Cat pee is killing me! :-(
May 25, 2006 12:29 PM   Subscribe

Catfilter: Questions about prescription food and cat pee problems...

A couple of years ago, one of my 2 cats started peeing on the carpet. Luckily, rather than just thinking he was a dumb kitty, I looked around and found it was a sign of urinary problems. Sure enough, I took him to the vet and he was diagnosed with crystals in his urine. He is now on a prescription diet.

He's been on a prescription diet for a long time now, but still pees on the carpet relatively often and I can't seem to get him to stop. I've had him re-tested before and the crystals are gone. I've tried having 3 litter boxes (for 2 cats), cleaning them more often, changing litter, etc and nothing seems to work.

Now, I'm moving to a new place (my first purchase) and am even more concerned about his peeing problem.

I have 2 questions as a result:

1) Easier to answer, perhaps: Since I'm moving, I need to find a new vet. This prescription food is very expensive (I can't remember if it's Feline S/D or Feline C/D .. one of the two) -- is there anywhere I can get it online or not from a vet for perhaps cheaper?

2) The place I bought had carpeted bedrooms and hardwood in the rest of it. I prefer not to have carpet, and I wanted to avoid giving kitty a soft comfy place to pee other than a litterbox, so I've put pergo laminate flooring (i.e. "fake hardwood") in the bedrooms. Will this discourage kitty from using the floor to pee on, or am I just setting myself up for ruined wood/fake wood or for him to start using the couch/bed? Has anyone had good experiences with any sort of behavioral tricks to try and discourage this? I've broken myself of the habit of freaking out when I catch him (I started off by yelling for him to stop, which clearly scared him and probably just taught him not to pee when I was present, regardless of where). I've praised the living heck out of him when I do happen to see him coming from using the litter box. What else can I do?

As frustrating as this is, I am 100% against the concept of giving him up for adoption to someone else or putting him down, so please don't suggest that.

While I'm asking stuff: Any suggestions for a great litterbox? I have a LitterMaid that I love, and both kitties did too for quite some time, but once the pee problems came for one of them, he stopped using the LitterMaid entirely and will only use one of the regular junky boxes I have.
posted by twiggy to Pets & Animals (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You can't get prescription foods from non-prescription sources, at least not as fair as I'm aware, though I suppose there could be shady online "vets".

My kitty had crystals, which we discovered after he was peeing blood (that's fun to wake up to.) we used the s/d for a while, then the c/d. I didn't like the ingredients though, so I switched to innova canned foods sort of against the vets wishes, but after tons of research. My cat had previously been on el cheapo dry food, and that probably caused it. The innova also contains DL-Methionine, which helps keep urinary ph down, as high urine ph is thought to be one of the causes for crystals.

It sounds like your cat has gotten used to peeing outside the box. Likely the uncarpeted floors will help. THere is no guarantee it won't go on the floors, but generally they like to pee on soft stuff. So keep towels, etc . . . off the floor at the new place.

As for peeing in a box, I would work on trying different litters in different boxes in different places in the house. Maybe even try towels in a litter box, or possibly a non-cat litter like carefresh. Once you find something he likes, you might be able to wean him on to something you're happier with. Same with location..

Also try hooded vs. unhooded. And as a general rule of thumb, use 1 box per cat + 1.

That's just a few ideas to start with. Good luck!
posted by [insert clever name here] at 1:08 PM on May 25, 2006

Did you clean the urine with an enzymatic cleaner? Sometimes, if cats can still faintly smell the urine, they'll think of the area as a good place to keep peeing.

Um, you can try different types of litter, the really soft kind, or some of the enviromental kinds, because sometimes the cat associates the pain of urinary problems with the litter they were using. And try to find his ideal place for the box (they like the box to be out of main traffic areas, somewhere where they don't feel vulnerable, etc).

Also, cat behaviorists say that the right number of litter boxes for a household is no. of cats + 1. Some cats really don't want to share their litterbox, and some are really finicky- only want to use a clean box, so checking it several times a day works for them.

Good books on behavioral issues for cats: Think Like a Cat : How to Raise a Well-Adjusted Cat--Not a Sour Puss and Twisted Whiskers: Solving Your Cat's Behavior Problems both by Pam Johnson-Bennett.
posted by overanxious ducksqueezer at 1:15 PM on May 25, 2006

Oh, [insert clever name here] beat me to it.
posted by overanxious ducksqueezer at 1:16 PM on May 25, 2006

I've tried having 3 litter boxes (for 2 cats), cleaning them more often, changing litter, etc and nothing seems to work.

Darn, that's what comes from skimming a long question. Sigh.
posted by overanxious ducksqueezer at 1:19 PM on May 25, 2006

Our vet reccomended using IAMS cat food rather than the prescription stuff when our cat had the same problem. We haven't have any issues since.
posted by cosmicbandito at 1:24 PM on May 25, 2006

Check out the Pam Johnson-Bennett books. She describes a somewhat drastic method of "crating" the cat (you can use any smallish space, like a bathroom, for this), for a certain number of days, I can't remember off-hand, with basically just a litter box, a little bed, food and water. This is supposed to re-litter-train them. At least it's something new to consider.
posted by overanxious ducksqueezer at 1:25 PM on May 25, 2006

While this doesn't directly answer either of your two questions, you may find it helpful-

My female kitty was suffering from UTI with blood in the urine. Over and over we went round with antibiotics when we decided to try something different. We had been feeding her Walmar'ts brand of dry kitty food. We switched to Purina One Urinary Track Health formula, and what-do-you-know? It worked! We've been feeding her that for 3 years now without the slightest problem.
posted by kc0dxh at 1:26 PM on May 25, 2006

Response by poster: I should have added: Yes, I've used Nature's Miracle quite a bit more than i'd like (damn that stuff is expensive) .. it doesn't seem to deter him.

Thank you very much for the recommendations so far... I have heard about the bathroom-lockup method and have been so afraid to try it because his brother will not be locked up, and his cries will drive me to sickening levels of guilt. I'm still kind of hoping that that's a last resort measure, but perhaps I need to try it soon... :-\

cosmicbandito: Was there a specific kind of IAMS? Wet? Dry? a certain formula? I'd love to bring it to my Vet's attention...
posted by twiggy at 1:31 PM on May 25, 2006

If the cat cries too much in the bathroom, try switching to a real crate or kennel placed in one of his favorite locations. Anything that allows the cat to at least partially participate in the family life (sights, sounds, smells, touching through the barriers) while being confined to a space that allows only one viable place to eliminate in.

If his problem really isn't physiological, crating does work. Just be prepared for the fact that a long-ingrained habit will not be broken in just the short time before moving. If I recall correctly, the re-training period is supposed to last for at least twice as long as cat has been doing things the wrong way.

If you can afford it, an animal behaviorist can be a big help. Even just reading some behaviorists' books helped us out.

One useful tip from the books: try to figure out whether it's a substrate issue vs a location issue. i.e. Is he determined to pee on carpet, any carpet? Or is he peeing in particular spots that just happen to be carpeted? (If the former, you may be able to coax him back to the box by putting a carpet scrap in it for a while. If the latter, putting a clean box over that spot might work. Etc.)
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 1:53 PM on May 25, 2006

I've praised the living heck out of him when I do happen to see him coming from using the litter box.

No doubt he's enjoying the praise. But it isn't happening within a second or two after he pees and the connection is being offered sporadically, he probably has no idea what behavior is earning the extra attention. From his perspective, it's simply his due. "For I am cat -- worship me."
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 2:02 PM on May 25, 2006

Make that: "But if it isn't..." *sigh*
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 2:03 PM on May 25, 2006

One useful tip from the books: try to figure out whether it's a substrate issue vs a location issue. i.e. Is he determined to pee on carpet, any carpet? Or is he peeing in particular spots that just happen to be carpeted? (If the former, you may be able to coax him back to the box by putting a carpet scrap in it for a while. If the latter, putting a clean box over that spot might work. Etc.)

I agree that this sort of thing can solve problems on a case by case basis. One of my childhood cats, who we nicknamed "Old Wackadoo" in her senior years, started peeing on newspapers wherever they were. She'd had UTI's in the past, and was very eccentric. What wound up working was saving our newspapers, and using the old ones to line the lid of one of those big plastic storage bins. She liked the flatness of the lid, and had her precious newspaper. Our vet at the time cautioned us that the ink from newspaper was not good, it could absorb into the skin of her paws over time. However it was really the only thing that worked for her. Maybe packing paper would have been better, if she'd have accepted it.
posted by overanxious ducksqueezer at 2:24 PM on May 25, 2006

My kitty, Smacky, is on feline CD for life after a urinary tract blockage. For a few months after his blockage was fixed, he continued to urinate outside the litterbox. Using Feliway seemed to help quite a bit, as did having a second litterbox.

Once we moved, he hasn't done it since. My theory is that no matter how hard I cleaned the pee spots, he could still sense them and go back to them.

I recommend the Booda dome litterboxes. The cats like them and they are easy to clean. The one with the stairs is great for preventing litter tracking too.
posted by tastybrains at 2:31 PM on May 25, 2006

Unfortunately it doesn't seem to be on the Washington Post online, but the print edition runs a once or twice weekly column on pet issues. On several occasions they've printed a recipe for making your own cat food and addressed its use for cats with crystal formation problems. Maybe a little judicious googling will turn it up for you. Just searching on "home made cat food" shows no shortage of items.

On the peeing issue you certainly need to retrain fluffy with the use of a confined space, preferably a bathroom or other non-porous floor space. You may not be able to have any success where you are now - that smell is so deeply set into those spaces that you may never convince him that the whole home isn't his toilet. Restrict his movement in the new place so you don't find yourself in the same situation.
posted by phearlez at 4:15 PM on May 25, 2006

The cat may have developed a fear of the litter maid box while sick. They will associate urinary pain with the box.

I think I've rec'ed this combo about fifty times, but Dr. Elsey's Precious Cat Cat Attract Litter plus a Clever Cat miraculously cured our litter box problems.

I would also think about getting a pet fountain. They typically help increase water intake, and being more hydrated is better for kitty's urinary tract. We have this one.

Good luck. I know this can be so, so frustrating.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:16 PM on May 25, 2006

Response by poster: Minor follow up though we're not done yet:

The cats currently live in the bedroom of my new place and are locked there... I bought a Booda Dome which I'm scooping twice a day, and the Cat Attract litter (expensive!!!)...

So far, no accidents... My only concern is my cats are not used to having a liner in their box (plastic bag), and have both seemingly forgotten how to cover their mess, so they scratch fruitlessly and get their claws stuck on the plastic bag or they just scrape the wall instead of the litter. Silly kitties.. I'll have to google or whatnot to find a way to retrain them on that (they're freakin' 3 years old!)...

anyway, so far it's working.. thanks so much for all of your answers. I'll report back in a few weeks to see if it has really worked..
posted by twiggy at 9:07 AM on May 30, 2006

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