Paws and Effect

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

I have two male cats that grew up together since they were tiny. They are both neutered but one, Loki,  seems to be more stressed out than the other. We brought Loki to the vet because he was standing in the litter box while peeing and pees against a wall (almost every day). They did find very small crystals in his urinary tract but she thought the behavior was stress-related. So we tried the Feliway and “Good Cat” herbal stress reducer. It seemed to work at the beginning, but now it’s back to his same routine. He pees in one location every day and defecates in the litter box. They both have their own litter box. We tried different boxes with different litter (wheat, regular cat litter, pellets, etc.) and he seemed to use the regular cat litter. We moved the boxes back to the regular spot they go to and now he’s back to his peeing on the floor thing. Is this stress related? And if so, what can we do to have Loki pee in his litter box? This is very frustrating and I don’t want to give him up. Please help!

~Geoff

Siouxsie: So far, you’ve done everything right: You took Loki to the vet to make sure the inappropriate urination wasn’t caused by health problems, you’ve used the Feliway and Good Cat to reduce the level of stress in his life, and you even moved the litter box to the place where he was peeing.

Thomas: The fact that Loki used the litter box when it was in the place he pees tells us that there’s something about that particular spot that’s making him feel the need to mark it with urine.

Dahlia: Is the peeing spot near a window or a glass door, by any chance? If so, Loki may have seen an intruder cat outside and decided to stake out his territory by urinating near the window where the offender was seen.

Siouxsie: If it is near a window or glass door, try covering the bottom two feet of the glass with an opaque cloth or a piece of cardboard. It’s not fantastic for your décor, but it could go a long way towards putting a stop to Loki’s unwanted peeing.

Thomas: After you’ve taken care of this step, you’re going to need to clean the place where Loki’s been urinating. Even if you can’t smell the odor anymore, rest assured that Loki can — and once it starts to fade, he’s going to feel the need to freshen it up again. The easiest way to clean the stain is to use an enzymatic cleaner.

Dahlia: But not all enzymatic cleaners are created equal. The product we recommend is Anti-Icky-Poo, which is phenomenally effective not only in neutralizing the odor but in actually cleaning the stuff that causes it. It’s worth the extra few bucks, trust us! (Also, if you order it from Cat Faeries, the site we linked, they’ll send you specific instructions on how to use it.)

Siouxsie: If you have carpeting, be aware that the urine may have soaked through the carpet and into the backing, and possibly even into the sub-floor. Any cleaning you do is going to have to take care of that deep-penetrating odor.

Thomas: For mild urine marking (and trust us, a place that’s been peed on many times is not mild) or a one-time “mistake,” a mixture of white vinegar and water can make for easy and inexpensive cleanup.

Dahlia: Whatever you do when cleaning up cat urine, do not use ammonia or bleach! Cat urine has ammonia in it, so by using ammonia you may be encouraging more urination behavior rather than less.

Siouxsie: After you’ve used the Anti-Icky-Poo to clean the spot on your floor, let it dry. Buy a piece of plastic carpet runner — the type that has the grip spikes on the bottom — and place it on the area where he pees, with the spikes facing up. This will make it much less pleasant to use that area as a toilet.

Thomas: And even if for some reason he still wants to urinate in that spot, he’ll be peeing on plastic, which is much easier to clean up than carpets or hardwood floors.

Dahlia: Geoff, we think you had the right idea when you put the litter box in the place where Loki has been urinating, but you may have moved it back to its old location too quickly.

Siouxsie: If after you clean up and put the carpet runner down, he’s still wanting to mark in that area, you can try bringing Loki’s litter box back to that place. This time, put it next to the upside-down plastic carpet runner. When he’s been using that spot for a couple of days, move the litter box gradually, like a foot or so per day, back to its proper place.

Thomas: If you’ve been using a Feliway diffuser, put it in the room where Loki’s been urinating. If not, consider purchasing one. If the room in question is filled with happy-cat pheromones, it will make him less likely to feel stressed enough to urinate.

Dahlia: And if all else fails, talk to your veterinarian about medication. Some cats have had really good results from a short course of Prozac. The drug will make your cat less likely to get triggered into his stress behavior and can help to re-wire his brain.

Siouxsie: We’re not big on using psychiatric medications on cats, but we believe that if nothing else has worked and you’re considering giving up your cat because of his behavior, please try the Prozac first.

Thomas: Good luck, Geoff. Please let us know how things turn out.

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