Cat Forum banner

wit's end with my cat

4800 Views 28 Replies 17 Participants Last post by  cinderflower
I'm at wit's end with my cat. She's about a year and a half old, spayed, we've had her about six months. She had a UTI about two months ago, a persistent one that took two full courses of Clavamox to get rid of. But the vet pronounced her healthy about three weeks ago.

The problem is, during the UTI she had begun peeing on both kitchen rugs and the bathroom rug...and then on our bed. We have gotten rid of the rugs - she'd peed so many times on them they were pretty much unsalvageable - and switched to Cat Attract litter, which she seems to like, and used a ton of Nature's Miracle on the bed - on the blanket, on the sheets, on the mattress. We thought that would take care of it.

Nope! She's still peeing on the bed. We had wrapped our bed in plastic - a few cheap shower curtain liners duct-taped together to make a big enough sheet - during the UTI, and for a bit afterwards. We tried taking the plastic off a week ago. She peed on it the same day. So we put the plastic back on as we re-cleaned everything. Took the plastic off again, she did it again. It can't be that there's any smell left, we SOAKED things in Nature's Miracle and washed all the bedding with Nature's Miracle as well as regular detergent and bleach.

We tried spraying the bed, especially the area toward the top of the bed that she favors, with lemon oil, because we had read that cats dislike citrus and will avoid it. She obviously didn't like it, but she just moved further down the bed and tried to pee - I was watching like a hawk so I shooed her off before she could, whereupon she went straight to her litterbox and used it instead. So I don't think she's averse to the litterbox, she just prefers the bed. We've also tried putting a small dish of her food up on the bed because most animals won't go where they eat...she just moved a little ways away from the dish before trying to go again.

She won't even try it if someone is on the bed - I spent a couple days with my laptop working from the bed to see what she would do, and she won't try to pee on the bed if I'm there, she just curls up to sleep or goes somewhere else.

We tried making up the bed with a different comforter, one she's never peed on before, this morning. And just a bit ago, I turned my back to take care of something in the kitchen for *literally* less than two minutes...and turned back to see her scratching at the comforter to "bury" her pee spot.

I have no idea what to do. It can't be a smell thing with as much cleaner as we've used. The vet pronounced her healthy after the second Clavamox-ing, so it's not a UTI. I scoop her box at least once, sometimes twice a day, and make sure there's plenty of litter (she likes a pretty deep bed of it). She's an only cat, and there have been no particular changes in our life that could be stressing her. The UTI seems to be pretty clearly the precipitating event, but now that the UTI is gone, and the spot is cleaned, why is she still trying to go on our bed???

I just don't know what to do. We live in a studio apartment, so it's not like we can just shut her out of the bedroom and be done with it. Am I really doomed to an ugly plastic-wrapped bed for the next twenty years or until we move into a place with rooms that have doors? We don't have a lot of money - we can't afford to replace the mattress. I just can't think of what else to do. Maybe try putting lots of food dishes on the bed so there's no spot that's sufficiently "away" from the food for her to pee? I don't want to get rid of her but I don't know that I can handle this if it's always going to be a problem...
See less See more
1 - 20 of 29 Posts
First of all, until you solve your problem, you should probably keep her out of your bedroom. You've only had her 6 months, but she's a year and a half old, correct? She might be trying to tell you that she isn't happy with something, whether that be the placement of her litterbox, or maybe she needs her own little space, and she's not getting it, or not happy with the one she has. My cat Oliver acts up really, really badly when his 'spot,' which is the top of the refrigerator has anything other than his stuff on it.

She might have some things that to her were routine and important, but seem not so important to you, or maybe you don't notice them at all. Watch her for a day or two and you might figure out what, if anything, is bugging her.
They sale slip cover protectors at walmart and other discount stores for your bed. It covers the whole bed all around and zips closed.

I would put out a second litter box if I were you to see if she will use it also. sometimes its just location.
After a cat develops a litterbox aversion due to UTI, you'll have to take steps to re-train them. Because of the UTI, they'll be associating 'bad things' wth the litterbox. She was peeing on rugs and the like because it's soft and comfortable.

Now you can try a couple of things. You can try putting newspaper in the litterbox to 'soften' the litter for her. If that doesn't work, then you'll have to do the tough love approach.

I had a similar litterbox prob with my Miu except for her, it was poo outside the box. Now what I did was buy the biggest dog kennel there was which is about 48". Then I put in a litterbox, a water dish and a crate with the top off with some cushions to serve as a bed.

I started to confine her whenever it was approximately poo time. This was roughly between bedtime snack and morning. If she pooed correctly, she was let out. If not, then she was confined til morning. If I still saw nothing in the morning, I confined for a couple more hours then regardless if there was anything, she was let out. Then confinement would start again after bedtime snack.

Although our cases are somewhat different, I hope that helps.

Although our cases are somewhat different I hope that helps.

All meals were fed inside the kennel with the door open since she wasn't being confined during that time. The door was always open when she wasn't being confined so she could go in for a nap if she wanted.

This went on for 6-9 months before she finally got the idea and started to consistently poo correctly in the box by herself when unconfined. It was touch and go. I would confine for a while, then not confine to see if she got the idea. If not, it's back to the kennel routine.

I did it this way so she wouldn't see the kennel as punishment or a 'bad thing'. There were times when she actually went in by herself to lounge or nap. She was clearly comfortable and treating the place like her own house since the other cat never went in there.

Now I had previously tried confinement in a room, but that proved too big because she still pooed outside the box. So I made it confinement area smaller with the kennel. You might want to start with a room before investing in a kennel if that doesn't work.
See less See more
I would try buying new box and new litter. Walmart sells matress covers that are water proof. They are for children who wet the bed. Washes up easily.

Try changing your cats diet too. UTI can reoccur easily. Are you sure he is over the UTI. Have his pee checked to see if there is still an infection. Or try a different vet. Not all vets are created equal.

I know this is extremely frustrating. Thanks for hanging in there and that you keep looking for answers for this kitty.
With a studio apt. unfortunately, yes you will have to constantly keep your bed covered. The cat has learned that peeing on a bed is better than a litter box, because it is instantly absorbent, and no need to "cover" and no occasional wet paws that cat has to clean up. When she does go to the litter box, I hope you're praising her and giving her a tiny treat. If you only limit treats to when she goes to the litter box, she'll associate and anticipate getting one when she does. You should try the method suggested by Alpaca, as I have used the same with good results. Sometimes you can get a good deal on a large size wire collapsible dog crate on Craigslist or kijiji. I think a crate is indispensable.....for correcting behavior like this, as a safe haven to rest, confinement for rehab from injury, travel etc.
Also you can go to Home Depot or other building type store and buy a few long sections of clear plastic ummm cant think of the name, carpet runners? like you put infront of Doors, but on the underside of them is little nobs that dig into the carpet.

Anyway, you turn these upside down and when your cat jumps on furniture or cupboard etc etc, their paws hit the little nubs and its very uncomfortable and they hop right off. Great for training them not to get up on things
Thanks to all who've replied. To reiterate what I said in my OP, to those who suggest keeping her out of the bedroom, I don't have a bedroom. I live in a studio apartment - a fairly big one, but a studio nonetheless - which means there are no doors except for one closet and the bathroom. I have no way to keep her away from the bed at all. So while I appreciate the sentiment, "keep her away from the bed" is kind of a nonstarter as far as potential approaches to the issue go.

The thing is, I don't think this is true litterbox aversion exactly. Because she uses the litterbox just fine when the bed's covered; she never pees on the carpet or other furniture. It's more like bed is first choice, litterbox is second choice if the bed isn't available - this is also why I don't think adding another box will do much to keep her off the bed, because she doesn't seem to be dissatisfied with the box she has, she just likes the bed better.

As far as a recurring UTI or something, no, we're absolutely sure she's over the UTI. The vet did a full culture - you know, where they call you in 3-5 days w/results - at her last appointment to be sure. And we really trust this vet, as my husband's family has been taking their six (at various times) cats to her for more than 20 years, so I don't think the vet is the problem. We've tried adjusting her diet to eliminate the risk of future UTIs by shifting to primarily wet with only a tiny amount of supplemental dry food (as opposed to currently 1.5 oz a day wet and half a cup dry), but she *did not* like it - she wouldn't eat all or even most of the increased wet food meals, and would try to lead us to the dry food bin because she was still hungry. We also tried switching her to a higher-quality wet food by mixing it with her current wet food, no dice there either. She seems to be quite set in her ways as far as food goes. >.< The best compromise we've been able to manage to help keep her better hydrated and reduce risk of another UTI is that when I feed her her wet food 2x a day, I add two spoonfuls of warm water and mix it together into a sort of "kitty jambalaya" as my husband calls it. Which she loves. So for now, we're just going to stick with what works. (Also we're getting a cat fountain to encourage her to drink more water as well.)

We had, for a bit, been praising and giving her treats when she used the box. I had thought that was enough, because she had gone back to consistently using the litterbox and we were just keeping the bed covered as a "just in case" sort of thing, so we stopped. I like the idea of using the crate as a training ground, but I'm not sure how to implement that, because her pee times are much more varied than her once-a-day poop, so I couldn't just crate her at certain times. Maybe...if we uncovered the bed, and I did the constant-vigilance thing, and then as soon as she jumped up and started to paw at the covers, picked her up and put her in the crate with the litterbox? Does that sound like something that might help her learn to reprioritize the box over the bed? (I'm thinking of getting a collar with a bell for her, too, so I can at least *hear* her when she jumps up on something, as opposed to only being alerted when she starts knocking things over or pawing at things.)

A friend from another site who studied animal behavior and behavior modification in college recommended I use clicker training to encourage her to play/sleep/eat on the bed while it's uncovered, to help her associate the bed with those things instead of with going to the bathroom. So I might try that too.

I'm sorry if I seem negative, I guess there *are* options still to try, I'm just...exhausted of dealing with this, considering we've been wrestling in some way or other with inappropriate elimination problems for about two months straight. And I know it's not really fair to her to be so upset with her about it, it's not like she's doing it to be spiteful (I don't think...), but just...ugh. :-/
See less See more
You treated the mattress with Natures miracle, covered it ect. Maybe the smell is deep inside the padding. I would frankly chuck the old mattress and buy a new one that has never been peed on and has zero chance of holding the smells at all. I really wish I had another idea for you.

I wish you luck. Just step back and take a deep breath. I know there where/are plenty of times I throw my hands up and swear 'WILL NEVER HAVE PETS AGAIN!!" then I just do it anyways. Its frustrating to be sure.
For whatever it's worth, when I had a cat who was peeing on the furniture and rugs, especially our couch, I ended up taking the couch to the dump and replacing it with a used one I found on Craig's List. Once the new couch was there, she never peed on it.
Unfortunately, I'm unemployed and my husband is only working part-time right now because business is slow at his shop, and mattresses are a couple hundred bucks at least. I'd love to get a new mattress, really, ours is pretty old, but...well, rent and food have to come first, y'know?
Jadelyn, I understand your frustration all too well. Ever since my Johnboy was a kitten, he's had a thing for peeing on the bed. I've tried everything but he still sometimes takes it upon himself to christen it just one more time. He has never had any health issues, he is just an extremely sensitive kitty. He's never liked physical affection much.. so as a baby, when he was happy, he'd tinkle on the comforter. Nowadays, if one of the litter boxes is not sufficiently cleaned to his perfect specifications, he won't step his precious paws into the box. If I haven't played with him enough, snuggled with him enough or coddled him enough, talked to him enough and involved him enough in absolutely everything, he becomes unhappy and depressed and lets me know his own frustrations and insecurities by weeing on my super comfy bed right before bed time.

I don't have money for a new mattress and I do what I can, and I'm most certainly not giving him away for something that is not his fault. It happens a lot less now that I involve him in nearly everything I do. If I'm cleaning, for example, I call him over and talk to him during.. play with him with random stuff.. he is very happy to be so involved. But it still happens. At my wits end, I kept a shower curtain - in addition to our mattress cover - over our comforter when we were not in bed. He didn't like the feeling of it on his regal paws, :roll:, so he took his furry bum to the litter box. It wasn't the most beautiful thing to look at.. but whatevs! It was only temporary.

Let me ask you some questions (even though they may start to sound silly!): what is her personality like? Is she outgoing or more secluded? Where is her kitty box? High traffic area, somewhere hidden? Is it covered and large enough for her to comfortably move around in? Is there a specific time of day she pees on the bed? When you return home, when you are about to leave, towards bed time? What is your reaction towards her every time she goes on the bed (or somewhere else)? Ignoring, frustration, comforting/reassuring? How long during the day is she home alone? And is your studio very bright? My brother's was larger, but rather enclosed with only one small window. Just in case, do you use a lot of scents in your home? Candles, perfumes, air and carpet deodorizers? So many scents may confuse the nose.

Because I have a sensitive kitty, I'm agreeing with you that this is not physical. She may be unhappy about something in her environment, something we may find utterly stupid to pee around the house about. :lol: Or she may find it comforting or be confused by scents.

So many questions, but it's worth asking in case maybe something hasn't been hit on yet.
See less See more
Morse had this issue when he got a UTI. I used a big wire dog crate to retrain him. The other thing that helped him was Feliway. I had a collar that had the Feliway stuff on it, as well as a room diffuser.
Goodness, sounds like you have a very finicky cat! I congratulate you on figuring out his quirks and how to keep him happy.

Let me ask you some questions (even though they may start to sound silly!): what is her personality like? Is she outgoing or more secluded? Where is her kitty box? High traffic area, somewhere hidden? Is it covered and large enough for her to comfortably move around in? Is there a specific time of day she pees on the bed? When you return home, when you are about to leave, towards bed time? What is your reaction towards her every time she goes on the bed (or somewhere else)? Ignoring, frustration, comforting/reassuring? How long during the day is she home alone? And is your studio very bright? My brother's was larger, but rather enclosed with only one small window. Just in case, do you use a lot of scents in your home? Candles, perfumes, air and carpet deodorizers? So many scents may confuse the nose.
Well, let's see. In temperament, she's my little crazy-pants. Pretty high-energy during her "active periods", of which she has 2-4 a day punctuated by long naps, and definitely not shy about letting me know that it is playtime when she wants interactive play - by knocking things over until she gets my attention, if necessary. Her litterbox is in the corner near our bathroom, a quiet corner of the place that only gets walked by when one of us is going to use the bathroom. It's uncovered - she didn't seem to like the cover when we originally had it - and it's big enough for her, as she's a fairly small cat. Time of day...I don't know that there's a pattern there. Mostly in the evening, but there have been a couple morning events too, so. I pretty much flip my **** when she pees on the bed, at least at this point because it's a long-term frustration. I do raise my voice, although not a lot, just snapping "NO. Bad kitty!" as I go get her. We usually snag her and put her in her travel crate while we're cleaning up and re-making the bed, spending maybe 10-20 minutes in there. And while I hate to admit it, I tend to be kind of distant from her for awhile afterwards, not wanting to interact or anything for half an hour or so because I'm upset with her. She's only rarely home alone, with me unemployed/working from home (trying to start selling my jewelry and my writing) and recently with my husband only working part time; at most she'll be alone for a couple hours while I/we run errands. Our place is actually surprisingly bright, we're a basement on the downhill side of a large house and about two-thirds of the outer wall is taken up by a very large south-facing window, with a sill wide enough for her to lay on and hang out chittering at birds and squirrels (and in fact, she's sleeping in the window right now!). We don't use a *lot* of scents - I'm a fan of smelly bath products but those don't really go anywhere but in the tub/on me, and I do burn incense once or twice a week, but we use natural/unscented cleaning products as much as possible, so I don't imagine it would be too overpowering.
See less See more
Morse had this issue when he got a UTI. I used a big wire dog crate to retrain him. The other thing that helped him was Feliway. I had a collar that had the Feliway stuff on it, as well as a room diffuser.
How did you use the crate? Did you keep him in it all the time until he was retrained? Some of the time? Just until he had used his box a few times?

I've been considering Feliway as well. I didn't know it came in a collar - I'd only heard of the diffuser and spray forms.
What a nightmare. What I can add is something I read long ago...animals can detect an odor in something no matter how many times you clean it or what you use to clean it with.

So starting over with bedding an option? also, how about those cat repel products in the can? I've never tried them but seen them in pet shops. supposed to deter them from being on furniture etc?

If you try them, can you buy a cheap used comfortor/blanket that is large? Spray it with this product and put it on the bed whenever you aren't using it? Take it off at nite and keep resprayiing it. This along with some other suggestions? Good luck.
Nature's Miracle enzyme cleaner claims to dissolve it well enough to actually eradicate the scent. Who knows, really. The bedding...maybe. Would kind of suck, as we have a queen-size bed and actually decent sheets (the Pure Beech "modal" fabric ones from Bed Bath & Beyond, they are absurdly soft), and those suckers run about $50-70 per set. Sadly, the boundary/repel stuff doesn't seem to work on her. We tried spraying it on the large room-divider screens we have to make a pseudo-"bedroom", because she was scratching on them and nearly pushing them over, and at most it kept her away for about an hour before she was "over it" and back to doing as she pleased.

We seem to have been, ahem, ~blessed~ with what my husband calls "The 1% Cat" - she's in the small minority that actually licked at her spay wound, isn't affected by boundary sprays, prefers dry food to wet, etc. >.<
I agree with Morse that feliway is definitely worth a try. You can purchase a feliway spray which I have used on pee areas to great success. The cats never peed on the furniture after it was sprayed regularly with feliway for about a week. I did this in combination with adding a new litter box. Good luck!
How about those motion sensitive air horns? I don't know if they'd work on a bed, but if they do, and they scare her off enough times, maybe she'd stay away from the bed.

Here's two examples:
Contech StayAway Motion-Activated Pet Deterrent

Innotek SSSCAT Cat Training Aid
Really? Awesome. That gives me hope. :)
1 - 20 of 29 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.