Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
I have two kittens, Cosmo and Wanda, they are brother and sister and both 6 months old. My roommates and I adopted them from the Humane Society about two months ago. They are also up to date on shots and both neutered. Since we had them, Wanda has consistently used the bathroom in multiple corners of the house. Every time the litter box is not full, it’s either just been cleaned or was cleaned not that long ago. We clean it about 2-3 times a day depending on how it looks. We noticed that it is only her that urinates there because we had to stop her multiple times. We have tried training her to only use the litter box by giving her treats whenever she uses it but it seemed to not work. So the roommates and I have decided to return Wanda to the Humane Society and keep Cosmo. So the real question is, is there anything else we can try? And, will separation of the two cats dramatically effect them?
Thomas: Inappropriate urination is an incredibly frustrating problem, and we know that from experience.
Bella: But the good news is that since we do know from experience, we can offer some tips that might help.
Tara: I hate to admit it, but I’m the one they all learned from when it comes to peeing where you shouldn’t. You see, I was so scared when I first came here that I never wanted to come out from under the couch. And so I peed under there, too.
Thomas: But Mama didn’t yell at her, because she knew that would make the problem worse.
Bella: Giving treats when Wanda uses the litter box is a great idea for positive reinforcement! So we’re proud of you for thinking of that.
Tara: So, the first thing we’d recommend is that you do a serious cleaning of the places where Wanda has peed. This means you’re going to need a black light to see the urine stains, and a cleaner designed just for cleaning urine stains and odors. Our big recommendation in that department is Fizzion Pet Stain and Odor Remover. Mama used it on my pee spots and it really worked!
Thomas: You can buy black lights and Fizzion online and at some pet stores.
Bella: Once you clean the urine stains and the odors they leave behind, buy some disposable litter boxes and put them in all the corners where Wanda has peed.
Tara: We’d recommend that you use the same litter that Wanda and Cosmo used at the shelter. She may be used to that type of litter and will be more likely to use it.
Thomas: Having multiple litter boxes will probably help to solve another aspect of the inappropriate urination problem. It’s possible that Cosmo is “guarding” the primary litter box and Wanda doesn’t feel like she can use it.
Bella: Guarding is very subtle behavior. It may look like Cosmo is just quietly lounging somewhere, but if you check, it’ll probably be in sight of the box.
Tara: Now, Cosmo can’t guard all the boxes at one time, especially if you have multiple boxes. So that might help with the inappropriate urination, too.
Thomas: That gets us to another important point. A lot of cat behaviorists recommend one litter box per cat, plus one extra. We say you should at least aim for having one box per cat and make sure the boxes are in different rooms.
Bella: If you try these steps, they should really help with the peeing problem.
Tara: Another thing you should do is have Wanda checked out by a vet. It’s not likely that a cat as young as Wanda would have a urinary tract infection or crystals in her urine, but it is possible. I had a urinary tract infection, and that was part of what caused my inappropriate urination.
Thomas: We always recommend that you do a health check whenever there are behavior problems. If Wanda does have pain when she pees, that could be a big part of her problem. If she’s come to associate peeing in the litter box with pain, that’s a big reason she might not use it for peeing.
Bella: That’s especially true if she’s pooping in the box but not peeing there.
Tara: As for how Wanda and Cosmo will react if they’re separated, that depends on how closely bonded they are. If they sleep together and play together, and if the Humane Society said they’re a bonded pair, they’re both going to be really sad if they’re separated.
Thomas: But if they’re not that closely bonded, it might not be as much of a problem.
Bella: We still hope you’ll try all the advice in this post before returning Wanda to the shelter.
Tara: We’re actually reviewing a book all about inappropriate urination problems, too. You’ll see more about that later this week.
Thomas: What about you other readers? Have you had to deal with inappropriate urination? What did you do to solve the problem?
Bella: Did you find out that your inappropriately peeing cat was actually sick, like Mama did with Tara? Or were you able to find a behavioral solution?
Tara: Please let us know in the comments. You’ll be helping Dillon, too.