Why does my cat pee in the wrong place?
We have a cat that would insist on peeing in my husband’s office. Worse, after we put a litter box in his favorite pee corner, he refused to use the litter box about half the time. He is, or was, a Rude Kitty Litter Box System failure.
Until I faced his litter box towards the wall.
Fluffy is an elegant Himalayan cat with a debonair air. He is the model for the ‘Grooming cat’ and the ‘Toy cat’ icons on our website.
He is (of course) fluffy and long and very low to the ground. He has short legs and sits upright with his front paws up to his chest like a rabbit when he wants to get a better look at things that are high.
PHOTO (standing up cat)
While he seems like a large cat, most of him is fur. We have had him trimmed for summer and when he is trimmed, you can see how small he really is, beneath his fur.
PHOTO(poodled hair cut)
Fluffy is the only cat that we have that is a ‘purebred’ cat. Our other two are American Shorthairs. Basically mutts. Both of them are feisty. Cuddles, our Rude Kitty is 19 and pretty much ignores the others. Max is a gigantic youngster at a whopping 18 pounds who thinks that he is a dog. He expects to be roughed up and most of the time, he incites it.
Max and Fluff were friends until Max had a growth spurt and he bit too hard during a friendly tussle. Fluff is more refined that the other two. He doesn’t tussle with ferocity, more out of politeness. He is a gentle soul who prefers using his skills on spiders and snakes. (More about his hunting and defending skills in another post.)
PHOTO (snake and poppy)
He doesn’t like confrontation. He usually hides in a closet and naps all day. He has frightened me more than once when I have reached in to pick up something only to find Fluff on top of towels or sheets.
Fluff even prefers to eat his meals on the breakfast bar, high above the fray. (Which should have been a clue about the litter box problem.)
Our household is a boisterous one for a fluffy, shy, short legged cat. We also have two large dogs.
Fluffy was fine with our German Shepherd, Poppy, because she is a nurturing dog. I have watched cats weave around her legs while she looks down at them, intrigued as they tickle her nose with their tails.
But, when Fluffy was about two years old, fully mature and happily ensconced in our home, we bought a Newfoundland puppy; Tucker.
Tucker is a huge, (apologies to fellow Newfie owners) clumsy bully. He is loving to family, but he likes to boss our cats around. It is ironic, bc he is a ‘fraidy dog, who was afraid of the Chihuahua in Puppy Obedience Class.
We tried to help Fluff acclimate to Tucker. We put his food and water up on the breakfast bar, so he could eat peacefully. We put tall cat trees by his favorite windows. We never allowed Tucker to chase him. Because Fluffy was friendly with Poppy, we thought that he and Tucker would become friends too.
However, just like with children in a classroom, not everyone will get along, no matter how hard you try to facilitate friendships.
The disappearance of Fluffy from daily life was gradual. He often slept during the day, so we didn’t realize that eventually he had become mostly a nocturnal pet; he would come out when the dogs were safely asleep.
Then, we realized that his toilet habit had become a problem. He was peeing in Tom’s office. A room, by the way, where even angels fear to tread, it is filled with all sorts of clutter, from sports equipment to computer parts and is shoveled out twice a year; as birthday and Christmas presents.
At first, because Fluffy had been raised by a male, I thought that Fluff’s choice of Tom’s office was he preferred men and was marking his territory. I cleaned up the mess, used BioKleen on the floor and put in a nice, new litter box. The box was a limited success.
My cat-expert friend told me that he had a UTI. The vet said that he didn’t.
I would like to say that I had a ‘lightbulb’ moment, but I didn’t.
I was frustrated by our Fluffy who was peeing randomly on one side of the house when his least-disgusting-to-humans litterbox was on the other side of the house.
He had a litter box in the office, a litter box (fairly disgusting) in our living room as well as one upstairs and one in the utility room. (We follow the Number of Cats + One Rule for Litter Boxes: 3 cats = 4 litter boxes.)
We changed litter types. We tried several eco-friendly litters as well as the scented standbys. I even tried making our own litter from a combination of them. Hoping that Fluff would find the litter acceptable.
Nothing seemed to work except putting cardboard boxes in places where he seemed to like to pee because they were actual physical barriers and closing the office door.
One day, I was in the living room, cleaning up Fluff’s mess (on the floor, not even close to the litter box) when I shoved the litter box opening towards the wall in a effort to make having a litter box there slightly less disgusting.
Low and behold, over the next few days, I realized that there were no more pee puddles and the litter box was finally being used!
I had finally (accidentally) cracked the code of what was wrong with Fluffy.
He wanted privacy! And a safe way to enter and exit the litter box without any curious, bullying dogs. (We never saw Tucker bother him at the litter box. If we had, the problem would have solved much sooner.)
After I discovered the solution, it was easy to interpret the clues. I realized, (like the Pet Therapist Detective that I pretend to be,) that Fluff was unhappy with Tucker.
The office? It wasn’t male bonding that he desired, it was privacy and a safe egress. Nobody dared go in there through all the clutter. Tucker simply could not fit.