats squats and pees on the shag rug and pees right in front of me! I didn't know what else to do, so I stuck his nose in it (not enough to injure him, but enough to get pee on his nose) and scolded him. I had to roll up the rug and put it in the storage unit. That rug really brought the room together and I'm angry that he peed on it, maybe he felt like it was his own private bathroom because the fibers were long and inviting.

Last night I found poop next to the box and immediately removed it and cleaned the area. Then this morning, he poops on the floor right in front of me!!! I stuck his face next to it and scolded him. Something in my bedroom, I've noticed, smells like urine now.

I can handle kitty destruction and other cat behaviors, no problem, but I cannot keep a cat that uses the carpet as a toilet. I am heartbroken because I am completely attached to these cats. They are my children. However, my apartment, which I rent, is going to smell like cat pee like the "cat room" already does. This is disgusting and unsanitary. I can't come home from school/work every day and clean up another creature's poop. What happens when I bring friends over?

What do I do? The last thing I want to do is get rid of my cat. It is traumatizing for them, and I know the other two would be devastated. I just don't know how to correct this behavior and I don't have much time before the smell of pee overpowers the place.
post #2 of 9
... I stuck his nose in it (not enough to injure him, but enough to get pee on his nose) and scolded him.
First, you need to stop doing this. I know you aren't hurting him but I promise he doesn't have a clue why you are doing it so it won't do any good.

It's good that you are scooping twice a day and replacing the litter once a week.

Pooping right next to the box usually indicates that the cat doesn't like the box for some reason. Like when you were scooping less often and the others were pooping next to it. It could be that the third one is just more fussy about the box.

Does he ever use the box?

How many litter boxes do you have?

It could be he won't use a box once it has been soiled by another cat. Even if he was OK with it at one time, cats can change their minds about such things. I had to change litters because one of mine decided she didn't like it after using it fine for 2 months.

I think a vet checkup is in order also. Peeing outside the box is a classic symptom of crystals in the urine.

Hopefully others will be along with more suggestions. I hope you find a solution.
post #3 of 9
With 3 cats, to be safe, you should have at least 3 boxes... Try using a fine clumping litter on his box, that is more comfortable on his paws. You can also use "cat attract" litter, which has a smell that attracts the kitties to use the litter box.
How are you cleaning the pee and the poop? Are you using an enzyme cleaner? If you don't use an enzyme cleaner, the cat will keep going back to that spot over and over again.
You can also use "No Mark" or Comfort Zone spray around the area he is urinating on; sometimes it helps - for me "No Mark" worked better.
Please stop "disciplining" your cat - I know it can be frustrating, I went through it... Now all is ok - it took work though...
Good Luck!
post #4 of 9
Definitely don't put his face into it... he doesn't understand. I can sympathize with your frustration. With the peeing on the floor it's possible that he's developed a urinary tract infection (or even crystals as someone else suggested), and he's associating the litter box with pain, so he's not going in there. My last cat started peeing outside of the box, which is when we realized he had an infection and was forming crystals in his bladder. As far as pooping outside of the box, that's not something I've experienced and would speak to the vet about. The supposed rule with multiple cats is one litter box per cat plus one extra, but I've seen it work with less per cat as long as the boxes are cleaned very regularly.
post #5 of 9
What everyone else said Especially, they do not understand the punishment, other than maybe getting the idea that peeing/pooing itself is bad, and they try to find a hidden place.

Definitely get a vet check done. My boy had litter box issues - he's just much pickier than my girl. I had a UTI check and even a bladder ultrasound done when indeterminate debris was found in his urine.

For me, adding a box (three for two cats, in different locations), enzyme cleaners and Zero Odor, Cat Attract litter, cleaning twice a day, and giving the boxes a good cleaning (with Ivory liquid soap) and replacing the litter entirely seems to have worked.

Believe me, I know it's hard and you're trying to be both a responsible renter and a good pet parent...give both yourself and your boy some time, but please have the vet rule out any physical problems while you're working out the logistical issues at home. Good luck!
post #6 of 9
In a small space it can be hard to add extra boxes. Consider that crystal litter absorbs the urine and its odor and you might get more mileage out of it if your cat thinks it's cleaner than the scooping kind. Also, auto-litter boxes can help keep the litter cleaner when you're away. These have some drawback so do some research and find the right one for you. I have the Litter Robot which I love but if you have a large cat they won't fit. It's a squeeze. Also, some cats just plain won't use it. Two of my four are horrified by it but when we had the Littermaid in the past they hopped in with no hesitation.

A trip to the vet is a very good idea.
post #7 of 9
This may be off-base, but I had a pee-er for years and we went round and round with it. She definately did it to tell me she was unhappy. I put up with her for 18 years, eventually confining her to her own bedroom with a tarp on the floor. It became a test of wits between us.

On my next set of cats, I swore I would not put up with another pee-er ever again. One of my new kittens could smell an old pee spot from the previous cat and started to do it in the same spot. Based on a breeder's advice, I got a litterpan and put a piece of carpet in it and placed it in that spot. Kitten starts to pee in the litterpan on the carpet. I eventually moved the
"carpet-pan" over next to the regular litterbox, a foot or so every day. Believe it or not, I still maintain a carpet pan to this day - I thinks boys prefer it as a quickie urinal. Periodically I change out the carpet (carpet samples work great). Put newspapers underneath.

I think the main thing is not to let the behavior get ingrained. Do anything, extra pans in inconvenient places just to stop the behavior. Figure out what they want before it becomes a pattern.
post #8 of 9
Trip to the vet to rule out issues is the first thing I would do
post #9 of 9
I had turned the office into a "cat room"

The vet visit - do this.

But also consider the placement of your boxes. Your cats are getting more mature and establishing more firm territories. The other cats are probably driving your little troublemaker out, and he is just letting you know there is trouble.
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