How to get the cat to stop peeing everywhere
October 3, 2004 10:36 AM   Subscribe


We have 2 cats; one an ancient, sickly 17+ year-old male and the other one a 2 year-old male. The 2 year-old has started peeing in weird places around the house (on top the dryer!!) like he's marking territory, although he's always been dominant. They both share a large catbox that's kept fairly clean. Any thoughts?
posted by jpburns to Pets & Animals (11 answers total)
First, you might want to take your cat to the vet because going outside of the litterbox can be a sign of a serious problem. My cat started doing it when he had a urinary tract blockage, which is an extremely serious and potentially fatal problem. If it's a male cat, I would not hesitate to bring him in for a check up just to be on the safe side.

If you determine that it's definitely a behavioral and not physical problem, you might want to consider getting a second litterbox because sometimes cats are territorial about their litterboxes. Another thing you may want to try is a product called Feliway, it is a little expensive, but pretty effective product that helps cats to stop peeing to mark their territory.

Last thing - make sure everything he's peed on is cleaned up super well, you might even want to consider special cleaners like Anti-Icky Poo in order to fully remove any scent from his urine. Cats will often go back to places they've already urinated to urinate again if they can still smell it.

Good luck - I hope that everything is ok with your kitty & that you get a handle on the situation. One of my cats has had problems with inappropriate urinating after he recovered from a urinary tract blockage because he no longer wanted to share a litterbox, and I found that getting the second box, a Comfort Zone plug-in from Feliway, and cleaning or getting rid of things he had peed on have made a huge difference.
posted by catfood at 11:03 AM on October 3, 2004

Is he "fixed"? Intact male cats spray.
posted by konolia at 11:54 AM on October 3, 2004

I don't think it's the 2-year old being sick, it sounds like it's because the 17-year old is. If he's sick, his urine and/or stool might be upsetting to the other cat, hence finding new places to pee. It might also be causing a new scent, hence making the younger cat think he needs to mark territory again.

Start by cleaning the hell out of the litterbox (as per recent MeFi rules, obligatory mention to not use bleach) and see if that helps. If not, try isolating the sick cat with his own litterbox and see if the 2-year old starts finding accomodations suitable again.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:52 PM on October 3, 2004

I cannot hurt to get the younger cat checked, although I suspect that the issue is likely something to do with what XQ... suggests and/or the age of the younger cat (who at 2 is likely just starting to become truly territorial). Any change in litterbox habits warrants a vet check, urinary problems in (especially male) cats can go from "minor annoyance" to "life threatening" fairly easily. Ruling out a medical problem should always be a first step when trying to change any behaviour in any animal - there is no point in trying to change the behaviour if the problem is medical.

I agree with providing another litterbox in another room (and not in the same room as food and water, unless it's at least 12 feet away) - cats are often reluctant to share litterboxes, especially if they are of the same sex (and neutered males will often spray, this is not at all unusual, especially if they are not the only male in the house, spraying is not limited to intact males).

A product called "Nature's Miracle", which is an enzymatic cleanser, works amazingly well (used as directed).
posted by biscotti at 1:04 PM on October 3, 2004

The standard formula is 1 box per cat plus 1. So for 2 cats, a vet would recommend at least 3 boxes. It may sound like overkill, but compared to cleaning urine stink out of household goods every day, it's infinitely superior to all other options.

Do take the cat to the vet immediately, though. There are a number of health problems which can cause a cat to break litter training, so the first priority is that checkup.

For cleaning, definitely use an enzyme-based cleaner from your pet store. It breaks down the urine so that even a cat's highly developed sense of smell cannot detect it. Ordinary household cleansers are not adequate.

(Also, you mention that the box is "fairly clean". Cats are fastidious cleaners. "Fairly" may not be a high enough standard in his mind. If it's a behavioral, rather than medical, problem then you've got your work cut out for you. Merely cleaning the box better won't cut it. The cat will need to be newly convinced that the box is superior to all the other alternatives he's discovered.)
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 1:17 PM on October 3, 2004

Get the younger cat a checkup; my friend had a cat that started peeing in weird places, and it subsequently died of kidney failure a couple months later.
posted by aramaic at 2:35 PM on October 3, 2004

Not helpful in anyway, but it's very, very rare that my cat sprays, but why is it she always sprays the damned electricals?!

Having said that, mine went through a very short phase of 'toileting' indoors (she always goes outside normally) but she stopped without any trips to the vets. If it had been any longer I would have attempted to get her to the vets even tho she hates being put in the cat box and would have messed all over the box as well!
posted by floanna at 3:35 PM on October 3, 2004

gonna chime in on the get him to the vet, pronto, line of thinking. when my four year old male started peeing outside the box, he had the urethra blockage problem common to tomcats, which will the cat if left untreated. he spent five days in the cat hospital and nearly died. of course, in addition to peeing outside the box, he was also listless and generally acting sick.

adding a third box should help, if it turns out that the younger cat isn't sick.
posted by crush-onastick at 4:03 PM on October 3, 2004

Another vote for the vet.

Our big cat — Simon — was peeing in strange places at about the same age. He was also whimpering when he urinated. Turns out he has a urinary tract infection; something about large crystals in the urine making it painful for him to urinate normally.

The vet bill was expensive, yes, and now we have to feed him expensive prescription food, but at least we have the big lug around to keep us company.
posted by jdroth at 4:12 PM on October 3, 2004

Thanks for the advice.

The older cat had FUD (Feline Urinary Distress, that'd be blockage...) in the past, so we've been alert to the signs, but we didn't think that it matched the symptoms. You've convinced me that I had better take him to the vet, anyway, just in case.

Thanks, again.
posted by jpburns at 4:55 PM on October 3, 2004

I'm seconding biscotti- Nature's Miracle is the greatest thing invented since cats discovered how to pee. Unfortunately, it also costs more per ounce than crack, so use it wisely.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:03 PM on October 3, 2004

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