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kbbennet September 17th, 2010 09:25 AM

Adult Cat Litter issues
Hello all, new to the forum! I know there is a thread on litter training but I would like some fresh opinions. I recently just adopted two cats from our local shelter and now we have three wonderful Tuxedo kitties! They are awesome and all three have their own unique personalities. Recently, however, I've noticed that one of my new additions, Ozzie, is going outside of the litter box. In fact, he is going right NEXT to the litter box. Furthermore, he is not "missing his target". He is literally sniffing the area around the litter boxes (which have cardboard underneath), circling the area (much like how a dog does), and then squatting! Last night, he literally did this right in front of me while I watched his routine, no shame at all.
A little over two weeks ago, I noticed some staining on the cardboard and as of today, he has seemingly "marked" on all four sides of the litter area with both pee and poop. I added a third litter box (now three cats have three boxes). However, he still seems to insist on going outside of the box, more often, with pee. A couple of details:
1. Just moved into this home less than a month ago
2. Just bought a third box about a month ago
3. We use two types of litter and mix the two. Both are clumping litter. The first one, is the Arm & Hammer Odor Control stuff that is more expensive and is the main substrate in the boxes. The second is a supplemental to fill the box and is just a meijer brand, fine grain, clumping odor control version. Both types are recent changes.
4. I've failed to keep the box clean daily. I've been super busy working on our house and have left the box quite dirty lately. Just last night I cleaned all three boxes and the resulting waste bag weighed about 20 pounds, no kidding. But even after a thorough cleaning last night, there was a pile of poop outside of the box this morning!

Any ideas on the cause of this? He was adopted from a shelter and they reported no problems at all of him going outside of a litter box.

He stayed with my mom for a while and she reported that while she was cleaning the boxes once, he stopped, stared at her a minute, and then peed on her rug. I asked her how long she was cleaning the boxes and she said about 25 minutes. My guess was that he was upset that he didn't have his box for that long and he peed on her rug in defiance.

I need advice! I just bought new furniture and while he doesn't seem to be urinating or defecating anywhere else in the house other than next to the boxes, I don't want him to start taking this behavior elsewhere and/or prompting the two other cats to also adopt such behavior. Help!

Love4himies September 17th, 2010 10:29 AM

First off, thank you for adopting from a shelter.

Was the shelter able to give you any history on Ozzie?

Are you boxes covered or uncovered? Is there a scent to the kitty litter (I am not familiar with the brands you are using)? If they are all covered, try an uncovered. How big is Ozzie compared to the box, he may prefer a shallow, larger in area, than a deep one that maybe to small for him to move around in. If there is a scent, try an unscented one.

Have you changed the cardboard and used an enzyme cleaner to get out residual smells on the floor and sides of the litter boxes that you may not be able to smell, but he does?

I also meant to add, that kitties don't have the same emotions as humans. They are not defiant, or seek revenge as humans would.

14+kitties September 17th, 2010 10:36 AM

A few things - How close together are the boxes? How often are they cleaned? By your own admission not often enough at the moment. How big are they? How close are they to noisy appliances (although I don't think this is the issue)? When was the last time they were thoroughly cleaned using bleach on the inside and outside? Most important - when was the last time your new boy was at the vet for a very thorough checkup? Including urinalysis to rule out a UTI?

Now a few suggestions to try - Move the boxes further apart so he does not feel crowded. Get another box. I would suggest a large storage box. You know the under the bed kind? They are perfect for litter boxes as they give the cat room to move around and get really comfy before getting down to business. Rule of thumb is one litter box per cat plus one extra. Clean the whole area around the boxes with an enzyme cleaner to remove the smell of urine. You may not smell it but I can assure you he can. The cleaners can be found at good pet food stores. It is quite possible one of the cats "leaked" slightly outside of the box in the beginning and now he feels that is acceptable. Change the litter to one with no perfumes. There are many out there. Perfumes are added to litter to make us feel better about the smell. It does nothing for the cats. In fact it is harmful to them. Have you tried Dr Elsey's Cat Attract litter? [url][/url] That sometimes works with difficult cats.
Most important, if kitty hasn't been in for a vet visit since you have adopted him and moved please take him in. It could all come down to stress from having all those changes in such a short period of time. (shelter, your moms, now your place)
I'm sure I've forgotten something. My mind's been preoccupied lately. :o You'll get more suggestions soon. Good luck. :thumbs up

14+kitties September 17th, 2010 10:39 AM

L4 beat me to it! :thumbs up

kbbennet September 17th, 2010 10:57 AM

Thanks for the feedback! In response to all of your questions:

The boxes currently have about 6 inches between them. I talked to the vet today and they recommended they be moved far apart.

Their sizes were described as large when I bought them in the store.

They are close to the washer and dryer but the washer and dryer just got hooked up and this was an issue prior to their use.

And I don't recall the boxes ever being cleaned using bleach. I was always under the impression that cats wanted to be able to smell their own scent so I decided not to clean the boxes too well. Other than some warm water and mild soap, the boxes have never been chemically disinfected.

We took him in for a checkup about 2 weeks after adoption. All was well then, but the vet did suggest that a UTI may be contributing.

To L4:
The shelter only told us that he has a very small heart murmur. And when we took him to the vet, the vet nor the vet's assistant could detect the murmur using a stethoscope. One of the unique things about him though, is that his hair is quite long, even around his rear end. We've found a few "dingle-berries" and some other waste resin caught in the hair around his anus. Not sure if this plays a role or not.

The boxes are uncovered.

The litter is scented, both have odor control formulas.

Ozzie is a rather small cat. His long hair makes him look bigger than he really is. When you pick him up, he weighs less than 10 pounds and is quite flexible. Like I said, his long-hair feature makes him look much more hefty than he really is.

I have not removed the cardboard nor have I cleaned the area. I wanted to keep this problem contained to this area due to the fact that he is going on cardboard and not on my furniture, my living room floor or my carpets. What cleaner is the best to use for cat urine/feces odor?

I think the first thing I will do, and please offer some criticism if you can, is throw the cardboard away and move the litter boxes further apart. I want to clean the area around the boxes but I need some info on the correct cleaner to buy. I'll put some fresh cardboard down around each box in order to detect any future "target" misses. And this is difficult to admit, but I am going to apologize to him for rubbing his nose in his most recent urine pool :-( That was an old-wives trick that was passed on to me and according to this forum, is obviously outdated and cautioned against. Also, should I thoroughly clean all the boxes and distribute fresh litter boxes for their new locations in the basement? Thanks for all of your info! Tremendous insight! :lightbulb:

sugarcatmom September 17th, 2010 01:29 PM

Sounds like there have been quite a few recent changes in your kitty's life that may be contributing. The fact that he goes beside the boxes tells me that he doesn't object to the location of them, but something to do with the box itself (ie the type of litter, the uncleanliness, the size of the box, etc). It could be that Ozzie decided one day he didn't like something about the boxes and now he's gotten in the habit of going outside them. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to make the box as appealing to him as possible, so he remembers the joy of a good pee in a nice loo.

I would for sure pick up a bag of the Dr. Elsey's Cat Attract litter and try that, along with scooping the box twice a day. I took in a semi-feral kitty that probably had never used a litter box and the Dr. Elsey's worked like a charm. Also, a Rubbermaid under-the-bed storage box makes a fabulously large litter box, way better than most the ones you find in pet stores.

Good luck! :fingerscr

14+kitties September 17th, 2010 01:32 PM

You want an enzyme cleaner like Nature's Miracle. It's available at most pet stores. I know Pet Valu and Global carry it. Don't know about Pet Smart as I don't frequent the one near me. They have a lousy line of food there.
Clean the whole area very well with a diluted bleach and then use the NM. Hopefully that will do the trick. :thumbs up

kbbennet September 17th, 2010 02:15 PM

Thank you both for the feedback! :thumbs up

I have a slight feeling that the reason he started going next to the litter box in the first place is because I wasn't cleaning it enough. And since I left the cardboard there and did not clean the area, he assumes it is perfectly fine to do so. I'm beginning to think that the proximity of the other boxes doesn't bother him since he continues to urinate and defecate in the same area. Furthermore, he may despise the cheap meijer litter that I purchased to act as a filler for the boxes.

Sounds like I need to throw out the cardboard, bleach the area, nature's miracle the area, and provide some clean litter boxes that are a bit further apart than they are now.

I'll check back with this thread next week to let you know the progress! Thanks again for all the advice! :lightbulb:

14+kitties September 17th, 2010 02:23 PM

Oh no, you don't get off that easy!!! The "advise" we give comes with strings. We demand pictures of your kitties as payment. We are never happy without seeing pics so we can oohh and awww over them. :laughing::laughing:

There are many litters available that are not full of perfumes and do a very good job of masking/hiding odours. One of them is Swheat Scoop. It's available at good pet stores as well. A little pricey but you don't need to change the whole thing as often. Just make sure to scoop daily. :thumbs up There are also pine based litters which are very nice. One word of caution though. If switching do a gradual switch of litters. 1/3 of the volume of litter, then 1/2, then 3/4, then all. It makes it easier for the kitties to figure out something is changing. You may want to get your peeing situation fixed before trying that.

Love4himies September 17th, 2010 02:33 PM

[QUOTE=sugarcatmom;952089]Sounds like there have been quite a few recent changes in your kitty's life that may be contributing. The fact that he goes beside the boxes tells me that he doesn't object to the location of them, but something to do with the box itself (ie the type of litter, the uncleanliness, the size of the box, etc). [/QUOTE]

Exactly my thoughts. It seems like he doesn't mind the place he just doesn't like the litter or the smell or the shape of the box.

Archie-Neil September 17th, 2010 03:31 PM

I've had to clean up many an "accident" over the years from my male cat. Instead of using cardboard under the litter-box, try using one of those plastic boot trays that you would use in winter to put your wet boots on. I got one last year at HomeHardware that was oversized and it worked like a charm. If the cat should pee outside the box, the raised edges on the mat catch it before it hits the floor (most times anyway). Then you just have to wash the tray.

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