I don't bother chasing mice around...
July 1, 2013 4:50 PM   Subscribe

My girlfriend is moving in (yeah!) and bringing her kitties (also yeah!) but they have a small peeing and scratching problem...

The cats pee sometimes on wet towels or bathmats or things like that or, I believe, just in corners of the laundry room. It seems to be concentrated in the back of her house, perhaps where they see neighborhood animals roaming in the back yard during the day? It's unclear the exact psychology behind it, and it's more of an occasional than a constant problem, but anyway, we obviously want to do everything we can to avoid peeing in this house. What can we do to help the cats transition and avoid that first cat pee experience in this new (to them) house?

We already know about frequent litter box changes. Also, we were able to leave the cats in the old house during the move, so they will be moving into a fully set-up house instead of chaos, with some of their familiar items and smells (though hopefully not pee smells!) already in it. Also of note, they are 100% indoor cats.

Less pressing (to me) is I have a carpet on my stairs and they are likely to scratch that. Any tips for avoiding that?
posted by latkes to Pets & Animals (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: For those following along at home, my landlord wasn't able to sell the house.
posted by latkes at 4:51 PM on July 1, 2013

Frequent litter box changes and also maybe multiple litter boxes if they are frequent pee-ers. You may also have to get used to things like making sure there is never laundry or other clothing piled on the floor and that bathmats and towels and clothes get hung up/put away as soon as possible. Otherwise the usual applies: Feliway to help them relax and get acclimated. Don't freak out if they hide under the couch for literally weeks. Try to make things as familiar as possible. Good luck. (pix?)
posted by jessamyn at 5:02 PM on July 1, 2013

Definitely do what you can to help them feel comfortable. Get them beds and an enclosed hidey-box or two now, so that they can get used to having their own enclosed place that will move with them. Also:

Keep them in a small area at first - one bedroom, where you sleep, if possible. Block under the bed so they won't feel that's a safe place to pee, and put two litter boxes in the bedroom if possible. Yes, it will be a pain. Keep them that way for two to three days, or longer, until they seem completely comfortable.

Gradually take them for visits to other rooms, with a litter box, with you both supervising. In a new room, cats get hyper aware and just explore for a while, then they gradually calm down as they feel ownership. Watch them during this time. You want them to gradually "own" the entire house _without peeing in it_, before you let them loose.

The goal: cats feel ultra safe, all the time. They have no need to mark their territory.
posted by amtho at 5:10 PM on July 1, 2013

Number of litterboxes should be number of cats+1. If you find that they're peeing in a certain area outside the house, put a litterbox there. Feliway can help, as can checking outside spaces with a UV light for places where neighbor cats might be spraying. Clean those areas with an enzymatic cleaner like Nature's Miracle. Keep in mind that, with territorial peeing, what the cats are trying to do is create a wall of their own pee scent so that they feel secure.

Put a bunch of really awesome scratchers in the carpeted area so that they scratch that instead (this goes for any spot they frequently scratch).
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:16 PM on July 1, 2013

I live with a pee-cat of convenience. Don't leave anything soft/pliable on the floor, ever, not even briefly. This includes: area rugs, towels & bath mats (hang up *immediately* after using), afghans/throws, clothes (even socks, maybe also shoes), wigs, purses/bags, hats, scarves, unused tarp, deflated pool toys, empty garbage bags, and those small plastic bags from the grocery store. Everything EVERYTHING like this is kept up, off the ground, on a table/chair or in a bin/hamper, or in a closet/cabinet with the door always shut.
posted by unknowncommand at 5:30 PM on July 1, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for suggestions so far. Just updating with important photo of my future roommates.
posted by latkes at 5:46 PM on July 1, 2013 [8 favorites]

2nding nature's miracle and never to leave anything on the floor. I have one who pees on plastic (not fabric luckily) so as unknowncommand mentioned this includes garbage bags, grocery bags, children's rain coats and umbrellas (gross!), reusable bags that are plastic (like Ikea's) and more! If they have had the habit for a while it might be too late to train them? Like I said, my cat has trained me to not leave any plastic on the floor.
posted by heybearica at 6:17 PM on July 1, 2013

If you will ever have visitors - invest in an attractive sign telling _everyone_ not to put things on the floor. Make it attractive (maybe funny) so you won't mind looking at it; it must be seen to be observed.
posted by amtho at 6:43 PM on July 1, 2013

Also, I feel bad, I should clarify that by "pee-cat of convenience", I mean that he pees on anything that's convenient. It's not that I'm stuck with him somehow because it's convenient. He's a great cat, except for the random peeing-on-floor-things (and the vet-aggression).
posted by unknowncommand at 6:58 PM on July 1, 2013

Our cat used to pee in our laundry every time he got a urinary tract infection. Maybe get them checked out by the vet?
posted by Rock Steady at 8:49 PM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

One of my cats got into a bathmat and laundry defiling phase a few months ago (taken immediately to the vet! Diagnosis: physically fine, just kind of an asshole!) and I found I liked Anti Icky-Poo a lot better than Nature's Miracle since it doesn't have its own weird smell that piles on top of the cat pee. Available on Amazon Prime for maximum convenience!

Hopefully, it will not come to that, because they will be better in a new environment and also you will train yourself as we have trained ourselves: laundry always put away, and hampers with lids as not baskets. Use your bathmats, not your girlfriend's, and if they get peed on even one time hang them over the shower rod after use. Be vigilant.
posted by charmedimsure at 10:06 PM on July 1, 2013

I would throw out the specific bath towels and things the cats have peed on in the past. There might still be detectable-to-kitty traces of pee chemicals on them. Get new ones that are as different as possible from the old ones (colour, texture, size, etc) to try and help them avoid the old associations.
posted by lollusc at 1:29 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Hey all, thanks so much for your help with this. We got a couple feliway diffusers, we've been careful not to leave fabric anything on the floor, and we scoop the two (three is just too much for us!) litter boxes a couple times a day. Also got some scratchers.

So far so great! The cats took about a day to feel comfortable (after we let them out of the one little room we started them in) and now run the house. And so far zero peeing and as far as I know, no scratching the rug.

Thanks metafilter cat people!
posted by latkes at 6:27 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

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