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Cat not using the litterbox...

TanyaP
September 11th, 2009, 08:09 AM
My cat Ellie hasn't been using the litterbox as well as I'd like. We used to have flat litterboxes with no cover, and she'd always pee on the outside of it, but poo inside. I've replaced all our litterboxes with top loaders (they resemble rubbermaid containers with a lid and a hole in the lid so they have to jump into it). Now she poos next to it, but pees inside. I've seen the vet twice and they said it was behavioural since there's nothing wrong with her health. I'm just very aggravated. I have gone through quite a bit of stress in the past few years and she could have picked up on that, but things have settled down, and she's still doing it. I'm moving soon (which is never a good thing for cats with problems), but I hope that she'll settle down and use the litterbox for everything soon. I've used the pheromone spray, I've disciplined her by sticking her nose into the mess so that she realizes that she shouldn't do it, to no avail. Any suggestions?

TanyaP
September 11th, 2009, 08:18 AM
Well, Ellie struck again this morning, she decided that she needed to pee outside of the litterbox completely and poo also. And she does it right next to them (yes "them", we have 4 cats and 4 litterboxes), what's up with my cat? I'm at my wit's end...

sugarcatmom
September 11th, 2009, 11:56 AM
I've replaced all our litterboxes with top loaders (they resemble rubbermaid containers with a lid and a hole in the lid so they have to jump into it).

What happens if you go back to a lid-less litterbox? Perhaps she doesn't like having to jump down into the box. Also, how often do you clean the boxes and what type of litter do you use (ie scented? unscented?)? Where are the boxes located? Maybe moving some to different parts of the house would help. Here is a link for you to read to see if something helps: http://www.catinfo.org/litterbox.htm

I've disciplined her by sticking her nose into the mess so that she realizes that she shouldn't do it, to no avail.

Please don't do this, it's a form of abuse. Animals don't make the correlation between you forcing them to do something horribly unpleasant with an action they did earlier. You're only going to make her fear you because she has no idea why you're being mean to her. She's not pooping elsewhere to be spiteful, she's trying to tell you that something isn't right in her world. It's your job to figure out what that is.

Sheri H
September 11th, 2009, 12:08 PM
Since you have four cats, is Ellie “low cat on the totem pole”? If so, she may fear being attacked by one of the other cats when she is doing her business and given the design of the litterbox, she may feel trapped and vulnerable, which is why she refuses to use it.

TanyaP
September 11th, 2009, 12:51 PM
Question: What happens if you go back to a lid-less litterbox? Perhaps she doesn't like having to jump down into the box.

Response: She pees outside of the box, right next to it but poops inside of it. Sometimes she pees on the inside, but most times she pees on the outside, this is why I switched to top loaders. I was spending about 30 minutes a day cleaning up the messes she made, and we've seen her in action, so we know it's her. She was good for a few days until this morning. I'll check out your link for more info.

Questions: Also, how often do you clean the boxes and what type of litter do you use (ie scented? unscented?)? Where are the boxes located?

We clean them every two days, sometimes every day if needed. We use an unscented clumping kitty litter, and I haven't changed the brand in 2 years. The boxes are all located in the basement and the other 3 cats have no issues with this. Ellie tends to do her business in and around the boxes, sometimes in them, most times outside of them, but she doesn't do it elsewhere in the house, so I'm grateful for that.

Question: Since you have four cats, is Ellie “low cat on the totem pole”? If so, she may fear being attacked by one of the other cats when she is doing her business and given the design of the litterbox, she may feel trapped and vulnerable, which is why she refuses to use it.

Response: Nope, she's the biggest one, the oldest, and the most obstinate. She hisses and growls at the other cats when they get too close to her, not the other way around, but she doesn't get into physical fights. She only gets along with Marble as she's lived with her for years now. My mother's cats were re-introduced to her this year as I recently moved back in (3 months ago). We're moving to a new house with all the animals at once in 6 weeks, so we're hoping that there aren't any territorial issues (as there seem to be at this time). Ellie has had this behavioural problems for about 2.5 years now long before I moved back home, and I've tried everything that the vet told me to do as her health doesn't seem to be the issue. Her food hasn't changed, her litter brand hasn't changed. I'm hoping that things will settle once we move, this year hasn't been the best for the humans or the animals. I know that moving is stressful on cats, but I'm hoping that introducing all the cats to the new house at the same time and settling down will finally make her realize that there's nothing to worry about. She uses the top loaders for her number 2 business sometimes, most times she goes outside, but next to them. Peeing usually is in the litterbox.

I appreciate the comments and suggestions. As for disciplining her, I didn't know that was how the cat would understand the situation, so I'll stop. She tended to stop doing her messes for a few days after I disciplined her, but would start up again. If I didn't do anything to show her that what she was doing was wrong, the messes escalated. Like I said in my original reply to my post, I'm at my wit's end.

Love4himies
September 11th, 2009, 01:00 PM
Ellie sounds like Puddles who is the oldest and most obstinate in our house. She hisses and growls at the other three but she wouldn't hurt a cat. However, she is this way because she is AFRAID of the other cats and wants them to stay away from her. She will not use the litter box if there is another cat in her way or even in she thinks they are in the basement. So I am wondering if it is possible that one of the other cats scared Ellie while she was going pee :shrug: and now associates going pee with being scared.

By the way, cats can't reason, so there is no way of the cat associated having their nose stuck in pee and going to the bathroom in the litterbox.

TanyaP
September 11th, 2009, 01:13 PM
I now understand that my disciplining her was definitely not the way to go. The link that Sugarcatmom posted was quite informative, and I will look into making the kitty toilets more welcome for all the cats. I noticed as I was reading that there are a few things that I need to fix in order for all the cats to benefit (i.e. cleaning them more often: every two days isn't enough, using better litter boxes: will look into that tonight on my way home from work, etc.)

catlover2
September 11th, 2009, 01:41 PM
Another litter box in a different location (not the basement) would give her a choice. For some cats once a day removing clumps or poops from litter is not sufficient....morning & evening would be better.

TanyaP
September 11th, 2009, 03:09 PM
The link that I was given mentioned cleaning them more often... :thumbs up

sugarcatmom
September 11th, 2009, 05:20 PM
Sometimes she pees on the inside, but most times she pees on the outside, this is why I switched to top loaders.

Can you give her a couple different choices? Maybe she'd rather pee in one type of box and poop in another.

We clean them every two days, sometimes every day if needed.

She could just be a princess and not want to "go" where other cats have "gone" before :laughing:, so ya, try increasing the litter box maintenance and see if that helps. Also, the fact that she's at least going near the boxes indicates to me that it isn't a location issue, but it could be that there's just something not quite right about the box itself. Maybe it's too small, or the sides are too high (or too low), or maybe she'd prefer a different type of litter. There is a brand called Dr. Elsey's Cat Attract (http://www.preciouscat.com/precious-attract-p-5.html) that could be worth trying.

She hisses and growls at the other cats when they get too close to her, not the other way around, but she doesn't get into physical fights. She only gets along with Marble as she's lived with her for years now.

Sounds like there is some tension between the cats, and even though there may not be any outright fighting, the stress can still take it's toll. I know you mentioned trying the pheromone spray, but you might want to think about getting a couple of Feliway diffusers instead. It tends to work better for this sort of thing.

Also, you may already have this covered, but increasing vertical space in the form of tall cat condos or bookshelves with cubby-holes that the cats can hang out in should really help with the overall harmony. Cats are very territorial, so the more options you can give them (especially highly coveted lookout points), the better.

Good luck, and let us know how Ellie does with your new regime.

TanyaP
September 14th, 2009, 10:08 AM
Well, for the past 4 days, I've been cleaning the litter boxes twice daily and we've had no mishaps... :thumbs up

I've even cut holes in the sides of 3 of the top loader litter boxes (as per the link said), and all the cats seem to prefer those since they don't have to jump up on top of them to do their business. So far so good. :)

sugarcatmom
September 14th, 2009, 08:23 PM
Well, for the past 4 days, I've been cleaning the litter boxes twice daily and we've had no mishaps... :thumbs up

I've even cut holes in the sides of 3 of the top loader litter boxes (as per the link said), and all the cats seem to prefer those since they don't have to jump up on top of them to do their business. So far so good. :)

:highfive: Awesome!!! Glad to hear it, and my fingers are crossed that this continues :fingerscr.

Thanks for the update. :)

catlover2
September 15th, 2009, 12:13 AM
Gr8 news! Hope Ellie continues her good behaviour. :thumbs up :fingerscr

TanyaP
September 15th, 2009, 11:22 AM
Me too... Believe me... :laughing: