Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
My cat is 18 years old and on medication for blood pressure and kidney trouble and her back legs seem stiff when coming down stairs. The problem I have is with her peeing and pooing. She has access to the garden and has always gone outside through the cat flap to do her business. She can still use the cat flap and still goes out occasionally. Recently though, she has taken to pooing and peeing on a rug in my living room. This has been going on for almost a year now. In desperation I have given her a litter tray which she does always use as long as it in the same place on the rug, in the living room in front of the TV! I tried moving it a little at a time to a more convenient (for me) place. For a while this worked; we got the tray into an area by the back door. But then she stopped using the litter tray and went right back to the (expensive) woolen rug. Sometimes she goes outside for a while then comes back into the house and poos on the rug. I have tried spraying the rug both sides and the wooden floor beneath with various sprays from a pet shop “guaranteed” to remove odours. I have had the rug steamed cleaned by two different companies, all to no avail. I am now back to sitting in my living room watching TV in the evening with a litter tray on the rug right under my nose! I am so fed up! What can I do? Please help!
Siouxsie: Well, Kay — first of all, thank you for being willing to try so hard to help your elderkitty. We give you lots of credit for that. But we do have some other ideas that might help.
Thomas: First, considering that you’re already taking such good care of her by giving her medications to treat her illnesses, we’re sure she’s getting regular veterinary care. But for the benefit of our other readers, we recommend that any time a cat (of any age) starts peeing and pooping outside the box, the first step you should take is a visit to the vet to make sure there’s nothing physically wrong with your kitty.
Bella: Back to you and your cat, Kay: We think there are a couple of things that are causing your cat’s inappropriate elimination problems.
Siouxsie: First of all, you said that your kitty is acting like her back legs are stiff when she goes down stairs. It’s not unusual for elderkitties to develop painful arthritis in the hips and knees, and this can make climbing in and out of the litterbox, or holding the appropriate positions to pee and poo, quite painful.
Thomas: With that in mind, we’d recommend that if you’re not doing so already, you give her glucosamine and chondroitin treats and/or MSM supplements. They won’t reverse her arthritis, but they may prevent further damage. Of course, do consult with your vet first to make sure that these supplements won’t interact harmfully with the medications she’s already on.
Bella: A heated bed is also wonderful for an old cat with stiff joints.
Siouxsie: I’m 17 and I get pretty sore sometimes, too. I love my heated bed and it really helps me feel less creaky on those cold winter days. … and who are you calling old, young lady?
Bella: Well, you are old! I hope I get to be 17 someday, too, so maybe I’ll be as wise as you.
Siouxsie: Well, okay then. *purrrrrr*
Thomas: We’d also recommend you get a low-sided litter tray — maybe one with a low-cut entrance. or even a cookie sheet with a small lip. Fill it with cat litter designed to attract cats. We’ve never used Cat Attract litter before, but we have heard good things about it.
Bella: Leave her current litterbox where it is and put the other litter tray in a location that’s more convenient.
Siouxsie: Keep in mind that older cats do start to lose their vision as they age, so if you put the new litter tray in a place with the same light level as her current one, she might be more likely to use it.
Thomas: Also remember that older cats can get forgetul. because of that, they may return to their litterbox location of choice because that’s the place they remember. The lingering scent of your cat’s waste can draw her to that location as well.
Bella: Not all cleansers “guaranteed” to remove odor actually do the job. In fact, some cleaning techniques like steam cleaning can actually set the odors in even more deeply.
Siouxsie: But don’t despair; there are products that really will get rid of odors. We personally recommend Anti-Icky-Poo, and some of our other cat blogging colleagues (and celebrity animal behaviorist Jackson Galaxy) swear by a product called Fizzion.
Thomas: You may need to have several litter trays around your home, too. Keep them in rooms where your cat likes to hang out so that she can get to a box quickly when she needs to do her business.
Bella: One more thing: because pee and poop are territorial marking tools, your cat may be responding to the presence of other cats in your yard. As an old cat, she may not feel as confident about doing her business outdoors, especially if she smells that other cats have marked her territory as theirs.
Siouxsie: If her favorite peeing and pooping spot is near the door, she may be trying to defend her territory. Consider providing her with an enclosed outdoor area where she never needs to fear invasion by other cats and installing cat deterrents like ultrasonic noisemakers to keep other neighborhood kitties away.
Thomas: And finally, be gentle with her. She is an old lady and we’re sure she’s doing the best she can. We think if you try one or more of these ideas, you may be able to get her peeing and pooping in the right place again — and you might even be able to watch TV without a litterbox under your nose.
Bella: Good luck, Kay. Please let us know how things turn out!
Siouxsie: If you other readers have experience with the products we mentioned, or if you have other ideas for helping Kay to
Hi, some additional suggestions: you might want to tell elderkitty’s owner to try some Rescue Remedy and/or Feliway, natural calmatives that may help elderkitty feel more at ease and less likely to go outside her litter box. In addition, if elderkitty is constipated, as many renal failure kitties are, she may need adjustments in diet and/or something like laxatone or perhaps even a medication such as lactulose or miralax , or if she has a loose stool she may need something like the probiotic Fortiflora or other medications for that. We have had a couple of kitties, one relatively young, the other as old as elderkitty, who were eliminating inappropriately who turned out, on being examined by specialists, to have heart problems which were not easily apparent to their regular veterinarians. In addition, we have had a 7-yr-old and an elderly kitty who began pooping and peeing on the floor in one case and on the sofa in the other case who turned out to have bladder stones. If elderkitty hasn’t had a a urinalysis with culture and sensitivity, it might be something to consider. Some female kitties can have chronic irritation/low grade cystitis, especially when older. And elderkitty’s owner might also want to consider whether there have been any changes in the household – people coming or going, furnishings changed around/redecorating, different work hours, etc. that elderkitty is perhaps reacting to.
A couple of years ago, my parents had to go out of town for a funeral. They were worried about leaving our 22-year-old family cat alone with the dogs for so much of the day, though my brother’s family would be over looking after the canines, so Topaz came to stay with me for a week.
One very helpful item my mother brought over was a package of puppy training pads. I know they aren’t the most attractive things to have around, but they’re awesome. My mom had brought over Tazzie’s cookie-sheet litter pan and her pine litter, but Topaz decided she wanted to use the very large “big kitty” litterbox in my office. I sure wasn’t going to discourage her, but her arthritis meant she had trouble crouching, so there was some unintentional peeing outside the box if she was standing right in front of the entrance. I put a couple of the puppy pads down near the box entrance, as well as a small cardboard box for Topaz to use as a step for getting into the big box easier, and it worked out beautifully. The puppy pads meant that I didn’t have to stress even a little when I saw Taz heading for the box, and they made for super-easy cleanup.
I was looking for some amazing pet site and found this blog. I’ve read some blog post and those post was really interesting to me. I hope to read this blog as regular basis.
I had a cat that was 18 I had problems also and I also realized he was no longer a happy cat,
if kitty isn’t living a full life and she is on all kinds of meds do the right thing and put her down
I also had to put down a beautiful tiger cat a year old she had F.L. it broke my heart and then
I was I the internet looking at the humane society kittens up for adoption and I saw this adorable
face, I didn’t want to rush so I waited three day and if she was still there she was meant for me
she was you could hear her screaming all the way to the front door and when they let her out
three people had to run around and I finally caught her and have been hugging her ever since
she gives me such joy, and when I think of the tiger cat (her name was Maddie) I just say
thank you! I’ll never forget her, and my new kitty if she knew(her name is Margo) would say
Thanks too! It was wonderful going to the Humane Society and see all the happy people taking
home their new pets. Gabi
If your kitty is on meds for blood pressure and kidney problems then at her age, I believe, she is probably in renal failure. Due to the arthritis and her restricted movement it’s probably hard for her to be as particular about her hygiene and the litter box as she once was. It’s like an elderly person who lacks the quality of life to care if they are as clean as they once were. If she’ s willing to use the box although it is in a very inconvenient area for you, then let her do it. Just remember that it will probably not be for emuch longer. I remember my Patches, 18 years old, who fought kidney failure and who I watched pee right in front of me on the carpet because she could not longer control her kidneys. She died the first day of Spring n 2010. Don’t let your baby suffer. Just put up with her a while longer. You’ll be glad someday that you did.
My vet told me that’s cats don’t like citrus scents. I asked because I wanted to stop my cat Zorro from eating his “catch” on my carpet. I bought a commercial lemon-scented spray and it seems to have worked. Perhaps you could try this on your rug.
CatAttract has done wonders for my elderkitty’s issues. We still have the occasional miss, but not nearly as much as before! I think CatAttract’s texture also does well on her tender pawpads. As for removing the smell, cleaning the spot with simple baking soda and vinegar seems to detract her from going there again.
Best of luck with your kitties! <3