Your Sensitive Cat And Litter Box Problems

October 27, 2016 by  
Filed under Litter Pan Issues

Cat Spraying No More

A cat’s senses are how the animal relates to the world around it. In many ways, the senses of a cat are much more acute than ours and this can often be at the root of litter box problems. When your cat begins to urinate, or even defecate, on the floor or furniture, it’s time to get to the root of the problem as quickly as possible. Never punish the cat for his or her transgressions – your pet will be unable to associate the accident with the litter box, and dragging the cat to the litter box after a scolding or spanking will only cause further litter box problems.

Your Cat’s Senses

Cats are naturally very clean animals, so when your companion begins using the home as a litter box, a serious problem exists. Once your pet has been found to be healthy, and not suffering from a medical condition that is causing incontinence, take into consideration your cat’s sensitivity.

Cats have a sense of smell that is about 15 times stronger than yours is. Imagine how a litter box that may smell rather sour to you must smell to your cat. Clumps of fecal material and urine-soaked litter will cause most cats to eliminate elsewhere. The odor of ammonia is sharp and irritating to humans, and is even more so to cats. The litter box should be cleaned religiously; using clumping litter makes this easier. Remove stools and wet litter two times a day. Boxes using clumping litter can go 3 weeks before actual changes (you will be adding more litter after removing the clumps), but a box with ordinary litter should be changed, and the box washed, 2 times every week.
Smell also plays a part in litter box avoidance if your cat simply detests the smell of the litter, even if it’s completely clean. This usually comes about when a new litter is introduced. Try adding a bit of the new litter to the old to accustom the cat to the change.
The tactile sensations of cats are highly developed, and this includes the cat’s feet. Litter that feels ‘funny’ to cats will be avoided. Instinctively, cats are drawn to a litter that feels like soft sand or soil. Choose a litter that most closely mimics nature.
Everyone knows that cats have an acute sense of hearing. Mechanized litter boxes can produce sounds that are frightening to a cat. Self-cleaning boxes are often avoided just because of the clatter they produce. It may take some time and patience to get your cat used to motorized litter boxes, and you may have to return to an ordinary box if your cat cannot adjust.

Putting yourself in your cat’s place when litter box problems arise can make it easier to solve the problem and make both of you happier and more relaxed.


When Your Stress Begins to Affect Your Cat

October 27, 2016 by  
Filed under Litter Pan Issues

Cat Spraying No More

There is no denying that all of us are living in fairly stressful times. The combination of work, family responsibilities, and bombardment of bad news from the television and internet can all help to make you jittery and edgy. Without realizing it, your behavior can easily reflect negatively on your cat, which can result in inappropriate elimination. When your kitty starts to urinate all over the house or apartment, it may be time to step back and take an honest look at how you’re behaving.

Household Stress

Cats are not pack animals, like dogs, but they do become just as attached to their humans as dogs do, and can quickly tell when all is not right with you. Because cats are basically nonverbal, they are experts at picking up body language and facial nuances, so even if you are not tearing around the house screaming and yelling, there is a good chance that your cat will be able to tell that you are stressed. When you are stressed, your cat will be stressed, and the likelihood that the litter box will be ignored will increase.

Cats that become stressed are also much more likely to develop interstitial cystitis. This is a rather poorly understood condition whereby the nerves connected to the bladder become inflamed and the cat loses some bladder control. It also involves a loss of the protective mucus lining of the bladder so that urine is able to irritate the delicate walls of the organ.
Once your cat becomes stressed out as a reaction to your stress, he or she may begin spray marking in order to try to establish a feeling of security.

De-stressing Your Cat

Your cat isn’t trying to irritate you when he or she pees in all the wrong places, so never punish the cat either physically or verbally; not only will it do no good, it will only make the animal more stressed.

Giving your cat plenty of attention, especially stroking him or her, will have a calming effect on both of you. It has been scientifically shown that petting an animal reduces stress, and as you become more settled, so will your cat.

Pheromone products that bind to the cat’s neurotransmitters can also help to restore your cat’s normal behavior, and often once the problem of stress is removed, the problem of inappropriate elimination is also eliminated.


Unpleasant Associations Can Prevent Accidents

October 27, 2016 by  
Filed under Litter Pan Issues

Cat Spraying No More

It’s beyond frustrating when you find a puddle of urine in the middle of your bed, or a secret pile of feces behind the washing machine. Punishing your cat, either verbally or physically, will do absolutely nothing to solve the problem of inappropriate elimination. If you have been scrupulous in keeping the cat box clean, providing multiple boxes for your multi-cat home, and have placed the box properly, another approach might just work to get your kitty using the litter box again rather than the rug or furniture.

Be sure to have your vet check your cat before starting an aversion program to rule out bladder infection, stones, or other health problems.

Getting Your Cat Back on Track

It will probably take a bit of time and effort on your part to get your cat back to using the litter box, but most cats will return to the box if the places they have been soiling inappropriately become undesirable.

Sometimes, simply closing off the room where the cat has misbehaved or blocking off an area of the house will herald in normal behavior.
A water pistol that gives a squirt when the cat is heading for the wrong spot can be effective since most cats hate getting wet.
Double-sided tape applied on the floor leading to the ‘new bathroom’ can discourage your cat from using the area.
Traps made of a pile of empty soda cans, with a few coins in the top one will startle a cat when he or she bumps into it and teach them to avoid the area.
Your cat’s feet are very sensitive, so a plastic or rubber mat covered with nubs or rounded points will keep your cat away.
Another booby trap that can work involves setting a mouse trap, placing in ‘face down’ on the floor in the target area, and covering it with a sheet of newspaper. When your cat steps on it, the trap will go off harmlessly, but will provide noise and movement to frighten your cat away.
Put your cat’s food and water near the place that has been sullied – cats do not like to eat and drink near their toilet.

An important factor to this aversion training is to remove all traces of urine or feces odor, which will otherwise attract the cat back to the area. Enzyme cleaners work best at removing these smells.


Stress Can Cause Litter Box Avoidance

October 27, 2016 by  
Filed under Litter Pan Issues

Cat Spraying No More

Discovering that your cat has suddenly decided to use the rug or couch for his or her litter box is disconcerting, to say the least. Urine and feces not only smell bad, but they can stain fabrics. However, finding out what is causing this sudden change in your otherwise perfect pet is much more important than punishment, and can help you get the situation back to normal quickly.

Stress May Be the Problem

Stress is the body’s reaction to an unpleasant or dangerous situation. A little stress may be good because it helps your cat to avoid trouble. Normally, once the immediate problem is gone, stress levels drop off.

However, when the trigger for the stress remains, it can easily manifest itself in your cat finding the wrong spot to urinate, or even defecate. Stepping back and analyzing why your cat may be stressed is the best way to not only solve the litter box problem, but also to make your cat (and you) much happier. Always remember that cats are not only very intelligent, they are also very sensitive. Any disruption in household routine can cause problems.

If you bring a new cat, or any new pet, into the home, it could cause stress to your cat until the newcomer has been accepted.
A new baby, or the addition of any new person to the household can upset your cat, resulting in litter box avoidance.
Because your cat will be used to going to a specific area to use the litter box, if you move the box, even if you show the cat repeatedly where the box now is, you may have to deal with accidents.
Moving house is upsetting enough to humans, who understand what is going on; imagine how frightening it must be to a cat, who cannot comprehend what is happening.
Yelling at your cat, or striking him or her for going to the bathroom on the rug is not going to do anything but make the cat more stressed out and more likely to repeat the act.

Helping Your Cat Adjust

The best way to help your cat return to regular use of the litter box is to reduce stress as much as possible. There are pheromone products that will help to calm your cat, but you can also help by providing plenty of attention. Use some positive reinforcement, in the form of treats and praise, when your cat does use the litter box.


Special Sanitary Care for Long Haired Cats

October 27, 2016 by  
Filed under Litter Pan Issues

Cat Spraying No More

Long-haired cats are absolutely beautiful, and their soft, satiny fur just invites you to stroke them. Unfortunately, sometimes that lovely, long hair can create litter box problems that you will have to address. A short-haired cat seldom has any problems with accumulated feces on his or her backside, but this is often not the case with a Persian, Angora, or other long-haired breed.

You may well notice that your cat has been scooting its bum along the floor after using the litter box; the reason for this is that fecal matter has probably become caught in the hair. You may notice discolored streaks on the rugs or furniture, and often your cat will have a distinctly nasty odor. Finding stool outside the box after your cat has used it shows that your cat is inadvertently dragging feces out of the box on their hair.

Helping Your Cat

While cats are very good at grooming themselves, mats of hardened stool are impossible for the cat to remove, and you will have to step in to assist.

Use a dampened paper towel as soon as your cat steps out of the litter box to remove any attached feces. Taking it off at this stage will be a lot easier than if it builds up. Starting this procedure when your cat is a kitten will make it routine.

Daily brushing is essential for long-haired cats. Not only will it help prevent fecal mats from forming on the underside of the tail or on the backs of the legs, but it will keep hairballs from forming.

If the fecal mats are too large for brushing, but not attached to the skin of the cat, you may be able to carefully cut them off. This is a two person job, and you can expect your cat to be upset.
Heavy fecal mats, especially those that have become attached to the skin will require that the cat receive a warm bath. It may take some time for the matter to loosen up, depending on the size of the mats. Because your cat may fight you, have someone help you during the bath. Once the mats have broken up, change the water and gently shampoo the area.

Some owners of long-haired cats simply use clippers to remove the long hair from the bum in order to prevent mats forming in the first place.

Be sure to inspect your long-haired cat’s rear end every day to make sure that stool has not become caught in the fur, and if any is present, remove it immediately.


Picking Out the Sneaky Eliminator

October 27, 2016 by  
Filed under Litter Pan Issues

Cat Spraying No More

While there is obviously no question who is not using the box if you only have one cat, when you have two or more, finding the culprit could take a bit of sleuthing. You may have a fairly good idea of who the malefactor is, and a trip to the vet to rule out a medical problem is the first step – if you only have two cats, take both, otherwise stick with the most likely candidate to begin with.

Pinpointing the Culprit

Finding out which cat is urinating and defecating other than in the box is not an insurmountable task, and here are some hints that will help you find the culprit.

A nanny cam, set up near the scene of the crime (remember the criminal often returns to the spot) can show you who exactly is not using the box.
Small cameras that attach to a cat’s collar can also help. These won’t show the actual deed, but will show the area where the cat has been eliminating.
The cats can be sequentially isolated from the rest of the clowder, which will show the box-avoider by a process of elimination.
Your vet can give you a harmless dye that will show up in your cat’s urine when using a black light lamp.
If pooping is the problem, you can put some small pieces of red or yellow crayon in the suspect’s food, but only when given the go-ahead by your vet.

Overcoming the Problem

The problem can simply be that there aren’t enough boxes for the number of cats; each cat should have his or her own box, and there should be an extra as well. If a dominant cat is causing the problem, place the target’s litter box at some distance from that of the top cat – usually moving it gradually is the best approach.

A cat that has been declawed will often experience heightened sensitivity in the paws. Your choice of litter might simply have been too harsh, and often a softer litter will solve the inappropriate elimination.

Changing the type of litter box could also have a positive effect. Some cats don’t like enclosed boxes, and some are afraid of motorized boxes. Litter box liners can also bother cats, so if all else fails, get rid of the liner. And, always make sure that the box is clean; no cat likes to use a box filled with feces and urine-soaked litter.


Schedule a Trip to the Vet’s When Elimination Problems Arise

October 27, 2016 by  
Filed under Litter Pan Issues

Cat Spraying No More

Nobody likes finding a puddle of cat urine soaking into the rug or in the middle of the bed. However, if your cat suddenly starts misbehaving as regards the litter box, the problem may well be a medical condition. Atypical behavior and inappropriate elimination is a red flag for a visit to your vet, especially if you have made no changes to the litter box.

Urinary Problems Can Be Serious

Urinating wherever the cat feels like it, rather than in the litter box, often means something has gone amiss in the cat’s urinary system. Only your veterinarian will be able to diagnose and treat these conditions properly. Your cat may be running to use the litter box every few minutes or will simply let loose wherever he or she is – this indicates that the cat simply is unable to hold it. The amount of urine may be quite small, or it could contain blood or appear cloudy. Urinary problems are often painful, too, and your cat may mew when attempting to go to the bathroom.

A simple bladder infection can be treated quite easily with antibiotics. However, if left untreated, it can lead to serious complications.
Your cat can also suffer from feline interstitial cystitis. This is something of a catch-all ailment involving an inflamed and irritated bladder and urethra. Crystals might be present in the urine. Antibiotics appear to have little effect on FIC, although dietary changes may help.
Feline incontinence can also be caused by bladder stones. Some of these can grow to a significant size, nearly filling the bladder. Stones generally have to be removed surgically.
Crystals can form in the cat’s urinary tract as a result of diet. These can sometimes evolve into bladder stones or can even form a plug which prevents the cat from urinating at all. Plugs will have to be dealt with immediately by surgery.
Serious health problems, such as tumors can also cause your cat to urinate frequently and inappropriately.

Urinary problems are much more common in male cats than they are in females, and still more prevalent in males cats who have not been neutered. While there is no way to guarantee that your cat will never experience these difficulties, there are a few things that can help to prevent them:

Make sure your cat drinks as much water as possible.
Diets that are more acidic will help prevent the formation of crystals and stones.
Canned food is recommended to keep the urinary tract normal.
Feed many small meals during the day, rather than one or two big ones.


Ask Your Vet about a Medical Approach

October 27, 2016 by  
Filed under Litter Pan Issues

Cat Spraying No More

One of the most important aspects of inappropriate elimination, whether it involves urine or feces, is to get to the root of the problem as quickly as possible. Never punish your cat when you find an ‘accident’, the cat will have no idea why you are hurting it and it will just make your cat more stressed and more likely to repeat the act. Consulting with your veterinarian is the first thing you should do – there could be much more to the problem than you might imagine.

Physical Issues

There are a number of urinary conditions that can cause your cat to suddenly begin urinating outside of the box:

Bladder infections are fairly common in cats and the irritation from the infection will cause your cat to force out small, but frequent, puddles of urine. Antibiotics are the answer.
Bladder stones form from an alkaline diet, and these irritate the lining of the bladder, making it more likely that an infection will follow. Some stones can almost fill the bladder. These stones will have to be removed surgically, as will plugs in the urethra.
Interstitial cystitis is a rather mysterious disease that combines both physical and mental factors. Stress seems to cause an inflammation of the nerves that are attached to the bladder, which then leads to a weakening of the protective mucus lining. Interstitial cystitis is treated mainly by varying the cat’s diet, giving pain medications and altering the environment. This results in lowering the cat’s stress levels.

If your cat is defecating outside the box, this may well be a sign that the gastrointestinal system is affected:

Constipated cats will strain and struggle to poop, and often desperation forces them to do so wherever they are. A change of diet can often help.
A number of things can cause your cat to have diarrhea, such as illness or infection. In this case, the cat may simply be unable to reach the box. You vet will have to diagnose the cause of the diarrhea and take appropriate steps to control it.

Treating the Psychological Aspect of Inappropriate Elimination

The sensitive nature of cats can put them under stress, and this can result in your cat’s inappropriate elimination. Some success has been achieved in reversing inappropriate elimination using medications such as the tranquillizer valium, and neurotransmitter blockers such as amitriptyline and buspar. Medications used to treat human depression, like clomipramine also have been effective.


Many Cats Can Mean Elimination Problems

October 27, 2016 by  
Filed under Litter Pan Issues

Cat Spraying No More

Cats are certainly not social in the same way that dogs are, but their behavior patterns have certainly been changed over their long association with humans. Strictly solitary in a natural setting, cats now enjoy not only the company of people, but often that of other cats. It’s not unusual to see a pile of cats sleeping happily together. However, you should always keep in mind that cats do need a bit of space and privacy as well. Households with multiple cats often suffer from litter box problems where one or more of the felines soils inappropriately.

Pinpointing the Culprit

Once one of the cats starts avoiding the litter box, it’s important to try to find out which one it is. The problem often arises because one cat is dominant over the others and will attempt, often successfully, to keep the other cat, or cats, from using the litter box. Fights can actually follow as the dominant cat ‘repels boarders’. In most cases, the cat who is lower on the social spectrum will be the one who is the inappropriate eliminator. Refrain from punishing the guilty party, neither the dominant cat nor the one who is urinating on the rug; just find a solution as quickly as possible.

What to Do

It’s not too difficult to overcome litter box avoidance in a multi-cat home, especially if you approach the problem through the eyes of your cats.

The most obvious solution is to provide several litter boxes for the cats, placed at a distance from each other. Cats enjoy some privacy when using the box and a dominant cat will have more trouble enforcing his or her position if the boxes are separated.
Dirty litter boxes invite cats to avoid them. Keeping the boxes clean will encourage the cats to use them.
Observe your cats and see the spots each cat enjoys most – this will be the best place to put a litter box.
Do not situate litter boxes near where the cats eat and drink; this is especially important when you are adding new boxes.
Use an enzyme cleaner to remove all traces of urine and feces from places where accidents have occurred. Cats will be attracted to the smell and consider the area to be a latrine.

Always keep in mind, too, that after discovering who is not using the litter box to have the culprit examined by your vet just to make sure that no medical problem is present.


Litter Box Avoidance

October 27, 2016 by  
Filed under Litter Pan Issues

Cat Spraying No More

Litter box avoidance can arise in one of several ways: your new kitten or cat simply refuses to use the box you provide, or your cat suddenly stops using his or her litter box. Cats are very fastidious in their habits, and even very young kittens will attempt to use a designated litter box rather than soil the floor or furniture.

When you find an ‘accident’ of one type or another, it’s important that you refrain from punishing your cat – harsh words or blows will not encourage your companion to return to the box – it’s up to you to determine why the cat is eliminating inappropriately.

Seeking a Solution

The very first thing to do if your cat starts avoiding the litter box is to schedule a visit to your veterinarian. There could be factors such as a bladder infection, bladder stones, or constipation that could be causing the problem. However, if your cat’s health is normal, there are other things that are making your cat avoid the litter box:

Most cats will avoid using a dirty box. Cleaning the box frequently will often be the answer. Too many cats using one box contribute to this problem.
Moving the litter box to a new place can cause confusion. Cats are creatures of habit, and shifting the box to a place that might be more convenient to you can result in soiling inappropriately.
If you have started using a new kind of litter, your cat may not like the smell of the new product or the texture. Scented litters might be too strong for the delicate nose of a cat.
While mechanized, self-cleaning litter boxes do save owners work and will keep the box cleaner, many cats are afraid of the noise these boxes generate, and may take some time to get used to them.
Make sure that the cat’s box is the right size – boxes that are too small make the cat uncomfortable.
Hooded litter boxes can keep the home looking better and the floor neater, but some cats are afraid of entering a dark place. Liners may also cause a problem.
Intact adult cats mark their territory with a spray of urine, especially the toms. Neutering the cat will help resolve this cause of litter box avoidance.

Getting your cat back on track and using his or her litter box may take some time, but in most cases a solution can be found that will work for both you and your feline friend.


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