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Unique (?) cat peeing problems?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I've read a lot of posts about how to address cats peeing outside the litter box. Most recommend checking with the vet for urinary tract problems. (Done that, nothing.) A lot of posts imply the cat *never* uses the litter box. (Sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn't.)

None of them seem to address the problems we've had, so I thought I'd post some direct questions and see what you guys think.

Here goes...

I got Goober in 2000 and he was my first cat (I was 30 years old, never could have pets growing up due to allergies in the family). So needless to say, I'm quite attached to him. He's a loving, cuddly, funny boy who lives up to his name.

Early on he started peeing outside the box. I got him checked out and sure enough, he had crystals in his pee (though no formal UTI diagnosis). So we gave him antibiotics and started him on the CD dry food (since they didn't get wet food at the time). That cleared up and things were good for a while.

I got a 2nd cat (Stinker, also lives up to his name) and they hashed things out and established that Goober was the Alpha. No peeing problems at all. They quickly became best buds, slept together, cleaned one another, played together, etc.

Over the years, however I started noticing Goober would, once in a while (maybe once a week, once every two weeks), pee on a rug. Never the same rug all the time, but any rug on the floor was a target, once in a while. And he would still use the litter box, too. I had him checked by the vet; no crystals, no UTI. So we figured it was behavioral.

We tried all kinds of modifications to the house; new type of litter, new litter boxes (he needs ones with covers as he pees on the sides of the boxes and therefore needs some coverage to avoid hitting the areas around the box), new litter box location, etc - in short, we tried everything.

Regardless of the situation, where I lived (I moved every 2 years at that point), what was going on, this peeing on rugs continued. Once in a while he'd pee in my dirty clothes/laundry basket. Or if a towel was left on the floor. Or if company came over and left their coat on a chair.

It started getting worse. He seemed to just be peeing on stuff for fun then. And he was still using the litter box. I couldn't make out any rhyme or reason.

Then I got married and we moved in together. My partner had a manx, named Cujo (also appropriately named, though a female) and all hell broke loose. Cujo hated everyone, including me. (It's been 4 years now and she's just started curling up to me at night, but she's also medicated on Lorazipam.) At this point, Goober and Stinker started a "I'm going to be the Alpha now" war and both started marking all over the house. Which made sense, as it was originally Cujo's house. But which was frustrating, as Cujo was clearly not going to reliquish the Alpha title.

As an aside... Goober is VERY interested in Cujo and always is trying to smell her and be near her - even inching toward her until she gives her warning growls - and if Cujo were to allow it, I think he'd love to be her best friend. There's no attempt by Goober to dominate her physically with posturing or with his approach. Stinker, however, corners her and tries to dominate her - and she actually submits to him, tough with much hissing and spitting and weeping and gnashing of teeth.

We got each their own litter box, but they'd share and swap. Cujo is allowed outside, but my boys weren't. (They had been declawed and I didn't want them getting in fights with the racoons.) We also did a remodel which took up a large portion of the house, and all 5 of us were confined to 3 rooms for about 6 months.

I don't hold anything against any of them during those 6 months. It was stressful for us all.

However now after the remodel, things have changed yet again.

Once the remodel was completed we let them pick their own territory in the house. The living room was off limits to both boys as they continued to pee on the leather chairs. Cujo is the only one given access to the entire house, though we have various 'zones' created by closed doors, so she needs one of us to let her in and out of the zones.

Goober was given the upstairs bedroom and bathroom. Stinker was given the downstairs family room, kitchen, office and laundry room.

Stinker has become the most amazing, best kitty, no marking (sometimes he pees on the outside of the domed litter box, which is my warning that things are getting messy inside), much more friendly (as if that was possible). But he's stopped all his marking.

Goober, however, has gotten worse.

He'll pee on any rug on the floor. He'll pee on the dirty clothes you just discarded on the floor while you're showering. He'll pee on the drapes (while hanging on the wall). And he'll pee in his own bed. And now he's peed on our bed.

We've been giving all the cats wet food, and my boys both get only the Vet-prescribed CD (dry during the day and wet at night). Goober is also getting a small dose of the Lorazipam to try to ease his anxiety, but it doesn't seem to have any effect.

We've tried giving the antibiotics (in case there's any undetected UTI) and the stress of dosing him is more aggravating to him. Plus it doesn't seem to be effective. The vet recently gave him a subcutaneous antibiotic (that lasts two weeks) and we did seem to have a respite in the peeing, however it's started back up again.

We've tried the Kitty Prozac. No luck. (Pills and liquid meds really stress him out, and that anxiety seems to counteract anything the medication may be doing to relax him.) We've tried the FeliWay products. He just peed on them. (Yeah, that's a good idea... introduce a 4th pheromone into the house!!)

And so, we come to the present day.

Goober is currently in solitary confinement in a small 1/2 bathroom with only his bed, food/water, and the litter box. We're trying the retraining technique as a last resort as my partner has once again resumed the "I think it's time to get rid of him" comments.

The thought of that (along with his crying from behind the bathroom door) breaks my heart.

So, good readers, I turn to you for any advice/help you may have to offer.
post #2 of 11
How many boxes exactly do you have, located where, and how often are they cleaned? I go with one box per cat, plus at least one extra (I have two extra) - and clean at least twice a day if not more often.

And, has the vet mentioned getting a professional behaviorist consult?
post #3 of 11
^I'm going to guess since all three cats are completely separated from each other most of the time that they each have their own boxes. You couldn't shut a cat away without one..

All I can make out as far as Goober is concerned is that he is still stressed. Maybe separating him away is actually bothering him since he can still smell those cats but not work anything out with them? Have you tried rescue remedy? It might help, and couldn't hurt. All you'd have to do is add it to his water so it wouldn't create any stress trying to give it to him.

Which feliway did you try - the spray or the diffuser?

How much attention does he get?

I have a female that stress pees - it usually happens if one of the other cats have been bugging her. That said I do not put anything down ever to even remotely tempt her. Even the throw pillows are picked up off the couch and put away if we're not here to watch her (she's never bothered pillows, I'm just paranoid). That is one of the first things you have to make sure you do, never leave anything down.
You may just have to cover the bed with plastic when not in use or give him a room that doesn't have a bed in it.

Make sure you're cleaning everything with enzyme cleaners and use a bed for him that's easily washed.
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
We presently have one box per cat, located in each 'zone' of the house. There's only sharing of one box, in the upstairs bathroom, when Cujo and Goober are both in the bedroom with us at night.

I forgot to mention... We tried to reintroduce Goober and Stinker to the same 'zone' (since we thought Goober may be acting out after being separated from Stinker) and Goober has turned incredibly hostile toward Stinker, growling, hissing, spitting, etc.
post #5 of 11
Propably a stupid question but have they been neutered?
When were they declawed? I've heard that can cause litter box issues because the litter just feels uncomfortable to the cat to walk on because of the mutilated paws.
post #6 of 11
Well, to start out with, I'd suggest lots more boxes - a lot of cats simply don't like to pee and poo in the same box, even if they're not sharing the box with anyone else. And clean clean clean the boxes and clean everything else with enzyme cleaners.

Have you tried Cat Attract litter? Which Feliway? and, as mentioned, not leaving targets around is a good thing. One of my vets has a cat that absolutely loves to pee on plastic bags - they are never left out now.
post #7 of 11
^That's odd, maybe its from a residual smell in the plastic itself? Sort of how some cats are obsessed with trying to eat plastic bags because what they are made from.

Originally Posted by Photobrad View Post
I forgot to mention... We tried to reintroduce Goober and Stinker to the same 'zone' (since we thought Goober may be acting out after being separated from Stinker) and Goober has turned incredibly hostile toward Stinker, growling, hissing, spitting, etc.
Aww, that's not good. Maybe one of our members who have dealt with far more cats peeing outside the box, and related to such situations, will be able to help.
I can't help but think this is part of the problem, but you're already separating them and it isn't helping Goober's peeing.
Do Cujo and Goober get along ok - as in do they groom each other/cuddle together or does she still fuss some? or did she only accept him after being medicated?

ETA: Thinking about it more, here's what I suggest you do. Go back to the vet again. Get yet another urinalysis done. Yes, I know nothing has been found - but just in case, sometimes Hills C/D isn't the right food for some cats and it doesn't prevent crystals well enough - there could be a possibility that you need to have him on a different brand. There could also be something else going on thats been missed so far..
Since Goober is now 10 years old make sure he gets a full senior blood panel. There are serious health issues that can cause this. If he had full blood work even as recently as last year he still needs it done this year.
While taking out the trash just now I remembered someone I used to know who had a cat that peed outside the box for years, I kept suggesting the cat must have blood work done. She and her family waited far too long, blaming the peeing on strictly misbehaving, and his CRF was too far gone at that point - medication and sub Q fluids only extended his life a couple months.

Also PM member hissy (all lower case, no upper case letters in her user name). She would probably be one of the best members on here to think of something we haven't.
post #8 of 11
Who knows about the plastic bags - the vet thought it might be texture, but logistically decided to make sure nary a plastic bag stayed out - things that their house get unpacked immediately.

Some cats love to pee on area rugs - something about that rubber back side that some rugs have.
post #9 of 11
You're not unique. I live in a cat household of 10 and what you are describing is what happens at my house for 1 of 4 reasons:

1) One of the cats is ill. Even if that cat is using the litter box, the others sense there is something wrong and will sometimes pee outside of the box.

2) The litter boxes are not meticulously clean.

3) There has been some change to their daily routine which stresses them out. This could be as simple as me changing the hours I am home with them, to feeding them at a different time, to bringing in a new animal, or having one gone for a period of time at the vets.

4) I leave something on the floor that is normally not there. I am guaranteed a pee on anything plastic or vinyl on the floor. There are also some rubber backed throw rugs that appeal to them. I do my own painting and I can't let a cat in a room where I have a drop cloth on the floor. Someone will pee on it 100% of the time.

So here's what we have done to stop the behavior:
- Invest in Cat Attract litter. It's more expensive than some other litters but worth it's weight in gold when you have issues you describe.
- Give any problem cat at least 2 litter boxes. Some simply don't like to pee and poop in the same box.
- Keep your boxes clean. Keep 2 sets of boxes and thoroughly clean one set of them at least once a month (if not more). When I empty a box, I use a water/bleach mixture to disinfect them and get out any urine smell that embeds itself in the plastic. And if you use bleach, thoroughly rinse it out and if possible, leave it out in the sun to sun-bleach it out more.
- Change your habits about leaving things laying around. If it's an item that is likely to be peed on, make sure it's not on the floor. (A friend came to visit the other evening and put her vinyl rain coat on the floor thinking she was polite. I lunged to grab it off the floor so that it wasn't going to be marked).
- Go beyond UTI testing for problem cats. I did discover that one of my problem boys had a chronic inflamatory disease in his bladder. With that disease under control, he's stopped the behavior. Yes, I had to go thru xrays, MRI's and ultimately a surgical biopsy to identify it.
- Keep as much as a routine as possible, and if that is not possible, make the non-routine the routine. Feed them at the same time each day, play with them at the same time, etc. Many cats stress when their routine changes.
- Keep a plastic mattress liner on your bed "just in case".
- Use enzymatic cleaners on any spot that they've peed on that is too large to put in a washing machine. The one I found that works best is Nok Out. They will go back to the same spot over and over again. And if you don't use an enzyme cleaner on a throw rug in a washing machine, the smell doesn't always come out of those. You can't smell it, but they can.
post #10 of 11
Originally Posted by Photobrad View Post

Stinker has become the most amazing, best kitty, no marking (sometimes he pees on the outside of the domed litter box, which is my warning that things are getting messy inside), r.
I'm sorry you are having these problems. that you ahve stuck with it all these years says a lot about your character!

This (bolded above) sounds like at least part of the problem to me. Most cats HATE dirty litter boxes.

If you aren't keeping the boxes clean, he is going to pee elsewhere.

And an enclosed box that is not clean will stink to high heaven.

And they may not be large enough for him to maneuver comfortably in there.

In my opinion you need way more litter boxes, they need to be kept scrupulously clean, and get some uncovered.

You don't need covers to contain the cats who like to stand up and pee (I have one of those cats too) just use large clear rubbermaid plastic tote boxes, the ones with tall sides.

Regardless of what your husband says, "getting rid" of him should not even be considered an option. Who is going to adopt a senior declawed cat who pees all over?

the declawing may well have had something to do with this problem initially.
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the suggestions everyone. We'll give some a try.

a few clarifications:

We did recently have full blood work done on Goober. It came back negative for everything. On paper, he's the picture of perfect health.

Cujo doesn't let either of the other cats near her. She's hostile toward all of them (and until recently was hostile toward me, too), even when medicated. However when medicated her aim is off and she won't actually make contact when she swings/swats. She is fully clawed.

The boys were both declawed when they were neutered. Personally, I think they seemed more upset with losing their 'little guys' than with losing the claws. The pee problems started long after they were neutered/declawed, though.

We tried using both FeliWay sprays and diffusers. The diffusers all got pee'd on. Ceremoniously, in fact. And repeatedly.

I bought a new litter box today for Goober, so we'll try having 2 just for him. Of course Solitary Confinement will be a bit crowded with two, so maybe we'll just use the new one for now and reintroduce the old (thoroughly cleaned) one once we open him back up to more of the house. I'll also try the Cat Attract litter.
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