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Inappropriate Elimination - Cause and Solution??

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
I have had my 8-year old Snowshoe, Vinny, since February...in June, we acquired Sherman, a 1-year old Orange Tabby. Both cats came from homes with other cats and took to each other quite well, and quickly. Neither cat had had any litter box problems previously (Vinny did get sick, though, one time after eating a plant and had diarrhea on our bathroom throw rugs) and continued to not have any problems until about 5 weeks after we got Sherman.

I can't figure out a reason for it, but Vinny has now decided to begin defecating on our two bathroom rugs and on a carpet square in front of one of the litter boxes (which is the one we've had since we got him -- he won't go on the remnant in front of the newer box). It only happens occasionally, once every 2-4 days, but he will also defecate inside the box and will urinate ONLY in the box. I don't think its a medical problem of having a "bad feeling" about defecating in the box since he will use it at times too, plus he went to the vet the day before we got Sherman and checked out medically (complete with a fecal exam - this was about 2 weeks after the diarrhea problem). Also, Sherman is up-to-date with his shots so I know he did not "contaminate" Vinny with any type of disease.

Like I said too, he never had a problem before we got Sherman, nor did he for the first 5 weeks we had Sherman (nor did Vinny have a problem in his previous home, where 4 cats were sharing 1 litterbox), so that makes me question the whole "jealousy" issue.

Other than the inappropriate elimination, Vinny's acting perfectly normal, eating and drinking normally, and has not lost/gained any weight. When I called the vet to question whether I should bring him in for a 're-check' (he's already been there twice in the last 6 months) they didn't seem too worried and told me it was "up to me" but also thought it was behavioral. Their recommendation was to close him in a safe room with a litter box and food for a few days to "re-train" him to use a litter box.

Everything has remained exactly the same since we first got Vinny in February (with the exception of adding a covered litter box in the bathroom when we got Sherman) -- his original covered litter box is still in the same place as always and we use the same litter. Plus we are feeding them the same food as when we only had Vinny, and no new toys have been added.

My questions are: Does this "re-training" thing really work, especially since Vinny is an "old" cat by some standards? Could this really STILL be a jealousy issue after 2 months of cohabitating, and 5 weeks of proper litterbox use? Should I take Vinny to the vet AGAIN even though he was just there at the end of June and everything was perfectly normal?

Can anyone offer me any kind of probable cause to this problem, and hopefully a solution? I'm not angry and am dealing with it because it's not on my permanent carpet and the throw rugs and remnants are disposable, plus its not every day...but I'd like to understand why its happening in the first place and how I can rectify it. I would appreciate any and all input, thanks!
post #2 of 5
I am not sure if you mentioned if both cats are neutered or not? Sorry if you did. That is cause number one. If they are then let's move on...

Have they been to the vet for a check for UTI? Cats can get UTIs as result of being stressed out. That would be cause number 2. And you may not notice the cat is in pain but that is the reason they avoid the litterbox or use it inconsistantly (sometimes they go in it and sometimes not, or just urinating or deficating and nothing else), they're in a lot of pain when going to the bathroom and they think it is the litterbox causing it. So buy a new box and start over.

So that leads us to the next one...

You can start experimenting with different types of litter and different or just simply new boxes. You can get cheapo ones from the dollar store and buy little bags of different types of litter. I don't think retraining is exactly necessary. I mean, maybe but I would try the suggestions I suggested and see if they help at all! But definately get them check by a vet.

Oh I just wanted to stress the fact that you mentioned you don't think it is a medical thing since he checked out fine BEFORE you got the new cat, but stress builds up and can eventually lead to a UTI. So it wouldn't likely have happened immediately.
post #3 of 5
I think the OP said her cat always urinated inside the box, but was pooping outside the box.

How do you it is Vinny that is doing it? My sister had a cat that would poop outside the box if it found poop from the other cat still in the box.

What if threw away all the rugs and left no rugs down for a while? That might make him "forget" to do it.
post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 
Yes, both cats are neutered, so I know that is not a cause. Also, I'm not sure if changing litter boxes or litter would help, because I'm using Tidy Cat, which is the same litter I've used all along, plus the same litter Vinny's previous owner used for years and never had a problem.

I did buy a new (covered) litter box last week because my secondary box was uncovered and Sherman likes to toss litter and I finally got tired of vacuuming around the box 4 times a day. They seemed to prefer that one over the old one for a few days (neither of them would go near the old one, but Vinny still did not poop in either box) until I swapped them and put the new one in the bedroom and the old one in the bathroom -- now they are using both.

I know it is Vinny because I caught him "covering" his poop with the bath rug, and Sherman is not smart enough to pick spots like the bathroom rugs and carpet remnants to go on (it's like he KNOWS that they're not "real" carpet and that I won't get AS mad, haha). Plus that's where he would go when he had diarrhea. I thought for a second that it could be the whole "won't go in the box after Sherman was in there" thing, but he's done it minutes after I've cleaned them when neither box had been soiled.

Vinny didn't seem too stressed out when we brought Sherman home. He didn't hiss or hide, swat or anything -- he's an extremely laid-back cat. His attitude changed for a bit after we came home from vacation (we left for a 4-day long weekend 6 days after we got Sherman -- they were no longer kept apart as they were playing and cuddling with each other after 3 or 4 days), like he was a little irked that we brought home a new cat AND left them alone for a few days. My father came to check on them a few times and said Vinny seemed very hesitant but Sherman was excited to see him. It could be stress though, because Vinny was just starting to get used to being the "only cat" for the first time in his life and we bring home a then-10-month-old kitten who is much more playful and dominant than he is. Sherman definitely is the alpha-male and Vinny lets him have at it. They do get along, though, quite well -- playing and cuddling and sleeping together.

I also thought about the getting rid of the mats thing -- we threw the old bath rugs away after he had diarrhea on them and thats what started him on the carpet remnants. If I picked up the remnants and the bath rugs, do you think that would start him going on the regular carpet?? The book "Cats for Dummies" recommends putting food down where they went for a few days since they won't go where they eat, plus said maybe move the box to the spot where they are going in a "can't beat them, join them" kinda thing...
post #5 of 5
Hi, welcome to you and your family! I'd like to be sure to offer this thread full of helpful information.
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