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Can a cat truly ever be cured of peeing outside the litter tray??

(14 Posts)
Thesofaisnotatrampoline Thu 29-Dec-16 21:56:15

I'm in such a quandary.

We adopted 2 cats 5 years ago. One sadly died of a undetected heart defect last year, and we adopted a 4 month old kitten as a companion cat to our remaining cat, who was missing his brother.

They get on quite well, and we've now had the kitten for 18 months. She got hit by a car last Summer and we paid £1200 in vet's bills getting her well again. All of which is to say we feel invested in her as a pet, and she can be a really sweet cat. Very affectionate and cuddly.

However - she can be a bit hyperactive and this comes out in various antisocial ways. She knocks pictures off our mantlepiece. She knocks glasses off coffee tables and shelves. She scratches our sofa a lot and worst of all, she has peed on our bed and on our sofa 9 times this year. Not the odd spray but full bladder wees, soaking the sheets, duvet, mattress topper and mattress, or the sofa cover/cushion.

We've taken her to the vet and there's nothing medically wrong with her. Our vet said it's behavioural and 'some cats are just like that'.

We are giving her Zylkene and have Feliway plugins everywhere, which have calmed her down a bit - her behaviour is a bit better, and lots of time outside has also helped. She hadn't weed on anything since August until last week, when she hid under our bed and despite me checking that she wasn't under there (no mean feat at 23 weeks pregnant), she ended up getting shut in there and when we went to bed we discovered she had peed on it again.

I really don't know what to do.

I love this cat and have invested in her. We aren't the kind of people who take on a pet lightly and it feels terrible to think about rehoming her, but I don't think I can cope with life constantly stressing over whether she's in our bedroom (even when the door is shut 90% of the time she still spends her life trying to get in there), or whether it's just a shadow on the sofa or she's peed on it again.

We have a 2.5 year old DS, expecting DS2 in April, about to move 200 miles away plus my dad just died. I just feel like all of this for a pet is such such a tall order.

I had a conversation with the person who owns the shelter she came from, but she isn't a parent and doesn't really get that not everyone is ok with cleaning up cat pee on a regular basis. And this hasn't just happened once - it has been 9 times. She hasn't been able to suggest anything other than try different litter boxes or cat litter, and I have felt that the implication is sort of 'if you really loved cats you wouldn't have a problem with this'.

I almost wonder if the kitten isn't happy being part of a 2 cat household and she would do better on her own?

So my question is this - does anyone have any experience of dealing with a cat who does this? Is there anything we can do to "cure" her or is our only option to consider rehoming? It makes me feel sick to think about it but equally, I can't cope with the thought of the year ahead and the constant stress of washing our duvet/sofa covers on top of everything else.

CherrySkull Fri 30-Dec-16 14:27:39

peeing outside the tray is normally an anxiety response to territorial issues.. so they will pee in socially significant areas.

What was suggested about another litter tray is really the best option if there is a particular place she is peeing.. she is telling you she needs to OWN that spot in some way.

It might be worth, temporarily putting a litter tray in the bedroom and maybe also a 'scent soaker' which is something like a blanket or bed that smells of her on the actual bed.

Badcat666 Fri 30-Dec-16 18:06:46

Yes they can. My little boy (who I lost this year) used to do it all the time. he was a terrified little thing for about the 1st year and still ran around and jumped and flew about like a nutter up til he died. It was just how he was wired.

He would wee on the bathroom floor, on my clothes, anywhere but the litter tray.

It all changed when he worked out he could go outside and use the catflap (I swear he was the dumbest cat out there) and I changed the litter I was using from wood to fine clay clumping.

After that he was fine and only had an accident every now and then when he was very stressed about something (there used to be a big tom he was scared of).

Thesofaisnotatrampoline Sat 31-Dec-16 06:04:10

Badcat that sounds really like our girl - she does seem to get quite stressed at times despite being a confident lady most of the time. In particular she hates being shut in a room, and lots of time outside seems to help, but doesn't completely remove the problem.

What we're currently doing to manage it is keep our bedroom door shut at all times and keep cats out. The temptation for her when she's in there seems way too much. Plus we've started keeping our older cat in the living room at night with access to his litter tray, whereas she goes in the kitchen where there's no soft furnishings. I've put the feliway plug-in in there and she has made a cosy bed on top of the cupboards (she's definitely a tree top cat!). She likes sleeping on our spare bed during the day (where interestingly she has never peed) or on the back of the sofa and as long as she has had a good run around in the morning outside she often sleeps all afternoon.

We're wondering about whether she can be more of an outdoor cat, it's a bit chilly at the moment but the policy I have with her is that if she starts knocking stuff off shelves she is popped in the kitchen with the cat flap open to go outside. Otherwise she is just the most persistent cat and will repeatedly do these things until she gets a reaction. So the one strike policy seems to help keep this tendency in check.

I will have a try with some other litter options too - currently we use catsan hygiene packs (with the liner included) but there doesn't seem to be a correlation between the litter tray being clean or dirty and the weeing. It's often happened when it's fresh and clean.

I take your point about the territorial thing Cherry - it has often felt 'personal' as she'll wee on my nightie on the bed, so there's clearly some kind of message being sent. Clearly it's not 'I don't like you' but I think she does really want to be in charge. We see this in the way she cuddles too - she likes to sit on your chest and put her paws on your shoulders and it's not so much a cuddle as a 'just so you know, I own you' type statement. She does bully our older cat despite him being twice her size, if he's in a chair she'll sit on him, bite his ears or rub her backside on him until she gets a reaction. He's so gentle he just runs away but she'll always want to sit where he is just to make the point. This is one of the things that makes me wonder if she'd do better as a solo cat.

I'm not really willing to give her access to our bedroom, her track record in there is just too bad. I'll keep giving her lots of time outside and maybe look into a warm shelter type house for her out there. Hard as she is cuddly and likes being around us, but I just can't justify giving her unfettered access to the house at the moment. We were clearing out our shed yesterday and she was very interested, was much more positive interaction outside than we often have indoors!

Thanks for responses!

Tootsiepops Sat 31-Dec-16 06:17:27

Hello! Our cat used to pee outside her tray. It was the bane of our lives for quite a while not to mention her weeing on my wedding dress

Our cat was very anxious, and vet explained that when cats feel upset, they seek out the things that smell most of their humans. So, beds and sofas and my wedding dress etc to mark their territory.

What helped us - getting her the biggest litter tray possible, not giving her unsupervised access to our bedroom and lots of tin foil grin

You don't mention if there's a particular time of day or night that the peeing is taking place. For us, it was nighttime, so we'd put a layer of tin foil over the sofa. Stopped the behaviour immediately.

Other than that, it was just time. The cat is now four years old and her skittish behaviour has settled down. Having said that, it maybe still happens once in a blue moon if she is very stressed or poorly. But I can live with that.

Iamdobby63 Sat 31-Dec-16 11:08:38

I had issues with a kitten weeing on a bed, the best thing I found was washing everything and adding white vinegar to the wash, seemed to be the best thing for dealing with the scent. Thankfully getting the smell out seemed to cure that.

However, I have a male Bengal who I'm sure has special needs in some way, randomly he will come in and spray in various areas, not always same place, I'm kind of at a loss with him to be honest. I'm thinking it's possibly an attention thing. Very difficult to clean out plug sockets!

Badcat666 Sat 31-Dec-16 11:58:49

Oh forgot to say we also got the biggest litter tray we could find with a high lip area (it clipped together) which I think helped him think he was more "secure" when he used it. He did like coming in the bathroom with me, I think he synced his bladder to mine (nothing more weird than sitting on the loo having a wee with a small cat looking at you and peeing in the litter tray at the same time!) grin

LivingInMidnight Sat 31-Dec-16 15:39:30

Have you cleaned your bedroom with an enzyme cleaner? If the scent is still perceptible to the cat (even if not to human noses) it might be the reason she's repeatedly marking that area.

My last cat had issues where she would leak slightly while asleep. We bought special mats for her to sleep on, which helped, and used total care biological cleaner regularly. She had sprayed before she was spayed, but considering all the treatment she's had I'm certain yours is spayed.

One of my new cats sprays if we use feliway (feliway friends is ok, he just reacts badly to the regular one). We use the biological cleaner and he doesn't return to that area to spray. Have to admit it was quite wearing until we figured out it was the feliway.

Thesofaisnotatrampoline Tue 03-Jan-17 11:39:30

oops, just rechecked this thread for the first time in a few days!

Thanks so much for all your responses - it is great to know we are not alone!

Tootsiepops - the peeing time of day really varies, sometimes it is during the day and sometimes overnight. The first time it happened both cats were in the living room overnight and we accidentally left the door to the extension where their litter tray is shut. A fox came in the garden (neighbours had a nesting fox with cubs at the time) and there was an almighty ruckus at 4am when I think both cats could see it through the window and freaked out, peeing and pooing on everything in the room. This wasn't the first time she had peed outside the litter tray as I had suspected previously that she had been going on the carpet in the corner of the extension lobby, but it hadn't caused much disruption so urine remover spray had done the trick. But it did seem to trigger her peeing on our sofa and our bed. Our other cat has never done it again, but the kitten started doing it whenever she was shut in the living room (which we used to do when we went out as she had previously been run over so we weren't happy with her being outside unsupervised - sorry this is such a complicated tale!!!!).

The bedroom weeing seems to be whenever she feels like it - sometimes it has been because she is shut in there because of hiding under the bed, but equally sometimes we've left the door open and she has just gone in there and done it and then sauntered out again.

I like the idea of tin foil - that is good to bear in mind!

For now, we separate the cats at night because our older cat hates going in the kitchen and is very well behaved, so kitten goes in the kitchen where there are no soft furnishings she can desecrate! wink She's in at night but she's allowed out all day, but we keep the Feliway plug-in in there to try and soothe her. She is also much calmer on the Zylkene but still has her wild moments.

She seems to get stuck in patterns of persistent negative behaviour e.g. the knocking things off shelves etc when she wants attention. She doesn't seem to know what she wants from us at these times e.g. cuddles, food, or play don't stop it, so now when she starts the negative behaviour I pop her straight outside, or straight in the kitchen with the cat flap open and it has helped break the cycle. Right now she is snuggled up asleep on the back of one of our sofas, with big cat similarly curled up about a metre away, so seems like she is getting back to normal, as opposed to the wild behaviour we had a resurgence of before Christmas. Could have been anxiety related as we had guests in the house. God knows how she will cope with our house move next week - she is off to the grandparents with DS1 so hopefully we can do a good transition to their house and then to the new house. And again when we have building work carried out. And again when DS2 arrives in April! (feeling a bit panicked at the thought of how much disruption lies ahead in the next 6 months!)

I might invest in a foil blanket thing for our bed as a preventative measure just in case she feels very unsettled by all the change. Our new house has a separate utility room which I might make her base for a while. It'll have the tumble drier in it which will make it nice and warm, and we can install a cat flap so she can come and go, and hopefully will mean our sofas and bed are safe. What I really dread is that she will start peeing on my son's bed or in the crib.

Really interesting that they tend to seek out the smell of their humans when they are anxious - she often pees on my nightie on the bed which I took to be a personal insult!! But she is very bonded to me, so it could be that it's all a reflection of how she is feeling. I have calmed down substantially since the last wee episode so feeling much more benevolent towards her again - and it does feel like we can manage her via the kitchen/outside. I was just feeling overwhelmed before and like I really couldn't cope with such a lot of extra hassle when we have so much else going on. When she is calmer she is a lovely cat.

LivinginMidnight - yes we have a urine remover spray from the vets and I wash everything with biological washing liquid as well. Putting the feliway in the kitchen with her overnight does seem to have calmed her down, but equally I think having the house go back to normal now Christmas is over has also helped. She was spayed early at 5 months because her behaviour was so wild at that point and she was desperate to get outside. By the time she was 9 months she had been run over and several weeks after recovering went missing for 24 hours, only to return starving hungry and absolutely terrified. She is just one of those cats we think!! We had another little tabby some years ago and he was just the same, an absolute terror and he was unfortunately killed on the road (we lived somewhere else at the time) when he was a year old. So we call her 'the cat who lived', but she is a real handful. We used to think our big ginger cat was naughty but he has been an angel since she moved in!!!

ittybittyluna Wed 04-Jan-17 12:36:23

I get the impression from your posts that you feel like she's doing these things deliberately which I don't think is true. She is just being a cat, and reacting to something in her environment. Her behaviour when she sits on you is just her personality. Our cat goes into full on attack mode when he's had enough, not because he's aggressive but because he's trying to tell us to back off.

We have fostered multiple cats, and all had certain behavioural traits, but one sticks in my mind as like your cat, she peed over the sofa and our guest bed. She only ever peed on my seat on the sofa, and once, peed all over a pile of my washing due to go in the machine. Our vet said it typically happens that they identify "their" human, and it gives them comfort and stress relief to pee on things that smell strongly of you. The guest bed incident happened because she was accidentally locked in the room, so our fault.

Feliway helped, she was an only cat at the time, but had been through considerable stress before she got to us. Ultimately, what put a stop to the behaviour was minimising all forms of stress - it was like a puzzle. If there had been a lot of people in the house, then a few hours later she would take to the sofa and pee. Any children in the house - pee.

You need to identify her stressors and seek to remedy them. We kept a simple diary, what happened in our house in the 12 hours before she peed. I can almost guarantee if she were rehomed to a quiet home as an only cat then this behaviour would stop - which I know is not helpful, and not what you want to do. In the meantime, three litter trays (one per cat and one spare). Experiment with changing litter. Tin foil on areas she likes to pee. Enzymatic cleaner on all areas she's peed in the past. If she's a tree dweller giver her more safe opportunities to get up high.

Good luck, I hope you figure something out.

Thesofaisnotatrampoline Fri 06-Jan-17 19:00:00

Ittybitty - that makes a lot of sense and i think some extra feliway plugins may help as she has been doing vertical scratching on our sofas this week. It may be that an extra litter tray will help, and I can look into getting a 'treetop hideout' for her in our living room. She constantly seems like she's looking for one, and she has made a bed on top of the kitchen cupboards too.

Our in laws are thinking about getting another cat after their longterm cat died last year, and we've pitched the idea of sending her for an extended holiday to them to see if she does better. They're not super keen at this stage and it may be that we can work things out so that she's less anxious longer term staying with us.

The shelter she came from said that she had been returned to them after initial rehoming because they felt she miaowed too much, but I do wonder if there was more to it.

Fluffycloudland77 Fri 06-Jan-17 22:27:33

Zylkene capsules sprinkled on their food helps loads. It really calms them down.

Thesofaisnotatrampoline Sat 07-Jan-17 08:11:52

Fluffy - we've been doing this since the summer and it has definitely helped but not removed it completely. Looking at what I can do to further reduce her anxiety levels.

MrsSchadenfreude Sat 07-Jan-17 08:21:49

I ended up rehoming the Shitten. It was very sad for me, but it was the best thing for her, as she was being bullied by the other cat. My friend's parents have her. She is clean and happy. They have a new puppy, and apparently they play with each other all day and sleep together. Meanwhile, my boy still misses her and cries for her. sad

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