Please Help Mayhem Eliminate Appropriately
September 21, 2020 5:15 AM   Subscribe

Recent household disruptions have revealed that our kitty Mayhem dislikes sharing a litter box and was/is taking out her feelings on any available bedding, clean clothes and the now-removed forty-year old carpet. Please help us resolve this. The complicating factor is that we spent 10 years with a different cat who had litter box issues which we were never able to successfully resolve. As much as we love Mayhem, we just cannot do another 10-20 years of ruined carpet, floors and bedding.

She was treated for a UTI and will happily use a box IF she the only one to have access to it. We have enough boxes in the house. Attempts to use a self-cleaning box have failed as it is too loud and kitty Menace thinks it is a toy and keeps intentionally triggering the cleaning mechanism.

Right now I see three options.

Option 1: Enclosed sunroom porch.
Pros - Good sized space with windows on three sides. Indoor/outdoor carpet. Lots of furniture for lounging. Enough space to add the cat tree, cardboard scratcher, a myriad of toys and an outlet is available to add heated water dish.
Cons - Not heated. The windows cannot be winterized as one of Mayhem’s hobbies is chewing on plastic. We cannot leave food out for long periods of time due to ants. A space heater would not be safe. The door is flimsy, but could be blocked off I can convince spouse to bring fireplace wood through the garage.

Option 2: My office.
Pros - Heated. Space for cat tree, food and water.
Cons - Space is small and in active use. I cannot guarantee restriction of access of the other cats like I can with the sunroom.

Option 3: Return her to the shelter from which she was adopted with a generous donation to the shelter and sponsor her adoption into another family.
Pros - She could be adopted into a more appropriate environment - Quieter, without additional cats.
Cons - She is over two years old, so the wait could be considerable. We would be not be permitted to ever adopt another animal from that shelter.

I would very much like to avoid option 3, so help please? I am WFH indefinitely, so I have time and money to throw at the situation.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs to Pets & Animals (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There are microchip-enabled pet doors that only open for a pet with a specific collar or microchip. Not sure if there are others but here seems to be a popular one.

I imagine this would help to mitigate option 2 con or potentially open up some other rooms, closets, or even put on as an enclosure to ensure a private litter box.
posted by artificialard at 5:26 AM on September 21 [14 favorites]

Was about to say a chip-enabled door too, maybe in combination with an enclosed piece of furniture for the litter box, so you didn't have to block off an entire room? Search results for "litter box furniture".
posted by SuperSquirrel at 5:40 AM on September 21

I think you can make the enclosed porch work:

- Look into other options for winterizing the windows. Maybe you could put something over them from the outside side, or replace the windows with thicker / more heatproof windows. Also, make sure the heat is going out through the windows. Electrical outlets, for example, can be a surprising source of super-cold air in some places, as can the floor. You could also perhaps put the plastic over them that you imagine, then put some kind of (very secure) cage/frame over the plastic to keep the kitty away.

- Look into other options for a space heater. Maybe a wall-mounted heater, for example. You could also find a way to block the entrance / replace the door that isn't airtight, so warm air can be exchanged with the rest of the house.

- Use a feeder with a moat - or just put the feeder on a surface that's inside a pool of water - to keep ants away.

There are a lot of other options for helping your cat eliminate appropriately, though. She probably would like to be around you -- cats are social creatures. Please read a lot of Jackson Galaxy's stuff about cats and stress and litter box problems, read the ASPCA's web articles on litter box issues, read about Jackson Galaxy's 'catification' ideas, and take a deep breath -- you can isolate Mayhem for a short time while you find the time and patience to address the deeper problem.

Thanks for trying on this -- I know it's frustrating and just too much sometimes.
posted by amtho at 7:25 AM on September 21 [1 favorite]

A friend had a problem with a young male cat who was being harassed by a group of female cat friends in the same house. He was so anxious he would pee on everything. The problem was solved by isolating him in half of the house and allowing other cats to only visit while supervised. He is much more chill and happy now.

If you can provide a space where kitty can feel safe and will not be harassed, the problem will likely go away, as you suspect.

The space should also have people who the kitty can interact with on the cat's schedule, if at all possible. Jailing the cat in an isolated space with occasional visitors is not a kind solution, and if that's the only practical option I suggest rehoming, hard as it may be on you.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:54 AM on September 21 [2 favorites]

I don't have a full suggestion but while you're figuring things out, I highly recommend "wee-wee pads" that are made for puppies. We used them a lot when we were dealing with a cat with similar issues because of illness.
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:06 PM on September 21 [1 favorite]

Thank you for the very kind answers so far, as they have pushed me into creative mode.

The issue is sharing the box, she has been isolated while I treat her for the UTI and has no problem using the box while in isolation. As the weather is still warm enough, I can keep her on the sunporch for several more weeks, with frequent visits from the family, while I put together a more permanent solution.

The feeder with a moat is genius, as is reminding me that I can weatherproof the sunporch from the outside.

In the meantime I have ordered a fancy, quiet self-cleaning litter box and started looking for a carpenter to build and/or modify a cabinet with a microchip enabled pet door which I will put in my office.

If that fails, I found a video on YouTube about hacking a clear storage container to make a DIY dog-proof litter box which will accomplish the same goal and Target has some nice, tall containers that will serve the purpose well.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 2:01 PM on September 21 [2 favorites]

We made something like this (the litter box thinger), our cat got stuck in it and was stuck there for two days while we were out of town. It was not awesome. Cat was fine but all of us were traumatized.
posted by arnicae at 10:27 PM on September 21 [1 favorite]

Oh dear, that is traumatizing for all. As it turns out, a brief experiment indicates that Mayhem prefers the sunporch to my office and spouse has agreed to upgrade the outer door, so we will be winterizing the space over the next month and installing a cat door exclusive for her use.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 4:54 AM on September 22 [1 favorite]

If Mahem is a younger, spryer cat, perhaps you put up a litterbox on a taller location that only Mayhem can access? If Mayem is being picked on by other cats, this might not work.

If the cats are different sizes, you might be able to use a small cat door to another location with a box just for Mayhem, with a door that's too small for other animals. You might have to change the door size as she grows...
posted by answergrape at 1:23 PM on September 22

I hope I have no mis-gendered your cat. I'm not sure what Mayhem's preferred gender pronouns are.
posted by answergrape at 1:49 PM on September 22 [2 favorites]

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