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Getting an outdoor cat to use a litterbox..and other problems

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Before I get to the outdoor cat, let me first start by saying we have 3 indoor cats, one neutered female (Angie, 6) and two neutered males (Sherbet, 4, and Chance, 2). We got all three of them when they were kittens, and they all get along fine.

About a year ago almost, I noticed a cat that seemed to be hanging around our yard a lot. In the neighborhood we live in, there are a few cats that I see from time to time, but all of them have homes. This one was different. He's a brown tabby, no idea how old, and he was intact at the time, and he was REALLY friendly, so I ruled out him being feral. I fell in love with him instantly.

So of course, being me, I start leaving him food and water, and leaving the garage door open a little if the weather got cold, snowy, rainy, etc. Within a few weeks, he decided to make our yard his home. I named him Tigey. My husband took him to the vet to get him checked out, and we also got him fixed. Since then, we've been trying to integrate him into our home and make him at least a "mostly indoor" cat, but it's been difficult to say the least.

Problem 1. He won't use the litterbox. We have 4 of them. He'll go right in front of it, but not in it. I've tried different litters, moving one of the boxes downstairs, using an open top box, nothing has worked. At this point, I'm just treating him like he's a dog, and if he's been inside a long time, I let him out to use the bathroom because I don't know what else to do.

Problem 2. Getting along with the boys. I will say that things have made some progress, but it's really slow. At first, they couldn't even be in the same house, now, Sherbet and Tigey will tolerate eachother, to an extent. The only time there's a problem with those two is when one or both of them is in what we call "Pycho mode", Tigey will try to wrestle with Bert, and Bert has absolutely no patience for it, and gets aggressive.

The main problem is with Chance. He's still hissing at Tigey almost any time he comes anywhere near him. They never really fight, usually Chance will hiss and Tigey will try to avoid him, but it's still getting really old. As an added bonus, Chance has decided he likes to pee in our bathtub, and in a couple corners in the house. Thankfully he still poops in the box. I've tried all the usual solutions to inappropriate urination, but they don't seem to be working, and he's not sick. I'm pretty sure he's just pissed (no pun intended) that Tigey is in the house.

Angie is afraid of Tigey, mostly because everytime I let him in, she runs, and of course he chases her because she runs. He thinks she's playing.

I think if I can solve at least one of these problems, I can deal with the other. If I can get Tigey to use the box, I could keep him inside more and all 4 of them will get used to eachother easier, and I need to get all of this sorted out soon, because the holidays are coming, and my husband and I usually spend about 3 days out of town for both Christmas and Thanksgiving. I really need to be able to keep Tigey in the house, I can't just kick him out for 3 days without food.

I can't give the little guy up, but I'm really frustrated. Help?
post #2 of 5
There is some stuff called "cat attract" for the litter box. People here swear by it for cats that are avoiding the box.

I would recommend making space for them to get vertical. Cats establish heirachy in different ways and one way is whoever gets the "prime" spots is the top cat. By giving them space to rise above each other it could help with the improper elimination. I would guess Chance is doing it to establish his space. Cat trees and if you can do shelving also would be a great thing. Especially for that many cats.

Having three cats that I had to introduce to each other I can tell you that it takes time. I can recommend playing with all of them together as much as you can. Get out the treats and the catnip and any other wand type toy. Call them all together (usually rattling the treat bag does this) than play with them and hopefully you being the center of attention and the "alpha" will make them all behave and engage in a positive experiance as a group.

Fiona swatted and hissed at Rocko for over a year. But a while back i caught them sleeping together and she doesn't swat him anymore. She still doesn't let him wrestle with her like she does my other cat. She hisses and makes such a ruckus! But he only does that when he is frisky. Its not everyday. b

Like I said before it will take time but hopefull some of these things can help move it along. 1: use the cat attract litter stuff. 2: Give them some vertical space by using a cat tree or shelving. 3: Play and treats as a group for positive reinforcement.
post #3 of 5
I also suggest cat attract litter to try in the boxes. You might also need to try putting dirt in a litterbox so he gets the idea to use one (be forewarned - it's messy!).

For getting along - sometimes things like feliway or rescue remedy help.
post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 
They have plenty of places to go vertical. Chance especially loves to hang out on top of the kitchen cabinets, and we've got a cat tree already. We have a big enough house for all of them, so it's not like they have to even see eachother all day if they don't want to.

I'll try the litter attractant, I had actually been sort of thinking about it already, I was just hoping there was an easier (and cheaper) way. The dirt is a really good idea too. I bought some of the cat pheromone stuff awhile ago, but I'm not really sure if it worked or not. I'll give that another shot as well.

I'll try the playtime thing too, I think the only reason I haven't tried it yet is I'm afraid once they get going, it'll get out of hand.

Right now I'm actually more worried about Angie, the female. She was throwing up and had blood in her stool on Friday, I had her to the vet, and she was given fluids, an injection, and the vet sent me home with antibiotics. She's stopped vomiting, but she's also not eaten very much at all and now she's sneezing and I can barely get her to come out from under the bed. I'm fighting the urge to not wait until morning to go back to the vet and take her to a 24 hour ER. I love my boys, but she's my baby.

Thanks for all your help.
post #5 of 5
Oh no! I am so sorry. For Angie's sake you may want to isolate her if it seems like the boys are gonna pick on her. Sometimes when a cat isn't well the other cats can smell a difference in them and can treat them like they are a stranger to them. Scent is very important to them.

I wouldn't worry about the play getting out of hand. Remember you are there and they will take their cues from you being the 'alpha'. It also gives you the benefit of seeing if things are getting tense and being able to distract the cat that is causing the friction with play or a treat. They also burn off energy so later on in the day or night they are too pooped out to make a fuss over each other. Mine usually crash and sleep for hours after play.

I don't know either if the pherenome stuff works but I can tell you I never had a probelm with my cats when introducing them. I never even had to do the "proper" intros where you isolate the newcomer for a while. They also seemed to like to lay in the area where the stuff was plugged in...that made me think it did have an effect on them.
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