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desperate for help with cat not using the litter box!

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone, I am new to this forum and I hope you can help me.

I rescued a 2 yr old female Himalyan cat named Lanie in March. She had been found in a dumpster and brought to our local shelter. She had kittens 3 days after being found! I brought her home after her kittens were weaned. I already had 2 DSH - both females, and a retriever mix dog. She was terrified in the beginning and stayed under the bed in either my bedroom or my daughters. She would use the litter box to urinate in but I found poo under the bed. Things have most certainly improved for her since March. She does roam around the house now with no fear of the other animals, but she does not use the litter box . If I sequester her in the laundry room with no other animals, she will use the box, but I hate to coop her up in there. I'm wondering if she will ever learn to integrate with the other cats and share litter boxes. Here is the litter box situation. I have 3 boxes - one in the laundry room and 2 in the playroom. They are all in private locations. I have tried various types of litter - you might have thought I had a pet shop in my house! My latest one was Cat Attract. Lanie will poop and pee right next to the box but not in it. I NEVER see her going to the bathroom. She is very private and does her business when nobody is home or at night. My other 2 cats have been happy to use the boxes no matter where they were and what kind of litter I used.As I type this I'm realizing that maybe Lanie needs her own box that isn't used by any of the other cats? My DH is so frustrated and I try to clean up her messes before he notices. I too am weary of this problem. I'm open to any/all suggestions. Thank you!

ETA: all my cats are female and have been spayed.
post #2 of 19
I don't know how to have a box that just one cat uses - but it sure seems like you need more litter boxes. The rule of thumb is one more box than cats, so at least one more litter box.

It could be a lot of things - but some are VERY picky about clean boxes. We had nine boxes for six cats, and two of those were Litter Robots (one on each floor of the house).

This is a litter robot: http://www.litter-robot.com/ Don't know if you can afford one of these or if it would help with the problem, but if you're even going to consider an automatic box, it is the only one to consider, IMO.

Have you been using an enzyme cleaner to clean up her messes? It is VERY important that pee and poop smells be cleaned properly, or the smell will continue to encourage her to go in the same place.

Enzyme cleaners are not all the same, and some are definitely better than others. We have tried so many of them, and found Nok Out to be the best: http://www.nokout.com

Couple of quick questions: has she been to a vet recently and she's gotten the all clear? You're sure she doesn't have worms or a bladder infection?

Was she declawed?

You can also consider purchasing Feliway spray and using it in the house. Don't use it near litter boxes or where they're supposed to scratch - but if she's peed or pooped anywhere not near a litter box and you've cleaned it with an enzyme cleaner, you can also spray the area with Feliway. It is a synthetic hormone that mimics the "friendly" markers in cats' cheeks. It helps reduce stress - it also makes a place that's been used for peeing or pooping that shouldn't be smell all wrong for peeing or pooping there again (that's why it should not be used near litter boxes).

And instead of the cat attract litter, in addition to adding 2 or three litter boxes in totally different places (always good to place a litter box where kitty has been going, then slowly move it to where you want it when it's being used), you may want to consider adding Cat Attract additive to the litter. You don't need to add as much as they suggest, and it reduces the cost of using it.

I'm sure others will have more ideas, but that's where I'd start.

Laurie
post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks Laurie. That's alot of good info.

I have been keeping the boxes super clean -scooping 2X/day. I think I'll purchase at least one more box. That will be an easy thing to do.

I haven't been using an enzyme cleaner. I've just been blotting up the pee and picking up the poo. In the past, I've used something called Miracle something or other. It's available at my local pet shop. Do you think I should use it or go for the nokout?

She has been to the vet recently - she was spayed an declawed at the same time. I don't think she has any medical issues and she uses the box when she is alone in the laundry room.

What is Cat Attract additive?

Thanks, Phyllis
post #4 of 19
You may have been using Nature's Miracle - I use that and have had good results, but you really have to soak the affected area. I've heard very good things about Nok Out as well. Zero Odor is also wonderful, in my experience, for removing odor - it's not a stain remover, but does something to get rid of the odor - you can get it on the net or from Bed Bath & Beyond. I do think you need an enzyme cleaner of some sort - otherwise, she'll just keep going back to the spots.

I'd definitely add another box - and maybe a different sort of box (covered if you've used uncovered, tall sides if you have low sides, etc.), and one right where she seems to like to go. But, if she's pooping and peeing near the box but not in, I think she's either saying she doesn't care for the texture of the litter (and believe me, I've had great luck with Cat Attract, but not all cats love it), the box isn't quite clean enough for her (and some cats are very very picky) or, there's something wrong physically. The additive is sold by the same company (Dr. Elsey) - but you can add it to other types of litter.

I'd also call the vet and perhaps schedule another visit - she may have developed a UTI from the stress of the new home, the surgeries, etc. Also, did you try using one of the newspaper-type litter after the declawing? Even though Cat Attract is pretty soft, it might still be too harsh for her paws. Dr. Elsey says the Senior Attract litter is good for declawed cats.

And, bless you and your family for trying to help her out - keep the faith. I was in tears with my adopted boy, but we're pretty good now - only the occasional accident, and it's always due to a tummy upset, I've found.
post #5 of 19
It's not unusual for cats to stop using litter boxes after a declaw. That's often why you'll find declawed cats at shelters, owner does declaw, cat stops using litter box or starts biting and cat goes to shelter because owner doesn't want to deal with that issue in their home.

It's probable that in the beginning when the cat was new to your home it was frightened by the other cats and too nervous to use the litter box. Now though, I honestly don't know if you can correct the problem. You could try yesterday's news which is easier on the poor little sore paws.
post #6 of 19
Just a note - my two adopted cats came declawed and I got them at the age of 3 or 4 (guess-timate) - one front, the other front and back declawed. My girl has never had litter box issue to date (I've had them two and 1/2 years now). My boy had issues, but I think it was because he truly hated being in the segregated introduction room at first, then I was stressed (thus he was stressed), and he didn't care for Tidy Cat.

I have friends who have three declawed cats for many many years (like 15 to 20 years of age now) - one girl developed a pooping issue, but it was a result of IBS. Ideally, no declawing - but there are lots of cats out there who are declawed, with no box issues, and cats with all claws and litter box issues. Life would certainly be easier if we could point at declawing as the only, or even prime, cause of litter box issues.

Honestly, I wouldn't give up hope just yet. Give the enzyme cleaners, a new box or two in different locations, and perhaps try the paper-oriented litters a try, and see if you can remain calm (I know, easier said than done); I think they do pick up you're upset, and that just makes the whole cycle go round.

Also, truly, I'd get vet advice about seeing her again for a possible stress-related UTI.
post #7 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by darlili View Post
Just a note - my two adopted cats came declawed and I got them at the age of 3 or 4 (guess-timate) - one front, the other front and back declawed. My girl has never had litter box issue to date (I've had them two and 1/2 years now). My boy had issues, but I think it was because he truly hated being in the segregated introduction room at first, then I was stressed (thus he was stressed), and he didn't care for Tidy Cat.

I have friends who have three declawed cats for many many years (like 15 to 20 years of age now) - one girl developed a pooping issue, but it was a result of IBS. Ideally, no declawing - but there are lots of cats out there who are declawed, with no box issues, and cats with all claws and litter box issues. Life would certainly be easier if we could point at declawing as the only, or even prime, cause of litter box issues.

Honestly, I wouldn't give up hope just yet. Give the enzyme cleaners, a new box or two in different locations, and perhaps try the paper-oriented litters a try, and see if you can remain calm (I know, easier said than done); I think they do pick up you're upset, and that just makes the whole cycle go round.

Also, truly, I'd get vet advice about seeing her again for a possible stress-related UTI.
Darlili, Yosemite's post was in regards to her RECENT declaw. The OP said she has been to the vet recently, when she was spayed and declawed. Since the kitty just had the tips of all her toes amputated, she must be sore, and the litter might be painful for her. This is a complete different issue from a cat that has been declawed years ago.
post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 
Well, I just bought some more of the Nature's Miracle stuff and soaked the areas that Lanie used. I also bought 2 more boxes. While I was out, she peed again on the floor! So, I think that I am going to sequester her again in the laundry room for awhile. I can't help but think that it is a stress issue. When she is in the laundry room, she uses the box that has the SAME litter as the boxes she doesn't use. There are no accidents in that room. She is very at ease in the LR, so I'm thinking that maybe she'll learn to view it as a safe haven. Eventually, I'll start letting her out again and hopefully, she'll return to the LR to use the box. My house is rather large and perhaps letting her have the run of it is a bad idea. So thoughts on that?

Thanks for all your suggestions.
post #9 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by darlili View Post
Just a note - my two adopted cats came declawed and I got them at the age of 3 or 4 (guess-timate) - one front, the other front and back declawed. My girl has never had litter box issue to date (I've had them two and 1/2 years now). My boy had issues, but I think it was because he truly hated being in the segregated introduction room at first, then I was stressed (thus he was stressed), and he didn't care for Tidy Cat.

I have friends who have three declawed cats for many many years (like 15 to 20 years of age now) - one girl developed a pooping issue, but it was a result of IBS. Ideally, no declawing - but there are lots of cats out there who are declawed, with no box issues, and cats with all claws and litter box issues. Life would certainly be easier if we could point at declawing as the only, or even prime, cause of litter box issues.

Honestly, I wouldn't give up hope just yet. Give the enzyme cleaners, a new box or two in different locations, and perhaps try the paper-oriented litters a try, and see if you can remain calm (I know, easier said than done); I think they do pick up you're upset, and that just makes the whole cycle go round.

Also, truly, I'd get vet advice about seeing her again for a possible stress-related UTI.
Darlili, it is true that many cats that had a declaw procedure do not exhibit problems with the declaw - 33% of them do have some type of problem. And actually, over 15% of cats that have been declawed do have resulting litter box problems:

Quote:
Yeon SC, Flanders JA, Scarlett JM, et al. Attitudes of owners regarding tendonectomy and onychectomy in cats. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2001;218:43-47.

Summary: Retrospective phone follow-up of teaching hospital clients, DVM student surgeons. 39/98 owners whose cats underwent elective onychectomy or tendonectomy were contacted two months to five years (median 11.5 months) after surgery. 17 (44%) of declawed cats returned to normal within three days, 35 (90%) within two weeks. 31 (80%) had more than one medical complication. 13 (33%) developed at least one behavior problem. 6(15.4%) would not use the litter box and 7 (17.9%) had an increase in biting habits or intensity.
To the Original Poster:

I'm quite sure that part of the problem is that areas of the floor that kitty is using have not been properly cleaned. However, part of the problem may be the declaw. ??? If Yesterday's News was not used after the surgery to remove part of her toes (which is what a declaw is), she may now associate the litter box with pain. However, not having the smell properly removed from the floor is not helping.

You can purchase Nature's Miracle - but my guess is you're going to need quite a bit of enzyme cleaner to deal with this. Nature's Miracle, in my experience, requires 2 - 4 applications to Nok-Out's 1 - 2. And given that this has been going on for a while, I would also buy a hand-held black light (like this: http://www.ambericawest.com/blacklight.html ). Any pee spots will show up as an orange splotch. Also, covering the area with aluminum foil after applying the enzyme cleaner MAY help deter kitty from peeing there. (Some cats like the smooth surface - ours never have).

I don't know if the decision to declaw your kitty was your family's decision or if it was a shelter policy, but please, please, please learn about the process and problems associated with declawing. The Cat Site is officially anti-declaw (rule number 3: TheCatSite.com Forum Rules - as is the American Veterinary Medical Association! ) Due to it being considered cruel, it is illegal in 23 countries, and in the U.S. it has been banned in Norfolk, VA and West Hollywood, CA. Here is an excellent thread in the Health forum detailing the various arguments and providing excellent information that will help you, family or friends make an informed decision in the future: http://www.thecatsite.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=180925

Now - 85% of the time, when a cat does not use the box (if the cat was using the box previously), there is a medical problem. So of course it is safest to get your kitty to a vet to give a urine and poop sample, have a check-up and get blood work done. Also request to have her paws checked - make sure she is not in pain. Claws can regrow if the procedure was not done correctly, and this can be VERY painful.

....But at this point you may need to help your kitty "like" litter boxes again. If that is the case....

I don't know who recommended this idea (sorry!) but I think it was a great idea. Buy a low-sided litter box. Do not put litter in it. If you feed your cats a meal at any point during the day, put this kitty's meal on a plate in the middle of the box so she has to step into it to eat. Do this for at least a week to let her realize that the box does not mean pain.

Then I would use Yesterday's News at first. If the problem IS litter box avoidance, you will have to take it slow.

Laurie
post #10 of 19
I don't know how large the laundry room is, but if it's not large enough for her to pee in there outside of the box and still be comfortable moving around, it may be that she is "forced" to use the litter box, despite whatever fear or pain she may face/feel/experience. Of course, keeping her as a pet in your laundry room forever is not the answer, so she may need to be retrained in a larger area - see suggestions above.

However, I would get her to a vet to rule out any medical problems. It is always important to do this when cats stop using the box.

Laurie
post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 
Laurie, I did use Yesterdays News after the declawing as that is what the vet insisted upon.

Lanie has a good amount of room in the LR, so I don't think that she is forced to use the box. I'm going to stick with that idea for now while I try to get the smell out of the carpet.

Where is a cat whisperer when you need one?!
post #12 of 19
Did she have this problem while you were using Yesterday news?
Also, make sure to use the enzyme cleaner, otherwise she will always go back there to pee and poop.
How long ago was she declawed?
post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 
Carolinalima, Lanie was declawed in early April. The issue is complicated by the fact that she was new to my home, hiding all the time and didn't have established litter box usage. She was using it sporadically, but was too scared to come out most of the time. She is more used to us now, but is still extremely skittish. I can't approach her to pet her. She will come up to me but it's all on HER terms. She doesn't seem to give a hoot about the dog or the other 2 cats anymore. I think that she had a traumatic experience before coming to me. She didn't act this way at the shelter. I volunteer there every Sunday. She was in her own room with her kittens and she was very approachable. I wish I could tell her that everything will be OK! \t
post #14 of 19
For what it's worth, I was responding to this sentence

"Now though, I honestly don't know if you can correct the problem" - as I read it, it sounded as though the author meant the OP's cat may never use the box again, solely due to being declawed. If I misread, I'm sorry - but since the declawing had been done, I thought it might give the OP some hope to know that declawing doesn't necessarily, 100%, without fail, mean the cat will never ever use a box again. A stressed owner means a stressed kitty - and no one, I think, wants that.

I think the challenge is to deal with the issue now - and to learn for the future. What we all want, I think, is this cat to feel comfortable in her home, and for her family to feel good again too.

That said, perhaps kitty does feel insecure with so much new space to explore - maybe confining her to a smaller area will actually make her feel more secure.
post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 
I'll keep you posted. She was in the LR last night and no accidents.
post #16 of 19
I was going to suggest some Cat Attract additive to the litter. That may help retrain her to the box, too.
post #17 of 19
I was thinking about Lanie (cool name) last night - with Dante, my challenging boy, I praised and thanked him every time he used the box properly (and still do). I remember with both of them, when new, just sitting in a bedroom, reading out loud to myself, and letting them come to me. Now, I did put some treats and food about a foot away from me - but I think we both enjoyed reading Harry Potter aloud.

Good luck with your little girl - truly, you and your family are wonderful for being so patient in working with her.
post #18 of 19
We actually used peroxide from the drug store. After spending $40 on urinoff we found this worked best. We saturated the area with vinegar and put baking soda on top and let dry (used a fan), than the next day used peroxide. We found that peroxide is what got the smell out the most.
post #19 of 19
Thread Starter 
What an interesting idea! Did the vinegar smell linger?
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