Species: Cat Breed: Long haired tabby Age: 2-5 years
I have two cats, a male (Duke, long haired tabby) and female (Bella, Blue Point) both 4, brought home as kittens at around the same time. They have both been spayed and neutered. When they were brought home, litter training them was a breeze. For the past couple years Duke has found a love for the outdoors but only the past couple months has he also found a love for urinating outside his litter box, usually on curtains, sofas, speakers and other mainly absorbent but obvious objects around the house. When I let him outside, I usually sit in the kitchen and watch him as I live in the city and letting him out alone is not something I think is safe and too keen on. He's restricted to the backyard. Mind you, when I do let him out it's usually when he wants to and for the most part he either comes in on his own or when I need to leave. When he's brought in involuntarily, that's when he almost always urinates. Now as I'm a student I don't have money to be putting towards vet bills as I'm almost positive this is a behavioural issue so I've been trying some things on my own such as getting another litter box (thinking he didn't like to share), changing the litter daily, cleaning the litter almost right after its used, spraying the furniture with cat repellent, working out my schedule so he can stay outside longer, etc. But still, as soon as it's time for him to come in and my back is turned, the smell of urine is lingering and it's a hunt to find it. Now getting rid of him is not an option but this issue has to be solved.
Any help would be ever so greatly appreciated.
Dr. Marie replied:
Hi Tasia. I know how frustrating it can be when a cat is urinating in the house!
If it is at all possible I would really advise a vet visit for Duke. Quite often when a cat starts to urinate in the house there is a medical problem such as crystals in the urine or interstitial cystitis. If there is a medical problem, the longer we wait to treat it, the more expensive it is going to be to treat.
You are doing all of the right things when it comes to helping in case it is a behavioral issue.
Here are a few other things you can try:
-Experiment with different types of litter.
-Experiment with different sizes of litter boxes.
-Experiment with covered vs non covered boxes.
-Look into a product called feliway which is feline pheromones which help reduce anxiety in cats.
This can be a very frustrating problem. Again, if you can swing a vet visit it is the best idea. If your vet finds that the urine is normal they may be willing to prescribe some medication to help with anxiety. This usually cuts down on urine marking dramatically. Quite often we can use this medication for a few months and then wean a cat off.
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Dr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.
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