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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-11-2011, 03:57 PM Thread Starter
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Exclamation Male cat litter box avoidance?

Hi, I have two male cats, one is Maine Coon, and the other (the one with the problem) is Domestic Shorthair. Both were ASPCA rescues as kittens (4 months or so when i got them) and I got them about 3 months apart. right now they are about a year and a half old and have basically grown up together. The Maine Coon is OBVIOUSLY the dominant one. Right around 6 months after I got the Domestic Shorthair (I got him second) he started what seems to be litter box avoidance. He began urinating all over the guest bed then moved to a few corners on the floor. He will not defecate outside the litter box only urinate and I cant figure out why. I SCRUBBED the carpets, did my best to SCRUB the bed, they both have separate litterboxes which i keep very clean. The litter boxes share the same room but are in completely opposite corners. We even moved during this and it seemed to stop for about 2 months then - boom! - right back into urinating everywhere but the litter box (although every once in awhile i will catch him urinating in the litter box so I know he know thats what is there for). We also had taken him to the vet to ensure nothing was medically wrong and he was tested for UTI which came back negative. The vet had no suggestions. Ive been trying to keep him in a HUGE cage with his own litter box at night because this is when he seems to do it most and he gets free run of the house during the day unless we are going to be gone for an extended period of time like 6+ hours then he goes back to the cage. I tried this for about 6 months with no noticable improvements. Does any one have any other ideas? My girlfriend, as you could imagine, is getting very upset with this and is threatening to get rid of him if its not resolved and I just dont have the heart to put him in a new home. And he will definately NOT go back to the SPCA to rot in a cage if I have any say in it. I am out of options and I am looking for some much needed help. Thanks!
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-11-2011, 04:25 PM
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Are both males neutered? I think that tends to be the case when you get them from the SPCA, but am not sure if it's always true.

Is there any bullying going on?

Have there been any changes to your household, like a new person moving in, someone moving out, a noisy person moving in next door, etc?

My vet gave me a handout dealing with inappropriate elimination recently, let me go find it and I'll pass on the suggestions.


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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-11-2011, 04:37 PM Thread Starter
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Yes both are neutered, no "new things" going on and as far as I can tell no bullying, I mean they both beat up on eachother pretty regularly but they are still young and tend to do that and usually the one to pick the fights is the one whose urinating and not to mention hes usually the one comeing out on top in most matches lol - I dont get it. That handout would be great though thanks!

Last edited by jaderman; 01-11-2011 at 04:39 PM. Reason: more info
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-11-2011, 04:43 PM
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Have they both got their 'safe' places on different levels of the house? Like shelves they can jump on to etc?

If this is behavioural, then the 'bad boy' might be feeling anxious about the dominant one and might need to be able to get away from him.

Other things you can try: move his box to a different room, try a different litter (some cats just don't like certain types of litter).

You can also get a product called Cat Attract which is designed to make the litter box more appealing to the feline nose

Also, make sure the litter box is squeaky clean; some cats won't use it if it is slightly soiled.

Good luck
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-11-2011, 05:02 PM
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Almost forgot: have you changed brands of litter or types of litter boxes?

It is my understanding that some cats really have a problem with scented/perfumed litters and some are also put off by covered boxes, as these can concentrate odors and also can make the cat hunch over uncomfortably when he is trying to use the box.

Anyway, I found that handout. Here's what it says:

---------------------------------------

Differential Diagnosis

- house soiling
- marking
- separation anxiety
- iatrogenic causes of polydypsia/polyuria
- primary medical diseases, including but not limited to:
  • arthritis
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • FLUTD
  • diabetes
  • renal failure
  • incontinence
  • cognitive dysfunction syndrome
  • endocrine abnormalities


Diagnostics (sounds like you've already done this step)

- physical examination
- CBC, chemistry panel, urinalysis, fecal testing
- imaging study of the urinary tract
- further tests as indicated by the findings of the physical exam


Therapeutics
(after ruling out a medical cause)

Two primary objectives must be met.
1) make inappropriate sites unavailable or unattractive, and
2) provide cat with its ideal or "ultimate" litter box(es).

1) Make inappropriate sites unavailable or unattractive for house soiling; this can be done in a variety of ways, including:

• Restrict access to inappropriate sites: long-term confinement is not recommended since this may cause anxiety. Cats may use the litter box when confined, but this does not usually translate to continued long-term use once released, especially if other factors are not addressed.

• Place the litter box over the inappropriate site.

• Make sites unattractive by placing aversive material such as aluminum foil, double-sided tape, or a plastic runner with the protrusions pointing upward at the site.

• Place a deterrent such as an ultrasonic device at inappropriate site.

• When reliable box usage has been reestablished, gradual access to previously soiled sites may be allowed.


2) Offer a litter box cafeteria to determine cat's elimination preferences.


• Offer several boxes with different configurations (box style, litter type, litter depth, etc.) at various sites to determine preferences; boxes with preferential usage are retained.

• Consider using plastic boxes marketed for other uses as litter boxes; this will provide a greater range of sizes and shapes to select from.

• Historical findings may help to direct cafeteria options.

• Most cats prefer large, uncovered boxes with unscented, clumping litter; deep litter (3cm) is preferred over shallow litter (1cm), especially for defecation. Litter boxes should be easily accessible but not in heavy traffic flow areas.

• Young kittens and geriatric cats may need boxes near their core area (where they spend the majority of their time).

• Cats with mobility problems may require special box configurations such as low box sides that allow easy access.

• In multiple cat homes, litter boxes should be distributed throughout the environment to allow all cats access. An understanding of the social dynamics between cats is usually essential to assure all cats have access to an appropriate toileting area.


Additional considerations


• The owner may need to remove soiled substrates from the environment to prevent return to those sites.

• Cats appear to prefer clean boxes; clients should be instructed to perform:
- scoop once or twice daily to remove solid debris

- regularly (every 1-4 wks depending on size and number ox boxes) change and wash the litter box; all old litter dumped, box washed with liquid soap and water, box filled with new litter. Frequency of this change depends on box usage, litter type and cat.

- old plastic boxes may need to be replaced due to chronic discoloration perhaps associated with residual odor.

• Consider trimming perirectal and interdigital hair of long-haired cats.

• If trigger event can be established, make alterations to avoid that trigger in the future.

• Some cats prefer one box for urine and a separate box for stool.


Drugs

• In general, drugs are not indicated for the treatment of house soiling. If extreme fear or anxiety is preventing the cat from using the box and a box cannot be placed in a "safe" area for the cat, then antianxiety medications may be considered; in some cases it may be appropriate to treat the aggressor.


Other Treatments

• If anxiety, fear, or strained inter-cat relations is preventing the cat from using the box, synthetic pheromone therapy in the form of a Feliwayฎ diffuser may be of benefit.


Contraindications / Precautions

• Do not punish the cat if elimination is found outside the box.


Client Education

• House soiling is not done out of spite or revenge.

• Any contributing underlying medical problems must be identified and treated.

• Punishment is unlikely to resolve the problem and may worsen the problem.

• In multicat households, there may be different individual preferences for elimination; multiple box types may need to be maintained.

• If social factors are contributing, the inability or unwillingness to address them will hinder problem resolution.


Patient Monitoring

• It may take clients several weeks to complete the litter box cafeteria.
• Client should be instructed to keep a log of house soiling.
• Weekly or bimonthly contact is advised until the problem is resolved.


Prevention / Avoidance


• Adequate litter box cleaning and maintenance should be stressed to all owners.

• When additional cats are added to homes, the number of litter boxes should be increased; a standard rule is that the number of litter boxes should equal the number of cats plus an additional box.

---------------------------------------

Not sure if that gives you any new ideas, but I hope it helps.


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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-12-2011, 07:05 AM
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Here's another article from Cornell Feline Health Center that has some additional info:
Feline Behavior Problems: House Soiling


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