Not the leather sofa!
July 21, 2013 1:30 PM   Subscribe

Lost kitty found after 7 days missing! But apparently still a bit off-kilter. Potty issues have resulted.

Our lovely kitty Winslow, age 9, got himself lost a few months after moving into our new house. After 7 days he turned up at the Humane Society, having wandered several miles from our home. He had shed a significant amount of his fluff, and looked as though he'd lost some weight. Also, his meow was a bit hoarse. Our other kitty does not appear to recognize him, and hisses upon approach. Biggest issue: he seems to have forgotten how to use their (shared) litter box. He instead has taken to peeing (and pooping) on our nice leather sofa at night. We have purchased a second litter box, in the hopes that it's some kind of territory thing. Any other thoughts or suggestions? What's going on here?

PS: He's very happy to be back, physically assaulting us with rubs and head butts as seen in photo above.
posted by percor to Pets & Animals (8 answers total)
My uncle's cat once got lost, came home on his own much later, adored my uncle but fought constantly with his sister who he had loved beforehand. Turned out it was a doppelgangercat.

But assuming that you have your own cat back, give it a week for your cat to get used to being home and calm down.
posted by jeather at 1:51 PM on July 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

So glad you found him!
Sometimes, you can get them back to using the box by confining him for a week or so to a very small area such as a large doggie crate or a small bathroom. He will *probably* retrain to the box rather than soiling his small area. It can take a week or two to be effective, if it works.
But I want to suggest you get him to the Vet before you try anything. He could have a medical issue causing this behavior. Yes, really.
Good luck!
posted by bebrave! at 1:55 PM on July 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

So glad your Winslow is back. He needs a vet visit; he may be dehydrated, he may have parasites, he may even need a rabies booster.

At the best of times, two cats need at minimum three litter boxes. If Winslow has a new litter type preference since he was AWOL, that's four. Use a scent-attract litter additive if he needs it -- it does work.

Keeping him confined to less than full run of the house as bebrave suggests is a good idea for retraining, too. Give him a room, food and water at one end, liltterbox at the other.

Your other kitty is reacting because it's going by scent. Give Winslow some time to smell like you/the house and have him vet-checked before both cats are together again.
posted by vers at 3:24 PM on July 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

Yes, I was gonna say bathroom. He's been through a big thing and it might be easier for him to have a small space that's quite safe to re-adapt over the space of a week or so.
posted by Sequence at 4:57 PM on July 21, 2013

The missing cat smells funny to the other cat, try to blend their scents as much as possible. Pet each of them with the same towel, switch their bedding, that kind of thing. Get some feliway diffusers, that might help with both of your issues.
posted by nanook at 5:49 PM on July 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

Was Winslow chipped so you know for sure it's him? Weird sounding, potty problems and the other cat hissing at him makes me wonder if it's really your cat.
posted by fiercekitten at 6:28 PM on July 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

See if getting him his own box helps. And nth a visit to the vet to rule out any nastiness a week on his own may have caused.

He's a really pretty kitty and I'm glad he found his way home.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:32 AM on July 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nthing a vet visit with a urine analysis to check for inflammation or urinary tract infection. Bladders are often the first place stress manifests itself in the feline body. Combine being lost and out in the scary world, a shelter and coming home to find his housemate hates him are probably quite a good recipe for stress/pain related peeing.

Inappropriate peeing and pooping is often a call for help (your attention)

More litter boxes, one in every room if you can. When he needs to go, he needs to go and your other cat may be playing some pretty subtle (to the human eye) power games, like blocking his access to the tray via stares, body placement.

Same rule for water bowls. One in every room that the cats use. Cats have a very poor thirst drive and easy access to water encourages them to drink a bit more and can reduce the risks for urinary tract problems too. Tip: Larger bowls of water stay fresher for longer.

Both cats are likely to be disturbed by his absence and his homecoming.

Both cats are going to be unsettled due to the house move. This is a massive thing for cats to go through, even if you 've taken every precaution to chill them out during and after the process, it will take a while for them to settle in a new home. One of them going missing then coming home will just add to that big old stress soup.

Feliway diffusers in the main rooms where he has access and Feliway spray at cat head height on all door posts and doors. Use the spray on scratch posts and on the corners of chairs/tables too.

The idea here is to make it all seem like all cats in the house own everything and all is calm and well.

Make sure both cats get equal amounts of attention too. If you have set meal times for your cats, stick to them, but give them plenty of physical space between their dishes so they can concentrate on their grub not the other cat. Set feeding times are a really good way of resetting normal, positive behaviour routines.

The suggestions for mixing up smells are excellent. Keep doing it for at least a month.

If you think it will help him, allow him one room to spend the night time in. Please don't shut Winslow away in the bathroom, he and your other kitty don't need any more dramatic changes and isolation is likely to add more stress to the situation.

Winslow is gorgeous, I am a total sucker for a tuxie. Wishing you and the kitties all the best :)
posted by Arqa at 3:31 AM on July 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

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