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Serious problems with my cat Sadie

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I've had Sadie for five years, since she was a kitten. I love her to death. But lately she's been having some behavioral problems that I just don't think I can deal with anymore.

I moved into a new apartment with some new roommates back in June. She was relatively fine with the move and came out of hiding after only a few days. My other cat Lulu didn't have any problems, either. But then again, Lulu is the perfect pet compared to Sadie. Sadie has some psychological problems. She hisses and swipes at whoever comes near her, I'm the only person she actually likes. She's so sweet to me, but if any of my roommates accidentally get too close, she throws a hissy fit and starts growling. And if she just so happens to be laying in the way of where someone needs to walk, she starts growling even louder and won't let them pass. It's annoying to the friends that I live with, and frankly I'm getting tired of defending her behavior to them. But Sadie's a big and sneaky cat at 16 pounds, so she's not easily controlled.

The other problem I'm having with Sadie is that she won't poop in her litterbox anymore. She's got a terrible habit of pooping on the floor RIGHT NEXT to the litterbox. And I've even caught her pooping in the bathroom and in the living room. At first I though it was the new litter I bought, or that I wasn't cleaning it out enough (like twice a day isn't enough, seriously!), or that it wasn't deep enough. So I switched it out for the more expensive litter I used to use, I started cleaning it out more often, and I made it deeper. Well, that did no good. She's still doing it. I get so mad and yell at her, even though I know that doesn't do any good. But I'm so frustrated with her lately that I don't know what else to do. I"m embarrassed to call her my cat, and it is completely unacceptable that she defecates in common areas of the apartment where my roommates and I frequent.

I'm at the end of my rope. I can't think of anything else to do at this point. I love Sadie more than life itself, she's been my baby for five years. But I honestly don't think I can take it anymore. I've got one more year of undergrad school and two more years of grad school ahead of me, so I'm going to be living the roommate lifestyle for a while yet. And I can't and WON'T put up with this for three more years.

Any advice would be helpful. I can't get rid of Sadie, her behavior is such that no one would take her. She's only affectionate toward me, and she's too old at this point to easily get used to someone else. I don't want to get rid of her, but if something doesn't happen soon, something will HAVE to be done.
post #2 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by FuzzyWolf2006 View Post
The other problem I'm having with Sadie is that she won't poop in her litterbox anymore. She's got a terrible habit of pooping on the floor RIGHT NEXT to the litterbox. And I've even caught her pooping in the bathroom and in the living room. At first I though it was the new litter I bought, or that I wasn't cleaning it out enough (like twice a day isn't enough, seriously!), or that it wasn't deep enough. So I switched it out for the more expensive litter I used to use, I started cleaning it out more often, and I made it deeper. Well, that did no good. She's still doing it. I get so mad and yell at her, even though I know that doesn't do any good. But I'm so frustrated with her lately that I don't know what else to do. I"m embarrassed to call her my cat, and it is completely unacceptable that she defecates in common areas of the apartment where my roommates and I frequent.
This is the classic tell tale that she doesn't like her litter box. It can be the litter, the box itself, or the location. It can be that she doesn't like using the same box as your other kitty.
How many litter boxes do you have? With two cats, you should have 3.
Make sure to use unscented litter, and if the box is covered, uncover it. Finer, unscented clay clumping litters are a good choice.
Since there are three roomates, and she doesn't like them, make sure to put the box in a place where the room mates have no access to it. Your room should be the best place - she needs to feel safe in there.
Put the boxes in the back corners of your room, where she is able to see the whole room, and doesn't feel trapped. Make sure to clean the poop spots with an enzyme cleaner.
Do NOT yell at her because of the poop - she will relate pooping with being a bad thing, and the behavior will continue.
She can't talk, but this is her way to ask you to fix her litterbox problem - you now need to get the message, think like a cat, and help her. She is not doing this to piss you off. On the contrary - she probably dislike this situation as much as you do. Cats are very clean animals, and don't like to poop in their environment.
good luck!!
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by carolinalima View Post
This is the classic tell tale that she doesn't like her litter box. It can be the litter, the box itself, or the location. It can be that she doesn't like using the same box as your other kitty.
How many litter boxes do you have? With two cats, you should have 3.
Make sure to use unscented litter, and if the box is covered, uncover it. Finer, unscented clay clumping litters are a good choice.
Since there are three roomates, and she doesn't like them, make sure to put the box in a place where the room mates have no access to it. Your room should be the best place - she needs to feel safe in there.
Put the boxes in the back corners of your room, where she is able to see the whole room, and doesn't feel trapped. Make sure to clean the poop spots with an enzyme cleaner.
Do NOT yell at her because of the poop - she will relate pooping with being a bad thing, and the behavior will continue.
She can't talk, but this is her way to ask you to fix her litterbox problem - you now need to get the message, think like a cat, and help her. She is not doing this to piss you off. On the contrary - she probably dislike this situation as much as you do. Cats are very clean animals, and don't like to poop in their environment.
good luck!!

Sadie and Lulu have used the same box for years. Having only one litterbox has never been a problem before. I've never used more than one, nor do I have the space for it in my apartment. I keep it in my large bedroom closet like I've always done, away from my other roommates so they don't have to smell it. And the door to my closet is always open, I never close it. I use a large plastic tub as a litterbox, and it's bigger than any litterbox you could ever buy at a pet store. It has no top on it, because Sadie is too big to fit in the litterboxes that come with tops.

I've only resorted to yelling because I am frustrated beyond belief. I've tried everything that I can do within reason, but it's not like I can afford or have space for everything I'd ever need to make her happy.
post #4 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by FuzzyWolf2006 View Post
Sadie and Lulu have used the same box for years. Having only one litterbox has never been a problem before. I've never used more than one, nor do I have the space for it in my apartment. I keep it in my large bedroom closet like I've always done, away from my other roommates so they don't have to smell it. And the door to my closet is always open, I never close it. I use a large plastic tub as a litterbox, and it's bigger than any litterbox you could ever buy at a pet store. It has no top on it, because Sadie is too big to fit in the litterboxes that come with tops.

I've only resorted to yelling because I am frustrated beyond belief. I've tried everything that I can do within reason, but it's not like I can afford or have space for everything I'd ever need to make her happy.
Ok, the fact that they didn't have a problem before, doesn't mean they will never have a problem. They are in a new territory, with new people. You have the opportunity to solve the problem, or not - it is your choice. Cats are not people for you to reason with.
Boxes in closets are KNOWN to have issues. If you have a bedroom, you have space for more boxes. If you want to solve the problem, that is.
You need other boxes, at least another one, and the box NEEDS to come out of the closet.
What is there to loose? Or do you just want to give her away without trying?
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by carolinalima View Post
Ok, the fact that they didn't have a problem before, doesn't mean they will never have a problem. They are in a new territory, with new people. You have the opportunity to solve the problem, or not - it is your choice. Cats are not people for you to reason with.
Boxes in closets are KNOWN to have issues. If you have a bedroom, you have space for more boxes. If you want to solve the problem, that is.
You need other boxes, at least another one, and the box NEEDS to come out of the closet.
What is there to loose? Or do you just want to give her away without trying?

You came here to look for a solution, but I am confused - It seems to me you are not looking into/willing to change things to solve the problem?
I know my cats. They've been in this new territory for two months. They've completely settled in. Sadie's always been hostile toward other people, but now she doesn't have a choice. It's only been the past couple of weeks that she's started this annoying habit of pooping on the floor. Nothing has changed other than my choice in cat litter, and I ended up switching back to that. Didn't do any good, because now that her scent is on the floor, she's going to keep doing it there. I've considered investing in some citrus-smelling spray to get her scent off the floor.

I've always had her litterbox in the closet and out of the way, or in a corner behind some barrier, ever since she was a kitten. It doesn't make sense that all of a sudden she would decide "hey, I don't like this anymore." And she's always shared a litterbox with at least one other cat. Like I said, I know my cats, and I just seriously don't think the location or number of litterboxes is the issue here. And like I said, if I had room for another one, I'd get one. I barely have room for the one I have, and my room and closet are filled to capacity.

I don't think it's a matter of whether or not I'm trying/willing to change things, I think you just have it set it your head that that's the only possible reason for her behavior. No offense, but I don't appreciate someone talking to me like I don't care about my cats. I'm willing to make changes within reason, but I can only do so much. I've considered investing in another litterbox, but I just don't have room.

I guess I'll just make a trip to the vet. It's about time for her checkup anyway. Sadie's always had poor health, so maybe there is something wrong internally.
post #6 of 11
Has she been to a vet recently? At 16, a number of things could be a problem. When cats pee or poop outside the litter box, it is often a sign that there is a health problem. Especially with the move, stress could have brought on any number of issues.

Have you had her teeth checked recently? Does she have or has she developed arthritis? She has a large litter box - but is it easy - if she does have or has developed arthritis - for her to get in an out of it? She's peeing in there OK?

Have you changed her food at all? Is she constipated? Has she developed colonitis? I ask these questions, because whenever a cat associates pain with the litter box, they will stop using it. So if she has no problems peeing, she'll continue to pee in the litter box. But if she has come to associate pain with pooping in it, she will find other places to poop. When you solve the pain (or health) problem, that usually resolves the litter box problem.

Our kitty Spooky gets very pissy and growly and stops using the litter box when her teeth hurt.

All of these are also things to consider in addition to the advice you have received from Carolina.
post #7 of 11
We were posting at the same time. I think a trip to the vet is an excellent idea.
post #8 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by FuzzyWolf2006 View Post
I know my cats. They've been in this new territory for two months. They've completely settled in. Sadie's always been hostile toward other people, but now she doesn't have a choice. It's only been the past couple of weeks that she's started this annoying habit of pooping on the floor. Nothing has changed other than my choice in cat litter, and I ended up switching back to that. Didn't do any good, because now that her scent is on the floor, she's going to keep doing it there. I've considered investing in some citrus-smelling spray to get her scent off the floor.

I've always had her litterbox in the closet and out of the way, or in a corner behind some barrier, ever since she was a kitten. It doesn't make sense that all of a sudden she would decide "hey, I don't like this anymore." And she's always shared a litterbox with at least one other cat. Like I said, I know my cats, and I just seriously don't think the location or number of litterboxes is the issue here. And like I said, if I had room for another one, I'd get one. I barely have room for the one I have, and my room and closet are filled to capacity.

I don't think it's a matter of whether or not I'm trying/willing to change things, I think you just have it set it your head that that's the only possible reason for her behavior. No offense, but I don't appreciate someone talking to me like I don't care about my cats. I'm willing to make changes within reason, but I can only do so much. I've considered investing in another litterbox, but I just don't have room.

I guess I'll just make a trip to the vet. It's about time for her checkup anyway. Sadie's always had poor health, so maybe there is something wrong internally.
Well, no offense, but anywhere you read about solving litterbox problems, you will see that your current setup doesn't help, doens't work.
Yes, cats do change, ESPECIALLY in a new territory. Moving is a HUGE stress - having new people around, when the cat doesn't like people, is also a constant stress. And yes - she has been there for 2 months, and yes, she can still be stressed out.
I do know you like your cats, but I also see that you are firm in not trying things that are proven to work.
There is no magical wand on litterbox issues - either you change things, or the problems will be the same.
You came here to ask for help, but I feel, IMO - you are not willing to change anything about this situation.
It is a great thing you are taking her to the vet.
About not having space for litter boxes - if you have space to walk, you have space for another one... It might not be visually appealing, but I would imagine poop on the floor is not appealing either.
post #9 of 11
Fuzzywolf, I know this is a difficult time. I had room-mates and cats in college as well. I also had a litter box problem. Only you really know your cats, and only YOU really know how much room is in your room. If you say there's absolutely no room, then maybe there really is no no room. But maybe if there was a way to re-arrange the room, you could try a lower box, easier for Sadie to get in and out of, and that could really help. But as LDG said, this could be a health issue. I hope the vet visit cleared her health, at least.

As for the behavior, my cat didn't like my roommates, either, and it got to the point where she started pulling her hair out. My solution was to start off by putting her food and water and litter box in my room, and making her stay isolated in there for about a week before I'd let her out. At first she was upset but then she relaized that it was a safe place away from the people she didn't like. I also played classical music all the time while I was gone. I started leaving the door open only while I was home, and moved the food to the hallway outside my room, and gradually expanded her world. It helped her get adjusted, and that first week or so of isolation really helper her to realize that when there were ppl there she didn't like, all she had to do was go to my room. This "safe place" training helped a lot. Prissy stopped pulling out her hair and started using her box like she used to. I hope it could work for Sadie.

as for her scent being everywhere, make sure you get a spot cleaner made especially for pets. It destroys the odor, usually with enzymes, and that's what you really need. Trust me on this: this is one place where you really cannot cut corners.
post #10 of 11
I haven't read through the other suggestions, but I'll share my own experience with pooping outside the box.

My 2 kittens, they were in isolation until they were healthy enough to roam the house with my 3rd kitty. One litter box, in one room....door shut.

Never a problem with the box....both kitties always went in the box. Untill, I was not well enough to make it up for playtime for a few days.... I noticed poop on the floor right beside the litter box the day I came up for play time. Didn't think anything of it...figured it was an accident.

Untill I went away for a week. My daughters were home, and one was in charge of scooping, feeding, etc.

When I came back after being gone Sun till Friday, there was poop on the floor by the box. Several different poops.

I put 2 and 2 together when I saw Kitchi poop right beside the box, in front of me. He was MAD at me for leaving. There was absolutely nothing wrong with him, or his litter box....he was just upset with me and showing it.

Within 2 days of normal life, he was pooping where he should.

Can you tie in the move with the pooping outside the box issues? Are your roommates picking on her at all? (I don't mean in a mean way, but more in an "annoying her" way) Does she have any other symptoms? When was the last time she was at the vet?
post #11 of 11
Quote:
and she's too old at this point to easily get used to someone else.
Sadie is 5 years old....This is not TOO old for your cat to get used to someone else. Or not too old to be able to adjust to a loving family. She still HAS many wonderful years ahead of her.

I think you have to step back and realize that cats have their own personalities (just like humans do) and are easily stressed out by their environment. Some adjust to new environments very easily and some take extra long....even more than a year. Because in most situations cats are living indoors. The only space they know. Not much of a space for 2 cats and 4 people (3 of whom the cat is not familar with) - especially for a cat that isn't very social in the first place. How big is the place you are renting? You just moved in 2 months ago. Sadie needs time to adjust and feel safe. You have to give her her own safe space. Away from all the hustle and bustle of the place you are sharing.

Quote:
I don't want to get rid of her, but if something doesn't happen soon, something will HAVE to be done.
And what will have to be done?

Quote:
No offense, but I don't appreciate someone talking to me like I don't care about my cats. I'm willing to make changes within reason
Go back and read your first post. It isn't very full of love my dear. The way you portray your frustration is less than loving.

I think it is great that you have come to this forum for some advice but it seems like the advice you are being given is going in one ear and out the other.

Of course you are the one that knows your cats the best. But many other people have had the exact same problem as you are having and want to share their experiences with you to help you get through this difficult time with Sadie. Trust me - I've seen it a thousand times before on TCS and other forums....cats have been using the same litter box for years. Then one day they decide not to use the litterbox anymore. Or they have been using one litterbox for multiple cats for years and then one day someone pees outside the box. And low and behold with the add of another litterbox the problem clears up.

I would suggest first get Sadie checked by a vet. The pooping outside the box can be health related or behaviourial. She can be constipated, have a blockage, enlarged / infected anal glands, UTI, etc. a host of health problems.

After the vet tests you have to step back and take deep breaths....I am sure Sadie is picking up on the stress you are extruding. I am sure it is not helping her situation. Getting angry with her and taking it out on her is not going to make her learn. It will actually do the opposite. Please remember this is NOT her fault. She does not realize that what she is doing is bad. She has NO other way of telling you what is bothering her. Maybe she has but you are not listening.....deep breaths

Once you rule out health issues then you can focus on other things.....like type of litterbox, type of litter. Some cats like soft surfaces to poop on so they buy puppy training pads, newspaper, or towels and place them into a litterbox to see if they will use the litterbox instead of the floor. Some cats do not like the feel of the litter on their behinds. Could you place the second litterbox somewhere in your room? Since she is 16lbs it must be bigger like the other one she has.

If the pooping only began when moving in with roomates then Sadie may need her own safe place like the other poster said. The rustle and bustle of all the people may be too much for her. This is not a bad thing. Some cats thrive much better in their safe spaces.

Could you purchase some feliway diffusers to place in her safe space and throughout the house. Or spray some feliway on her favorite blankets, etc. This may help her with her stress. You can find them online for cheap http://entirelypets.ecommerce-site-s...ers+and+sprays, http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss?ur...iway+diffusers. Also there are some flower essences that may help with her stress level and new surroundings. Check out these sites:
http://anaflora.com/essences/index.html
http://www.spiritessence.com/
http://www.abfeusa.com/
http://www.bachflower.com/Pets.htm
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