Help me with a kitty problem.
April 13, 2006 1:48 PM   Subscribe

Cat Issue: I've got a female spayed kitty acting up and spraying my stuff.

I moved in nearly four months ago with my girlfriend into a small apartment, in which she has two cats. One can go out, but we can't trust the other to come back, so she stays in. This cat, we'll call her Mogwai, is the problem. The cats haven't been disciplined at all, as much as you can discipline a cat, and I tend to be the one yelling at them for scratching furniture, getting on the table when they shouldn't, etc. I've tried to cool out and be more tolerant - I like cats okay, but these cats are a little much for me - but I think Mogwai is lashing out. Some time in the last few days she sprayed a musky, urine-based spray on my desk and CDs. Luckily, my laptop was elsewhere, or it would stink like the rest of my stuff.

But wait, here's some more info: This cat did the same thing at my girlfriend's parents' house, when girlfriend had to move home for a year, in 2005. She did this in a stairwell, on a wall. My CDs are in a vertical holder, so it's like marking a wall or something.

What should I do? I can't ask to get rid of the cat, nor do I want to. Is this even normal for a female cat to do this? Any suggestions would help.

And P.S. - No, I don't beat on the cat and most of the time we're cool, she'll even cuddle up on my lap, but for some reason she was pissed and I have no idea why.
posted by Destroid to Pets & Animals (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is the litterbox clean? (meaning to Mogwai's standards, not yours) Have you recently switched brands of litter?

Is there a pattern to her spraying behavior? It seems from your message that it's not a constant thing. She might be angry at you or your girlfriend for something. Is she getting enough attention?

And, although you didn't ask...a vinegar/water mixture will remove cat piss smell from hard objects. Nature's Miracle will remove it from fabrics.
posted by luneray at 2:08 PM on April 13, 2006

Okay. I'm not a pharmaceutical rep (IANAPR) so I'm not trying to sell you anything, and also would appreciate it if you wouldn't laugh:
Go to your vet and ask about kitty prozac. Seriously. It was the only thing that stopped one lovely cat of my acquaintance from pooping in his owner's shoes. Snicker all you like, it worked.
posted by Sara Anne at 2:10 PM on April 13, 2006

Consider using Feliway. (The diffusers work nicely, and aren't such a pain in the ass.)
posted by moira at 2:14 PM on April 13, 2006

I don't deal with the litterbox, but it is being used by two rather hefty feline females. I know the girlfriend cleans it about once or twice a day.

Thanks for the smell remover advice, luneray.

Has anyone else used Feliway? I'm curious because the two cats don't get along very well on their best days, so anything that could calm these little ones down would be great.

Oh, thanks for the tip, moira.
posted by Destroid at 2:19 PM on April 13, 2006

First order of business is to get her to the vet for a urine sample to check for a urinary tract infection.

If that isn't it, you may need to read up on behavioral problems. A great author for that is Pam Johnson-Bennett, a cat behaviorist. She's written books like "Think Like a Cat" and "Twisted Whiskers: solving your cat's behavior problems." She'll help you understand how a cat looks at the world, what she might be upset about, what you can try changing, like moving the litter boxes to a spot she prefers. And for example, did you know that the correct number of litter boxes for a household is one for each cat, plus one more just because (they like a spare, I guess)? Lots of great info in her books.
posted by overanxious ducksqueezer at 2:31 PM on April 13, 2006

How is cat Prozac administered?
posted by Faint of Butt at 2:55 PM on April 13, 2006

Seconding the "take her to the vet" - one of my cats is prone to these (especially when stressed), and you don't want to be yelling at a cat that is sick!
Also, regarding scratching furniture - cats don't do this so much because it feels good, they are doing it to mark territory (they have scent glands in their stinky little feet). I've had great luck with the corrugated cardboard scratching boxes from Trader Joe's; just put one near the piece(s) of furniture the kitty likes, they'll (most likely) use the box instead!
Good luck!
posted by dbmcd at 2:55 PM on April 13, 2006

How is cat Prozac administered?
My usual trick for any kitty med is a big chunk of butter with a pill hidden in the middle.
posted by Sara Anne at 3:02 PM on April 13, 2006

So first, vet visit.

Second, notice the pattern -- the cat does this historically when moving to a new home, so might be territorial, or just the stress of a move.

Third, was this cat an outdoor cat before? Might just be really bored nowadays...
posted by davejay at 3:36 PM on April 13, 2006

Bach Rescue Remedy (and the other Bach flower essences) might be helpful.
posted by candyland at 4:17 PM on April 13, 2006

During the 10-11 months my girlfriend lived with her parents, the cat was allowed to roam freely outside, but the four years prior she was not, because of fighting and a nasty abcess due to said fighting.

I'd love to let the cat out, but we live in metro Atlanta next to a very busy road and she's too skittish and dumb to be trusted. The other cat is just as dumb, but she sticks close to the front porch, which is just fine.

I did remember after I posted the question- a duh moment - that we left for two and a half days and left them with plenty of food and water, but I think it stressed little Mogwai out. She is an extremely easy-to-stress feline and we are in close quarters.

Do they make cat balls? Like the kind hamsters have? That could work.
posted by Destroid at 4:28 PM on April 13, 2006

Feliway is mentioned in a few threads here(1, 2, 3, 4), and most people seem to have good luck with it. This is assuming it is a behavioral/stress issue, of course.

As for my experience: our two cats are easily stressed, and tend to be very territorial and confrontational with each other. When we moved last month, I decided the Comfort Zone plugin was worth the money if it meant helping the cats adjust without undue behavioral problems. The stuff was amazing; I couldn't believe it. Contrary to past moving experiences, the cats adjusted VERY quickly to the new place, and their confrontations are much reduced and more playful than not.

If you do decide to try it out, you may be able to find some much cheaper on ebay. (There's a particular seller there who puts it up for a great price, but beware the slow shipping. I can give you details if you like.)

Now we just have to figure out how to keep them from puking on the carpet.
posted by moira at 5:07 PM on April 13, 2006

I don't deal with the litterbox, but it is being used by two rather hefty feline females. I know the girlfriend cleans it about once or twice a day.

It might help to get more than one litterbox. Some cats don't mind sharing, some do. (see also this discussion. Several people advise # cats = # litterboxes)
posted by lodev at 3:21 AM on April 14, 2006

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