How can I find a home for a troubled pet?
December 12, 2004 11:35 AM   Subscribe

How can I find a home for a troubled pet? [more inside]

I am at my wit's end and don't know what to do. The problem started when my girlfriend moved in over two years ago, bringing two adult cats along. My two adults did not get along with hers, and we've tried just about everything to get them used to each other. Eventually, we had to just separate them, but it broke my heart to have cats barricaded in my basement, so we decided to just open the basement door to let the cats come and go. It's been like that for about a year without many problems, and I thought I was making some progress when one of my cats started coming upstairs willingly and tolerating the others (being able to sit in the living room with the other cats while we watch TV).

The past month or so has been different, though. My cat started peeing (and worse) on our bed. I draw the line there, because I cannot afford to buy all new bedclothes and mattress pads every couple of weeks.

I would like to find this cat a new home, because I think the basic problem stems from having too many cats in a small space. I know if I take her to the animal shelter, they will have trouble adopting her out, given her past and her age (nine). I doubt an ad would work because she's very skittish (and I cannot in good conscience give a cat away without telling someone about her problems).

Does anyone have any suggestions?
posted by anonymous to Pets & Animals (13 answers total)
Have her checked out by a vet first. You're assuming that the peeing behavior is behavior, but it may well have a physical source. After all, she voluntarily chose to be there, and had been comfortable doing that, so it doesn't sound obviously behavioral.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 11:52 AM on December 12, 2004

No suggestions about placing the cat, but as far as the bedclothes go, you know to clean them with baking soda to take the odor out, right?
posted by Doohickie at 11:54 AM on December 12, 2004

*sigh* I swear that looked right on preview. s/peeing behavior is behavior/peeing is behavioral/
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 11:57 AM on December 12, 2004

I strongly agree with nakedcodemonkey - get her checked by the vet (including a urinalysis, urine culture and bloodwork) before you assume this is a behavioural problem (her issues with the other cats do not mean that this behaviour is necessarily related). Kidney and urinary tract problems (among others) often first present like this, and she's at an age where you're likely to see these things crop up.

Assuming she's healthy, you're right, you'll have a very hard time placing a cat with issues like this. All I can suggest is seeing if there's a cat rescue group in your area, and if that fails (or they will not take her, which is a distinct possibility, since there are so many younger cats without pre-existing issues out there for adoption), and you cannot find a friend or family member to take her, have her euthanized. There are far worse fates for an animal than a humane death.

Nature's Miracle works wonders on pet odors.
posted by biscotti at 12:19 PM on December 12, 2004

Third the vet suggestion. My older cat started doing that and after a week of wanting to kill her (really, really wanting to kill her), I finally took her to the vet, and lo she had cancer. $1000 dollars later she's cancer free, my bed and sofa don't smell anymore, and I'm back to loving my cat.
But 3 years ago, when I first got my OTHER cat, the fights were so bad over the bed space that previously mentioned cat was peeing and pooping under the bed every night. I solved that problem by sneaking her under the covers and protecting her from the inevitable attempts to sit on her head, and after a half hour of this she would happily retreat to the living room for the rest of the night, having gotten reassured of her specialness. This went on for a month or so, then she was able to jump on the bed and go under the covers without protection for a few months, then about six months later I found them sleeping together on the bed, opposite ends granted, but it was a breakthrough. Until the cancer thing, the bed problem was solved.
re: adoption. no ideas. But I commiserate. I put plastic sheets over the mattress and tried waking up every few hours to intercept and was still dreaming of strangling her. Oh, I also used a baby gate for awhile, and that worked too. I hope you can cure it.
posted by dness2 at 12:39 PM on December 12, 2004

See here.
posted by rushmc at 12:53 PM on December 12, 2004

Have you tried this? I also have adult cats that don't get along; this stuff has pretty much stopped all peeing, although sometimes something stressful, like my leaving town, will bring on an isolated incident; cats really really hate change. But otherwise, it's been great; the cats still don't like each other, but they don't get as upset about it.

Also, if you can't keep the cats out of your bedroom, get one of these for your mattress, to use for now.
posted by JanetLand at 2:56 PM on December 12, 2004

People, you are not answering the question that was asked. Try reading it again.
posted by rushmc at 3:26 PM on December 12, 2004

Best Friends animal shelter works with a lot of 'unadoptables.' Their website or forums might have some useful information for you. I hope you can find a happy solution!
posted by oldtimey at 3:39 PM on December 12, 2004

I've visited and stayed at Best Friends (in Utah) last summer, and am also a if you have any questions about cat adoption there, feel free to email. I could also send you pictures of the cats' facilities (so you could see where your cat would be living), as i took a tour and volunteered. I know you're 'anonymous', but i would keep it confidential.
posted by naxosaxur at 5:48 PM on December 12, 2004

Vet all the way, though I wouldn't rule this out as a behavioral issue. If all is clear at the vet, try spending more 1:1 time with the cat, giving it the kind of attention it likes, and maybe try giving it some 'special priveleges.'.

Luckily, rescue/foster groups have grown exponentially. With a little effort, you should have no trouble finding a safe home for the cat. Under no circumstances should euthanasia even be thought of given the info provided. Good luck!
posted by moonbird at 5:58 PM on December 12, 2004

Anonymous, I don't have an answer to your question, but wanted to let you know that the same thing happened to my husband and me when we attempted to blend our household with his two cats and mine, who was raised alone and knew other cats only by defending herself from them when she ventured outdoors. She reacted very badly to the new arrangement, in exactly the way you describe.

We tried reducing her anxiety with pheromones, valerian root, and the tips found here, but after over a year of effort, none of it worked. My previous partner, who had raised her with me, was able to take her, to my enormous relief. It had gotten to the point where she lived a lonely life in our bedroom on the stinky mattress, while we slept in our guest room.

I have never stopped missing her, so I know the pain you are experiencing. If you are willing to try a last-ditch effort while you look for an answer, I hope that resources I linked might actually work for you, and barring that, that you can use the help others have offered to find a rescue service in your area. I wish you the best of luck.
posted by melissa may at 7:39 PM on December 12, 2004

Do you really like this girlfriend? Just asking.
posted by jfuller at 6:41 AM on December 13, 2004

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