The Cat Pees Awry
July 6, 2006 7:16 AM   Subscribe

I have an old cat. He misses the box. He enters, but aims right over the edge. In the deeper, hooded boxes, he just lets loose, right out the door. I clean this every day, but am slowly going batty. What solutions might there be? Um, "out of the box" thinking needed.

I have considered building a high-walled box and waterproofing, getting a kennel and confining him during the days until he learns to keep his own space clean, getting a large smooth rubber mat (which I cannot find), or getting an enter-from-above style box.
Has anyone tried these? Can I retrain him? What solutions have I overlooked?!
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat to Pets & Animals (26 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Two boxes, one with a larger footprint than the other to hold the smaller one? The smaller one is filled normally with litter, the larger with just a little bit to catch the spillage.
posted by TonyRobots at 7:18 AM on July 6, 2006

My old cat did the same thing. I finally used puppy training pads around the box, including over the front. Very easy to clean up and replace, and we were finally both content with arrangements.
posted by dness2 at 7:24 AM on July 6, 2006

Response by poster: TonyRobots. Interesting idea, but I wonder where to find a larger container. The litter boxes max out quickly, and storage containers do not have flat bottoms for easy cleaning.

dness2. I have puppy pads out. But I am intrigued by "over the front" do you mean hanging there like a shower curtain?
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 7:29 AM on July 6, 2006

You could try a booda dome. But get the right kind. One kind is front loading and is useless (sounds like what you got). The other has an entrance ramp. So, by the time the kitty is in the litter - he's all the way in the litter. Works for out cats.
posted by jaded at 7:30 AM on July 6, 2006

Or - would your cat just crap on the ramp?
posted by jaded at 7:30 AM on July 6, 2006

I second the Booda Dome. I use this for my cats, one of whom has had urinary tract problems and thus had issues with missing the box.

I also put it on a section of a plastic mat (the kind sold to be used under computer chairs - find them at an office supply store), which makes it easy to clean up if dirty litter or cat pee doesn't quite make it in the box.

I have a friend with a cat who likes to go right outside of the box. Her solution was to put the box in the spare bathroom's bathtub. It's much easier to rinse out the bathtub than to clean cat urine off the carpet.

My last suggestion is that you may want to try Feliway. This would only make a difference if the problem is behavioral rather than physical, and it sounds like the problem may be a physical issue with the cat getting older. But if nothing else works, it's worth a shot.
posted by tastybrains at 7:36 AM on July 6, 2006

Oooh, piggybacking on TonyRobots' idea...maybe you could put the litterbox in a large puppy crate. Most of them have a removable plastic tray that is easy to rinse out.
posted by tastybrains at 7:38 AM on July 6, 2006

Response by poster: The booda dome leaked. But I think it may be a good solution with a plastic mat underneath.

The puppy crate, a large one, could be useful.

I've been looking for a large rubber mat that is flat (no nubs for cleaning feet) and has a lip. I cannot find this.

(thanks for all the help)
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 7:42 AM on July 6, 2006

Response by poster: Oh, yeah. I forgot. The booda dome had another problem -- the cat would shoot from within onto the ramp, a contamination which soon confused his interpretation of the device.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 7:44 AM on July 6, 2006

Best answer: For the box-within-a-box idea, maybe you could use one of these? They come in 16" and 18" wide varieties, and are rather long, so it seems like it might work. Maybe put a puppy pad IN a box like that, or put really heavy/absorbent clay litter in the outer box.

I would point you at the CleverCat top-entry box, which is avialable at PetSmart, because we love it, but if your cat is old and is having issues getting/staying all the way in the regular box, it may be too much of a challenge for him. It's a great box, though.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:55 AM on July 6, 2006

My cat was having issues hitting the mark as well. I picked up one of those low profile storage bins for under the bed. As you note, it's hard to find one without some strange molding on the bottom, but it is possible. Now he's got an olympic sized shit-box and his expulsions are much more contained. He was just growing up though, so the problems you face may not be of space or orientation so much as the containment of the process. I'd imagine that a secondary spill suppression system like an edged rubber mat would do you well.
posted by prostyle at 7:56 AM on July 6, 2006

Rubber mats used on farms and in barns. May or may not meet your needs, but are sure as hell durable.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:57 AM on July 6, 2006

You could try one of these, if you think he's able to manage it physically. (On preview: Medieval Maven beat me to it.)

Just to cover all the bases, has he been to the vet recently? Missing the box can be an indicator of health issues that need to be addressed (such as urinary tract infections and diabetes - that is in fact one of the warning signs that led to our kitty's diabetes diagnosis).
posted by hilatron at 8:00 AM on July 6, 2006

Our cat occasionally fires a round over the edge of her open litterbox... hasn't yet become a real problem.

Another vote for TonyRobots concept of a tray-within-a-tray. The interior tray doesn't have to be huge... could be a 12"x12" cake pan even, inside a normal litterbox.
posted by Artful Codger at 8:04 AM on July 6, 2006

Best answer: My cat was entering the box (I think she had arthritis so this was an accomplishment) and just standing there and peeing out the entrance, completely defeating the purpose of the hood and sides. So I ended up lining the floor in front and under the box with the puppy pads (50 to a box, the cheapest available). This worked for about a month until she decided to start positioning herself so the rim would be left with a noticeable residue (bad aim). I hung a pad over the entrance like a bib. This solved the problem perfectly and we lasted this way for the rest of her days. Kitty alzheimers -- she really had no idea she had become so high maintenance.
posted by dness2 at 8:11 AM on July 6, 2006 [1 favorite]

Best answer: For a larger tray to put the litter box in, I've used a plastic concrete mixing container that I picked up at Home Depot. It was the perfect size to fit the litter box in and easy to clean.
posted by ShooBoo at 8:18 AM on July 6, 2006 [1 favorite]

Yah, 17-year old cat, same thing. Seemed to be tied to tail freedom- he went into the lidded type head first with his tail out the front. Took off the lid & tried a taller box but his tail hung over the side. Went to a LOWER box and it was big enough for him to do his half-squat and not click the tail-trigger too early.
posted by dragonsi55 at 8:28 AM on July 6, 2006

I have an old cat with arthritis and he does the same thing. I bought a cheap rubbermaid storage bin, with high sides & cut an "entrance" near one corner, with a low enough edge for him to get into. Since the other sides are high, it keeps him from hanging his butt over the edge. I think the box is about 18" deep or something like that, it's one of those large storage tubs.
I work in a cage-free cat shelter a few times a month. That's what they use, and they have about 90 cats.
You could also put down a few layers of paper or plastic bags near the entrance. If he misses, it will make clean-up easy.
posted by Alpenglow at 8:41 AM on July 6, 2006

I've taken to putting newspaper under and around the litterbox. This isn't very helpful for urine, of course, but my elderly cats luckily only have a problem keeping their poop inside the box. Cheap (practically free if you get the paper anyways) and easy to clean up.
posted by coffeespoons at 8:56 AM on July 6, 2006

I would cut an old shower curtain in 2-3" strips and attach a short end to the top of the doorway to create a mini strip door similar to those you see in walk in freezers and laboratory. If the strips are long enough the bottom ends should stay in the box creating a barrier to the outside-pee-free world.

Images of Strip Doors
posted by linklog at 9:02 AM on July 6, 2006

Does your cat have a urinary tract infection or failing kidneys? My older cat started doing this on account of his failing kidneys. I use one of those mats that you stick on the bottom of your bathtub to keep from slipping. It helps sometimes.
posted by delladlux at 10:39 AM on July 6, 2006

The industrial litter set up:

Go to Home Depot/Lowes etc.

Buy a washer/water heater pan.
Buy a cement mixing pan.

(total cost approx $30)

Put down washer pan, put mixing pan on it, fill mixing pan with litter. Any overflow will now be caught in the washer pan.

The combo should last you for several years. The mixing pan is incredibly tough (my male cat likes to stand on the corners of his box & cracked several regular litter pans). The scoop shaped bottom of the mixing pan also eliminates corner buildup & the surface seems slicker than regular plastic.
posted by jaimystery at 11:08 AM on July 6, 2006

I have a cat that does this, as well as kicking up litter everywhere when she is on target. My solution was to put the litter try into a cardboard box, cutting the lid and part of one side away so that she can get in. That way, if she misses, it goes into the cardboard, which you can just throw out.

Another thought: are you using a small litter tray? you might want to try a bigger one, so that the cat can sit in it and still be over the litter.
posted by baggers at 11:11 AM on July 6, 2006

Rubbermaid now has a litterbox with high sides for exactly this problem. Works like a charm.

I couldn't get a direct link to work, but they have it at PetSmart. Search for "rubbermaid high sided".
posted by Caviar at 4:59 PM on July 7, 2006

Isn't it funny - people and cats are so alike..

[Personally, I think dogs are more moral than we are - within their own social conscience. Sure - they'll steal a hot dog - but they'll feel guilty afterwards. Can't see a cat or a person doning anything but laughing and enjoying their ill-gotten franks guilt free...]

My dad, whom I adored and cared for, before he passed away in his eighties - loved to paint, but wouldn't use a tarp anymore. The abstract painting on the carpet was intriguing...

If, at your musclebound feline's age, he is not thrown by change or inhibited by arthritis or some such - and before a percentage of your retirement goes for puppy pads, you can put his box in your bathtub or shower [between your own grooming sessions] and wash the urine away down the drain with bleach, or environmentally safe cleanser, to each his own.

Leave the puppy pads where they are for awhile, though - like my father and his impromptu carpet abstracts, if he's old and a little cantankerous, he may keep peeing in the same spot just cause the only prerogative of age is doing whatever you want, laughing at convention, embarrassing and frustrating your children and getting away with it.

If this solution doesn't apply, doesn't work or offends your sense of hygiene[really - use bleach], Oh well - sounds like your doing the next best fix already.

Best of luck to you - sounds like your cat has a great chief of staff.
posted by SalvoSensu at 9:25 AM on July 10, 2006

Coming in late: What jaimystery said. I thought everyone knew about putting the litter box in a washing machine liner. They're white plastic, about 30" square with a 1.5" lip. They're meant to keep any leaks from your washing machine from escaping all over the house. They work great for stray cat pee. I clean them with household spray whenever needed, and in nice weather take them outside, scrub them down and hose them off (the litter boxes, too).
posted by Joleta at 7:26 PM on August 28, 2006

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