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Question for the hive mind... [Apr. 12th, 2013|12:59 pm]
John
Okay. Here's the deal.

I have a friend who used to have a cat (probably brain damaged, as in, probably suffering from head trauma) who peed everywhere. That led to another cat adopting the behavior, too. They both died, and a while later, she got two new cats, and one is peeing in inappropriate places.

I own a house, now. I don't want a peeing cat in an apartment, either, but - I definitely don't want a peeing cat in my house. (Um. I hope no one goes too literal on me - obviously, I want my cats peeing - in the litter box!)

Here's what I've found on the 'net. Most peeing is due to either marking behavior (get your Tom fixed before he's a Tom), or unhappiness or poor health.

Could my friend's new peeing cat just be unhappy? Yeah... yeah, she could.

And I've personally never had a peeing cat, except Skitty, when she had a head tumor. She peed in her bed and against the walls. She couldn't make it to the litter box, I think.)

Does anyone know if there's anything I have to do (other than get happy cats and keep 'em healthy) to avoid having them possibly scent the old urine scents, and thinking "this is where cats pee"?

See, I'm a softie, and I'm horrified by the thought of having a peeing cat who I can't bear to get rid of (since it's hard to get a cat adopted with a known peeing problem - so I could be condemning a pet to an early death if I go to a shelter), and yet ends up doing costly damage to the floors to the point that I hate my kitty.

Does anyone have any information for me? Especially of the "Oh, I had an old cat that did some inappropriate peeing, but the next cat was just fine. They're not like dogs who feel they *must* mark where other dogs marked," variety? Or, of the "Yes, I had a peeing cat, but I did X, Y, and Z to clean up the scents and that fixed the problem" variety?
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: acelightning
2013-04-12 08:57 pm (UTC)
You're on the right track with the scent being the reason that, after one cat has peed in an inappropriate place, other cats will do likewise, even years later. I've only had one cat, and he only peed outside of the litterbox when he grew so long that his "business end" wasn't over the litter when his feet were in it... but that did leave a lingering odor, even after we washed the floor and got a bigger litterbox. I washed the floor with (one at a time!) ammonia, vinegar, chlorine bleach, baking soda, Lysol, ordinary soap, and one of the pet-store "removes urine odors" products. I have no idea which one of them did the work, but it didn't smell any more. Of course, I never tested it with another cat after the first one died... and now that portion of floor has been torn up and replaced, after being under four feet of sea water.
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2013-04-21 01:41 am (UTC)
Heh. Is it "too soon" to say I don't want to try that final treatment for any lingering smells in *my* flooring? :-)

Thanks for the advice - I've done a lot of cleaning of the carpet, and I think I've gotten enough in to get anything that dripped to the pad. I just need to remember, first sign of trouble, I probably need to have the carpeting pulled up, cleaned underneath, and then Do Something. I have decent wood flooring, but I might want to re-carpet.
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[User Picture]From: acelightning
2013-04-21 11:50 am (UTC)
Worst-case scenario would be that you'd have to replace not only the carpeting and underpad, but also the wood, in the affected area. Even though that's a lot of work and potentially a bit costly, I still think it's preferable to replacing the cat.
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[User Picture]From: submarine_bells
2013-04-12 09:35 pm (UTC)
For what it's worth, I used to have a cat called Scrofula. She was an odd old duck: despite being desexed (and female), she would regularly thump the other cats for no reason, and she sprayed. Not very frequently, but regularly. And sometimes in surprising places. I cleaned up her sprayings as and when I found them, but several years after she died, I'm very occasionally still finding little marks of dried Scroffi-sprayings in odd corners of the house.

Our current crop of cats are all fully-indoor cats. So you'd think that if lingering hints of Scroffi-pee in obscure places were going to affect their peeing habits, they'd have plenty of opportunity for that to happen and little chance to avoid being exposed to it. But no, they're all 100% reliable litter-tray-users. The only problem critter on that front is Juno the Whippet, and her unfortunate lapses are completely due to her ancientness and health issues... and that doesn't lead the cats to pee anywhere they shouldn't, either.

I can only conclude from all this that while another cat peeing indoors *can* influence other cats to do likewise, it doesn't *have* to. So yeah, clean it up promptly and be scrupulous about using deodorant/enzyme spray on the area to decrease the odds of a repeat performance; but if you miss a small bit, it won't inevitably lead to the household drowning in cat pee forever after.
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2013-04-21 01:42 am (UTC)
Thank you; knowing that has helped my decision.
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[User Picture]From: tigerbright
2013-04-12 09:38 pm (UTC)
You do not want to try and keep a cat who has gotten out of the letterbox habit -- they don't go back.

For a kitten or otherwise-trained cat, before you get the cat, pick up a black light and a jug of enzyme cleaner (the kind sold at the pet store). Walk around the house with the black light turned on. Pour enzyme cleaner on everything that flouresces. Repeat till nothing flouresces.

Good luck!
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2013-04-21 01:43 am (UTC)
Thanks! I've done the black light treatment; I'm doing a final sweep tonight. (Tomorrow I have a shelter that may have kittens, so I'm dropping in the moment they open :-). )
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[User Picture]From: tigerbright
2013-04-21 11:51 am (UTC)
Yay! Happy kitten day!
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[User Picture]From: ladysprite
2013-04-12 10:10 pm (UTC)
There are a lot of different reasons that cats urinate outside the litterbox. "Just being unhappy" is not one of them.

If you're dealing with taking on a cat that already has a history of urinating outside the litterbox, the first step is to rule out ANY underlying medical causes. Idiopathic cystitis is the most common medical cause, though UTIs, bladder stones, and microscopic crystals in the urine are also possible. Also, there are a lot of new ideas about the underlying causes of idiopathic cystitis; this is a really good article on the recent line of thought.

Once you've ruled out medical causes, make sure there aren't environmental causes. If there are areas where other cats have urinated, make sure you clean them thoroughly with an odor-neutralizing cleanser (Nature's Miracle is a good one).

Most importantly, be VERY careful about providing litterboxes. AT LEAST one litterbox per cat, plus one total (one cat/two boxes, two cats/three boxes, etc). No hoods on the boxes. Keep them clean - scoop them daily, empty them completely and wash them out at least twice a week. Keep them in a quiet, low-traffic place, nowhere near the cat's food and water bowls.

If you want more specific advice, let me know - I'm happy to help....
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[User Picture]From: grey_lady
2013-04-13 10:32 am (UTC)
Agreed, except *potentially* on the hoods on the boxes - some cats, especially if there are dominance issues, seem to prefer the hooded boxes, maybe because there's only one possible angle for ambush then. I do, however, remove the hinged doors.
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2013-04-21 01:44 am (UTC)
Nod. I've heard that one doesn't want a hood on a box, until one suspects that's why the cat won't use it. The default seems to be "open box" but cats are contrary enough that it shouldn't be surprising that there's no "one size fits all" solution :-).

Thank you.
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2013-04-13 08:59 pm (UTC)
Well - "just unhappy" was me using short hand. I've heard stories of cats who are stressed, or rescues from bad situations, or similar things, where they pee inappropriately without a medical reason. I know that cats don't start peeing just because the fine tom that yowls so pretty doesn't know they exist, or because their favorite character got killed in that RPG they play, where they take on the mysterious roles of those hairless apes that have powers over can openers and vacuums.
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2013-04-21 05:25 am (UTC)
Hm. Re: cleaning litter boxes, I rarely did that in the past. I used a lot of scoopable litter (usually Arm and Hammer), and scooped it religiously - it was rare that anything touched the sides or bottom. Was I really lucky that my cats were okay with that? Or is "wash it twice a week" only if I have a finicky cat who seems to demand ultra-clean litter "or else"?

Thank you for your advice, now, and so many times in the past.
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[User Picture]From: ladysprite
2013-04-21 01:42 pm (UTC)
I would file that under "lucky" - even if you're using scoopable litter and scooping daily, you still want to throw away everything, clean them, and put in all fresh litter at least once a week. Even if "nothing touches" the sides or bottom, bacteria and odors can build up.

As a note, a lot of people worry about how much litter this uses and how much it costs, because they believe they need to completely or nearly fill the box - this isn't true. You only need an inch or so of litter, so it's a lot less wasteful than it sounds at first.
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[User Picture]From: siliconivy
2013-04-12 10:29 pm (UTC)
I have multiple cats with urine issues. There is peeing, & there is spraying. I'm lucky enough to have both. Since 2 of the cats never gave me a moment's problem until I moved into my house, my hypothesis is that it started because previous occupants had pets & while I couldn't smell anything, they could. Plus now I'm dealing with age-related peeing issues. Fun with pets! While it sounds morbid, since my cats are 16, 16, 13, & 6 (but with only 6-12 months to live due heart disease), I am realistic enough to accept that I may be catless in a year or two ... at which point I will probably rip up all flooring in my house. do massive cleaning, & replace before I even consider getting another cat.

As others have said, scent is the key. If you even suspect that any previous occupants had pets, I would do a thorough steam-cleaning of any carpets (using pet odor eliminator in the shampoo). Use of a black-light could help identify any spots leftover from previous occupants' pets. I would treat any specific area besides a general cleaning. I would also scrub down non-carpeted floors & check walls for signs of spraying with the black-light & clean if you find any. I usually use Clorox as well as "remove odor products" (right now I'm using Bissel's pet odor enzymatic odor eliminator).

Febreze has also come out with a new powder-type carpet-deodorizer (Febreze Extra Strength Pet Odor eliminator Deodorizing Powder). So far, I've found it works much better than any other one I've tried, in that the cats themselves react in such a way that I think it even eliminates odor to their noses, not just mine, when I use it.

Another factor can be litter box location. People tend to put litter boxes where they want them (e.g. out of the way), but litter box usage is a way cats mark territory, so they tend to like a mix of a privacy AND obviousness that can be hard to accomplish. This can be more of an issue in a multi-cat household.

There are a few good books about pet behavior that I've read, & there are tons on the market. You might want to check out a few different ones & compare what they say. (IMHO, ultimately they all say the same thing, just in different ways). You may want to also check out your local vet(s); they sometimes have pamphlets on dealing with various pet issues such as litter boxes.

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[User Picture]From: siliconivy
2013-04-12 10:41 pm (UTC)
Oh yeah. I've had a lot of people (including vets) recommend Feliway to try to ease tension in my cats (especially psycho kitty Chi) & stop spraying/improper urination. I have had a lot of people tell me it has done wonders for the cats. http://www.feliway.us/

It didn't work for Chi. She would actually spray the Feiiway diffuser, & it seemed to increase her agitation. (that's my psycho kitty!). However, I strongly suspect she's not typical in that regard. It still might be something to consider to reduce the stress to the cat when you first bring it home (especially if it's not a kitten).
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2013-04-21 05:13 am (UTC)
Thank you - I don't think I'd heard about that, but I *had* heard of some aromatherapy things sometimes helped some cats.
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