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Inappropriate peeing leads to obsessive licking (long)

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
It's Spooky. She's never been good with new kitty intros. At the end of September we adopted Ming Loy, a "throw away" kitty found in a garbage bag, taken to a county shelter. They were going to euthanize her and her sister, called and gave us an hour to get them. Of course we picked them up. She and sis lived at the vet for a while - we were going to move into our new home, and because of Tuxedo's compromised immune system, we had to wait until we were sure they were not going to develop any transmittable diseases. They both had motor skill problems, although Ming Loy's was worse than Logic's (they were initially named "neuro" and "logic.") Unfortunately, we were not able to adopt Logic - she'd had a very high corona virus titre count, which could mean exposure to FIP, though she exhibited no signs of having the disease.

Anyway, Spooky takes about 6 weeks to get comfortable with a new kitty, even going through the usual intro process, and she was right on target. The serious difference between Ming Loy's intro and the other kitty's we've fostered or adopted is that Ming Loy was "put to bed" each night in the cat room (which none of the cats really used. We intended it for fosters, new intros, temporary lodgings, illness separation, etc.). We had to do this to protect her (despite the pillows, foam and bubble wrap everywhere - her back legs don't work properly, and she couldn't really control where she was going). Once her front legs developed strength and she could control going up and down the stairs, getting down off cat trees she managed to get up onto, etc., we stopped putting her to bed in her own room. That was about six weeks ago. And it was a few days after that that Spooky's problem started.

I'm concerned that the problem is that Ming Loy is basically handicapped, does not act at all like the other kitties in the way she moves around. She flops over a lot, makes a lot of noise, "leaps" around using both back legs at the same time, leans on walls, furniture, us, and the other kitties a lot to prop herself up, and her strange movements do seem to freak out Spooky, although like with Flowerbelle (who was so sick she was almost at death's door when she went through the intro process in the RV), the other cats all took to her right away - especially the boys. I'm sure they know there's something wrong with her, and are SO far more tolerant of her than any other cat. Tuxedo plays with her. And though Flowerbelle wasn't happy about it at first, they're now GREAT play-pals. And Spooky, appropriate to her name, appears to be spooked by Ming Loy's handicap.

So back to Spook. It started with one pee on our fake bearskin rug in front of the fireplace. We didn't know who did it. It went down to the basement for the Nature's Miracle treatment (which can take days/weeks to completely dry). We invested in a black light to search the house, which started doing every night. About a week later, someone peed a very small amount on the couch. It was a mystery, because none of our cats take small pees, and Ming Loy still couldn't get up onto the couch. Out came the nature's miracle and the aluminum foil.

A few days later I saw Spooky pee on the pillows at the end of the bed, and it seeped into the carpet before I could get to it. Again - just a small amount. We whisked her off to the vet (despite there being no sign in any of the litterboxes of anyone having a UTI), and there is no physical reason for her problem.

We took all the tops off the litterboxes, ressured ourselves that they're all in convenient places for the cats, not us, that they have "escape routes," etc. We do have nine litter boxes going for the six cats. Two of them are the automatic igloos, one upstairs one down. We scoop twice a day and clean them every two weeks. We spend more time upstairs than down, so the cats do too, so we've got six litterboxes upstairs and three downstairs. (And the five cats were used to sharing just two large litterboxes when we lived in the RV and we never had any problems).

After the nature's miracle was dry on the couch, we slowly stripped away the aluminum foil. In the meantime, we confined Spooky to the cat room. She used the box the entire time. She was fine the first three days (we were waiting for the nature's miracle to dry completely), but then started showing signs of not being happy about being locked up - even though we were spending FAR more time with her than ever before. We were working in there, studying in there, stopping in when we got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, etc. Spending a lot of time playing with her, etc.

We'd figured it must be Ming Loy that's bothering her, so as soon as we put her in there we left Ming Loy's scent under the food and water, and would bring treats in and place them on a wash cloth with Ming Loy's scent. Spooky ate and drank, but would not eat the treats. She would sniff the wash cloth and then walk away. It really was so strange.

While confined to the room, she showed completely normal (for her) pee and duty habits. One HUGE pee once a day, one good-sized pee in the morning, and one duty. All in the box.

At day three, we started the actual reintro process. At day six, we HAD to let Spooky out of the room - she was licking so obsessively alone at night that she'd created a bare patch on her hip that was a little bloody, and the hair base of her tail was very, very thinned out. But re: the reintro. Spooky really seemed fine with Ming Loy. No hissing, no hitting - even when playing with both at the same time. In fact, Spook would sniff her without being freaked or edgy, and started licking her on the head and butt - and didn't bolt when Ming Loy lost her balance and flopped over.

Any way, we whisked her to the vet to make sure she didn't have a skin disease or other physical problem that could be causing the fur licking. She doesn't.

The vet suggested Elavil, but we're not ready to use drugs for the condition.

I've ordered Flower Essences and Feliway plug-ins, and we're using Feliway spray in the meantime, and have since the first peeing problem.

Ok. No physical problems, isolation, Feliway, reintroduction, lots of litter boxes in convenient places for the cats, no covers, very clean. LOTS of play time with just Spooky.

10 minutes after being let out of the room, she peed on the couch. Covered it with tin-foil, got online and ordered Nok-out. She hasn't peed on the couch since using the nok-out, but that's because there's still aluminum foil on it. We're tearing it off in amazing small amounts, though we have to change it each morning because Shelly apparently loves to walk on it.

Several days after the couch incident, she peed right in front of a litterbox in the cat room. I am familiar with all the TCS advice (which usually works), and have lots of cat books, so read all of that advice. The only "new" ideas there are to either play with kitty where they peed (the theory being that they pee at the edge of their territory, and play makes it become part of their territory), to put a food dish where they peed, or to put a litter box where they peed and slowly move it to a "better" location.

OK. So no more peeing on the couch. She's been OK for the last week. Ming Loy very kindly cooperating stays away from her (for the most part).

We took Ming Loy to be spayed yesterday. Brought her home last night. Had to make her sleep in the cat room, she was SO wobbly - extra wobbly because of the anaesthesia. "Vanilla-ed" everyone when Ming Loy came home, let everyone sniff everyone before putting her in the cat room. Vanilla'ed everyone again this morning. Spook and Laz came into the cat room (supervised). Spooky freaked - Ming Loy was lying on her back in the corner stretching - Spook was about three feet away, took a step forward very tentatively, sniffing - and bolted out of the room. About an hour later, Spooky peed on the pillows at the side of the bed.

And she hasn't stopped excessively licking, even after being let out of the cat room, and being played with in there or in the bedroom (the two rooms that have doors we can close to ensure no other cats interrupt the play sessions) exclusively, at least three times a day for at least 15 minutes. BTW - we play with each cat exclusively for at least 15 minutes twice a day (Gary handles one play session, I handle the other, and each cat has their own toy for these "sessions.").

Apart from the Flower Essences and Feliway plug-ins, any thoughts as to where to go from here? We really don't want to use drugs, but her bare patches are not filling in as she continues to obsessively lick. She is not peeing on one place consistently - except for the couch previously, each time has been a completely different place. (We continue to check nightly for any pee we aren't aware of, and haven't found any).

Also, she is NOT territory marking. She is not spraying - she is squatting, peeing, and then "digs" to "cover" it up, just like in a litter box.

These are not places Ming Loy hangs out. In fact, the pillows she peed on this morning are a place she sometimes sleeps! And she doesn't pee out of the box every day - it's every three to four days, or even over a week between "inappropriate" pees. We are unaware of any trigger.

Because she only pees out of the box (so far) in the mornings, we're thinking of putting her in the cat room when we head to sleep, and letting her out in the morning if she's peed her morning pee. Being confined appears to have something to do with the obsessive licking (I think) - but now not being confined hasn't changed that. Neither has lots of attention and lots alone play-time. And she still LOVES being petted, is still a lap kitty, and still drools and purrs like drool machine.

The Nok-out is definitely working, and each place has been/is being covered with aluminum foil until the Nok-out is completely dry. But there is no consistency at all as to where she's peeing. It's been three different rooms (out of five rooms, one of them the kitchen with nowhere to pee unless she likes linoleum), a different place each time (except for the couch which seems not to be an issue any more). And the living room has a wood floor - which I think might be the reason she's now peeing upstairs instead of down there. But who knows?

In the long run, the peeing we can deal with. If it's once a week, we'll just make sure to have a large supply of Nok-out and aluminum foil, and we'll continue checking the whole house every night to make sure we haven't missed something. But we're worried about the licking. Hopefully the Flower Essences will arrive soon! I ordered them last week. Just wait for them to get here and see what happens?

Any other suggestions anyone? What steps or actions have we missed? We might try the confinement at night, but that still leaves the problem of the obsessive licking, even if that works to stop the "inappropriate" peeing. If anyone has thoughts, suggestions, ideas or experience with this, I'm open to them!
post #2 of 6
Thread Starter 
The Flower Essences and Feliway plug-ins arrived two days ago. I haven't noticed any discernable difference in behavior. I know the Feliway can take up to a week or two to make a difference (though we've been using the spray) - anyone know how long the Flower Essences take to have an impact if they're going to?
post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
Oh - just as an update. We ended up putting Spooky to bed for the night the night before the Flower Essences arrived. Lazlo was sleeping in the room, and didn't want to leave even though we made it clear the door was closing. So Spook had a companion for the night.

We let her out the next morning before she'd taken her usual large pee. I followed her around. She did go to squat on the pillows next to the bed. I picked her up, said "Spooky" sternly, and put her on the floor. She arched her back for pets. I then followed her downstairs, and popped into the kitchen. When I came out, she was on the couch, "digging" with her foot - but she hadn't peed yet. I did the same thing I did upstairs. She responded the same. BUT - then she popped upstairs (passing five litterboxes on the way, lol) - and went into the cat room to use the large uncovered litterbox - to take her huge morning pee.

So so far - no inappropriate peeing again - just almost. knock wood. She's still licking, which is why I was asking about the Flower Essences.
post #4 of 6
Spooky sounds stressed Laurie. It might be time to just say No next time you come across a cat that needs a home that has a special need. Spooky had her life all ordered out, then you moved from her place of order to a new place, and she finally settled in. Then you brought in a strange cat that doesn't act normally and Spooky is just trying to figure all of this out. In order to keep herself calm she will pee on items that either have your scent on them, or hers. That combined with her smell of pee will calm her down.

Some cats are impervious to RR no matter what, or how much is used. LittleBigCat has the most extensive supply of remedies, and Jackson can also make up a special blend on request if you email him.

You want to minimize Spooky's stress as much as possible, have you also thought about bringing in a cat behaviorist to help you?
post #5 of 6
In order to keep herself calm she will pee on items that either have your scent on them, or hers. That combined with her smell of pee will calm her down.
This site is so cool. I had no idea that's why cats peed on things like that.


(I know, completely unproductive to solving the issue at hand, but still. Thanks!)

post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the reply, MA.

Poor Spook. We were sure the original confinement was what led to her expressing her stress via the licking, we just didn't know how to progress forward.

Fortunately, for now, she seems to be decompressing. I think having the combination of Feliway plug-ins in each room with the Flower Essences is helping. She's got the one small bare patch on her hip that she keeps going after, but no new ones, we don't see her obsessively licking, and the thin patch at the base of her tail is filling in.

Interesting though, is perhaps none of this IS about Ming Loy! If where she's peeing is linked to what's bothering her, then the only answer is Tuxedo. Ming Loy can't get up on the couch, and it had already been "Nature's Miracled" and aluminum-foild - so it didn't smell like us as we hadn't spent any time down there. And it turns out Tuxedo is the one that really enjoys playing on the aluminum foil, so his smell would have been all over the couch - and three of the other places where she'd chosen to pee.

So we may have inadvertently helped fix the problem. Tuxedo has more aggressive energy than the other cats, and because there are two floors, perhaps we just weren't seeing his aggression against Spook. So Gary and I agreed that I'd spend the extra play-time with Spooky, and he'd spend extra play time with Tuxedo - though we did stick to Jackson's original advice re: Spook and Tuxedo of using special toys for each cat only.

But I said "Poor Spook" earlier - because now we're not bringing another cat into our home, we may be bringing a new person permanently into our home.

Better start getting them used to her smell and associating it with treats and dinner.
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