Hey Molly - piss in your hole not on my carpet. Kthx.
July 19, 2010 11:02 AM   Subscribe

One of our cats started peeing in the tub. We got pissed and filled the tub up with water, thus stopping her from peeing in the tub. Now she pees on the bath rug right outside of the tub instead (literally a foot from her litter box). Please help brainstorm some "get the hell back in your litter box" ideas.

This all started when we got a different litter box. We had one like this ... a simple open box with high sides. Even though the sides were "high" the two cats were kicking litter out over the top and occasionally missing and peeing on the wall. We got a new litter box like this and oh what a difference it made. No more tracking litter throughout the house, no more pee on the walls, etc.

Then we started noticing pee in the tub. Like I said earlier, we filled tub with water -> no more pee in tub -> pee on rug right outside tub and right next to litter box. We now have the lid off of the new litter box basically making it an super-high-wall-open-top litter box in case she didn't like using the hole. And we KNOW she uses it because she poops in it. It's just the pee we have problems with.

I always wash the rug immediately after I see the pee (yesterday I caught her in the act and threw it in the wash right away) and spray down and clean the area with a cat scent remover/cleaner spray immediately.

Do you have any ideas?
posted by kthxbi to Pets & Animals (41 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
What are you using to clean out the tub? I've heard that some cleaners draw cats to pee there because it smells right -- something about the ammonia in some cleaners, I think? You might try spraying the tub down with some of the enzyme cleaner you use on the carpets, too.
posted by vytae at 11:05 AM on July 19, 2010

Best answer: Put the litter box in the tub.
posted by thorny at 11:07 AM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I know some cats will go to the bathtub when they have kidney stones. I found my cat in the bathtub one time (very unusual because she really hated water / the bathroom / etc), found it unusual and picked her up, only to have her freak out and run to my bed and get pee and kidney stones all over it. Did she show any interest in your bath tub before?
posted by icebourg at 11:08 AM on July 19, 2010

Best answer: Obvious answer here. You like the litter box, but the cats don't. Sorry, but you might just have to suck it up and deal with some litter on the floor or find some other way that doesn't make your cat use the bathroom in the dark.
posted by theichibun at 11:10 AM on July 19, 2010 [5 favorites]

It sounds like she's trying to tell you she dislikes the new box, which might be because it isn't well ventilated and smells unpleasant. I've heard the comparison that the covered litter boxes are like a port-a-potty... but I'm not a cat so I can't confirm. You probably already know this, but you should have AT LEAST as many litter boxes as you have cats, and if you're experiencing issues, it should be cleaned daily.

Rubber backed bath mats are a huge draw for cats, is that what you have? Perhaps you can swap to a towel style mat until this situation resolves itself.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 11:11 AM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Could you bring back the old litterbox and leave them side-by-side, and gradually reduce how long the old one is out?

Also, cover your bathmat with aluminum foil or one of the carpet protectors with spines, face up.
posted by artifarce at 11:12 AM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'd thank my lucky stars that she wants to pee in the tub. At least all you have to do is rinse with water.

Our older cat decided to pee only on the sofa. That cat is now permanently banished to the mud room, where there are no soft pillowy things to soak with pee.

Our kittens use those Clever Cat litterboxes (not the sofa), with great success.
posted by mneekadon at 11:13 AM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

It sounds like it might be a kidney issue. Have you taken the cat to the vet?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:13 AM on July 19, 2010 [4 favorites]

Best answer: You're going to have to switch back to the old litter box.
posted by something something at 11:14 AM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

You could also try Cat Attract Litter (link to amazon so you can read reviews. I haven't used it personally, but I know people who have and love it.
posted by Kimberly at 11:17 AM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Have you tried leaving the top off of the new litter box? The sides look pretty high.
posted by kidelo at 11:19 AM on July 19, 2010

Toilet train your cat...it is soo awesome and worth the trouble. Sounds like you've got a good start!
posted by iamkimiam at 11:20 AM on July 19, 2010

Cats don't like changes in their litter box, litter, or other routine. She is either trying to tell you that she doesn't like the new box or she is trying to tell you she has a medical problem. Cat Attract Litter might work if it is just the box. That is what we use and it helped with a similar problem. If it is medical, obviously it won't do much.
posted by Silvertree at 11:22 AM on July 19, 2010

You can put the old litter box in a box or tub of some kind, so the kicked-out litter isn't a problem, but kitty will still go use it. Some people get a Rubbermaid storage tub and cut a hole in the front, or just let the cats jump in and out.
posted by galadriel at 11:22 AM on July 19, 2010

What color was the urine in the tub? I say this because my cat has chronic bladder problems, and when her cystitis is flaring up she will pee anywhere other than her litter box (but will still poop in the box). The vet says this is very common for cats having urinary tract issues because they associate the litter with painful urination. If they find something that feels softer to their feet than the litter, they think it will be less painful to pee and will pee there instead. My cat has a fondness for the bed, unfortunately.

If she's having bladder issues, the pee will be darker in color, more concentrated, and may be tinged with blood (if it gets that bad). A visit to the vet for a round of antibiotics will clear it up in most cases.

I think if she truly hates the new litter box, she would be pooping outside of it as well as peeing outside of it. If it's not bladder issues, I say put both litter boxes side by side for a while, then slowly reduce the time that the old one is out (like artifarce said). Or...put the old litter box in a different location where you don't mind litter being scattered, and let her use that one while everyone else uses the new one.
posted by MultiFaceted at 11:23 AM on July 19, 2010

She may well be sick. Peeing in unusual places can be a sign that all is not well with a cat's urinary tract, and requires a trip to the vet. I recommend you get her checked out.

(I speak as the owner of a cat who is in severe trouble right now, as he had a blocked urinary tract last week. The symptoms were that he attempted to pee in lots of places in the house, mostly to attract our attention, it would seem).
posted by altolinguistic at 11:27 AM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Just to reiterate the concerns of some people in here, make sure you take the cat to the vet immediately, to rule out health issues. If it hurts when she pees in the litterbox, she might think it's the box that's making her hurt and will avoid it for peeing. If kidney/bladder/urinary tract issues are ruled out by the vet, THEN you can explore options for changing the litterbox back.
posted by scarykarrey at 11:29 AM on July 19, 2010

I'm here to say: vet.

Even though the odds are ok that it's really just the change in boxes that is causing the change in behavior, get this checked out. Please.

I had a cat die from bladder cancer two years ago. If I hadn't assumed that she was 'trying to tell me something' we might have had more options. By the time I brought her in it was to the point where she was passing blood in her urine, which I didn't notice because she was peeing on dark things.

For your sake, I hope it's just the box change, but kidney stones are very uncomfortable, and she has no way to actually tell you what's going on. (the vet told me cats in potty distress learn to associate the litterbox with whatever pain they feel with elimination, so this advice holds for anyone in the future whose cat has started crappibg outside the box as well.)
posted by bilabial at 11:29 AM on July 19, 2010

nthing she may not feel well. Also, we use those exact boxes, and our two have determined that ONE OF THESE IS FOR PEEING ONLY AND ONE OF THESE IS FOR POOPING ONLY.

This is new.

I have no idea why, and I am pretty sure it is just because they are cats. Offer her a 2nd box and see what happens. After she sees Mr. Vet.
posted by Medieval Maven at 11:32 AM on July 19, 2010

Response by poster: Although I'm totally fine with taking her to the vet if need be, we literally just got these cats a couple weeks ago and switched to a different litter box less than a week after we got them so I'm not so sure this is a case of changing behavior because of health. She never had an established behavior with us to begin with ...
posted by kthxbi at 11:32 AM on July 19, 2010

Response by poster: And we got them from a man who loved them very much and only had to give them up because his allergic son was going to move in with him, so they came from one loving home into another.
posted by kthxbi at 11:33 AM on July 19, 2010

The only time I ever saw my cat do this was when she had a bladder infection. Definitely see the vet.
posted by Wordwoman at 11:34 AM on July 19, 2010

Cats peeing somewhere else can mean kidney issues, which killed two of my cats - so a checkup is not out of order.

Other ideas:
- some cats prefer to pee and poop in separate spots. Some like two litter boxes.
- Throw away the bath rug they've peed on -the smell is a cue to continue peeing there.
- I put small dishes of food where I don't want the cats to pee, if they've developed a bad habit; this is tricky near the litterbox though. Maybe try sprinkling catnip on it?
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 11:37 AM on July 19, 2010

Response by poster: Anyone have recommendations for a good Seattle cat vet then?
posted by kthxbi at 11:42 AM on July 19, 2010

Although I'm totally fine with taking her to the vet if need be, we literally just got these cats a couple weeks ago and switched to a different litter box less than a week after we got them so I'm not so sure this is a case of changing behavior because of health.

That actually sounds pretty stressful in cat terms. It's bad enough they've had to be relocated (regardless of the loving home situation), but now you've switched their litter box after only a week. Try not to be angry at the cat because the cat is probably confused and/or in pain. I agree with those who say a vet check is in order. It may very well be a coincidence that she started doing this right after you switched the box.
posted by wondermouse at 11:44 AM on July 19, 2010

Best answer: Two weeks isn't much time for her to get used to your house, especially if she was used to the old litterbox style. She's probably stressed. How many litterboxes do you have? You should have at least one for each cat.
posted by desjardins at 11:53 AM on July 19, 2010

Litter box problems are a Big Deal, they lead to much angst for owners and real tragedy for cats, and taking them seriously is important.

If she's drinking less, or just stressed from the move, that could precipitate medical issues, so a check up is probably a good idea.

However, Molly had a totally changed environment one week, then a completely new litter box style the next week? No wonder she's confused. Also, jumping down the hole to go to the litter is very different, and probably not her favorite thing. Not saying it can't be done, but you really do need to be a little more gentle about change with many cats.

Here's what I'd do: Start by restoring the old litter box if you can (just temporarily). If not, or about a week after the behavior is normalized, get a more traditional covered litter box, the biggest one you can, like this, but start out without the lid -- it's almost the same as the old one, but with a detachable lid. Definitely invest in some of those replaceable charcoal filters.

If you know, or can find out, what kind of litter they were used to before, start with that.

We use Ever Clean unscented, available at PetSmart and PetCo, which makes less dust than most and absorbs odor really well. It's not that cheap, but it lasts a while and is worth it. Some cats only like a 2-3" depth, I hear, but I always use a significant depth so the cats can really bury things deeply, which also cuts down on odor and makes it more pleasant for the cats (thus encouraging good litter box habits).

We also occasionally sprinkle baking soda in there and mix it into the top 1" of the litter.

Here's the Humane Society's guide to preventing litter box problems.
posted by amtho at 11:55 AM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Sorry, forgot to include: after a week or two without the new litter box's lid, you can add the lid. It's a gradual change which should work.

Also - I've heard really good things about Cat Attract litter, so that's worth a try.

Any time you change cat litter, start by gradually mixing the new kind in with the current kind. A good first step might be covering 1/3 of the surface of the old litter with a 1/2-1/4" layer of the new kind, then gradually increasing the amount of new litter every couple of days.

A pain? Yes. But you really don't want to risk scaring the cat away from the litter box. Ever.
posted by amtho at 11:59 AM on July 19, 2010

Kitties don't like sudden changes to essential life rituals, such as the litter box. We try really hard to be constant for them and they seem to be quite happy for it. Here's my opinion: you got a combination of "new home syndrome" and "hate the litter" syndrome. You already shook up the kitties with a new home, and they'd just got used to one kind of litter box when you switched it to another. If I was a cat I'd be all WTF, Jerk, is it going to be another new home next week?

Irritatingly, one way cats show WTF is by peeing inappropriately.
Disturbingly, inappropriate peeing can be a sign of urinary tract problems.

What I suggest is this: put the old litter box back. See if the inappropriate peeing goes away. If it does, your cat is healthy, and you were dealing with a pissed off cat. (If not, vet time.)

So, the next step: dealing with the root problem, tracked litter. Our approach: put the cat box on a washable rubber door mat that they have to walk on. Most of the litter falls off and is contained there. Clean the mat occasionally. We don't like enclosed cat boxes because the cats don't like them; they're never big enough for those dramatic poses ours love to assume in the open-topped box. And because happy litter boxes are pretty important for happy people, we cope with a little bit of extra clean-up so we don't have to cope with irritable cats. We use the purina Maxx multi-cat clumping stuff, which has a mild fragrance and covers up all the organic odours just fine.

Good luck with your kitties and remember -- any change to their rituals (food, water, litter) should be made only when necessary, and gradually if so.
posted by seanmpuckett at 12:17 PM on July 19, 2010

Oh man, I'm sorry, but I just looked at the picture of the litter box you just switched to. That thing looks like a kitty torture device and I'm surprised your cats are willing to use it at all. They actually have to jump through a hole in the top in order to get in there? If I were a cat, I'd pee in the tub too.

My recommendation would be to switch them back to a more cat-friendly litter box, one with a much lower entrance (they make covered boxes with a normal height side-level opening) and put it in a place where some litter tracking isn't such a problem.
posted by wondermouse at 12:32 PM on July 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

Seattle vet-- see what you can find out about Broadway Veterinary Hospital these days-- they were great with my cats (nice docs, very clean place), but I moved away about 6 years ago, so you might want an updated recommendation.
posted by mireille at 12:49 PM on July 19, 2010

If you've only had them a couple of weeks, they are still settling in and trying to figure out their surroundings. That litter box looks tricky to navigate, which might be why they're peeing in the tub.

Maybe experiment with different kinds of litter? We use Swheat Scoop, because it smells relatively pleasant even when it's been crapped on, but it's a bit pricey. (Worth every penny in a three-cat household, though.)
posted by vickyverky at 12:51 PM on July 19, 2010

Response by poster: Please note, as I stated in the question above, that I took the lid off of the litter box as soon as she started peeing outside of it so it's now just a higher sided litter box than her old one. We also already have the litter box on a large rubber mat specially made to minimize tracking and they have to walk over two bath rugs (non-rubber bottomed) to get out of the bathroom door and yet we still have tracking. We couldn't find their old litter around here though we had some leftovers when we got them and we slowly transitioned to the new litter as suggested.

My plan is to put both litter boxes out - keep the current one where it is and put the old one where she pees now and just suck it up that she's going to track all over the house daily. If it isn't an immediate fix I'll take her to the vet.
posted by kthxbi at 1:17 PM on July 19, 2010

Good Seattle cat vet: Aurora Veterinary Hospital.

Some kitties don't like claustrophobic potties, some don't like lingering smells, and some are just danged picky.

The biggest/oldest cat here is neurotic about the litterbox. I've tried nearly every kind of arrangement aside from automatic, and the best one we've found is a corner box (this one sans lid - he won't go in one with a lid) bolstered with washable foam pads (we use this kind) along the wall behind it and underneath to catch scatter. We keep a hand broom beside the box for sweeping up scatter, and a small waste bin with a liner to hold the sweepings and, later, for removal of box scoopings.

One last thing: are you scooping every day? That could impact interest in being in the box.
posted by batmonkey at 1:20 PM on July 19, 2010

In addition to a vet trip ASAP, nthing cutting a hole in the side of a Rubbermaid tub. (Leave the lid off so there is plenty of light and ventilation.) The sides will be high enough to catch litter. Cats seem to like litter boxes to be as large as they possibly can, and cutting the hole so that it starts at the top and goes down fairly low is a good idea, too, so they don't have to hop to get in. Hopefully you have enough room for a tub -- the bigger the better.
posted by ravioli at 1:21 PM on July 19, 2010

If you're willing to travel a bit outside Seattle, Cats Exclusive in Shoreline are good people. My friend also used to take his cat to Cat Clinic on 15th Ave and 145th NE and he seemed happy with them.
posted by calistasm at 1:55 PM on July 19, 2010

The only thing I've found that really works to minimize tracking is putting the litterbox on some carpet (we have some fairly thick berber). We had ours in a kind of litter box cabinet (Google it) in a corner of a living room; we vacuumed there a lot, but it did minimize widespread tracking. Obviously you'll only want to do this if you a) have a big piece of carpet to put in front of the box, or b) can depend on the cats 100% not to miss the box.

Litter box cabinets are super nice because you can put something on TOP of them. Usually the space over a litter box is useless - the cat only uses about 2-3 feet vertically, and even a covered litter box isn't durable. Some litter box cabinets are even attractive.
posted by amtho at 2:17 PM on July 19, 2010

Best answer: Forgot to mention that you probably should have more than one litter box if you have two cats. The general equation is [n]cats +1, but two should be fine.
posted by Kimberly at 2:34 PM on July 19, 2010

We had exactly the same problem. After years of using a litterbox just fine (through several moves) our cat decided that the bathtub was his new litterbox. For pee it wouldn't have been such a huge deal, but since he was also pooping it was really stinky. So we closed the glass doors on the bathtub. Then he peed on the bathroom rug. So we got rid of the rug. Then he started using the bathroom sink. So we filled the bathroom sink with water. Then he peed on the floor of the bathroom. So we closed the bathroom door. Then he used the tile floor in the laundry room next to his litterbox.

The only thing that has worked after trying out many of the great suggestions in this and other similar threads (and it's worked for a few months now, fingers crossed) is keeping the bathroom doors closed and providing him an almost empty litterbox as well as a litterbox full of litter, next to each other. Apparently at some point he decided that he just likes to pee or poo on a smooth surface - but only sometimes. We keep approximately 2 cups of litter in the "empty" box, all at one end of the box, and after he uses it we tilt it so the litter will run over and cake over the pee/poo for easy removal. There appears to be no rhyme or reason to which box he chooses to use and for what, but I learned long ago not to question the mysterious logic of the cat.

(FWIW, we did take him to the vet early on to make sure there was nothing wrong with him. The little pea-brain is lucky he's so cute.)
posted by wuzandfuzz at 3:51 PM on July 19, 2010

My (RIP) cat went through a phase where she liked to pee in the tub. There was nothing medically wrong with her, and when we tried to discourage the tub-peeing we got, as you did, bathmat-peeing.

The tub rinses easily. Eh.
posted by desuetude at 4:13 PM on July 19, 2010

Response by poster: Ok, so we put the old litter box that Molly *clearly* prefers in the spot she was peeing. We haven't had a problem since. Both seem to thoroughly enjoy having their old litter box back so that they can kick litter all over the damn bathroom and track it through the whole house again. So I'm back to sweeping 4 times a day but no longer washing the bathroom rug daily. And they continue being too cute to stay mad at them. Shucks.
posted by kthxbi at 10:07 AM on July 23, 2010

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