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Seymour came into my life 10 years ago as a kitten. Throughout his life, he has had bathroom "issues" -- peeing on the guest bed until I threw out the comforter, peeing on my bed (sometimes with me in it!), pooping on the floor, etc.

I've had him checked by numerous vets numerous times, and they all say they can find nothing medically wrong with him. I've tried every trick in the book -- moving the litter box, adding an additional box (I have 2 other cats), scolding him, giving him EXTRA reassurance that I love him when I come home to his "surprises", telling him what a good boy he is every time he successfully uses the litter box -- I mean EVERYTHING I can think of.

I used to be able to tolerate his behavior because it would only happen once every few weeks and he could sometimes go months without an incident.

But now I come home to a "surprise" almost EVERY DAY! Most days it is poop in the middle of my bed, some days it is pee. I cannot live like this any longer! I'm embarrassed to have friends, not to mention potential boyfriends, over to my place. I have to wash and bleach my sheets every evening when I get home. My mattress is encased in 3 layers of waterproof protection. I'm worn out!

The last vet I took him to prescribed antidepressants. But Seymour manages to retch up any pill or liquid I give him, no matter how cleverly disguised or deliciously flavored -- and I've been giving medicine to cats for years, so I'm not a first-timer here.

I apologize for the extra long post, but I am DESPERATE! Please don't write back telling me it's a medical problem, unless you really have some possible NEW medical diagnosis that all the vets could have missed for all these years. Please DO write back if you can offer any help at all. I'm really at the end of my rope.

I LOVE Seymour -- more than anything. But I cannot continue to live with this behavior.

A couple of brief facts:
--We did just move to a new city and new apartment 3 months ago, but he seems to enjoy the place and acts completely normally, aside from the bathroom issues. This is not his first move -- probably his 5th.
--Before we moved here, I spent a year away from my precious kitties because I had to go to the UK. They had a wonderful caretaker who said that Seymour only occasionally had "issues".
--I have tried every kind of litter known to mankind and plan on getting a self-cleaning box with my Christmas money, but I don't believe this is a litter box issue, because I keep it very clean.

Thanks in advance to anyone who can help!

--Abigail
 

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I have a cat who for 7 and a half years has left me near-daily tootsie roll treats right in front of her litter box. Doesn't matter what litter, how clean, when, where. If I catch her, she uses the box. If not, the floor. She will NOT poo on carpet though, so I carpeted the area where her box is. It has helped a bit, though she still seeks out smooth floor, like the bathroom or the fireplace, on occasion. It is behavioural, not medical, so I understand your frustration.

Is there a way you can keep Seymour out of your bedroom? I would start with that. Then I might try giving him his own box with not litter but paper. Messy, smelly, but infinitely better than your bed. I would also consider getting a new mattress and box spring and throwing away the current rubber sheets. Also, can you get some more specifics from the caretaker? The trick is figuring out what Seymour prefers about your bed, and duplicating it elsewhere.
 

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i am sorry to hear you are having problems with your kitty, the only thing i can think of that you haven't mentioned is...
have your tried different brands of cat litter, i've read before that cats won't use it if they don't like they way it feels or something like that.
sorry i can't be more helpful.
hope you find a solution. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
thanks... still trying

From now on, Seymour will be locked out of the bedroom during the day. I'll see if that helps. (At night, he snuggles with me on my pillow).

I've tried every kind of litter, but have never been able to find a connection between the litter type and the behavior. But I do plan to try a self-cleaning box. Every once in a while, I think he does it because he thinks the box is too dirty.

Honestly, I think sometimes he does it because he's too lazy to get off the bed, and other times he does it because he's just CONFUSED about what is the right thing to do when he needs to use the bathroom. Sometimes he'll run like crazy around the house, making weird noises and sudden stops, then finally either head for the bed or the litter box. It doesn't seem like he's in pain, just like he's afraid he's about to do something "bad" and is already thinking about getting in trouble.

AAACCCK!

Any other advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Abigail
 

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If you're sure that you are cleaning EVERYTHING that has scent on it, I'd only give the same advice everyone else has. If cats smell a little bit of their past pee, they will most likely pee there again. Is there anything that could still have scent on it? You could try other scents too that would throw your cat off, or be unattractive to your cat so that he wouldn't want to be around it. Ginger, alum, citrus scents, and bitter apple are some. I also know about this page -- it might help.

http://www.catcaresociety.org./litterbx.htm
 

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Discussion Starter #6
thanks... problem still "moving"

Thank you all for the advice.

As mentioned before, Seymour (along with Natasha & Lolita) is now locked out of the bedroom when I'm not home.

So now he poops on the carpet! Not quite as often as the bed, but often enough.

I'm going to look for some "smelly" stuff to try to dissuade him. Does anyone know if lavender might work? The other suggestions seem like they might be a little overpowering for me too.
 

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Good news!

I think I have a viable solution for you. If you can find a pharmacy that does compounding (usually any independently run pharmacy), you can have the prescription compounded into what is called a transdermal gel. Transdermal means "through skin". It comes in a cream form that the prescription is suspended in. You'll rub the prescribed amount of lotion (usually, the pharmacist will have measured out each dose for you) into the inside tip of the cat's ear. The skin on the inside of the cat's ear is very thin, and the medication will be absorbed through the skin into the blood stream. Ask your vet to write a prescription for a transdermal gel, bring it to a compounding pharmacy, and you should be all set! Nor more wretching.
 

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bathroom issues

With behavior problems, drugs alone do nothing--you must also have a behavior modification program in place. Also, while the transdermal gels are wonderful in many situations, not all drugs can be absorbed that way--amitriptylline and other psychoactive drugs don't seem to work very well topically. Pharmacists can make transdermal gels from anything, but it doesn't necessarily follow that the cat will actually benefit, and meantime you've wasted a lot of time and money for nothing.

Pooping outside the box tends to be a very different issue than peeing, although both can have "marking" as an impetus. Given what you said, you might try this: have only 1" of litter in the box. Declawed, arthritic, or overweight cats often have problems squatting, and don't like it if they sink too much in the litter. His preference for carpet certainly would fit that scenario. Other possibilities are explored in our free article library under "Litterbox Secrets," http://www.littlebigcat.com/index.php?action=library .

Since this has gone on for a long time, don't expect any overnight fixes. This will take dedication and patience on your part.

Unfortunately I see this all the time--I'm not saying you're in this place, but I have to vent a little here--people live with a problem for years, then one fine day decide they've reached the end of their rope--and the cat gets dumped at a shelter (and is automatically euthanized as unadoptable) or gets euthanized by the vet. Problem solved, but how fair is that to the cat? He's just gone along doing what he always does, no clue that it's unacceptable, and then bang he's dead.

I would definitely recommend a behavior consultation with a professional to really get to the root of the problem, and structure a program that will solve it.

Good luck!
Dr. Jean
 

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i dont have any super behavior problems with my cats like this but if some sort comes up what sort of professionals do you suggest? Vets dont seem like the answer.
 

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bathroom issues

No, you're right, most vets don't have a good handle on cat behavior issues. They tend to only have a few tools in their toolbox to deal with them--change the litter, declaw them, or give drugs! (Most vets just really aren't cat people, although if you have a cats-only vet nearby, they're more likely to be able to help!).

There are lots of animal behavior consultants and certified behaviorists, but again, most are more dog oriented. (I admit to a slight bias against the "certified" types as they tend to be very by-the-book--IMHO, with cats you have to be creative, and maybe even a little crazy!) But there are a few good ones who do cats. My partner in Little Big Cat, Jackson Galaxy, is quite amazing, if I may say so--he has wonderful intuition for kitties. He works more holistically and prefers not to recommend drugs. There's lots of info on our website if you're interested. I have also heard good things about Kate Gamble and Pam Johnson-Bennett (easy to find with an internet search). Occasionally I also refer stubborn problems to an animal communicator; I work mostly with Kate Solisti-Mattelon in Boulder, CO, but there are many talented folks out there. All these folks can work long distance by phone, so location isn't an issue.

There are many things you can try at home for most types of behavior problems, but when it's a really dire situation, a little extra insight from a professional can be invaluable!

Cheers,
Dr. Jean
 

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RE: My experience with transdermals

Prozac, which has been shown to be the most effective anti-anxiety drug used to correct inappropriate elimination according to studies over the last two years (effective in over 90% of cases, as opposed to about 70% of cases using amitryptiline, valium, or busprione), and it does absorb through the skin in the form of a transdermal.

Personally, I did not find any behavior modification measures necessary with my cats, who were on fluoxetine (Prozac) for four and six months respectively, to combat anxiety-related issues. Once their anxiety disorders were under control, they were back to their old selves, and fortunately, we were able to discontinue its use at that time.

In my area, transdermal fluoxetine runs about $1.50 a day. It is more expensive than the other three drugs, but it doesn't have side effects like they do, and of course, the efficacy speaks for itself. I don't have any problem recommending that you try it for two months. Generally, it takes about 6 weeks to reach its fullest effect. I think it's especially worthwhile since your vet has recommended trying an anti-anxiety/antidepression med.

Just my experience...
 

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bathroom issues

Jessica, you were fortunate! It's been the consensus on the behavior list I am on that without environmental and/or behavioral modification, most drugs don't do a whole lot, and that's been my personal experience as well. Sometimes you get lucky, most of the time you don't! :) You didn't do anything at all to change the dynamic (add or move a litterbox, nothing?). That's fascinating; I don't see that very often!

BTW if you have citations for those studies I'd love to see them; the research I've seen has been far less clear cut.

I am not convinced that this particular case is anxiety related, although we have very limited information. In this case, for example, there are 3 cats and 2 litterboxes; most experts recommend 1 box per cat + 1. It may be an ambush or competition issue, or it could be physical. Urinating outside the box is usually a different issue from defecating outside the box, and the former is usually more amenable to drug therapy than the latter. However it probably wouldn't hurt anything to try the transdermal.

Cheers,
Dr. Jean
 

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bathroom issues

Yes, the boxes should be spread around in various places. Not everyone *has* enough rooms, of course (I have 5 cats, but only 3 rooms!). But if there is a traffic or location issue, it doesn't do any good to line up all the boxes together.

If there are multiple levels in a home, there should ideally be a box on each level. This is particularly important for overweight, declawed, or older cats, who may have discomfort going up and down stairs.

Sometimes using different litters in the various boxes can help a cat who has a substrate preference. For instance, the kitty who goes on the carpet may like a thin layer of soft, scoopable litter. For a cat who likes to use the bathtub, a large box with no litter at all may find favor. You sometimes have to get real creative with cats! :)

Cheers,
Dr. Jean
 
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