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QUESTION: Hi there,

I have six indoor cats, ranging from the ages 1 through to 8. Recently, they have ALL been urinating inside; near their food, on the kitchen counter, on their food containers, near windows, on cupboards, on curtains—generally everywhere, really; it's hard to keep track of all the areas. We don't always know who the exact culprit is, we've only caught a couple of them in the act a few times, but most of the time they do it while we're asleep or not home.

We've tried special deodorizers from the Vets to keep them away from the areas they choose to urinate, with no success. We've used anti-bacteria sprays and cleaning products, but the cats continue to do their business no matter what. Their kitty litter tray is always, always clean; we've tried legitimate kitty litter, but they've never liked it. Now we simply use your average garden dirt, which they have no issue with generally; they do their business in there no issues, but as soon as we're not looking, they also like to do it in random areas of the house.

They've all been to the Vets, and everything's been confirmed that they have no illnesses or infections or disorders, they're entirely healthy. Now, it seems to just be down to my cats' behaviours. How do I fix this issue? It is not a nice feeling having to clean pee up every day from 6 different cats. Please help!

Thank you,
Tiana.

ANSWER: Tiana,

How long has this been going on? Have they ever had good bathroom habits? Also, are they all fixed?  If not, that may very well be the problem.

First of all, Our rule of thumb is no less than 1 litter pan for every 2 cats, so by my count there should be at least three litter pans.  Also, cats can get very territorial about litter pans, so it is possible the pecking order on the litter pan is excluding certain cats. By the way, cats have various pecking orders which can differ, e.g. a pecking order for certain territories, a food pecking order and a litter pan pecking order.

Second, I would put the litter pans in different parts of the house if possible so there is always an available litter pan somewhere in the house.

Secondly, cleaning things up will require an enzyme based cleaner specifically for feline stains and odors (most pet supermarkets stock these). You can try Feliway diffusers (Feliway is a pheromone based product which is supposed to relieve aggressive behavior).

There is a lot of excellent material on dealing with causes of these types of problems at:

Check out:  http://jacksongalaxy.com/category/cat-behavior-and-care/behavioral-issues/

and http://jacksongalaxy.com/category/cat-behavior-and-care/spraying-cat-behavior-an

for some really good tips on urination behaviors.

Please get back to me.

Best regards... Norm.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for responding.

It's been on and off for about a year. Yes, my cats have always been great at using their litter tray ever since they were kittens; we never had any issues when they were babies, but now things are changing for some reason. And yes, they are all fixed.

That makes sense. At the moment, we just have one large litter box; we thought it would be fine, as they all have a lot of room and dirt, but now I'm seeing that sharing one tray no matter the size could be an issue for them.

I'm in a small house, so placing any more litter trays outside of the laundry—where the existing one is at the moment—could become a little unsanitary. But I'll see what I can do.

I will be checking out the Feliway products; hopefully they give us a result, rather than the other products we've used in the past.

Thank you for the advice, and the links,
Tiana.

ANSWER: Tiana,

One other thing:  Did some event happen a year ago which may have upset them?  Something like a new addition to the household (2 legged or 4 legged). Is there some new cat hanging around the house that they could see out of a window. Did you change the litter you were using?  Any thing can set off bad urination habits.

If we have ruled out medical, there must be a behavioral reason for the aberrant behavior!

Please let me know.

Best regards... Norm.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: We did get a new cat last year, I suppose that could have been the start of the problem, but none of my cats get along with each other as it is, so I hadn't thought much about it. There's two male cats that are regularly in our yard of a night time, they seem to roam the front and the back yard; I'm not quite sure why, considering all of my cats are fixed. This might be an issue, but there's no stopping the neighbourhood cats from straying into the yard.

Answer
Tiana,

By introducing the new cat, the existing pecking order was thrown into a tizzy, so, it is probable that this is where the problems originally arose.

At this stage, even finding another home for the newest resident might not resolve the issue.  I hate to say it, but I would look into multiple litter pans and different locations to get this resolved.

Best regards... Norm.

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Norman Auspitz

Expertise

I can answer most non-veterinary questions about cats. My particular expertise is pedigree cats, breeding and showing. However, I am versed in feline behavior, cat breeds and their characteristics, general feline husbandry, and the like.

Experience

I judged for the Canadian Cat Association from 1975 until 1982. I am currently an approved allbreed judge for the Cat Fanciers'' Association (the world''s largets cat registry), and have been judging for them since 1991. I have been breeding pedigreed cats since 1971 and have been exhibiting pedigreed cats in shows since 1970. I obtained my first pedigreed cat in 1970 and have never looked back. In 1971, I obtained my first Abyssinian which has become my primary breed. In addition, I have bred Manx and Persians. Currently, besides the Abyssinians, I am also breeding Maine Coons.


Organizations
Cat Fanciers'' Association, inc. (CFA) and the Manx, Maine Coon, and Abyssinian breed councils. I am currently Abyssinian breed council secretary.

Publications
Cat Fancy Magazine, The Abyssinian Chapter in The Cat Fanciers'' Association Complete Cat Book, and Articles for various editions of The Cat Fanciers'' Association Yearbook

Education/Credentials
I received a B.S. from Drexel University in 1968, a M.Math from University of Waterloo, in 1970, a Ph.D. from University of Waterloo in 1975, and a MBA from McMaster University in 1980. I received my approved allbreed judging status in the Cat Fanciers'' Association in 1999.

Awards and Honors
We have produced a number of Cat Fanciers'' Association (CFA) National winning Abyssinian and Maine Coons. We have produced a number of Abyssinian and Maine Coon Distinguished Merit females (an award for a top producing cat), including the first Distinguished Merit Abyssinian in the red (sorrel) color. I am the CFA Abyssinian breed council secretary and belong and/or hold office in a number of cat clubs. I am also a member of the CFA Judges Association.

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