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Old October 24th, 2010, 12:06 AM
VERB VERB is offline
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Strong-armed by my cat

Greetings, everyone. I hope everyone and their pets are in great health and spirits. This is my first post and based on the questions, comments, and responses I've been reading here, it seems I'm in the right place.

Frederick-Douglas is a wonderfully sweet and overly-needy 12 y/o DSH that I have basically had since he was born. I did give him to a friend as a kitten, but when she had her son Frederick began urinating in her son's crib and she asked if I would take him back. I did so gladly. I didn't have any problems for the first few years, but over time he began urinating around the house and I didn't know why exactly. Now it seems I have an idea but not sure if that's the real reason or not. As I mentioned previously, he's extremely needy and very demanding of attention. He will whine constantly and rub against me no matter what I'm doing until I pet him. While I love that he enjoys my attention so much, it is annoying when I am unable to finish regular activities in a timely manner simply because I have to keep stopping to pay attention to him. It seems that if I don't give him attention exactly when he demands it, he punishes me by urinating somewhere in the apartment. As it stands, I have to throw out my sofa and have had to throw away numerous clothing items and even a comforter because of his urinating. I love him with all my heart but his urination outside the litter box has become unbearable and I'm seriously considering giving him up. I know it sounds terrible because I've had him so long but I don't know what to do. This has been going on so long and he's wreaking havoc in my apartment. I hate to even type the words because he is so sweet and has been a companion for so long, but I'm at my wit's end and don't know what else to do. He has no health issues that contribute to this behavior. The litter boxes will be clean and he still urinates outside of the litter boxes. I've tried various types of litter and that still doesn't work. My only guess is for this problem is that if he's not getting the tremendous amount of attention that he wants, he urinates somewhere in the apartment. Sometimes I feel like I'm being strong-armed into showing affection because I'm scared that if I don't, I'll be punished with urine somewhere in my home. Not a nice way to live and it is becoming a strain on my relationship with him. I'm giving him attention not so much from the heart but just so he won't urinate on anything. I'm so frustrated and even about to cry as I type this. I don't know what to do. I love him with all my heart but I'm really starting not to like him because of this. Does anyone have any suggestions before I reach a point of desperation and take him to a shelter? All the local no-kill shelters are full and I hate to think of him being euthanized if I take him to a regular shelter. I just don't know what to do...
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Old October 24th, 2010, 04:23 AM
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Has he been to the vet recently? Is he neutered?

At 12 years old Frederick-Douglas should be in for a yearly or twice yearly exam w/geriatric blood panel including T4 & urinalysis to rule out any medical concerns including liver, kidneys, thyroid, FLUTD, urinary crystals etc

First rule out any medical issues, next step is to determine if this is stress related as obviously there has been some upheaveal in his life from early on, shifting houses/families a few times.

How does Fredrick-Douglas get along with other pets especially any cats in the house? Is he harrassed by another pet? Do all the animals have areas they can escape to for some down time alone?

Is he being ambushed near the litterbox by others? Is the litterbox near noisy appliances furnace, washer etc that may have come on suddenly & startled him? Or is it in a high traffic area like an often used hallway?

Is he being scolded/yelled at or otherwise punished for going outside the box? This will only re-inforce the peeing in places like corners/behind furniture so he can't be seen eliminating.

Are the litterboxes all uncovered? Have you tried a covered one?

Have you tried Cat Attract Litter?

How many litterboxes do you have? General rule of thumb is one box per cat plus one extra ie 4 cats = 5 boxes

Next is this behavioural or a learned behaviour?

What are you using to clean the pee spots with? Any cleaner with an ammonia or bleach base smells very similiar to the base ingredient in cat pee which will only reinforce his peeing in that area to cover the other smell with his own.

An enzymatic cleaner such as Nature's Miracle or the home made version = 1 cup water + 1/4 cup vinegar + 1/4 cup rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol, mix together in a spray bottle. Mop up the pee, spray area w/vinegar mix, mop up & spray area again let dry. This will remove the ammonia smell that you may not be able to smell but the cats certainly can.

If the area is not cleaned enzymatically the cat will repeatedly use the same area as they can still smell the previous pee there so it's territorially a good spot to go.

Is he peeing or spraying? Spraying usually involves vertical surfaces where the cat backs up against & often you can see the tail straight up twitching while he sprays pee 6-8" up off the floor against walls/furniture.

Is this in reaction to an unneutered male or unspayed female in heat in the building/neighbourhood?

Are there new people/pets in your home or has someone recently left?

New carpet/furniture? Did you re-arrange the furniture? Changed laundry detergent/household cleaners added something with an ammonia base or strong smell - flowery or otherwise?

Does he have a high cat tree where he can see out the window, interactive cat toys to amuse himself with, do you play with him using a feather wand type toy?

Have you tried Feliway pheromone diffusers/sprays? If sprayed on the area a cat has previously urine marked (after cleaning w/an enzymatic cleaner) it may reduce the likelyhood of the cat returning to urine mark that particular spot as it now has a pheromone marker.

You may need to go back to the basics of litter training as it seems this has been allowed to continue long enough to the point that Frederick-Douglas may think this is acceptable behaviour - unless it is medically related of course.

Your vet may be able to help with behaviour modification medications if necessary http://www.marvistavet.com/html/body...e_soiling.html

Honestly giving him up is not going to solve the problem especially if he craves human attention/interaction, it's just passing it on to someone else and bringing a cat that is urinating outside of the litterbox to a shelter is usually a death sentence even if they are a "no kill" as that only applies to adoptable animals.

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Old October 24th, 2010, 02:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VERB View Post
As I mentioned previously, he's extremely needy and very demanding of attention.
Has he always been like this, or is this something recent?

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Originally Posted by VERB View Post
It seems that if I don't give him attention exactly when he demands it, he punishes me by urinating somewhere in the apartment.
Cat's aren't vindictive like that. A more likely scenario is that he's in pain from something like cystitis and his attempts to elicit your attention are for comfort, or the stress of not receiving the attention he craves (OCD?) causes painful urination that he tries to alleviate by peeing in places other than his litter box. Cystitis and stress often go hand-in-hand.

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He has no health issues that contribute to this behavior.
What lab work (blood/urinalysis/ultrasound?) was done, and when? Do you have any results you can post?

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Originally Posted by VERB View Post
The litter boxes will be clean and he still urinates outside of the litter boxes.
How old are the litter boxes? You should replace them once a year, as the plastic retains odours after a while no matter how well you clean them. Speaking of which, what do you clean them with? If you use a strong-smelling detergent, that can put some cats off. Unscented is the way to go, with very thorough rinsing.

Was there perhaps a time when the boxes weren't so clean? Litter boxes should be cleaned at least once a day, preferably twice. It could it be that Frederick got fed up with a dirty box at one point, and a precedent has been set so that it doesn't matter how clean the box is now. Also whether a box is covered or uncovered can play a role. I'd say that for most cats, uncovered is preferable, especially since the litter boxes sold in pet stores are woefully small.

If you haven't bought a new box lately, I'd suggest doing that, but get one or two of those Rubbermaid under-the-bed storage boxes. Lots of room for cats to maneuver around in.

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I've tried various types of litter and that still doesn't work.
Which ones have you tried (ie scented? clay? pine? pellets?)? There is one litter called Dr. Elsey's Cat Attract which has herbs added to it that cats find irresistible to pee on. If you haven't used it before, run, don't walk, to the nearest Petsmart to pick some up.

You could also offer up a buffet of different litters in 2 or 3 different boxes and see what Frederick prefers. Put clumping pine in one, Dr. Elsey's in another and after a week, keep the one that he consistently chooses. Then the next week, try a new one against last week's winner.

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Originally Posted by VERB View Post
My only guess is for this problem is that if he's not getting the tremendous amount of attention that he wants, he urinates somewhere in the apartment.
He may indeed have a bit of an OCD, which is causing him stress, which then causes him to pee elsewhere. Try not to view it as him trying to manipulate you. Something is not right in his world (whether medical or mental or environmental) and you need to find out what that is, and to help him overcome it. Could he be really bored and lonely? Does he have any other cat companions in the home?

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Does anyone have any suggestions before I reach a point of desperation and take him to a shelter?
First would be a thorough vet check if it's been a while.

Change the boxes (and their locations: he could be associating where they are with something unpleasant).

Change the litter to Dr. Elsey's.

Growler's suggestion of Feliway is excellent. Both some room diffusers and a bottle of the spray to use in places that he pees.

Flower essences would be something else worth looking into, or if you have access to a holistic or homeopathic vet, they can develop a treatment plan customized to Frederick's needs.

Pick up all blankets, clothes, area rugs, etc, - whatever you can that you think Frederick might pee on. Put tinfoil over places that you can't move. Cover the sofa with plastic or plasticized sheets when you aren't around to supervise (I know it's a pain, but you need to make those spots less appealing to him, while making the places you want him to pee as appealing as possible).

If boredom is a factor and you think Frederick would be okay with a feline friend, maybe adopting another (cat-friendly) cat is the answer. Or at least setting aside some time (at the same time everyday - cats thrive on routine) for quality play sessions. Invest in new toys and rotate the toys around so they stay "fresh" and interesting.

And lastly, while I don't usually advocate drugs for these situations, there are some cases where anti-anxiety meds can be useful. Especially if all else has failed. But hopefully things resolve themselves before that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VERB View Post
All the local no-kill shelters are full and I hate to think of him being euthanized if I take him to a regular shelter.
This is going to sound harsh, but it's something to think about. It would be kinder, if absolutely nothing else works and you truly have exhausted all avenues, to take Frederick to the vet and have him PTS yourself. Passing the buck by dumping a 12 yr old cat with litter box issues at the shelter, even a no-kill one, is cowardly. It is a death sentence either way. I'm sure Frederick would prefer for his last moments to be spent cradled in the arms of someone he adores, rather than languishing for months/years in a no-kill shelter, or being sent down the assembly-line of death at a regular shelter.

My that you and Frederick can make this work. Please keep us updated on his progress.
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Old October 24th, 2010, 05:34 PM
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Just to reiterate - a no kill shelter means that adoptable cats do not get killed. It does not mean that older cats, feral cats, stray cats, etc make it past three days.

You have got some excellent advice from growler and sugarcatmom. I a combo of the suggestions do the trick. The number one suggestion needs to be a vet visit.
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Last edited by 14+kitties; October 25th, 2010 at 06:02 PM. Reason: changed sentence structure to mean what it is supposed to
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Old October 25th, 2010, 01:22 PM
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Just to reiterate - a no kill shelter means that adoptable cats do not get killed. It does not mean that older cats, feral cats, stray cats, etc do not make it past three days.
So glad you pointed this out.

I also want to note that I took a very adoptable 13 year old cat that did not make it even to see the vet at the shelter. He was deemed unadoptable only due to his age and put on death row immediately. Luckily I was there evaluating a dog when this happened. I cannot imagine he being euthanized in such a horribly cold environment by those that are immuned to emotion. It is very mechanically done and no animal deserves this.

If you have exhausted all avenues then I agree that the best course of action is to have him euthanized with you holding him so that he is in arms of love and not those of indifference.

Good luck - I personally feel that excellent advice has been given and you will get good results.

Keep us updated.
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Old October 25th, 2010, 06:36 PM
VERB VERB is offline
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The chick being strong-armed by her cat responds...

I would like to start off thanking all those who gave me actual suggestions and not comments about shelters, etc. I am a seasoned pet owner and even worked for a vet at one time, so my thought to take him to a shelter was not one that I was taking lightly as some may think. That's not how I operate.

Frederick-Douglas has been to the vet and has a clean bill of health. Believe me, that was the first thing on the list. This is more specifically a behavioral issue and I knew that off the bat. This has been an on and off thing for him for quite some time. As I mentioned when I first posted, when he was a kitten I gave him to a friend and shortly after she had a baby and he was acting out then. I took him back about 3 months after I gave him to her, so he's been with me basically his whole life with the exception of that short time. It pains me to think of us not being together. Actually today was the original day that I set to take him to a shelter but prayed about it and read the great responses here and on a couple of other message boards and decided to give us both more time. With a clean bill of health in place for him, I'm going to clean my apartment top to bottom, go over it with a black light to find any soiled areas I may have missed, try the products suggested, get new litter boxes, get a new sofa, and try some new techniques (behavioral and communication). I know he'll need time so I'm going to keep trying. Giving him up is something I did not want to do at all. After all, I was literally right there when he was born. I love all my cats dearly -- they're my kids. Keep us in your prayers! Thank you all so much!!!
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Old October 25th, 2010, 06:40 PM
VERB VERB is offline
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If you have exhausted all avenues then I agree that the best course of action is to have him euthanized with you holding him so that he is in arms of love and not those of indifference.

Good luck - I personally feel that excellent advice has been given and you will get good results.

Keep us updated.
I'm trying not to even let it get to this point if I can help it. That's why I'm here. My previous post explains my plan of attack. Thanks for the well wishes and keep us in your prayers!!!
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Old October 25th, 2010, 07:54 PM
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Does he pee in the same place all the time? Have you tried putting kitten size litter boxes where he regularly pees?

Are there cats outside that may be un-neutered that he can smell?

Is he spraying your couches or squatting on them? I put a sheet over my couches when I wasn't home to prevent Jasper from spraying mine. It worked very well.
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Old October 25th, 2010, 10:42 PM
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Glad to hear you're going to try some more options!

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Originally Posted by VERB View Post
Frederick-Douglas has been to the vet and has a clean bill of health.
I'm still curious about what tests the vet did and what the results were (and when). Do you ever request a copy of the lab work? I think it's a good idea to maintain a file for each pet at home so you have something to refer to, or if you need to go to a new vet (or an emergency vet), than you can provide some valuable background info.

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Originally Posted by VERB View Post
This is more specifically a behavioral issue and I knew that off the bat.
It's not always that easy to tell though. For instance, interstitial cystitis, which is a medical issue, is directly linked to stress (and stress for a cat is often different than stress for a human). So sometimes these things will *appear* behavioural but will have health-related origins.

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This has been an on and off thing for him for quite some time.
Then my suggestion would be to maintain a log-book of any future incidents to see if you can find a pattern. For instance, there might be a correlation to buying new furniture, working different hours, changing the laundry detergent, etc. Cats thrive on routine, some more than others, and maybe Frederick is particularly anal about having everything just *so*. Things we don't think twice about can have big repercussions for our feline friends, upsetting their world as they know it. That might partly explain why Frederick is so needy - he craves your reassurance that everything is going to be okay.

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I love all my cats dearly -- they're my kids.
How many cats do you have? Do they all get along (and sometimes when cats don't get along, it's very very subtle, so subtle we obtuse humans don't always notice - like one cat will lie in the doorway to the room with litter boxes, passive-aggressively preventing other cats from going in there).

Thank you for not giving up on Frederick yet. Your all he has in this mean ol' world.
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Old October 26th, 2010, 03:36 AM
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Frederick-Douglas has been to the vet and has a clean bill of health. Believe me, that was the first thing on the list.
Was his T4 Thyroid level checked? I know often this is an add-on to the standard tests so it some vets don't include it in the regular bloodwork.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VERB View Post
This is more specifically a behavioral issue and I knew that off the bat. This has been an on and off thing for him for quite some time. As I mentioned when I first posted, when he was a kitten I gave him to a friend and shortly after she had a baby and he was acting out then.
What age was he taken from his mother/siblings, do you know? This may explain some of the "needy/pushy" attention seeking he's doing (whining/rubbing/demanding pats), if taken too young he may not have been able to develop a sense of self reliance/independence when he was still needing the social skills his mother/siblings would be teaching.

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I'm going to clean my apartment top to bottom, go over it with a black light to find any soiled areas I may have missed
If you do find more old spots or he has more recent ones it's important to not show any emotion while cleaning it - don't talk to him/make eye contact etc, even better if he's not in the room while you are cleaning (if possible) you don't want him associating your cleaning up a urine spot with any attention towards him at all otherwise it may become a self-rewarding behaviour (he pees, you clean while talking/paying attention to him, he gets what he wants)

Keep us updated on how it's going
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Old October 26th, 2010, 12:20 PM
BenMax BenMax is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VERB View Post
I would like to start off thanking all those who gave me actual suggestions and not comments about shelters, etc. I am a seasoned pet owner and even worked for a vet at one time, so my thought to take him to a shelter was not one that I was taking lightly as some may think. That's not how I operate.
Hi again VERB. We can all appreciate your frustrations. As for commenting about shelters..no kill shelters, one would think that information is empowering people who may not know exactly what this word means. As you mentioned that a shelter may be your only recourse in the end, there are those that wish to let you know more about this alternative since you mentioned it. We only want to empower you with the truths, nothing more than that.

We all wish you well as there is no doubt you and your kitty are having difficulty. EVERYONE here wants nothing but the best for your cat...and you of course.

Our prayers are with you and that you get positive results. Best to you.
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Old October 26th, 2010, 01:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VERB View Post
I would like to start off thanking all those who gave me actual suggestions and not comments about shelters, etc.

Not everybody is aware of your experience and since you mentioned that you were going to take your cat to a shelter, the poster wanted to make sure you understood the definition of a "no kill' shelter.
I am a seasoned pet owner and even worked for a vet at one time, so my thought to take him to a shelter was not one that I was taking lightly as some may think. That's not how I operate.

Since you love your kitty like your own child, I think the poster just wanted to make sure you understood that no kill does not mean literally no kill in 99.9% of shelters. She would not have thought that you would have known that already
You will not find one person on this board that would love to make your difficulties with your kitty disappear, it certainly would make your kitty's life much easier as I am sure he feels your frustration.

Since you mentioned this does not happen 100% of the time, besides the obvious of stress causing intermittent issues, it could be an unaltered cat that is within his "smelling area". Cats can smell through walls and windows. Do you know your neighbours, above and below your apartment? Do they have cats?

The log is an excellent idea, it may give you a better idea of a correlation. Does his peeing correlate to any travel that you do?

My Jasper has separation anxiety and gets very stressed when he is not on his schedule, he is also very,very needy and also sprays periodically (that corresponds to a unaltered feral that will be around and we don't get him outside soon enough for him to spray outside). He will also get very stressed if there is any frustration in the house.

Another thing, are you 100% sure it is only one cat? It couldn't be your others peeing in a place that had been peed previously. They do like to cover other kitty's scent with their own.
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