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Old 12-28-2012, 09:38 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Box training issues

So I finally landed myself a foster with litter box issues.

Helios came to me as a 10 week old kitten. He'd been born outside and spent the first 10 weeks outside. I picked up him, his brother and sister and their mother (4 total) from their former home. They all went in my garage at the time as that's the only spare room I had. I expected messes. After about a week of pooing on the floor, they started to figure out the litter box. They all got spayed/neutered and once they were healed up (around 12 weeks old) were placed in homes. No accidents at that point in over a week. Helios was adopted with his brother Harley.

2 months later, I get a call from their owner saying they aren't able to keep Helios. Harley is a good boy, but Helios "just isn't connecting with us" and also was having problems with consistent litter box use. Helios came back to live with me. I was still overrun, so he went back in the garage with his mom, who hadn't been adopted yet.

I was unable to duplicate their problems. He was using the litter box perfectly (and I've been checking around the garage--haven't found any "misses"). He was very friendly. I started letting him in the house for short stretches. There's 8 other cats in here right now, so it was an introduction period and teaching him to be in the house. He was doing fine. We were up to about 3 hour stretches at a time in the house.

My step son (who had been gone for a week to his dad's house) came home and discovered that someone had used his bed as a litter box (kitten sized). We left Helios in the laundry room one night instead of the garage and he peed in the cat bed in there. He's done that twice now. He has NEVER had an accident in the garage since his initial box training, but he seems to think that beds are great litter boxes.

He seems to only do this around other cats (except his mom--who was adopted last weekend, and this behavior started before she was adopted). I don't know if it's stress, or incomplete box training, or what. I've set him in our inside litter boxes a few times so he knows where they are and my step son says he's seen him use the inside litter boxes.

He doesn't seem to have any trouble using the box, no straining, blood, diarrhea, or any other weirdness that I've noticed. The litter in the house is identical to what he has in the garage.

He had a hernia repaired at the same time he was neutered which is fully healed. He's now 6 months old.

Advice and suggestions?
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Old 12-29-2012, 02:42 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Could it be that he feels the most comfortable in the garage because he knows all of the scents are familiar to him and that he's a little anxious about sharing litter boxes with the other kitties?

When Celia poops out of her litterbox, it's because she's constipated. However, her choice of alternate litter box seems to depend on her stress/anxiety level. She has pooped by the front door, next to the couch, and on my bed. I think that when she uses my bed, she's letting me know that she's stressed or upset, because this seems to happen when I'm really stressed or busy and haven't had enough time for her. The only solution I've found, unfortunately, was to keep the bedroom door closed unless I'm in there. Do you think Helios would just be more comfortable in the garage, or do you want him to live inside?
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Old 12-29-2012, 03:19 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Helios seems to REALLY enjoy people. He doesn't like being in the garage by himself. While some of the cats here are fosters, five are permanent, so he'd never get a chance here to be an only kitty.

I feel like he'll do best in an only cat home with low stress and with someone who knows what they're doing with cats...but I'm also really afraid to adopt him out while he's still peeing on stuff. I don't want him further traumatized by being bounced around. It feels like a catch 22...I want him to be "well" before he gets into his new home. But I don't know that I'll ever be able to get him relaxed enough here to get him to be "adoptable" with the quantity of cats I have here.

I think you're right about the garage being his comfort spot though. He feels safe out there, even if he is a bit lonely.
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Old 01-04-2013, 10:20 PM   #4 (permalink)
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A positive update for Helios! We've been bringing him inside regularly, for short stretches (slowly lengthening how long he's allowed to be inside if he continues to behave). We're up to 4 or so hours at a time right now before he starts to get nervous. Earlier this week he came over while I was laying down and demanded that I let him under the blanket. He then laid there and purred for quite a while. Right now he's parked next to me on the sofa. He seems to really be relaxing and is beginning to understand that people are good. He didn't *dislike* people before, he just didn't trust them.

And (knock on wood---hopefully I won't jinx it by saying this), he hasn't had any accidents in the last week or so. He's turning into quite the good boy.
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