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Discussion Starter #1
My vet is recommending behavioral therapy for my cat's litterbox problem.

He pees in it 4 out of 5 times. The 5th time is in a corner somewhere. He never poops in the box, but always right next to it.

We did all the conventional stuff: extra litter boxes, proper privacy and variety of locations, twice-daily cleanings, vigilant carpet spot cleaning... nothing.

We also did paxil, but it ruined his personality. He's the perfect little lovebug -- the sterotypical orange tabby -- but on paxil he wanted nothing to do with us, and actually got a little nippy. Thank heavens that effect went away when we stopped the meds. We're going to try buspar next.

He also has some anxiety. Wanders around crying, can't be comforted. Oh yeah, and he's really dumb. I know, it's not nice to say, but it's the truth. I've had a lot of cats, and I've never met as dim a cat as this one. He gets lost in the house and cries til we call out and he can follow our voices and find us. He's never learned his name, doesn't understand the concept of "fetch", and when he catches and bites his own tail, seems baffled by it. Cause-and-effect is a mystery to him in all regards. Sweet, but stupid.

Apologies for the rambling background, and back to the original question:

What exactly is involved in behavioral therapy? What are the success rates, especially given that my sweet boy has the IQ of cabbage? Is it an ongoing process, or is there the possibility of that a few sessions will show results?

Thanks so much for any thoughts!
 

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I've never worked with a bahavioral therapist, so I can't offer advice on that. But if he's really that dumb....maybe he's challenged in some way, maybe some brain damage that prevents him from understanding the litterbox concept consistently. Just a thought....
 

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Kettle said:
He also has some anxiety. Wanders around crying, can't be comforted. Oh yeah, and he's really dumb. I know, it's not nice to say, but it's the truth. I've had a lot of cats, and I've never met as dim a cat as this one. He gets lost in the house and cries til we call out and he can follow our voices and find us. He's never learned his name, doesn't understand the concept of "fetch", and when he catches and bites his own tail, seems baffled by it. Cause-and-effect is a mystery to him in all regards. Sweet, but stupid.
My MIL had a cat like that, down to the pooping issues. For a long time we thought she was just odd, but she then had a neurological seizure or breakdown, and had to be PTS. The vet never caught on because she could not see the behavior that we were describing.

I don't know if behavioral therapy will help, but maybe you get a professional to observe these behaviors at home and see if there is anything to it, at least.
 

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I've read that buspar works better in cats than the other anti-anxiety meds. As for your questions, I don't think there's any real answers. So much depends on the behaviorist and the situation. I've had consults with two behaviorists for a situation with a cat who's no longer here. One was a vet and the consult was in her office. I found that fairly useless. The other was a non-credentialed individual who came to my home. I learned some things from her, but since Tommy had to be rehomed anyway, I still consider that a failure. So my personal success rate is zero.

Yet, in spite of that, if you can find a good one, I'd still recommend the behaviorist before you put your cat on medication. If there's a behavioral cause, and if you can find the trigger(s) and remedy them, you have a chance for success. A professional feline behaviorist will probably charge around $75 for one consult with telephone follow-up. If there's a clear-cut behavioral issue, one session should be enough, providing you're diligent about implementing the behaviorist's recommendations.

Be sure to look for an individual who does in-home consults. Check with local vets, shelters, and humane associations for referrals.

Good luck!! :D
 

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I looked into taking Willow to a behavioural therapist becuase frankly she can be a nasty peice of work - biting, scratching and really vicious. The problem was I had to take her to this chap who was about an hour away and she got so upset each time I went to put her in the box that I was afraid she just wouldn't be receptive by the time we got her there.

If yours is ok in the car or you can get someone to come to you and actually see him in his own environment I think that might be better.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you all. That's great advice about getting the specialist to come to the house.

There's an article in today's L.A. Times on the subject of new treatments in veterinary science, and it said that there are only 42 board-certified behaviorists in the U.S. so I guess it's not surprising that not many people have actually used one!

As for the possibility of brain damage... I dunno. I knew a cat once who had hypoxia-induced retardation, and he was obviously, well, retarded. He lacked basic elements of catness. My kitty doesn't so much seem damaged as just dumb. As far as I know, no one ever tried to drown him; he's naturally on the far low end of the normal intelligence spectrum.

Thanks again; please check back in if something else comes to mind!
 

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I have a dog with similar intelligence problems. Let's just say he's very pretty.

I have no experience with behaviorists, so I hope you can find something that works
 
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