Inappropriate Elimination

cat urinating in the sink
Cat urinating in the sink
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 If you have cats, the odds are pretty good that sooner or later you are going to have a problem with one of them messing in the house.

If you have cats, the odds are pretty good that sooner or later you are going to have a problem with one of them messing in the house.

It is a serious problem but the chances are better if you start working on it early.

The first step is to rule out a medical cause. There could be a direct cause, such as an infection or some other disease of the urinary tract. There could be an indirect cause such as an over active thyroid gland or some other disease that increases your cat’s anxiety level, makes him urinate more often than he’s used to, or makes him feel so sick that he just doesn’t feel like making the trip to the litter box.

A good physical examination, a standard blood test screen, a thyroid test, and a urinalysis are all important. X-rays may be advisable. This should be done first because behavior treatments and psychoactive drugs will not work on a medical problem and a medical problem can eventually lead to a behavior problem that persists even if the medical problem is eventually cleared up.

A recent issue of the journal “Veterinary Medicine” had a summary of things that can be done for cats with behavior problems. (Actually, in most cases, what the cat is doing is as natural for cats as writing on the wall of caves or public rest rooms, or putting up “No Trespassing” signs, is for humans. The cat doesn’t have the problem – we do).

1. Clean and de-odorize any area that the cat urinates or defecates in. We use a product called Feline Odor Neutralizer, or “F.O.N.” for odors. (For stains we use “Rug Doctor Pet Stain Remover” available at grocery stores.) Consider using a heavy plastic sheet or moving a piece of furniture to cover the spot.

2. Scoop the cat litter daily, replace it every other day, and wash the litter box every week.

3. Avoid scented litter, litter box liners, and cleaning materials.4. Try various types of cat litter. Some are coarse and some are fine. Some are pelleted paper. Try sand or even dirt. You might try some old carpet pieces that you can rotate regularly. You could hose them off, bleach them, and let them dry outside.

5. Try different depths of cat litter and different locations for the litter box. Some cats like privacy. Some might acquire a fear of certain locations.

6. Restrict the cat to a smaller area.

7. Get multiple litter boxes, especially if you have multiple cats. Try confining each cat to his own limited area with his litter box. (Incidentally, your veterinarian can help you find out which cat is guilty.)

There are other things that can be tried, including behavior modification – training – but these are more complicated and should be done under the direction of a veterinarian, or feline behavior specialist. (Punishment does no good whatsoever unless you can consistently catch the cat in the act, and even then the value is debatable.)

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