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Unread 11-05-2010   #1 (permalink)
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Default Need Help With Territorial Cat

Hi. I really need help with my one and a half year old male Siamese/Himalayan cat named Blue. He's always had a bad habit of spraying, but he's recently developed an even worse habit of urinating outside of his litterbox whenever I change it. He is neutered. Blue is otherwise a wonderful cat. He's great with the kids, and let's them pick him up and snuggle him; he's an all around lover and he's always been babied. We are moving into a new house in a month; my fear is that the change will make him even more territorial and my new home is going to be full of pee.

I've given him a covered, large litterbox, and change it every couple of days(which means alot of cat pee on my carpet). I've frequently cleaned the carpeting with an enzymatic solution, but because of the frequency of the problem, this does nothing.

I do not have the money for costly lab work, nor do I have the space to add another litterbox. As much as I dearly love Blue, I can't let this continue. My vet has actually told me that the only hope for him is to make him an outdoor cat. Does anyone have any suggestions?

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Angie
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Unread 11-05-2010   #2 (permalink)
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Hello and welcome to the forum. I'm sorry you are having this trouble with Blue.

Illness is the first thing that needs to be ruled out, and that means lab work. Blue needs to have a culture done on his urine. It's the only way to know. No amount of behavior modification is going to make a bit of difference if Blue has a urinary tract infection, or has crystals.

In addition urinary tract problems left untreated in males can become fatal very quickly if he blocks. And a blockage is unimaginable agonizing pain for him. If he is having urinary tract problems he is already feeling pain. That may be why he avoids the box.

Also, urinary tract and bladder problems left untreated in any cat ultimately result in kidney disease or kidney failure.

Once illness has been treated or ruled out there are other things to consider. It's possible he does not like the litter you are using, considering he pees outside of the box after you change the litter.

Cats hate litter with heavy perfumes, and some cats are very picky about texture. I recommend you start using "Dr Elsey's Cat Attract Litter" for the next month, and when you first move. After all is settled down you can gradually switch to a basic unscented litter.

The box should be scooped twice a day. If you scoop twice a day you will not have to change out the litter so often. Change the litter and clean the box once a week, or once every two weeks, but scooping twice daily is a must.

It's possible he does not like using a covered box. You should add another box, a large uncovered one. yes I know you said you don't have room, but make room. Or, at least take the cover off the existing box. Many cats do not like covered boxes. They stink, inside. And cats have very sensitive noses.

Installing a few feliway plug in diffusers may help with any territorial or stress issues he may be feeling. Use them now, and when you move.

No I do not believe in turning cats outside when they have health or behavior problems. A cat who has lived inside all his life would not live long as an outdoor cat. And imagine how he would feel, suddenly turned out of his home.

And think about what you are teaching your children. "behavior problems get you kicked out". "pets are disposable objects". Those are not lessons you want to be passing on.

Please let us know what you find out after the urine culture, and we can go from there.
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Unread 11-06-2010   #3 (permalink)
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Thank you so much for your in depth suggestions. Some of these things just are not reasonable for me. I really, really, don't have anywhere to put another litterbox. My apartment is small and there are seven of us here with Blue and our two dogs. We will, however, have plenty of room for another litterbox when we move.

The urinalysis costs $150.00 that I simply do not have. I've asked a local shelter to help me find somewhere to do it at a lower cost, but I haven't gotten a response yet.

I like the idea of the feliway, but that would be another monthly expense that I can not afford.

I've used the same litter (Fresh Step) since I got him as a baby. He's never had a problem with it before. I'm totally afraid to change it again because I once bought a cheaper brand and I ended up with him spraying all over the house.

I can certainly change out and clean his litterbox more frequently. The fact that he urinates outside of it right after I change it makes me think that he feels like he has to mark his territory all over again; I hope that changing the box more frequently doesn't cause even more of a problem.

Thanks again,

Angie
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Unread 11-06-2010   #4 (permalink)
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Well, I just heard from the local shelter. Urinalysis is going to be expensive no matter where I go. They told me to give him to the humane society. So now I have the vet telling me to put him out, and the person from a no kill shelter telling me to give him to the humane society. This is breaking my heart...

Angie
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Unread 11-06-2010   #5 (permalink)
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Does he pee outside the box only when you change the litter? My first thought was what Acerlt said--to have him checked for urinary problems, and I know you said you cannot afford it. But if he ONLY pees outside the box when you change it, then maybe it is behavioral. What Acerlt said--scoop twice a day, but DONT CHANGE THE LITTER AS OFTEN makes sense. Cats like the smell of their own pee, so when you change the litter, he needs to mark his territory. I would change thie litter every two weeks (but scoop twice a day) and when you change the litter, put a small amount of the old litter mixed in with the new so it smells right to your cat. If it already smells like his pee, he won't need to pee outside his box. My cats were doing this for a while last year and I used Cat Attract litter, and it worked really well--no mpore peeing outside thsir box onto the bathroom rug.
Also when there is any kind of change in the house--an additional baby or pet, or moving to a new house can really stress out a cat and make them do this. If you are packing and things in the house are "different" your cat may be picking up on ll that and getting stressed.
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Unread 11-07-2010   #6 (permalink)
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Thank you for the response. Blue has always had spurts of time when he'll spray around the house, but currently,yes, he only does it when I change the litterbox. In fact just yesterday, I was packing up some things that are kept in the large closet where his litterbox is, and he growled at me, jumped at me, and bit me hard enough to break the skin. He's never done this before, but it really makes me believe that the issue is behavioral, not medical.

I found a vet clinic with a reasonable price, so I'm going to get the urinalysis done so I can rule it out. I can't recall ever seeing that brand of litter that you mentioned; where would I find it?

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Angie
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Actually the fact that he attacked you and bit you makes it even more likely that he is ill. A cat who is not aggressive, who suddenly acts aggressive, is acting that way for a reason, and often it is from pain.

But I am glad you are going to find a way to have his urine analyzed, and cultured. The culture is really what's necessary to find out if he is forming crystals.

If he is forming crystals he will need to be on a special prescription diet.

What are you feeding him?



PS just one other thought, even though I do think this is illness related: In your first post you said he has always sprayed, but peeing just outside the litter box is new. I, personally, think that fresh step litter stinks to high heaven of perfume and I still think he may not like the smell of it, and when it is fresh especially, and especially in an enclosed box. The perfume is so high in that stuff, imagine how awful that must smell in a enclosed box for a cat with a sensitive nose.

And I'm curious by what you mean he has always sprayed. Do you mean he just stands up and pees on the sides of the box, and that's why you use a covered box?

You can use large tote boxes instead, and get rid of that cover.

I use these:



You can get feliway plug in diffusers relatively cheap at amazon.com. Stress can make this kid of problem much worse, and moving will cause him a lot of stress. Feliway will help both with territorial marking and with stress.
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Unread 11-07-2010   #8 (permalink)
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Thanks for your help. Maybe I should start over and try to be more specific. Blue has always had an on again/off again problem with spraying(urinating in places other than his litterbox). The issue of him urinating outside of the box has not happened before, and the issue is more recent(2 months if I had to guess). He does urinate in his box; he just urinates outside of the box when I scoop it, change the litter, or even go near it. I would like to add that when I've had issues with him urinating around the house, it's only in the living room, which is where the closet with his litterbox is kept.

I know that Fresh Step is quite scented, but that is what I've always used and he doesn't seem to have a problem with it. I did, once, switch brands, and it ended up with him urinating all over the place until I switched back to the Fresh Step. Because of this, I'm leery of using something else. I'm moving in four weeks, and certainly can't leave my apartment reeking of cat pee. Also, I switched from an open box to a covered box because I thought that could be one of the reasons he was urinating in other places. I don't think it made any difference.

I feed him Meow Mix Indoor Formula along with a cheaper brand of wet food. This is what he's been on since he got off the Kitten Chow.

Thanks,
Angie
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