Old cat now using the entire house as extended litter tray - at my wits end

(22 Posts)
PleaseNoMoreMinecraft Thu 28-Aug-14 11:19:23

She's (at least) 15, we got her about 12 years ago from a rescue home and they reckoned she was about 4 at the time. She has arthritis and bad teeth but she's had various blood tests including kidney and liver function tests and they haven't shown anything else wrong, in fact the vet says she's remarkably healthy for her age.

She's never been exactly clean from the start, and despite the fact the rescue home wanted someone with a garden, she's never gone to the toilet outside but uses a litter tray inside (we tried without a litter tray but she pooed on the bed instead!). Now she ignores her clean, regularly changed litter tray, and does everything in corners all over the house.

She's been banned to the kitchen for now because I can't cope, and we've set up her litter tray, food and water, and a place to sleep, and she can go in and out via the cat flap but does anyone have any ideas about how to stop this? I have kids, we both work full time in very demanding jobs, and it's a rented house so we're seriously considering giving her back to the rescue home if it doesn't get better! Any suggestions, as we like her in other ways and would like her to live out her days with us?

TIA smilethanks

cozietoesie Thu 28-Aug-14 11:24:13

What treatment is she receiving for her arthritis? (And, prospectively, for her teeth also.)

cozietoesie Thu 28-Aug-14 13:33:45

PS - the reason I'm asking that is that her behaviour sounds to me like that of a cat who is having pain in using her tray (that high poo squat in particular can cause them difficulty) and having learned to associate her tray with discomfort or pain (or maybe not even being able to get into it easily) is just going where she can.

Maybe have a read of this and see if any of the other behaviours ring a bell?

PleaseNoMoreMinecraft Thu 28-Aug-14 22:33:29

Thanks cozietoesie that's a really good link! Lots of it sounds familiar, yes.

The vet just gave us some pills (kind of brown triangular chewy ones) and not much in the way of advice, so we'll put some of what the link says into practice - I didn't even think of stairs and propping the cat flap open (hasn't been much of a problem up til now but in retrospect she does seem to be more hesitant before going through it these days). I'll see about a shallower tray too.

Maybe staying in the kitchen with her bed and food and tray is what she needs right now as it's warm and all on one level.

timtam23 Thu 28-Aug-14 23:06:13

One of my old cats became quite arthritic in her twilight years and we set up some steps (a box & a low stool) so that she could still climb up to her favourite chair, we also raised her food bowl up a bit so that she didn't have to reach down a long way for her food, and changed the litter tray to a large shallow one with a removable rim so that any splashes etc were hopefully held within the tray. This did seem to help although she was a cantankerous old soul at the best of times!

cozietoesie Thu 28-Aug-14 23:21:59

See how it goes then but I have to admit that I feel fine about actual meds these days - as well as all the living assists - because I've seen what a huge difference they've made to Seniorboy's life (eg he has a warm sleeping place where he can stretch out his old bones but he has a heck of a better snooze when he's pain free.)

(And very few accidents these days: you always run the risk of one with any older cat but he tries to use his tray these days.)

Lonecatwithkitten Fri 29-Aug-14 07:14:50

Please the chewy pills are likely to be a glucosamine so not actual pain relief.
Yes there are disadvantages to the medications (what medication is free of disadvantages), but in truth you are balancing up the difference between a shorter happy pain free life and a longer painful life I know which one I would and do choose for my pets and in truth myself.

cozietoesie Fri 29-Aug-14 08:26:26

I'm not even so sure that it would be that much longer a life, Lone. I know that in April, Seniorboy had been on meloxicam for two years but his arthritis was worsening so - well he's an old old boy - that he was starting to give up and go inside himself. I think they do that because pain is just so darned wearing for human or animal.

Now that he's been put on the supplemental pain meds to top up the meloxicam, he's a much happier boy - chirpy, eating and using his tray fine, purring a lot, just generally happier and with good life quality. I truly think that he'd have turned up his toes if we hadn't intervened again.

Just my own view though.

DwellsUndertheSink Fri 29-Aug-14 08:40:27

We had this with our 15 year old rescue tom. He became completely senile, would howl half the night, never left the house, didnt know where he was....poor old boy. We had him PTS when the bad days outnumbered the good.

cozietoesie Fri 29-Aug-14 08:54:05

Going senile is a difficult one, Dwells. Poor old lad.

Lonecatwithkitten Fri 29-Aug-14 08:54:15

Cozie I just find that an honest statement like this helps owners to realise that I know there are disadvantages to certain medication, but a pet's welfare is my first concern.
I personally choose to take some pretty hard core drugs to enable me to work and do stuff with my DD there will be repercussions later in life, but DD will be an adult then.

cozietoesie Fri 29-Aug-14 08:56:28

I agree.

chemenger Fri 29-Aug-14 09:04:20

If she is managing better in the kitchen, where her tray is close at hand (paw) maybe she just needs several litter trays in different parts of the house? Perhaps she just gets caught short and can't make it to the tray, at her age it's also possible that her memory is going and she can't always remember where the tray is.

cozietoesie Fri 29-Aug-14 09:10:29

I'd certainly be giving her more than one tray in any case. I have a household that can accommodate that, it's no more work really and my own boy seems to like it as well. In fact we had three trays when The Lodger was here, even though he went outside. (He started to like doing his duty inside the house.)

KittiesInsane Fri 29-Aug-14 09:14:33

Goodness -- just seen this after cleaning up yet another cat poo by the side of our loo (bless her, she does at least try for the right room).

I'm off to buy a lower litter tray at lunchtime, as our lovely old girl (18-ish and counting) has pooed everywhere except in her tray for months now.

Anyone know if arthritis meds will interfere with thyroid meds?

cozietoesie Fri 29-Aug-14 09:34:32

One for discussing with your vet I think although one of the vets who post may comment. It certainly sounds as if she might have some arthritis. In fact more than 'some'.

I have to admit that these days, I would pretty well assume that any cat of that age (what a grand old girl) has at least some problems and although meds may not always be needed, I'd be considering the living assists pretty well as soon as they get into double figures. 'twill do no harm in any case.

PleaseNoMoreMinecraft Fri 29-Aug-14 10:20:26

OK - off to buy more litter trays and another trip to the vet seems in order (it'll have to be after the kids go back to school though I think).

Thanks everyone, lots of food for thought!

cozietoesie Fri 29-Aug-14 11:02:53

Best of luck to her and you all.

KittiesInsane Fri 29-Aug-14 11:24:01

I've been googling low sided litter trays and trying to work out if any of them are genuinely lower that the one we have (she still uses it for wees so can obviously get in, just doesn't poo in it). Any recommendations?

She has a floor-level cat basket but prefers to sleep in a box or chair or the washing mountain.

cozietoesie Fri 29-Aug-14 12:58:51

I've just had a look and they don't seem that easy to find, do they? Maybe the thing to do is consider something like a drip tray or potting tray. They're plastic and pretty low (around 4 cm) - and you could always use them outside afterwards if they don't suit for some reason.

cozietoesie Fri 29-Aug-14 13:00:04

*shallow.

Gawd - my mind is going. blush

KittiesInsane Fri 29-Aug-14 14:11:09

D'uh, I never thought of that. Potting tray is a good idea.

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