My cat's pee is missing.
September 16, 2009 4:56 PM   Subscribe

My cat hasn't used her litter box in over two weeks. The house smells great. She has no way to get outside. Where is the pee going?

Two weeks ago she stopped using her litter box and started pooping in the basement crawlspace. The whole house smelled awful. We naturally assumed she was peeing in the same place.

Yesterday I crawled in on my belly in a hazmat suit and picked up all the poop. I searched around for damp or stinky spots that would indicate urine, but found nothing. Today I went back in with a fairly high-powered UV flashlight, and again found nothing to indicate urine. I went all over the house with it and similarly found nothing. The smell also completely went away when I cleaned up the poop, and now the house smells fine.

The cat is a 2-year-old spayed female, indoor only. She's been eating and drinking normally and shows no sign of pain or distress that would suggest a urinary blockage.

So, WFT cat pee?? I'm pretty sure the cat's fine, I'm just completely mystified and weirded out.
posted by miagaille to Pets & Animals (25 answers total)
Could she be going in the shower or bathtub?
posted by Violet Hour at 4:59 PM on September 16, 2009

My friend's cat used to pee in the bathtub. It was not undetectable but it was a lot less noxious than peeing on the carpet.
posted by mhum at 4:59 PM on September 16, 2009

When I had a kitten, no-one in the house ever saw him go or smelled anything over the course of about a month. It turned out that he was going in the flowerboxes out on the balcony--strange that no-one would know, it was summer and we were spending a ton of time outside--and then piling dirt over it. Eventually, the boxes started smelling and we found out what had been going on (we replaced the dirt with clean sand that he seemed to like just fine). So, do you have any large plant pots in your house?
posted by halogen at 5:03 PM on September 16, 2009

Yeah, I was going to suggest potted plants as well. (She doesn't sound sick, but maybe call your vet anyway, and ask.)
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 5:12 PM on September 16, 2009

Response by poster: No potted plants in the house.

I haven't seen anything in the bathroom, but will keep an eye out.
posted by miagaille at 5:15 PM on September 16, 2009

Could she be peeing in the toilet? I had a cat pick up the habit once just from watching me, and it's not like there would be toilet paper to tip you off.

On the other hand, I once had a cat who would jump up on the kitchen counter and pee in the toaster from time to time, and you simply don't know how bad your morning can get until the house fills with the stench of superheated cat urine.
posted by timeo danaos at 5:30 PM on September 16, 2009 [52 favorites]

It's possible that you could be habituated to the urine smell, and cannot detect it anymore. Your house could reek to a non-habituated person.

Invite a friend over, and ask them if they can smell cat urine.
posted by I'm Brian and so's my wife! at 5:36 PM on September 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

I bought a beautiful bamboo plant for my indoor only cat. He killed it within a month by peeing in it (we are talking BAMBOO here--which is supposed to live through anything)
posted by I'm Brian and so's my wife! at 5:38 PM on September 16, 2009

My mom's cat used her bathtub. She thought it was great, because it meant she had to change the litterbox less. I thought it was gross, because who wants to bathe in cat pee?

My cat drinks out of the toilet. Which is also gross but in a different way.
posted by elsietheeel at 5:47 PM on September 16, 2009

I'll second mhum. I had a cat who used to squat right over the bathtub drain and pee down it, whenever the litterbox wasn't clean enough to suit her. The only reason I knew she did it was that she usually did it right in front of me, there were no other tell-tale signs.
posted by stennieville at 5:48 PM on September 16, 2009

I have also had a cat pee right over the bathtub drain when the litterbox was unacceptable to him. I caught him in the act once, and found little kitty prints on the bathtub rim.

I have no idea why he knew it was a bathtub, considering it is one that is never used.
posted by bookdragoness at 5:54 PM on September 16, 2009

Take your cat to the vet. My cat stopped peeing when her kidneys failed.
posted by Sara Anne at 6:04 PM on September 16, 2009 [5 favorites]

Seconding the vote for an outside nose.
posted by thomas j wise at 6:05 PM on September 16, 2009

Keep the bathroom door closed for a day, and then you'll probably know.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 6:38 PM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Definitely call the vet, there are many things that could be wrong that you can't see from your point of view. Best to rule out the bad things.
posted by trishthedish at 6:41 PM on September 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

This cat still has access to the crawl space? And this crawl space is nice and dry with a dirt floor? Dry powdery soil? Cat is going in there, peeing in a distant corner spot you have not yet found, buries the pee with a few swipes of the paw, and you'll never find it. Pee sinks into the ground the way a septic system works. No odors to speak of because the soil is nice and absorbent. This could continue indefinitely if you continue to allow access to that space. Nobody is peeing in your bathroom drains and there is nothing wrong with the cat.

Cancel the above if the crawl space has a concrete floor, obviously.
posted by beagle at 6:52 PM on September 16, 2009

If I couldn't smell it, even without obvious signs of distress from the cat, I'd go to the vet. My cat used to use the ashes in the fireplace, but you could smell it. Hell, you can smell it when they use the boxes like they are supposed to. I'd go to the vet.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:01 PM on September 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

Other possibilities...getting into ductwork down in that crawlspace and peeing found a way out of the crawlspace into the outside world through said same ductwork...and back.
posted by Muirwylde at 7:59 PM on September 16, 2009

It sounds like your cat's litter box habits have changed suddenly and pretty dramatically. This really is a red flag. Please please take her to a vet, to be sure she's okay.

Here's a great page on litter-related issues.
posted by moira at 8:04 PM on September 16, 2009

(To address the fact that she doesn't seem to be feeling pain or distress: animals mask.)
posted by moira at 8:08 PM on September 16, 2009

My cat, AJ, has been suffering from kidney issues. Prior to needing to be hospitalized for five days, she showed no pain at all; her litterbox habits changed, though. One weekend, she went from being "just fine" looking to near death in less than 36 hours.

At one point in this process, her urine had no smell (or such a faint smell that I couldn't smell it; the other cat in the house could). The only reason I knew she still wasn't doing well, medically, was because I'd catch her peeing on the bed (usually she did it while I was still in the bed. ick). If your cat is peeing somewhere other than her litterbox, then I'd wager she has some kidney thing going on.

Get her tested. If her urine and blood show nothing, ask for an x-ray of the kidney area. If either of them are enlarged, get an ultrasound.
posted by LOLAttorney2009 at 9:01 PM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding bathtub/toilet/sink responses. Try checking your laundry basket and your clothing drawers. Also, is there any way your kitty can get into a roof crawl space? I hate that I can give these answers from personal experience...
posted by Jubey at 12:14 AM on September 17, 2009

I guess the tub drain. Toots did that. When she did have a problem, because she got a burr caught in her, she did it in the sink, only when I was there to see, while she made hurt sounds (that cat and I communicated amazingly). Whe she used the tub, I think it was just because it was clever.
posted by Goofyy at 6:27 AM on September 17, 2009

Response by poster: I will definitely take her to the vet. I didn't think the problem could be medical, but I guess I know better now - thanks.

Otherwise, I really hope she's peeing down the drain. I don't want to be in for a toaster-caliber surprise later on.
posted by miagaille at 8:27 AM on September 17, 2009

The fact that your cat is showing no sign of distress is not evidentiary. I've had vet after vet remark on how cats are particularly determined not to show vulnerability. A cat who is showing distress should be rushed to the pet ER immediately; but the lack-of just isn't telling. It's possible your kitty is peeing somewhere else. I hope so. But lack of pee for several days is a medical emergency. Mine looked and acted completely fine right up until he lost control of his bladder and accidentally less it all loose on me. Good thing he gave me that cue to panic, because according to the vet he was at that point about a half a day away from coma and soon after would have been dead. I would never have guessed it. My point? It's worth having her checked.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 10:03 PM on September 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

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