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Sun Nov 18, 2012, 08:00 PM

Inappropriate pooping and other strangeness

Kidley has been a very good kitteh most of the four years I've had him, but in the past couple of months, his behavior has changed:

1. He began pooping in two locations other than his litterbox: the living room couch (which is essentially "his" couch these days anyway) and my bed (which fortunately has a washable throw on top). This accelerated as I was planning my trip to Japan, and I put it down to anxiety. He kept up this behavior during the week that the cat sitter was in residence.

I assumed that the behavior would stop after I returned, but it only became less frequent. I looked up the behavior online and found that it's usually due to anxiety or not liking the litter box (not a likely factor, since I've been using the same brand of litter for about two years, and the behavior just started a couple of months ago).

I sprayed the couch with what is supposed to be a repellent, but no luck. I put newspapers down on the couch, no luck. I sprayed the couch with obnoxious perfume that some relative gave me long ago--that worked temporarily. I read online that cats dislike aluminum foil, so I put aluminum foil down, and that seemed to work, but this afternoon, I caught him pooping on the aluminum foil.

I solve the bed problem by keeping the bedroom door closed, but last night, after I had finished sorting laundry, I found a deposit on the bed. (Perhaps sorting laundry looked like packing suitcases in his little cat brain?)

The one time I caught him in the "about to poop" posture, I grabbed him and carried him to his litter box. He looked at it stupidly, but then a few minutes later went and used it.

I feel fortunate that at least he doesn't pee in inappropriate places. That WOULD be disgusting.

2. He is drinking a lot more water than usual, and not just any water: he insists on bathroom water. At first, he was licking out the bathtub after I took a shower, but that grossed me out, so I got him a bowl, which I fill with water from the bathroom tap. He likes that OK but still enjoys licking the tub. He also washes his paws frequently.

3. For most of the time I've had him, he has known that he shouldn't wake me up until the radio comes on. He no longer does this consistently and either yowls at me in the early dawn hours (NOT good when I've been up late working on a translation) and then goes back to sleep or just ignores the radio completely. I'm almost wondering if he's going deaf, because it's a bit hard to get his attention.

He had a complete physical last year, and everything checked out normal.

Any advice or insight from the long-time cat owners?

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Reply Inappropriate pooping and other strangeness (Original post)
Lydia Leftcoast Nov 2012 OP
Curmudgeoness Nov 2012 #1
ginnyinWI Nov 2012 #2
Lydia Leftcoast Nov 2012 #3
ginnyinWI Nov 2012 #4
The Velveteen Ocelot Nov 2012 #5

Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Original post)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 08:16 PM

1. I cannot be of much help here,

since I have not had this problem before with my cats. The one I have now did this once, and it was when the litter box was not cleaned out one day because somehow I forgot. I do not forget now. He is picky about the cleanliness of the litter box.

It is odd that the two places he is doing this are on furniture, and what I would consider to be "your" places. I would think this is telling something. I am afraid that I don't know what.

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Original post)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 08:25 PM

2. How old is he?

Something is apparently going wrong, and I think maybe related to aging if he is "getting up there". You say he might be going deaf so that's why I ask.

It might be that something is hurting him--making him act differently. Or he might be having some kind of kitty dementia coming on.

Is he alert and active, feeling okay otherwise? Our older male cat started pooping on the floor when he was going into renal failure, which was making him mentally foggy and confused. He'd go behind the couch and leave us his gift. I am not sure now if he was reluctant to go down the steps to the basement where his litter box was, forgetful, or what. At 17, his vision was going dim and he might not have been able to see down there so well.

The water drinking might be a sign of kidney trouble, or diabetes.

You say he seems to be acting out increased anxiety. It could be that living with some pain plus you going on a trip put him over the edge. And now his pooping has become a habit and outlet for his stress. The pain could come from a tumor, or arthritis, something like that.

Where is your litter box located? Is it easy for him to get to? Maybe moving it or adding another one would help. Does he have at least two? Many cats want to pee in one location, and poop in another. So for even one cat, having two boxes is a very good idea.

Do you have more than one cat, and if so, is something happening to their pecking order that could stress him out?

I guess what I would do, bottom line, is take him in for a check up. A lot can happen in a year, especially if he is older. And if he isn't sick, then try to figure out what is going on with him mentally/socially/psychologically.

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Response to ginnyinWI (Reply #2)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 09:31 PM

3. Answers

1. He's always been pretty laid back, never very playful, but affectionate. He's about 9 years old. (My cousin said that he was 5 when she gave him to me, but she found him after he had been abandoned by her mother's neighbors, so I don't know where the number 5 came from unless it was a vet's estimate.)

2. The litter box is in the bathroom of my apartment, which is all one floor, about 1100 square feet. I can't really think of an appropriate place to put another one. He has to hop up to poop on either the couch or my bed.

3. He's an only cat and has been ever since I got him in December 2008.

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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Reply #3)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 10:08 PM

4. It's a puzzler

But in my experience with two different cats at different times, each of them pooped outside the litter box when they were sick. The one I mentioned above having had renal failure, and the other one was our calico, this year, who turned out to have a tumor in her bladder which lead to her death, and no doubt caused her to be in pain though we didn't know it.

Both of these cats were elderly--one 18 and one 19 when they died. And they both used the floor, not a bed or sofa to poop on, and both were losing their night vision, at that age, which might have made them want to avoid going down the dark basement stairs. But now that I think of it, even when I put a litter box in the kitchen for the renal failure cat, he still would go and poop in the living room. Never peed outside the box though, for which I'm grateful--neither of them did.

So to me, it indicates some kind of distress that pulls them out of their normal habits. Your kitty might have something as simple as an association between the litter box and pain, like if he was constipated once and it hurt. Maybe changing something about it, like the brand of litter, could remove that association. Ruling out any illness, that would be the next thing I'd try. And even though you have limited space, maybe a second litter box?



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Response to Lydia Leftcoast (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 12:13 AM

5. Years ago I had a cat who was kind of ignoring his litter box.

Took him to the vet, nothing wrong with him. Vet said to do some behavior modification: Cats don't like to leave poo and pee where they eat. So, to encourage better litter box habits, what you do is sequester said cat in a small room, like a bathroom. His litter box will be there, along with his food and water. But, in order to keep his poo away from his food, he'll have to use the box. Cat has to live in the bathroom for about a week. When he's stuck in there by himself he will probably howl like a lonely banshee. Visit him and play with him often, but don't relent - he has to stay in the bathroom until he gets back in the habit of always using the box.

So I tried this with my cat, and he did howl like a lonely banshee when left alone in the bathroom, but after his week in solitary he never again failed to use his litter box (he lived to be 21).

Kidley is still a little young to be going deaf or having other problems, but you might want to take him back to the vet just to be sure he's still OK. If he is, you might try the above technique.

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