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Please Help! Going crazy...

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
Sorry for the long post...

My cats are driving both my husband and I crazy, and we need some advice. Here is the situation:

We have 3 cats (all indoors)...

Max is 7 years old, we got him at age 1.5, and he is not neutered. This has not been a problem until recently...

Simon is 4 years old and we got him as a baby kitten, he is neutered.

Ella is 1 years old and spayed, she wandered into our backyard at 4 months old and couldn't find her way home - we asked around, but no one claimed her, so we took her in.

Max and Simon got along great and after Ella was with us a few months, the problems began... Simon (the neutered one) became very lethargic - took to vet, diagnosed with UTI, gave meds and we thought it was cured--then the spraying began. He was spraying all over the house, returned to vet for testing, they said nothing was wrong with him and that it was a behavioral issue. So we tried isolating him in his own room with food and litterbox and gave anti-anxiety meds for a few weeks. Tried slowly re-integrating him with other two cats - worked for a while, then spraying returned after a few months.

We tried placing more litterboxes around the house and again, the spraying stopped for a while, and now the spraying has returned. The other day for the first time I caught Max (the un-neutered one) spraying. Perhaps he has been spraying all along, but I never saw him do it until a few weeks ago.

Simon (the neutered one) in the last few weeks has developed a problem with licking patches of hair off of the base of his tail, his stomach, and one spot on the inside of his leg. Not sure if this is stress related?

And to add to the stress level even further, we have to move next week (just a local move) which will stress out the kitties even more.

I think there are definitely competition issues between the two male cats - i see them doing new weird things like following each other around, competing for food (whenever max is eating, simon needs to eat, too, and vice versa, even though they are free-fed and there is plenty of food) -- (we don't have any problems with Ella, aside from some lingering kitten tendancies, she has no behavioral issues)

So cleaning up cat spray multiple times every day is making all the humans in the house go insane! What are our options?

--Will neutering Max do any good now that he is 7 years old, or is the spraying behavior engrained in his brain? Is that our first order of business? My husband is concerned it will change his personality, or he will be mad at us for neutering.
--Should we try to keep Max and Simon in seprate areas of the house?
--Should we try temporarily crating any of them - would that do any good, or make them more stressed out?
--Are there medication options? Our vet mentioned hormone injections could be a last-resort option, but would also be expensive.
--Can we use the moving to our advantage (maybe if we kept the cats seprate, and tried re-integrating them like you would with new cats to a household?)

We definitely don't want to get rid of any of the cats - we took them in and it is our responsibility to care for them, but the idea of cleaning up cat pee for another 10-15 years is not a great one. ANY advice would be helpful...thanks in advance!

post #2 of 21
Here's some good info for you.
post #3 of 21
Cats don't get mad at humans for being neutered, they don't think in those terms. Max needs to be neutered, now, immediately, before the move. He will not know he is neutered, it makes no difference to him, he will be much happier and healthier.

Prior to moving into the new home install some feliway plug in diffusers around in the new place to help counter-act territorial feelings. And keep them going for a while after moving.

In addition start with brand new litter boxes and plan on having at least four boxes, with at least one of those in a separate area from the other three.

Be sure to not bring anything with you that smells like cat urine. Throw away bedding or furniture that has been marked or use an enzyme cleaner on everything, then use a black light to make sure there is nothing left. (cat pee will show up under a black light)

even if you can't smell it, if it's still there, the cats will smell it.

But the very first thing that needs to be done is to neuter Max.

Welcome to the forum!
post #4 of 21
First thing, good news, I think you can definately use the move to your advantage! I think it is a dominanance issue between the two boys. Especially since Simon got a clean bill of health now.

Max needs to be neutered. This is good for your current issue but also greatly decreases his chances of cancer and tumors on his bits.

Don't crate them. They are not dogs and cannot handle being crated for any length of time. (You also dont want them to associate the crate with being "punished", makes it hard to take them to the vet later on) Seperate rooms are a good idea though.

Make sure you get a black light and some enzymatic cleaner for the pee. They will keep spraying if they can smell the pee. Even if we can't they can, hence the enzyme cleaner, it gets rid of the special enzyme they are attracted to.

I think neutering Max, keeping them in seperate rooms that are cleaned with the enzyme of all the pee spots, than reintroducing both of them in the new place on even turf that is pee free will help. In the new place perhaps get some feliway plugins that can help with the harmony of the house.
post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much for your responses! Our humane society does walk-in neutering appointments, and I could take Max in 2 days, but that is 1 week before moving. Is that too much trauma in 1 week?
post #6 of 21
kscatlady, that is an excellent, article, thank you for that link!

archychick - it seems to me you should have your un-neutered male neutered ASAP. My guess is that they sense the stress the household is putting out because of the move (have you started packing? That would be a big contributor!).

Yes, use the moving to your advantage. Cats are all about territory, and changing territories is usually very stressful for them. But it is also a fresh start.

DEFINITELY get your other male neutered BEFORE you move! It does take about a month for the hormones to cycle out of his system, but the sooner the better.

When we moved, we had the bedroom furniture moved in first. We put in lots of their cat beds everywhere, a bunch of their toys, several litter boxes (even though that's not where the boxes were going to stay), a Feliway diffuser, several water and food dishes (ours free feed), and we put Bach's Rescue Remedy (Flower Essences) in their water. We then put the cats in there and shut the door - no escaping during the rest of the move and we didn't have to worry about open doors.

If you want to try separating the males into different rooms - I'd put Simon with Ella, because it sounds like he's been stress over-grooming.

I would definitely consider not washing the bedding, and putting some of it in each room you put a cat. The more familiar smells, the better.

In the new home, make sure there is a LOT of vertical space. Maybe alternate allowing Simon and Max out (if you're putting them in separate rooms) to explore the house (it took most of our cats up to two weeks before they even wanted to leave the bedroom to check things out). That way they can "trade" time to get their scents around (hopefully without spraying).

In the meantime... while they're separated (if you're going that route), work on basically reintroducing them, and getting them to associate each other with "good things." Rub Simon all over with a couple of wash cloths. Rub Max all over with a couple of wash cloths. Put a "Simon smell" cloth under Max's food dish and vice versa. Put a "Simon scent" cloth in Max's favorite bed and vice versa. Devote some "play" time or "pets" time (whatever they prefer most) alone with each cat daily. At the end of that time, put treats down on the cloth that smells like the other cat.

And if you do decide to separate them initially - I'd give it a couple of weeks. Then do supervised "re-introductions." Bring Simon into Max's room. If they ignore each other - fine! But praise the heck out of them for any "non-negative" interaction.

Do the cats have plenty of stimulation? Dedicated play time every day - 15-20 minutes with each cat alone, at least once and better if twice a day can REALLY help reduce stress. Talking to them - especially now that there is so much turmoil with the move - and constantly reassuring them will also help.

Do they have access to the windows? Cats love looking out windows. We put up bird feeders (the kind with suction cups) ON the windows - it's like 3D Cat TV - and the love the squirrels just as much, so we don't discourage them. We have cat seats on all the windows.

Providing a lot of vertical space - shelves dedicated to the cats, cat trees, tall cat condos - a pyramid of large sterilite boxes - whatever it is - vertical space can help reduce alpha/territory issues.

I would purchase Feliway as soon as possible.

I would also consider harp music playing for the next couple of weeks - VERY soothing to cats.

I would also consider dedicating at least several litter boxes to Cat Attract Litter.

You can learn about Feliway, Flower Essences - even the music - at Harp music specifically to help calm pets can be purchased at

You can find a local dealer of Cat Attract litter on the website:

...and you can certainly try all of the above without separating the males. That is entirely up to you.

post #7 of 21
Originally Posted by archychick View Post
Thank you so much for your responses! Our humane society does walk-in neutering appointments, and I could take Max in 2 days, but that is 1 week before moving. Is that too much trauma in 1 week?
I totally agree with otto - it's not ideal, but having him neutered before you move is important.

BTW - if there are ongoing spraying problems, THE absolute best enzyme cleaner (the only kind of cleaner that removes the scent to a cat's nose) is either Anti-Icky Poo (also available on or Nok-Out (available at We use Nok Out - it's expensive, but less expensive for lots than Anti-Icky Poo.

Come to think of it... if you never cleaned up the sprayed areas with an enzyme cleaner, specifically, that could be a large part of the problem right there. Though some place may smell clean to us - cats have a FAR more developed sense of smell. If they smell urine scent out of the box, that encourages them to continue going out of the box!

I also agree with otto on buying new litter boxes. I don't know how large your new place is, but I'd go for six boxes for the three cats.
post #8 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks again for all the responses.

We used natures miracle to clean all of the problem areas - a particular corner of the dining room, and a particular wall in the bedroom. But the spraying is all over on any hard vertical surface that is left on the floor - all walls, boxes, bookshelves, etc. For example, I have a plastic container for storing wrapping paper that i had left out, and in a few hours, it had been sprayed on.

However I have been reading on other posts as well that Nature's Miracle is not the best solution, so I will try some of the recommended enzime cleaners - do they sell them at Petsmart?

Also, I have the Feliway spray, but not the diffusers, so i will pick up some of those, as well.

In our new place, we will probably only have room for 3 or maybe 4 litterboxes, unfortunately. We have 3 now (one nicer newer one, two older) So i will get new ones to replace the older ones and do a thorough cleaning of the newer one.

And I like the idea of having multiple cat perches - I don't think we have enough cat-friendly places for perching high up, so I will buy some wall shelves that do double duty as cat perches (haha - an excuse to visit Ikea)

I think I will try separating the boys once we get max neutered, and keeping them separated at the new place and then try re-introducing them slowly, on the new "equal" turf.

Again, that you for all of your wonderful suggestions - I will definitely update you on my progress!
post #9 of 21
I'm pretty sure the only place to purchase either enzyme cleaner I mentioned is on the website links I provided.

I really help it goes well!

Idea - inexpensive to implement - for vertical space for cats:

post #10 of 21
My sister had a spraying cat for years. He was fixed though. Since she has moved into a new apartment in March he has not sprayed. I have posted her story a few times on different threads. Here are the threads if you want to check them out. Whatever she did is working. I think you are lucky b/c you are moving into a completely new house and can start from scratch. Get him neutured before you move and purchase a few feliway diffusers and start lugging them in now and also immediately when you move into the new house.

Also, when you make the move spray the cats carrier and blanket in carrier with the feliway. This may help with easing the stress of the move. You can also buy the Pet Rescue Remedy at health food stores. You may want to phone around to see if you can buy local.
post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 
Just wanted to give a little update:

We took Max to get him neutered yesterday and have kept him separate from the other cats for recovery (per the clinic's instruction). Once the anesthetic wore off, he seemed back to his old self! So far so good.

Then I took Simon and Ella to the vet today, and found out that
1. Ella has fleas
2. Simon is probably allergic to fleas, which they said was probably causing the over-grooming. I had put advantage on him and checked for fleas several times, but they said fleas were jumping off Ella to Simon and biting him, causing him to over-groom. They gave him anti-inflamatory, and gave Ella advantage dose.

I'll keep you posted on the move next week!
post #12 of 21
Congratulations on the neuter!

Smart of you to get the others checked out too. Now you can get them all treated so when you move into the new place you won't be bringing any fleas either.

Wash everything before you bring it in. Flea eggs can live up to six months.

Yes, please do keep us updated!
post #13 of 21
I am happy to hear you got him neutered!!

Neutering him DOES NOT mean he will not spray again. But there is a good chance he won't

You are lucky you are moving into a new house where the scent of his spray will not be there after his neuter. And remember - DO NOT take anything into the new house that he sprayed on. (ie: rubbermaid containers, clothes, laundry baskets, bedding, carpets, dressers, etc.). Keep most things in the closet with the door shut as much as possible. And plug some feliway diffusers (atleast 2) in the new house as soon as you start moving your stuff in. (if you are putting him in his seperate room when you first move in put a feliway diffuser in this room with him). Make sure the litterboxes are big enough for him to move around in. Cheap rubbermaid containers are good for this.

I am hopeful for your move and please do keep us posted!
post #14 of 21
So glad you got him neutered - and you're happy (so far) with the result!

Oh - sorry about the fleas. (Sorry - I just almost automatically assume kitties are indoor only). But didn't the vet think the other two cats needed to be treated for fleas? As another poster pointed out, the eggs can live up to six months. !!!

that all goes well with the move!
post #15 of 21
Thread Starter 
Regarding the fleas, my cats are indoors, but Ella did get out a few weeks ago - she darted out the front door as I was coming in with groceries, and it took us about 15 minutes to find her (she was in the bushes on the side of the house). I think she picked them up then and brought them in. The vet actually did treat them both for fleas (and sent one home for Max, as well). And Simon's over-licking has gone away, so I think that problem is solved

So far so good with Max (the newly neutered) and the spraying - we are keeping him in the 2nd bedroom for now and no issues. Simon (the one neutered as a kitten) sprayed twice today, and he has been seprate from Max for over a week now. I think he must just be smelling old spray that I can't smell. I have cleaned pretty much every surface in the room with enzyme cleaner.

I understand about not bringing anything into the new house that has been sprayed on, especially boxes, because those absorb the smell. However, I really don't want to have to throw out a few nightstands because they have been sprayed on. They are coated surfaces so I would think they would be clean with enzyme cleaner. I would hate to have to pitch them since they are less than a year old. Perhaps even applying some kind of lacker finish that would seal any lingering odor? Does anyone have any experience with this?

Also, our file cabinet has taken a beating and parts have rusted due to continual cat spray. I have already sanded this completely down to the steel, and will prime and paint it - hopefully the cats can't smell anything through paint and primer!

Again, thanks to everyone for the advice.

PS - Feliway spray and diffusers are en route so they should arrive before moving day.
post #16 of 21
Originally Posted by archychick View Post
However, I really don't want to have to throw out a few nightstands because they have been sprayed on. They are coated surfaces so I would think they would be clean with enzyme cleaner. I would hate to have to pitch them since they are less than a year old. Perhaps even applying some kind of lacker finish that would seal any lingering odor? Does anyone have any experience with this?

Also, our file cabinet has taken a beating and parts have rusted due to continual cat spray. I have already sanded this completely down to the steel, and will prime and paint it - hopefully the cats can't smell anything through paint and primer!

Again, thanks to everyone for the advice.

PS - Feliway spray and diffusers are en route so they should arrive before moving day.
Get a black light and go over all your furniture with it. The black light will show if there is any residual urine, that you can't smell but the cats sure will.

Thanks for keeping us updated!
post #17 of 21
Yes, thanks for the update! It is always good to hear how things are going after someone posts an issue.

I agree with the black light. It will show you beyond a shadow of a doubt what is still sprayed with urine and how well its been cleaned.

Glad you found out about the fleas before you moved!
post #18 of 21
Yes - if any wood has been "spoiled" with urine, you'll see it with the black light, and revarnishing/sealing it will fix it.

Our Spooky loved to pee on the couch when she was having her problem. It took a couple of gallons of Nok Out to clean - and it took I think four treatments to get it soaked down into the pillows where her pee was. Mattresses and thick pillows like that can take a number of treatments - but you CAN get the job done.
post #19 of 21
I did see on another forum (I will try to find it for you) on how to treat wood surfaces. Someones cat was spraying on the door and someone gave the person advice on how to seal it properly. You also have to remember to get underneath

I highly recommend a pet cleaner called "JUSTRITE" it really takes the smell out and does not mask it so the cat will resoil on the same spot. great for carpets, bedding, wood, etc. Bill the owner is very helpful on helping the customer treat the area properly with the right product.

sounds like the JUSTRITE and Nok out would be good for you to have on hand
post #20 of 21
Thread Starter 
Just wanted to give an update - We have been in our new place for almost a month and NO SPRAYING! wooo! We started by keeping everyone in separate rooms, and the reintegrating them after about a week. They had all been separated for 2 weeks total - one at the old place pre-move, and one at the new place post-move. Re-integrating was fairly easy - no hissing or anything.

I still feel like max and simon are not the best of friends like they once were. Simon seems like he doesn't want to be bothered, so we will still sometimes separate them while we are gone during the day if I think they are being too crazy, or picking on him. This isn't a daily thing, but every now and then i think they all need a time out!

Simon still has his over-licking problem - the shot of anti-inflamitory seemed to work for a week, before he was back at the licking. I need to take him back to the vet to see what they say. They told me that they didn't think an e-collar was necessary but my instincts are telling me yes.

Now that Max has been neutered for about a month, he is about the same, except that he has become a little more clingy and needing attention. But I will take that any day over spraying in the house!

Thanks for all your help and advice on this issue, everyone!
post #21 of 21
Thanks for the updates! I am glad the spraying has stopped and they are getting along better. Hope Simon is feeling better once he sees the vet and they figure out whats bugging him.
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