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Cat peeps.. I need your help..litter box woes

siamese3

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jul 27, 2007
Messages
948
So I've had cats my whole life and never had any litter box issues, although it has always been my worst fear. Now it's gone from a fear to a reality. I thought that it seemed like Dash (8 month old) hadn't pooped for a day.. I know this because I keep their boxes pretty immaculate and today, I went into one of our spare bedrooms and found that he had been pooping and peeing in the bed up in the pillows and down comforter. I called the vet and made an appt to take him in and rule out any health issues. After her initial exam, her thought was that he seemed physically okay. They did a blood panel and took x-rays. X-rays looked fine. We have two cats, so 3 boxes which I scoop and sift every day and change out completely every two weeks. I use feline pine because that is what the breeder used. Their boxes are in a nice, quiet corner of the basement. We transitioned them from upstairs about 2 months ago and it went seamlessly. I am racking my brain trying to think of what might have happened. We did have a plumber in the house last friday morning, although we have had a dishwasher installed prior and had no issues. I can't think of any other stressor that might have happened or any other big change. I have put another box in another quiet area of the basement and shut off the bedroom and put a box in the bathroom upstairs off the bedroom where he pooped and peed. I am so upset. For poor little Dash and for me. I have had a cat with anxiety before and I sometimes get that vibe from him.. but at the same time, he is super outgoing and friendly. The vet gave me some amitriptyline (low dose) to give him for a few days. The good news, at least I think it's good news, is that he used his box (pee) when we got home from the vet. I had put out a box with scoopable litter to see if that was an issue, but he chose his regular litter so I picked up the scoopable to not introduce more litter issues.. not sure if this was a good idea or not..everyone on the forum is so helpful & supportive just looking for insight, helpful tips, whatever..
 

elle_71125

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jan 29, 2012
Messages
4,949
When my husband and I brought home our new cat, he kept going to the bathroom in the corner of the basement...and on the couch...and in the dog beds. Anyone that’s had to deal with cat pee know it’s the absolute worst! I tried a few different things to try and get him to use the box but the one that worked best was temporarily switching to Dr. Elsey’s cat attract litter. Something in it makes them want to use the litter box. It’s inexpensive and it works.

Link to the cat litter Here
 

siamese3

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jul 27, 2007
Messages
948
When my husband and I brought home our new cat, he kept going to the bathroom in the corner of the basement...and on the couch...and in the dog beds. Anyone that’s had to deal with cat pee know it’s the absolute worst! I tried a few different things to try and get him to use the box but the one that worked best was temporarily switching to Dr. Elsey’s cat attract litter. Something in it makes them want to use the litter box. It’s inexpensive and it works.

Link to the cat litter Here

Hi Elle Thanks for replying. I am familiar with that product and have used dr. Elseys before for senior cats, and this is on my list of things to try. Thanks for letting me know that it worked for you.
 

Cerulean

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 13, 2019
Messages
1,520
I am so sorry you are dealing with this.

Tree House Humane Society based in Chicago used to offer counseling on behavioral issues, most commonly litter box issues (I know because I worked there once upon a time!)

I would give them a call/email and see if they will offer a free consult. Just tell them that you are looking for behavioral advice - not to surrender/adopt a cat. They used to have a behaviorist on staff (for a fee) if a free consult from an adoption counselor doesn't help you.

It is possible they only work with locals now....but they used to help anyone who called.

Here is their site / info on behavioral help.

Ditto the Cat Attract, and definitely use an enzymatic cleaner for where he has gone outside of the boxes.

A few q's - a bit rusty but I was trained on basic stuff around this:
Where exactly are the boxes in your house now?
Do they have lids?
Do you use liners?
Is he declawed?
 

Matata

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Sep 10, 2003
Messages
7,631
There are a few things that can go wrong...cat no longer likes the type of litter or the location. Cats tend not to like covered litter boxes so if yours are, try uncovering them.

Inappropriate elimination occurs most often in multi-cat homes. There's the possibility that the other cat is doing something to cause the issue -- bullying Dash, bothering him when he's in the litter box, preventing him from getting to the litter box. Absent a medical issue, most litter box issues are resource related -- not enough, not in the right place, used as territory disputes in multi-cat homes. Putting a box back upstairs was a good idea and you'll probably have to continue doing that as long as you have the cats.

Litter boxes should be completely emptied and cleaned once per week.

You might reconsider getting rid of down bedding as that is a known trigger for peeing especially.
 

siamese3

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jul 27, 2007
Messages
948
I am so sorry you are dealing with this.

Tree House Humane Society based in Chicago used to offer counseling on behavioral issues, most commonly litter box issues (I know because I worked there once upon a time!)

I would give them a call/email and see if they will offer a free consult. Just tell them that you are looking for behavioral advice - not to surrender/adopt a cat. They used to have a behaviorist on staff (for a fee) if a free consult from an adoption counselor doesn't help you.

It is possible they only work with locals now....but they used to help anyone who called.

Here is their site / info on behavioral help.

Ditto the Cat Attract, and definitely use an enzymatic cleaner for where he has gone outside of the boxes.

A few q's - a bit rusty but I was trained on basic stuff around this:
Where exactly are the boxes in your house now?
Do they have lids?
Do you use liners?
Is he declawed?

No lids, no liners, just big and open.. boxes in basement and on 2nd floor..
 

siamese3

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jul 27, 2007
Messages
948
I am so sorry you are dealing with this.

Tree House Humane Society based in Chicago used to offer counseling on behavioral issues, most commonly litter box issues (I know because I worked there once upon a time!)

I would give them a call/email and see if they will offer a free consult. Just tell them that you are looking for behavioral advice - not to surrender/adopt a cat. They used to have a behaviorist on staff (for a fee) if a free consult from an adoption counselor doesn't help you.

It is possible they only work with locals now....but they used to help anyone who called.

Here is their site / info on behavioral help.

Ditto the Cat Attract, and definitely use an enzymatic cleaner for where he has gone outside of the boxes.

A few q's - a bit rusty but I was trained on basic stuff around this:
Where exactly are the boxes in your house now?
Do they have lids?
Do you use liners?
Is he declawed?

Oh crap..forgot to say thanks for the info for behavioral issues contact!! And it made me tear up when I read the part where you said you were sorry I was going through this.
 

Cerulean

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 13, 2019
Messages
1,520
No lids, no liners, just big and open.. boxes in basement and on 2nd floor..

What room are they in? As an example - sometimes if they are tucked in a tight space (like a nook, bathroom or a closet) that can really change how a cat perceives threats in their space.
 

siamese3

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jul 27, 2007
Messages
948
There are a few things that can go wrong...cat no longer likes the type of litter or the location. Cats tend not to like covered litter boxes so if yours are, try uncovering them.

Inappropriate elimination occurs most often in multi-cat homes. There's the possibility that the other cat is doing something to cause the issue -- bullying Dash, bothering him when he's in the litter box, preventing him from getting to the litter box. Absent a medical issue, most litter box issues are resource related -- not enough, not in the right place, used as territory disputes in multi-cat homes. Putting a box back upstairs was a good idea and you'll probably have to continue doing that as long as you have the cats.

Litter boxes should be completely emptied and cleaned once per week.

You might reconsider getting rid of down bedding as that is a known trigger for peeing especially.

No covered boxes..know that is a no no.. and I have lots of them. Mia is not noticably a bully..she is actually the more laid back..they are kittens though..neither one them really seems to take on the more dominant role..they get along quite well and are sibs..Unfortunately. I have experienced a bullying cat in my life.. thank you for all of your insights..
 

Cerulean

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 13, 2019
Messages
1,520
Oh crap..forgot to say thanks for the info for behavioral issues contact!! And it made me tear up when I read the part where you said you were sorry I was going through this.

No problem - happy to help however I can. There are so many details that we may not think twice about that make a big difference to a kitty.

In the case of declawing - the litter might actually be too "hard" or he may have other issues going on with his paws

<3

I hope Tree House can help. We love them - but sometimes boy, it really would be nice if we could talk to them or read their minds!
 

siamese3

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jul 27, 2007
Messages
948
What room are they in? As an example - sometimes if they are tucked in a tight space (like a nook, bathroom or a closet) that can really change how a cat perceives threats in their space.
They are in corners in the basement and bathroom so they feel safe and protected..or at least that was the thought process..they can't really be corned though..
 

siamese3

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jul 27, 2007
Messages
948
No problem - happy to help however I can. There are so many details that we may not think twice about that make a big difference to a kitty.

In the case of declawing - the litter might actually be too "hard" or he may have other issues going on with his paws

<3

I hope Tree House can help. We love them - but sometimes boy, it really would be nice if we could talk to them or read their minds!

Oh gosh..not declawed!
 

JPie

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Feb 12, 2018
Messages
3,694
I can’t think of anything that hasn’t already been said here. I wanted to thank you for being such a good cat mom and being patient and kind to Dash. My cat was abandoned in an empty apartment by her former human for peeing outside the litter box. The worst part was that this woman had another cat that she took with her on her move across the country. Some people shouldn’t have pets.

Anyway, I hope you and Dash figure it out!
 

SparklieBug

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Feb 23, 2013
Messages
316
A friend of mine (with multiple cats) had one of her cats inexplicably peeing outside the box. She tried so many things like new litter, moving boxes, cleaning several times a day, etc.

After many months of making (futile) adjustments for the culprit, she ended up having an animal communicator session for the cat. I don't recall what the issue was, but shortly after, the cat's behaviour changed and he now pees inside the box.
 

missy

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jun 8, 2008
Messages
44,854
Ugh, I am so sorry you are dealing with this. Very stressful. We went through this with Fred. I have nothing else to add to the valuable info shared here. But to share what we did for Fred when he started peeing outside the litter box. He was old and had arthritis so that was the main reason there but we put wee wee pads everywhere he would like to go and it worked. I know that isn't a great solution but just in case nothing else works. Hugs to you. I hope you can figure it out and that he starts using the litter box @siamese3.
 

siamese3

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jul 27, 2007
Messages
948
I can’t think of anything that hasn’t already been said here. I wanted to thank you for being such a good cat mom and being patient and kind to Dash. My cat was abandoned in an empty apartment by her former human for peeing outside the litter box. The worst part was that this woman had another cat that she took with her on her move across the country. Some people shouldn’t have pets.

Anyway, I hope you and Dash figure it out!
JPie, so wonderful that you were there for your kitty!
 

siamese3

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jul 27, 2007
Messages
948
A friend of mine (with multiple cats) had one of her cats inexplicably peeing outside the box. She tried so many things like new litter, moving boxes, cleaning several times a day, etc.

After many months of making (futile) adjustments for the culprit, she ended up having an animal communicator session for the cat. I don't recall what the issue was, but shortly after, the cat's behaviour changed and he now pees inside the box.

Wow.. that's pretty amazing.. I had an * year old siamese that liked to eat string and when I met my husband he had a "talk" with Ping and told him not to do that anymore and the rest of his life, seven more years, he never, ever did it again.. I told him to have a chat with Dash..
 

siamese3

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jul 27, 2007
Messages
948
Ugh, I am so sorry you are dealing with this. Very stressful. We went through this with Fred. I have nothing else to add to the valuable info shared here. But to share what we did for Fred when he started peeing outside the litter box. He was old and had arthritis so that was the main reason there but we put wee wee pads everywhere he would like to go and it worked. I know that isn't a great solution but just in case nothing else works. Hugs to you. I hope you can figure it out and that he starts using the litter box @siamese3.

Thank you Missy.. it is very stressful and hard to not know what's happening with him. I really think he is a complex little guy.. he is very cuddly and fun loving, but I feel like I just get this anxiety vibe from him.. my cat mama radar has been up for a while with him, and before the litter box problem, I have been concerned about his chewing.. he had these little toys, which we call his & Mia's "fetchin' mice" (because they fetch them, lol) and he has always chewed on them after eating. I chalked it up to teething, but it has continued and I worry about it becoming an ocd kind of thing. I also found out yesterday that he has some gingivitis already and we had planned on brushing their teeth, as siamese are notorious ,for dental issues but we were waiting for all their adult teeth to come in because I have read that sometimes when their gums are still tender it can be kind of irritating. I don't think he has pica because he doesn't seem to necessarily want to eat stuff or wool sucking, just chewing. I have never really experienced that level of chewing before. I told the vet about it yesterday.
 
Last edited:

siamese3

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jul 27, 2007
Messages
948
My morning update has some good news. Dash used the boxes upstairs so that is a plus. I'm guessing this means it's not a "type of litter" issue per se. This morning, I went to the to see what happened down there and he seems like he wants to use those boxes, too. He got in them and I thought he was going to pee, (was in position) but he heard something (maybe it was the hot water heater go on.. boxes aren't near there but you could hear it) and he looked a little startled or a little nervous. He also seemed to be looking around after he got out of the box..(I could be imagining all of this..) Mia was with us, and he doesn't at all seem worried or bothered by her. As I "stirred" the litter around he did come back over, got in, dug a little but then left.. not sure if he really even had to go. No one used the alternative box in another part of the basement. The boxes are in a corner near the sump pump and my DH is wondering if that could have gone on while Dash was using the box.. our possible factor.
 

missy

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jun 8, 2008
Messages
44,854
My morning update has some good news. Dash used the boxes upstairs so that is a plus. I'm guessing this means it's not a "type of litter" issue per se. This morning, I went to the to see what happened down there and he seems like he wants to use those boxes, too. He got in them and I thought he was going to pee, (was in position) but he heard something (maybe it was the hot water heater go on.. boxes aren't near there but you could hear it) and he looked a little startled or a little nervous. He also seemed to be looking around after he got out of the box..(I could be imagining all of this..) Mia was with us, and he doesn't at all seem worried or bothered by her. As I "stirred" the litter around he did come back over, got in, dug a little but then left.. not sure if he really even had to go. No one used the alternative box in another part of the basement. The boxes are in a corner near the sump pump and my DH is wondering if that could have gone on while Dash was using the box.. our possible factor.

Great update! I hope Dash continues to use the litter box. It very well could be due to being startled by noise. Our cats at least are startled quite easily by any noise. It can be exhausting especially if they are on me at the time because they claw me on their way running off me when startled. Ouch. And LOL.

Best wishes for continued success with Dash using the litter @siamese3.
 

ecf8503

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Feb 14, 2005
Messages
3,840
Cat vet here - here are a few handouts we give clients. (Sorry if they don't format correctly)



GENERAL LITTER RECOMMENDATIONS​

(Consider Chewy.com or Amazon if not readily available)​



Plain clay litter



Example:

Premium Choice Carefree Kitty, usually available at pet stores.



Unscented Scoopable (clumping) Litter



Examples:

Everclean (6 varieties)- unscented formula.



Arm and Hammer Unscented. Note that baking soda is bitter tasting, and not readily accepted in the litter pan, but cats do seem to choose this brand.



Scoop-away Unscented. This brand label has changed multiple times. Used to read “Scoop-away Free”.



Premium Choice unscented. Available at Pet Supplies Plus, also in bulk quantities.



Pestell Easy Clean.



Dr. Elsey's Precious Cat Ultra Clumping Cat Litter



** Note that Fresh Step Unscented litter is objectionable to many cats.



Please let us know what is available to you and what litter you think your cats prefer. Brand availability is always changing.




Why a cat may stop using a litter box

Don’t assume that your cat likes the litter because he/she uses it. Just because we have used a gas station restroom, port-a-john, or a public rest room does not mean we liked it, it was just the best option at the time.

We do not train our cats to use a litter box. We may show them where it is, but they use it instinctually because it works for them, not because it is “right.” Similarly, if they eliminate outside of their box, they are not “breaking the rules”. They do not know that eliminating out of their box is “wrong”. They are doing what they have always done--eliminating where they want to. Do not punish. Your cat does know when you are angry, but they do not understand why.

Don’t make arbitrary changes. If you are making changes to the litter box (es), be sure you have a plan. Be patient. Be observant. Feel free to ask our staff for guidance so that we can help you.



Some reasons why a cat may stop using the litter box are:



Inconsistencies
regarding any of the below:

Too dirty (for some cats that means used once)



Size of box

Style of box (covered vs. open)

Addition of plastic liner



Competition (ideally, should have 1 more box than the number of cats)



Location
(doors, stairs, other pets, loud appliances)



Depth of litter



Smell
of litter (or litter area, deodorizers)

Taste of litter

Feel of litter

Effectiveness of litter (ease of burying, absorbency)



Painful experiences at the box (medical problems with voiding urine or passing stool)

Frightening experiences at the box (dogs, children, adults--punishment, mechanical equipment)
 

siamese3

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jul 27, 2007
Messages
948
Cat vet here - here are a few handouts we give clients. (Sorry if they don't format correctly)



GENERAL LITTER RECOMMENDATIONS​

(Consider Chewy.com or Amazon if not readily available)​



Plain clay litter



Example:

Premium Choice Carefree Kitty, usually available at pet stores.



Unscented Scoopable (clumping) Litter



Examples:

Everclean (6 varieties)- unscented formula.



Arm and Hammer Unscented. Note that baking soda is bitter tasting, and not readily accepted in the litter pan, but cats do seem to choose this brand.



Scoop-away Unscented. This brand label has changed multiple times. Used to read “Scoop-away Free”.



Premium Choice unscented. Available at Pet Supplies Plus, also in bulk quantities.



Pestell Easy Clean.



Dr. Elsey's Precious Cat Ultra Clumping Cat Litter



** Note that Fresh Step Unscented litter is objectionable to many cats.



Please let us know what is available to you and what litter you think your cats prefer. Brand availability is always changing.




Why a cat may stop using a litter box

Don’t assume that your cat likes the litter because he/she uses it. Just because we have used a gas station restroom, port-a-john, or a public rest room does not mean we liked it, it was just the best option at the time.

We do not train our cats to use a litter box. We may show them where it is, but they use it instinctually because it works for them, not because it is “right.” Similarly, if they eliminate outside of their box, they are not “breaking the rules”. They do not know that eliminating out of their box is “wrong”. They are doing what they have always done--eliminating where they want to. Do not punish. Your cat does know when you are angry, but they do not understand why.

Don’t make arbitrary changes. If you are making changes to the litter box (es), be sure you have a plan. Be patient. Be observant. Feel free to ask our staff for guidance so that we can help you.



Some reasons why a cat may stop using the litter box are:



Inconsistencies
regarding any of the below:

Too dirty (for some cats that means used once)



Size of box

Style of box (covered vs. open)

Addition of plastic liner



Competition (ideally, should have 1 more box than the number of cats)



Location
(doors, stairs, other pets, loud appliances)



Depth of litter



Smell
of litter (or litter area, deodorizers)

Taste of litter

Feel of litter

Effectiveness of litter (ease of burying, absorbency)



Painful experiences at the box (medical problems with voiding urine or passing stool)

Frightening experiences at the box (dogs, children, adults--punishment, mechanical equipment)

Thank you for posting this. Extremely helpful. I especially like the part about just because they are using, doesn't mean they like it and the examples of portapotty, etc.. I have been on the fence about the pine pellets and while I like that it doesn't track all over and the lack of dust, I have often thought it just doesn't seem like a "natural" kind of texture that a cat would like.. will check the list and research best options. He is using both the basement and upstairs boxes today so I feel that is some progress, but would like to figure out what made him chose not to use it.
 
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