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post #1 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-02-2015, 03:33 PM Thread Starter
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Problems with older cat

Charlie is a 15 year old male who was rescued by friends as a kitten (mama and kittens were living in a storm drain) and we adopted him at about 4 months. He has always been indoors and is very timid. Always been good with the litter box and affectionate to me and my wife. We adopted a new kitten from shelter about two years ago. The new Kitten - Fred - is very animated and friendly, but constantly attacks Charlie. We finally separated them with Charlie inside and Fred in basement and outdoors. This was over a year ago. Stairs to basement are in the garage so I put cat doors in the basement door and garage door so Fred was free to come in and out as he pleased and he seems to like this arrangement.

This worked well up to 4 weeks ago and Charlie stopped using the litter box. I cleaned and bleached the box, then bought a new one and he refused to use it. I then put Charlie in the basement (and locked the cat door) and have Fred inside. I will go to the basement 2 or 3 times a day to check on Charlie, but he is always hidden. However, he is eating very well and using the litter box in the basement consistently.

I feel badly that he is not getting any attention. Is it possible he just prefers it this way? I would appreciate any insights available from the forum.

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post #2 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-02-2015, 03:39 PM
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Are you using the same litter in both boxes?
Any way that Fred did have contact with Charlie recently?
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post #3 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-02-2015, 04:04 PM
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The most common reason a cat suddenly stops using a litter box is urinary tract issues...infection, crystals etc. He needs a vet visit to rule this out.

I'm also betting he doesn't understand why he's been banished to the basement, which creates stress which then lowers his immunity even further. The fact that he's hiding is an indicator that he is stressed and/or doesn't feel well. He needs the vet visit immediately.

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post #4 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-02-2015, 06:17 PM
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I fully agree with Doodlebug's comment - my first thought is a health issue, most likely a urinary issue. Cats don't just stop using the litter box for no reason... it is almost always a medical reason. A vet visit is definitely needed to pinpoint what's causing the issues.
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post #5 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-02-2015, 07:07 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input - I should have included vet info in my initial post. I have had him to the vet twice to be checked since the behavior started. They do not show any infection or UTI - also ran a scan for any blockages and that turned up negative
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post #6 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-03-2015, 02:31 AM
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Is he not using the box at all - for pee or for poo? If you haven't changed the litter or the placement of the box, I wonder if he has arthritis. That might make it hard for him to use the box.You could try a low-sided box, and have x-rays taken.

The fact that he's hiding isn't good. If he does have arthritis, it could be causing pain (I know it causes me pain...). The vet would be able to prescribe pain meds.

Putting him in the basement seems like a major, possibly upsetting, change for a 15-year-old kitty. What some people have done, with success, for kitties not using the box is to put puppy pee pads inside the box without any litter. Maybe that would work for Charlie?
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post #7 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-03-2015, 12:59 PM
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poor charlie. i'm just guessing he is unhappy because of the new situation. it does sound a bit like the new kid on the block is getting preferential treatment unfortunately. if anything, charlie should have the run of the place in his golden years and the young guy should learn to respect him and learn his boundaries. he may still be impressionable enough to train better. i'm probably dreaming on that one, but one can hope!

we have unfortunately decided after our own bad experiences of bringing in younger (actually ANY other) cats into a home with a senior kitty, that it's not a good idea. it really upset the older cats and their quality of life went downhill. i don't think i will ever do it again.

i hope you are able to make it work eventually. but i would definitely give charlie a LOT more love and attention so he doesn't feel slighted in any way.
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post #8 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-03-2015, 02:11 PM
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I can't imagine he is happy in the basement - no family - except an occasional visit from you, no warm bed to sleep with his people in. It all sounds very depressing to me. Of course when I think of basements, I think of rat or mouse infested **** holes covered in spider webs like what I had as a kid and I was terrified of going down there. I realize many people's basements are not like this and yours may be heaven on earth, sans companionship.

Maybe making the place more wonderful for him would help. Cozy perches up to a window to look out, soft comforting cat music during the day, warm places (near a heat source maybe) to take the chill off his old bones. Or you could move him to your bedroom where he can at least spend the nights with you. I agree with Maggie - Charlie deserves to live out his senior years as the preferred cat resident - not the banished old man.

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post #9 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-03-2015, 03:45 PM
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Hi Don,
I think, like Spirite, there may be some arthritis issues going on...
Was he still trying to get close to the litter box (same area)??
A lower cut out box, he can get into may solve that issue.
Also x-rays of his hips and spine would be good, as he could have further injured something, and you wouldn't necessarily know it, but it could certainly keep him from moving easily...

Agree with Marcia...
He needs the areas he's used to, in the house, not the basement, you need to be able to keep an eye on him, and he needs to be as comfortable as possible at 15 years old!
The stairs are a nightmare for a cat with arthritis, or spinal injury...

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post #10 of 13 (permalink) Old 03-03-2015, 03:45 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks to all for your responses. The basement is clean, heated and dry with plenty of cozy spots to curl up on - but I do agree that Charlie deserves the preferential treatment in his senior years. What is confusing me the most is that ever since he has gone to the basement he is now using the litter box exclusively. This is the same box that Fred used when he was in the basement.

Is it possible that he is just a grumpy old man who wants to be left alone ?
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