Last ditch effort to save the sweetest ex-feral cat (won't use litter boxes)

klag

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A feral cat I took in almost 2 years ago won't pee in the litter boxes. Has been medically declared perfect by the vet.

I have 5 cats, the 5th is a little old spayed feral that I've been caring for outside for 10 years - I took her into my house 2 years ago. She is 99% deaf and wasn't thriving outside anymore so she became my 5th indoor only cat (none of my cats go outside ever). She fits into the house perfect except she will not pee in the litter boxes. She absolutely adores all my other cats and they love her. I have 6 litter boxes (a box in every room) and they are cleaned about 3 times a day every day (every time I walk past).

She does nothing but purr all day long, loves to sit in your arms, next to you, sleep with you, lets us clip her nails, clean her eyes, etc. She just won't pee in the litter boxes. She finds a quiet place away from the common areas of the house, and just pees - just like she did outside for 10 years.

She seems to understand the concept of the litter box because she poops inside the litter box every time for 2 years. Just wont pee there unless we lock her in a small room with nothing but a litter box, then she will use it (no where else to go). Sadly, we cannot keep her locked in that room full time. We have removed all rugs/carpets and now she is peeing on the hardwood floors.

I have multiple different styles of litter box (tall, short, enclosed, open, etc). They are all extra large size, 2 are double extra large.

We love this cat, wanted to give her a happy life after a hard outside life for 10 years. But we cant continue like this. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. She cannot go back outside due to her hearing issues, so we are out of options.

She's the little grey one. Her name is Stripe.

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danteshuman

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Hmmmmmm my mom had similar litter box success with her reformed feral BUT only when he was locked in the master bedroom for medical reasons. He is now back to still going outside to pee & poop.

Can you give her a catio with a sandbox in it?

I have heard of other people using potting soil in litter boxes to get feral cats to use the litter boxes. I would get super large litter boxes (without lids) or 2 plastic storage bins (with a smooth bottom) and fill them with 100% potting soil. Then once he uses the potting soil for weeks add in a handful of unscented clumping litter. Slowly over the next months add in more litter. When in doubt, go slower. Cats hate change.

This is the size of a tub I would look for. Since cats often prefer to pee & poop in different boxes; I recommend 2 bins/tubs. (I’m currently looking for a second tub so my spoiled guy can have 2 boxes again.) Another reason for the tubs is it contains the litter when you have super litter kickers, or cats with elevator buts & it keeps my mom’s cat Cami from hanging her but out of the litter mat & pooping on the litter mat. 🤦🏻‍♀️

I wish you the best of luck.
 

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Flybynight

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klag klag
Hi,
She does look super sweet 🌸
I would say first check her for a UTI, it may be an ongoing issue and that is why she avoids the litter box.
Was she previously owned and declawed? That again can cause litter box avoidance.
Have you washed the areas she has urinated in with bio washing powder or special cat urine odor remover? Even if you cannot smell it she may and return to the same spots.
If she lived outdoors for a long time unspayed, she may be scent marking the way tom cats do. Females sometimes scent mark as well and it may be habit with her even if she is now spayed.
I would try washing the area with a urine scent remover and putting a small tray in that area she used before to urinate. Maybe even adding earth instead of litter to the tray.
Adding a few extra boxes may help. I know you have six boxes but sometimes adding another box or two helps with multiple cats. Some cats prefer to urinate and poo in different boxes. Maybe that is more ingrained in her if she lived outdoors, to pee in one area and poo in another. So try say two rooms with an extra box in them.
 

Jcatbird

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Please don’t give up on her. I have a cat that has issues at times but he is family, like she is to you. It has turned out to be an anxiety issue with him. Another male sometimes makes him nervous. I gave them both a large cage as safe sanctuary from each other but they are not shut in! They go there when stressed. They have a bed, private litter boxes and everything they need there. Each is Fed there separately and encouraged to use these places for “happy times.”
Another tip might be what I use for feral rescues when they come in for socializing. I gather cut grass, pine straw or whatever they used outside as a potty area. I put that as a top dressing on the litter.
This cat is hearing impaired and at one time I had a deaf cat. She seemed especially aware of her litter box and insisted on doing poop in one box but pee in another. She also was very finicky about going in a box that had already been used. I had to keep the boxes scooped. As long as I kept them clear of any pee, she would use them. Perhaps her sense of smell was heightened? IDK but she just would not pee where there was pee from others. I have over 30 litter boxes here for 28 rescues and I know how hard it can be to constantly be scooping! It’s a lot to keep up but every one of these cats are so important to me, so I do it. You have already put so much love and energy into saving her life, maybe something here will help. Has your vet suggested any calming products for her? Worth a try. Have you tried Dr. Elsleys cat attract litter? She is so precious. I hope you can find a good solution. If all else fails, maybe getting her into a home where she is the only cat? Oh, one other idea! Have you seen the fake grass pee mats for puppies? They have a tray under Astro turf and the urine passes through to be caught in the tray which can be easily cleaned. Puppy pee pads in a simple baking sheet might even be worth a try. I am sure that others will be along with some other ideas too. Please do keep us updated. She’s a beautiful kitty! All your kitties are precious!
 

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Have you tried Dr. Elsey's Litter Attract? It has special herbs that lure cats to the litter box. Does she usually pee/poop in the same spots? Can you add a few more litter boxes in those areas? How are you cleaning the areas where she pees/poops? Cats have a great sense of smell and will return to the same spots over and over again if they are not cleaned with an enzymatic cleaner. Have you used a black light to be sure you have found all the spots?

Puppy pee pads are a must. I put them under and behind all my litter boxes. Makes it very easy to see if there are accidents.

Having a small catio for her might just be a solution. You can connect it from a window or sliding door.

I know how frustrating it can be to have a cat that doesn't use the litter box. I have had a few throughout the years. It is hard. Yet this sweet girl needs to be loved and kept safe. Keep trying to see if a solution can be found!
 

Kflowers

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You may have already done this, but can you put small litter boxes in the places she does like to pee? Plastic boxes come in all shapes. I'm thinking triangular ones for corners, shallow ones for under furniture.
As much as she adores your other cats, she may still be functioning in the hide the pee to be safe mode.
 
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klag

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I have heard of other people using potting soil in litter boxes to get feral cats to use the litter boxes. I would get super large litter boxes (without lids) or 2 plastic storage bins (with a smooth bottom) and fill them with 100% potting soil. Then once he uses the potting soil for weeks add in a handful of unscented clumping litter. Slowly over the next months add in more litter. When in doubt, go slower. Cats hate change.

This is the size of a tub I would look for. Since cats often prefer to pee & poop in different boxes; I recommend 2 bins/tubs. (I’m currently looking for a second tub so my spoiled guy can have 2 boxes again.) Another reason for the tubs is it contains the litter when you have super litter kickers, or cats with elevator buts & it keeps my mom’s cat Cami from hanging her but out of the litter mat & pooping on the litter mat. 🤦🏻‍♀️
Thank you for your help and the reply :) We took this cat in 2 years ago, and at first we did just what you said - gave her sand and potting soil and leaves to get her used to a litter box. And she used (still uses) it when she's locked in the room with nowhere else to go but the litter box. We eventually converted to unscented corn litter (Worlds Best Cat Litter). She does poop in the box 100% of the time so she seems to understand the concept.

Two of my 6 litter boxes are giant 3 foot storage bins, so she has the choice of using very large boxes.
 
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klag

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klag klag
Hi,
She does look super sweet 🌸
I would say first check her for a UTI, it may be an ongoing issue and that is why she avoids the litter box.
Was she previously owned and declawed? That again can cause litter box avoidance.
Have you washed the areas she has urinated in with bio washing powder or special cat urine odor remover? Even if you cannot smell it she may and return to the same spots.
If she lived outdoors for a long time unspayed, she may be scent marking the way tom cats do. Females sometimes scent mark as well and it may be habit with her even if she is now spayed.
I would try washing the area with a urine scent remover and putting a small tray in that area she used before to urinate. Maybe even adding earth instead of litter to the tray.
Adding a few extra boxes may help. I know you have six boxes but sometimes adding another box or two helps with multiple cats. Some cats prefer to urinate and poo in different boxes. Maybe that is more ingrained in her if she lived outdoors, to pee in one area and poo in another. So try say two rooms with an extra box in them.
Thank you for the response and for your help :) We did have her checked for UTI and possible foot issues, but all negative.

She was born outside in a shelter I built in the forest behind my house 8 years ago. I had her spayed 5 years ago. She has not and will never be declawed and has never been in another house. I do indeed wash the places she pees with the Unrine Destroyer enzymes - and she doesn't keep returining to any one place to pee, to put down new litter boxes. It doesn't seem that she is marking with scent because every time she goes she squats and pees a lot (not the quick tail flicking marking habits my outdoor ferals do).
 
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klag

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Have you tried Dr. Elsey's Litter Attract? It has special herbs that lure cats to the litter box. Does she usually pee/poop in the same spots? Can you add a few more litter boxes in those areas? How are you cleaning the areas where she pees/poops? Cats have a great sense of smell and will return to the same spots over and over again if they are not cleaned with an enzymatic cleaner. Have you used a black light to be sure you have found all the spots?

Puppy pee pads are a must. I put them under and behind all my litter boxes. Makes it very easy to see if there are accidents.

Having a small catio for her might just be a solution. You can connect it from a window or sliding door.

I know how frustrating it can be to have a cat that doesn't use the litter box. I have had a few throughout the years. It is hard. Yet this sweet girl needs to be loved and kept safe. Keep trying to see if a solution can be found!
Thank you for the reply and your help! :) I do use puppy pee pads surrounding all my litter boxes just for easy cleanup due to another one of my cats that stands inside the box and sometimes pees outside. I have not tried the Cat Attract littler, but I will go get some right away! She does not return to the same spots to pee, usually somewhere new - just out of the way of main house traffic. I clean the places she pees with feline Urine Destroyer enzymes. She always poops inside litter boxes and will pee inside the one litter box when locked in that room with nowhere else to go. But sadly we can't keep her locked away all the time.

I do not have a porch and she can't go back outside due to coyotes and other hazards.

After reading all the responses, I am going to put 2 litter boxes next to each other in the same room, one with the Cat Attract litter.
 
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klag

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You may have already done this, but can you put small litter boxes in the places she does like to pee? Plastic boxes come in all shapes. I'm thinking triangular ones for corners, shallow ones for under furniture.
As much as she adores your other cats, she may still be functioning in the hide the pee to be safe mode.
Thanks for the reply and for the help :) She doesn't seem to pee in the same spots, making it difficult to put down new litter boxes. I do fully agree and feel like it's a habit she can't break and hides and pees to be in safe mode or something similar. She had a difficult life outside due to other cats harassing her (she's 99% deaf now) and coyotes.
 

FeebysOwner

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I didn't see anyone suggest creating a 'cave' to put a litter box in. By cave, I mean a huge cardboard box turned upside down, with a cat door cut out for entry/exit. Set it over the top of a litter box, and 'introduce' her to it, so she knows there is a litter box inside. You can try adding some of her pee/litter to it - maybe from the other box she uses in the 'locked' room. And, you can also try various boxes, litters, etc. and if you think it will help surround the area around the litter box with pee pads. I am just wondering since she will use the litter box when behind closed doors if she is looking for a more 'secure and private' place to pee?

If it were to work, perhaps down the road, you could replace the cardboard box with a privacy screen set around the litter box?
 
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Willowy

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I'd try:
pee pads in a litter box (some cats like to pee on pads, idk why)

The fake grass puppy tray (I have one for my small dog and I put a pee pad under the grass so it's less messy). Fairly cheap from Chewy: FRISCO Indoor Grass Potty, 30 x 20 in - Chewy.com

And, maybe it would work if you closed her in a room with the litterbox about 3 times a day. If you let her out right after she pees, she should get the idea fairly quickly. Sort of like potty-training a dog. This might fix the "other cats will get me while I'm peeing" feeling.

If all that fails, can you build an outdoor enclosure? You don't need a porch for that; it can be freestanding, or attached to a wall, or whatever you want.
 
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Avery

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Lots of good ideas above. I also have had wonderful luck with Cat Attract litter. At first, I just sprinkled a bit on top of my other litter, but now I only use Cat Attract. It is pretty expensive, but totally worth it to me! At one time, we had an older cat who kept peeing on the bed or the couch. We ended up picking her up and actually placing her in or right in front of the litter box and often she would pee right then. We'd keep track of her schedule and do that a few times a day. Pretty soon, she got the idea and went by herself. Good luck and please keep us posted.
 

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Lots of great help here and I am just going to add my agreement with pee pads. I brought in two ferals about a year or so ago, my avatar and her identical sister. They lived in an alley nearby. I know for a fact that the sister never used dirt to pee or poop but simply relieved herself on concrete. When I brought her in, she refused to do anything in a litter box so I put pee pads down where she had her "accidents" and it turned out that she liked one of the places. I then put the pee pad in an empty litter box and she was fine with it and has since transitioned to a regular litter box. Your old girl is such a sweet heart and looks so happy to be safe and cared for inside.
 

danteshuman

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Since she is mostly blind; can you put bells or a bolt with a washer or two on all your other pet’s collars? I would scent mark my house if I had a blind cat. Like lavender smell in my bedding, catnip plants by the food & water, vanilla by the cat trees & a cedar square by each litter box (the kind they use to repel moths.) That way she can easily orientate herself in your home. (Do whatever scent you want.)

With the bells she way she can hear them coming & maybe reduce her stress when she is peeing? I like the cave litter box idea but I would give her two exits in each box. That way she can’t get trapped in her cave.
 
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klag

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Excellent, thank you for all these responses! The puppy pads inside a litter box is a fabulous idea, I will try that as well as some of the Cat Attract in another new litter box and even perhaps a cave or enclosed litter area. I'm also going to order that indoor grass potty thing, another awesome idea.

Thanks a million! I'll keep you all posted.
 
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klag

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Your old girl is such a sweet heart and looks so happy to be safe and cared for inside.
She truly is the sweetest, happiest little thing. Any physical contact with her results in her instantly purring so fiercely that she gets the hiccups :) And I mean any contact. If she's sleeping next to you and you accidently elbow her in the face - she purrs. She weaves between your feet when you walk and if you accidentally kick her, she purrs. She purrs if one of my other cats even looks at her.


She is so happy just to be inside and loves everyone and everything so much that I really don't think it's an anxiety or issue related to my other cats. Just the old cat, old habit of peeing anywhere she wants, a new spot every time for safety reasons... hard to break.

I work from home, and she sits in my arms at my desk until she falls asleep :)



Getting tired!



And she's out!



And because she's deaf, I can get up and make all kinds of noise, refill my drink, whatever and come back without waking her up at all :)

 

danteshuman

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Sorry I read another post saying she was blind; not deaf. I’m glad to hear she is so happy!

I have a cat that weaves between my feet in the kitchen. I find I scoot my feet/shuffle more than walk in the kitchen. That & I taught him to meow for his wet food to help give me a warning when he is in the kitchen. (He hops over the counter & will weave between my feet from behind.) 🤦🏻‍♀️ The meowing gives me a heads up he is behind me. You might want to put a bell on her for an early warning system.
 
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