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September 22, 2018

Porky and Buddy Pet Health – Dealing With Your Cat’s Litter Box Avoidance Issues


Dear Porky and Buddy,
My eight-year-old tabby, Sid Vicious (it’s a long story. He’s really a sweetie pie), has suddenly started peeing outside the litter box. Not every time, but often enough that it’s becoming a problem. What should I do?
John

Dear John,
OK, we’re going to ignore his name and just call him Sidney.

Since this is a new problem, we are willing to assume that he is not just annoyed about that awful name.

So the first thing to do is call your vet.

There are MANY physical conditions that can cause FIE, “feline inappropriate elimination.”

Diabetes, kidney disease, bladder tumors, bladder blockage caused by diet, bladder cystitis, and hormonal imbalances.

All of these can be diagnosed with urinalysis and other tests and all can be treated.

We are assuming that Sidney has been neutered, right?

Because if not, then what seems like litter box avoidance may just be his natural habit of “marking” his territory.

Unspayed female cats will do this sometimes too, but neutering generally stops the problem for both males and females.

If all these possible physical causes are ruled out then Sidney’s litter box avoidance is in all likelihood being caused by guess what?

His litter box!

He doesn’t like it.

He’s being picky.

He’s a cat.

If he wasn’t picky he would be a dog instead.

Your job, as his servant, is to figure out why he doesn’t like it and fix the problem.

Think about your life with Sidney.

Have you recently changed something about his litter boxes that he may just plain dislike? A new kind of litter or location or lining?  Or a new housemate?

First of all, how many boxes do you have?

You should always have at least one more box than the number of cats.

So one cat, two boxes, three cats, four boxes, eleven cats, yikes, twelve boxes.

And you have to clean them all at least once a day, more often than that if they are used heavily.

They should have at least two inches and up to four inches of litter.

No heavy perfumes – cats don’t like it no matter how much you do.

They tend to prefer clumping litter.

And make sure the box is appropriate for Sidney’s size and agility.

You don’t have to leap into your toilet and neither should he.

Some cats don’t like hooded litter pans.

Some don’t like plastic or newspaper liners.

Don’t clean the boxes with bleach.  He can smell that. Just use a mild detergent.

Experiment with locations – one box in every level of your house and in places without a lot of uproar and foot traffic, such as a bathroom.

In short, it may take some time and some ingenuity on your part to find the problem, but it’s a lot better than cat pee where you don’t want it.

In all seriousness, FIE is the most common behavioral problem cited by pet owners who are relinquishing their cats to humane organizations.

What are the chances of a cat with that history finding a new home?

Please take the time to figure it out now before you are desperate.

The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County.

Located at 110 W. Second St., Oswego, NY.

Phone: (315) 207-1070.

Email: [email protected]

Website: www.oswegohumane.org

Because People and Pets Are Good for Each Other.

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