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1 year old previously feral cat - peeing problems.

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I'm not sure if this is asked a lot here, I did do a bit of browsing around the site, but not that much as I don't have a lot of time! If anyone could point me in the direction of threads where the same question has been answered, that would be great. Otherwise, advice is definitely appreciated.

If you don't need the backstory, you can skip to the bolded part and read from then on!

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Almost a year ago, my brother found a feral kitten. There are a lot of feral cats at my parents' house [it's a 20 acre piece of land, a lot of field area with tons of mice, etc. and cats love it there!] so cats aren't really a surprising sighting, but the kitten was alone and mewing its tiny mew. It was pretty cold out, so my brother decided to take her into the house and they subsequently got her fixed and named her Panthatar. She was a little younger than 6 weeks. They've kept her as a pet since.

Fast forward to the past couple months; I guess the summer air got to Pan because she apparently scratched a hole in the window screen and has been using it to travel in and out of the house at will, killing mice, catching birds and being a feral cat in general.

She's been peeing in the litter box, but probably half [or more than half] of the time, she pees...anywhere she wants. The bathroom rug is a favorite, clothes left in hampers or on the floor and most recently, the couch. This was kind of a last straw for my mom who is now considering rehoming.

Pan has become very much a people-cat. She loves being petted and cuddled and she loves the freedom that being out of town brings. My mom loves her [aside from the tinkling problem] and really doesn't want to give her away, but she also doesn't want to have a cat for years and years that she ends up resenting for ruining all the furniture.

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So my question [after that enormously long story/explanation] is this: How do you train a cat to pee -only- in the litterbox? I am mainly looking for tried and true answers that have worked for feral cats.

Before I get these answers:
1. They have two cats [the other is about 9 years old], two litterboxes, both are clean. Pan uses both indiscriminately so it's not a problem with the litterbox. Though they have not tried different placement [there's nowhere else in the house they can really put them].
2. She's not stressed that they can tell. There wasn't any stressful changes that would have started her peeing on things. Really, I remember my mom saying she peed/pooped on the bathmat a few days after they had her spayed. So this is an ongoing problem since she was brought in from outside, pretty much.
3. She's not angry with her family. :P I always see resentment as an answer when I search online for cat peeing problems.
4. My mom has tried putting the peed-on things next to the litterbox to train Pan that that's where the smell should stay [or however that works?] but there's no way to really put a couch next to the litterbox.

I really think she's doing it because she wasn't properly trained to only go in the litterbox as a kitten. She knows she's supposed to go there, she just can't see why she's not allowed to go anywhere else. I don't think they've ever caught her at it, so I'm not sure a spray bottle and a firm NO will work here.

Anyway, I'm gonna stop rambling. I tried to include any info I thought you guys would need, but if I forgot something, don't hesitate to ask and I'll try to provide the answers as best I can.
post #2 of 11
First - I probably can't help you - but, just want to come along side and say that I'm sorry that Pan isn't cooperating.

Second - Maybe a third litter pan would help? What litter type is used?
How about just getting some dirt, with leaves and putting that into another litter box?

I kind of know what you're talking about - we have a male - a stray that came to us, and I must keep outside. He's just not particular where he goes, even if he can't be all that successful in covering it up - so, I'm wondering about this issue, too - if I would eventually bring him in.

He comes into the garage with me, and, if his litter pan isn't there, he'll look for a place inside the garage to make his deposit - it's crazy - 'cause he could just as easily go outside ???!!

I think Ferals or Strays that have been raised outside just have a different attitude about their bathroom etiquette - will anticipate other's input, too.
post #3 of 11
Oh, I've seen some posts in this Forum that has a website about Ferals/Strays, and here's the PDF file about socializing a Feral cat.

http://www.straypetadvocacy.org/PDF/..._Feral_Cat.pdf

I haven't read it all, but there might be something in there that would help?

This is the website: http://www.straypetadvocacy.org/
g
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GloriaJH View Post
Second - Maybe a third litter pan would help? What litter type is used?
How about just getting some dirt, with leaves and putting that into another litter box?
We're thinking about that after doing some reading. I read in one of the professional advice forums that those large plastic containers are good for litterboxes and they already have some of those, so I think they might try that out in a different location in the house.

They're using a clay litter I think, non-clumping. I don't think she has a problem with it? My dad said he's witnessed her pee in one box and then move over to the next and poop in that one. :P I think she just really doesn't see the point in going all the way to the back of the house to do her business when there's perfectly good things to pee on in the living room. They can't really just put a litter box in the living room, though. :/

I was wondering about that dirt and leaves thing. At first I was thinking maybe they should put the box outside and try to start getting her to do all her business there, but I think with the winter coming, it might be better to get her trained to go inside since her main exit is the window and I doubt they want to have it open all winter. :P

Quote:
Originally Posted by GloriaJH View Post
I think Ferals or Strays that have been raised outside just have a different attitude about their bathroom etiquette - will anticipate other's input, too.
Oh it so seems that way. Almost like ferals are a different animal altogether. It's so frustrating. Sometimes hard to be sympathetic when pets are ruining your stuff. But I'm hoping I can help fix it so they don't have to rehome her.

Thanks for your input and sympathy, I really appreciate it.
post #5 of 11

I hope you'll be successful!
g
post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by KaylaD View Post
We're thinking about that after doing some reading. I read in one of the professional advice forums that those large plastic containers are good for litterboxes and they already have some of those, so I think they might try that out in a different location in the house.

They're using a clay litter I think, non-clumping. I don't think she has a problem with it? My dad said he's witnessed her pee in one box and then move over to the next and poop in that one. :P I think she just really doesn't see the point in going all the way to the back of the house to do her business when there's perfectly good things to pee on in the living room. They can't really just put a litter box in the living room, though. :/

I was wondering about that dirt and leaves thing. At first I was thinking maybe they should put the box outside and try to start getting her to do all her business there, but I think with the winter coming, it might be better to get her trained to go inside since her main exit is the window and I doubt they want to have it open all winter. :P

Oh it so seems that way. Almost like ferals are a different animal altogether. It's so frustrating. Sometimes hard to be sympathetic when pets are ruining your stuff. But I'm hoping I can help fix it so they don't have to rehome her.

Thanks for your input and sympathy, I really appreciate it.
First of all, get it out of your mind that because she was born feral, that you need to treat this problem as if she is a feral cat. Every last cat in my house (10 of them) was born feral, and some lived as true feral cats until they were well over a year old. They do not have the litter box problems that you describe.

You should look thru the threads about elimination problems. This is a good one to start with: http://www.thecatsite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=9563

With any elimination issues, the first thing you do is rule out health reasons. That is the #1 reason why a cat doesn't use a box. Get her checked by a vet and rule out a urinary tract infection.

I think the second reason why a cat doesn't use a box is because there is something about the box, or litter, or placement that they don't like. I've done a lot of side-by-side tests over the years, and have found that they prefer open boxes and the bigger the better. Buy oversized sterilite bins and fill them with a couple of inches of litter. For litter, mine never really liked clay as much as the clumping kinds.

The best litter in the world (IMO) for a cat with urinary issues is Cat Attract. There is an earthy smell about it that draws a cat into a box. I have 1 cat that was a bathtub / sink pee-er, who after 10 years of this habit, won't go anywhere else than the Cat Attract litter box. Petsmart carries it, and if you don't have one close by, you can find it online. It's more pricey than most litters, but if you think of the cost for replacing things that they've peed on versus the cost of the litter, it's a bargain.

Then keep the box meticulously clean. Buy a spare set of boxes and completely replace the boxes once a month. Just clean out the dirty ones before you rotate them back in. The plastic in boxes holds the litter smell, so they have to be cleaned regularly. I use a water/bleach solution on mine.

If you've addressed health reasons and then litter boxes and litter and still haven't resolved this, the cat may be stressed and you will need to consult with your vet about possible medications for her.
post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by GloriaJH View Post
Oh, I've seen some posts in this Forum that has a website about Ferals/Strays, and here's the PDF file about socializing a Feral cat.

http://www.straypetadvocacy.org/PDF/..._Feral_Cat.pdf

I haven't read it all, but there might be something in there that would help?

This is the website: http://www.straypetadvocacy.org/
g
This is not a feral cat. Feral born, yes, but not currently feral. Socialization makes them friendly to humans, and Pan is already friendly to humans.
post #8 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Momofmany View Post
This is not a feral cat. Feral born, yes, but not currently feral. Socialization makes them friendly to humans, and Pan is already friendly to humans.
Momofmany - I sent you a PM
post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Momofmany View Post
This is not a feral cat. Feral born, yes, but not currently feral. Socialization makes them friendly to humans, and Pan is already friendly to humans.
I'm going to quote myself, as I did not really explain myself, and this response was way to terse and not intended to correct Gloria. I'm sorry if it came across that way.

I live with 10 cats that were all born feral. Most of them you would never be able to tell that they were born feral - once they become fully acclimated to human contact, I drop the term feral for them. I do have some that came to me later in life, and while I've socialized them enough to be able to handle them to some degree, they are not socialized to all humans, therefore I consider them semi-feral.

I think the term feral is very often misunderstood. A true feral cat has either had no contact with humans, or such little contact as they have little if any trust in them. Just because a cat is outside and hunts does not make it a feral cat. All cats have some level of hunting instinct in them - just think of why your cat plays with toys. If a cat was born to a mom who did hunt, and that mom showed them the joys of hunting live prey, they can and will hunt if given the chance. But then I've seen cats who've never witnessed their mom's hunting but still go after live prey. It's just instinctual, not based on being born feral or not.

If Pan was found at 6 weeks old, she never had enough time with her feral mom to really have learned feral ways. 6 weeks is the optimal time to socialize a feral born kitten, and I've never known of one that was pulled that young be anything but a normal cat.

So please don't search down the wrong path when you look for solutions for Pan.
post #10 of 11
Living with seven cats all born feral, I second the opinion of momofmany.

Actually, feral cats that were raised by their mothers, in our experience, are meticulous with their use of the litter box.

The problem has nothing to do with her being feral. Cats that did not spend 12 weeks being raised by mum are more often to have litter box issues, so being rescued at six weeks may be the issue - she was never properly trained.

The first thing that needs to be ruled out is a health problem. Feral or not, the best method of communicating a health problem is peeing outside the litter box.

Once that has been ruled out, then I'd turn to the Behavior forum for answers. But Amy has basically addressed the basic issues. And for a cat that also goes outside, the Cat Attract litter combined with more and larger boxes may really help resolve the problem - if it isn't a health issue.

BTW - the vet needs to check not just for urinary or bladder problems. One of our cats pees outside the box when she is in pain. She has very bad teeth. She lost her first tooth at two years old. Now that we take her for a dental every six months, it's not an issue... but before that, any time (as it turned out) her teeth were causing pain, she would pee outside the box. So any NUMBER of health issues or something causing pain can cause the problem, not just issues related to her urinary tract or her bladder.
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the info and opinions, you learn something new every day. I'll get back to my mom with everything mentioned, see if she can get a vet visit scheduled sometime this week and we'll go from there.
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