Pregnant and DESPERATE! Cat urinating on new couch!

mommybun

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I know this is a long post, but I'm in serious need of help and want to give all the details I can give to make sure people know our situation and can help us better. So, if you have the time, please read it in full! If you don't want to, the short version is this:   One of our three cats (all fixed and have had no serious issue with in the past) has urinated 4 times on our new couch that we got a week ago. I've tried many things and don't know what to do about it. No UTI, the litter boxes are cleaned daily, and the litter type is the same it has been for 3 years with no issues. She does it once each night in the middle of the night even with plastic on the couch. I'm 25 weeks pregnant and I'm afraid she'll also urinate on the new baby furniture once we get it. Help?

Hey everyone! This is my first post, so pardon me if I'm doing this wrong. I'm seriously desperate and I'm at risk at losing one of my three furbabies.. I've looked up what to do on many, many websites and I'm out of ideas. I'm relying on you guys to help me.

First off, I have three cats. Two females that are sisters (Abby and Lucy) and one male (Charles). All are around 3-3.5 years old and we (my husband and I) have had them since they were 3 months old. They're all three fixed. We've never had a serious problem with any of the cats. Abby, within the first week of us bringing her into our home, urinated on our couch a couple of times. We covered it with a couch cover and she stopped. Over the next 3 years of us having her, she would occasionally urinate on things we've left in the floor -- clothes piles, towels, the welcome mat.. But it doesn't happen very often at all, maybe once every 3-4 months. We Googled info on it and it and what we came up with is that they like to urinate on things that are soft and will absorb the urine and cause no splash back, and to just keep the clothing picked up. So we have, and it hasn't been an issue.

We purchased a sofa (I say purchased, and what I meant is began our leasing of said sofa) a week ago. The sofa is a microfiber sectional with sewn in cushions. Our main worry was our cat Lucy scratching on the couch, but never once did it cross our minds that Abby would pee on it. After a couple of days, we woke up one morning and caught Abby peeing on it. We blotted up the urine and cleaned it with white vinegar and baking soda a total of three times over the next few days to make sure to get the smell out. In the meantime we covered the couch (while we were out or sleeping) in the clear plastic that the couch came in. We figured it would deter her, since urinating on it would cause splash back, or at the very least help protect the couch if she were to urinate again. It seemed to work as she didn't go for a few days.

Saturday, we went out of town (for the entire day) to visit family and also pick up some spray that my mother-in-law had luck with. Rug Doctor Urine Eliminator with new enzyme action! We got home late, so after being home for maybe an hour, we covered the couch in the plastic before bedtime. We woke to urine pooled in the plastic over the same spot. we lifted the plastic and realize that Abby had gotten under it and urinated in the same spot. We immediately blotted it and soaked it with the Rug Doctor spray, following the instructions to keep a damp towel over the area for 24 hours.. (We've also tried putting aluminum foil on the couch as a deterrent and they go crazy playing on it, so that doesn't work). 

And, here's where it gets fun. We covered the sofa in plastic again that night (cutting off and throwing away all the plastic that had urine on it), and woke up to a puddle of urine in the plastic on a different part of the couch. Luckily the plastic saved our couch in this situation. Then, last night, we wanted to try something new. So, we covered the entirety of our couch in two different bed comforters. Both are ones that I, my husband, and all three cats have slept on. My logic was that if she's peeing on the sofa because it smells new and out of place, maybe putting down something on the couch that smells like our home and all of us will make her feel like she doesn't have to "claim" it. Also, she's never urinated on our bed or our comforters.

I wanted to "up" it a little and try something else as well. I read somewhere that someone had luck with feeding their cat where it was urinating and that they stopped going there because they wouldn't urinate where they ate. So, we watched her eat out of her usual bowl while on the couch before we went to bed, and we left a bowl of hard food there. And for good measure, put another one on the opposite end of the couch. We woke up this morning to urine in a third new spot of the couch. It had soaked through the comforter easily, so we used the last bit of our Rug Doctor spray on that spot this morning which currently has a damp towel over it.

Here's a drawing to show where she's went so far:

I love these cats like children and never want to get rid of them. I want to be their forever home. I just don't know what else to do. I'm 25 weeks pregnant, and it's not good for me to be sitting around cat urine all day. Also, I have bad anxiety to begin with and Abby doing this is causing me so much stress and anxiety that I'm crying (over her ruining our couch, not knowing what to do, and the thought of having to re-home her) and having chest pains (also not good for the little one). I hear that change can make things like this worse, and there's going to be a lot of change in our home over the next few months. We're doing some serious spring cleaning and rearranging the entire place, basically. Then we're going to be bringing in new baby furniture (which now I know is at risk of being urinated on) and in 3 1/2 months we're going to have a crying newborn (which they have never experienced before) in the home.

Can anyone please help? Why is she urinating on the couch SPECIFICALLY and only while we're asleep. What can we do (besides locking her in a separate room at night) to keep her from urinating on the couch?
 

minniethecalico

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Have you tried Feliway? I've never had cat urination problems, but I have used feliway to help my kitties adjust and it markets itself by helping owners with the exact same problem you have. Feliway is totally safe (and kind of magic) - it's basically synthetic cat pheromones that the cat accepts as their own. You plug it in the wall (each diffuser will cover something like 900 square feet) and it's supposed to calm them so they don't pee out of anxiety/territorial-ness. It's worked wonders for many.
 

nansiludie

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Let me ask, was the sofa brand new or used? Possibly another animal has peed on it? What kind of litterboxes and how big are they? I agree with minnethecalico about the Feli-way. When you say the litter boxes are cleaned daily, how many boxes do you have? And where are they located? Also are you absolutely certain she doesn't have any urinary issues? I am thinking either its something regarded to the litterboxes or its too much stress for her, rearranging everything, new sofa, etc. Could you try to not rearrange entire rooms all at once? Possibly moving a single piece of furniture a day?

I'm including a link to Dr. Piersons guide on litterboxes. http://www.catinfo.org/?link=litterbox
 
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mommybun

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We've used it before when bringing our third cat into the home to help things go smoother. We ordered a refill today, that was next on our list to try. We got the diffuser refill and the spray. So, we'll see how that goes! We'd thought about sleeping on the couch tonight :p
 
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mommybun

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Thanks for the link! The sofa was brand new, straight from the store, still in plastic. We have two large storage totes as litter boxes. They're in the same place they have always been (we've replaced them a couple of time for cleanliness reasons), using the same litter we've always used for the 3+ years that we've had them, and never had a urinating issue. The thing is, we haven't even rearranged any furniture or anything. The ONLY thing we did, was remove the old sofa and bring in the new one in it's spot. Nothing else have been changed so far. We have plans of making changes and doing serious spring cleaning, but we've halted because of this situation. The second day we had the sofa, she urinated on it and has the past 3 nights. There's always the "possibility" that it's a urinary issue, but what makes me think it's not, is that she's not going in random "emergency" places. She's specifically going on our new sofa. And there was not an issue until we brought in the new sofa. If it's a urinary issue, then it's a serious timing coincidence and still odd that she would only go on the sofa and no where else. Note -- she still uses both of the litter boxes like normal. She goes on the sofa once a night while we're asleep. Never during the day.
 
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mommybun

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Thanks for the link! I really have to say, I don't think it has anything to do with the litter boxes, as we've changed nothing about the litter boxes in the past 3 years and there have never been any issues prior to getting the new couch. She still uses the litter box like normal, and only urinates on the couch once a night after we've gone to bed. But I will still read all the information.

We put down plastic on the couch last night, and put blankets over top of the plastic. Just as protection until we get the Feliway in the mail (which may not be till mid next week). We found a slightly damp urine spot this morning on one of the comforters, which tells me she urinated on it almost immediately when we went to bed for it to have had time to dry so much. Even if we cover the couch she still goes on whatever is on top of the couch.. But again, she uses the litter box otherwise. We always find one single spot in the morning.
 

mani

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The litterbox guide thread does talk about stressors, etc.. 'litterbox problems' really is just a term for weeing and pooing issues. 


It does sound as though she has a thing about weeing on soft things and for some reason the couch is 'it'.  It's so weird that she continues to do it over the comforter.  I can only presume she's still smelling it. 

I also think that there is so much going on with the preparation for the baby that she's stressed and that's set her off. 

The Feliway is a good way to go.. I use a Feliway spray which you could try on the new couch.   It may even be that she will need something stronger.  There are calming aids that can be tried rather than going to major medications.

Have you recently had a vet check?  The weeing on soft things is often a sign of UTI.  Maybe she's having a flare up every few months and that causes the problem?
 

shadowsrescue

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I would definitely get her to the vet for a UTI check.  Just to be safe. 

One of my cats did this a few years ago.  He kept peeing on my sons bed.  We thought it was a the new comforter we bought.  Yet he just kept peeing there no matter what comforter was there.  We then put an old shower curtain liner on the bed and food bowls scattered all about.  He did pee on the comforter a few times.  A feliway diffuser as well as some Rescue Remedy helped calm him down.  We took our cat to the vet and he was fine.  We believe he was stressed as I was working on socializing a feral cat.  Our indoor boy could see the feral through the sliding door.  Our cat was marking his territory. 

Another trick was to not allow him in my sons room during the day.  We kept the door closed.  He did not pee elsewhere.  We also increased his play time.  You might think this is silly, but if he is stressed about the upcoming new arrival in your house he needs an outlet.  Try a da bird toy or a wand toy.  Really get him moving.  You can also try a laser.  Play a few times each day and then reward with a yummy snack or meal.  Give the cat lots of extra love. 

You also might want to try some Flower Essences.  Jackson Galaxy has a line of Spirit Essences that are fantastic. 
 

tallyollyopia

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All right, and this might sound a little crazy, but maybe she's marking the couch because it doesn't smell like you or your husband? My advice might not help at all (I've only shared a house with cats for a little over a year and technically speaking they're not mine), but I'm in charge of cleaning messes. Here's what I did when the cat (pre-litter) came into the house--I designated human zones, cat zones, and shared zones. The kitchen is a human zone. Part of the living room is a cat zone, but most of the living room is a shared zone. How I did that was one: I threw cats out of the kitchen when they encroached (I feed them in the dining room), and two: I made sure the sofa was scented with all the humans and cats in the house by having everyone sleep on it (at different times, of course). This might not help (like I said, I've only lived with cats for a little over a year and knew NOTHING when my brother brought the cat home), but maybe you and/or your husband should sleep on the couch?
 

nansiludie

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Agreed with ShadowsRescue, she could possibly have stress induced cystitis? I do think a Vet visit would be a good place to start for her. I do want to thank you for caring for her and helping her through her issues.
 
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mommybun

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Ah, thanks for the clarification! Yeah, I thought she probably smelled the urine, still. At the time it was still soaked in the Rug Doctor Urine Eliminator, covered in a damp towel, covered in plastic, covered in a thick comforter, and she still peed. It's crazy. 

Thanks for the advice! If the Feliway diffuser and spray don't work, we'll try Rescue Remedy, or Spirit Essences for good measure. Yesterday I gave her extra love and played with her on and around the couch with a toy and fed her some treats afterwards. A few days ago I fed her on the couch. I was hoping if we sort of "familiarized" her with the couch and made it a safe/fun place, she would be less inclined to mark it. But, she still went. Doesn't mean I'll stop, though. I'll keep loving her, playing with her, and giving her treats while we wait on the Feliway to arrive.
 
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mommybun

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Tallyollyopia, I actually thought of this yesterday! I'm glad someone else had the same mindset. We had considered sleeping on the couch last night, but our only worry was if whatever space may not be taken up by us at any given time.. if she took advantage of it and urinated on it while we slept there. Then we may not notice it and move around which would spread it and make it worse. We may have to consider giving it a try, anyway. Thanks for your input!

nansiludie, I appreciate that. We're definitely going to try everything we possibly can! She's a part of our family and the absolute last thing I want to do is rehome her.
 
 

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Anything of Citrus scent works as felines HATE the smell. Lemon, orange, lime, and citrus fruit scent should deter them from using the couch. Also, have you taught them about scratching in the litter box? And for multiple cats, you really need multiple litter boxes, not near their food.  Take each cat and take both paws in your two hands and actually scratch in the litter. Then too, you might try a new litter brand, as they may not

like the litter brand you use. I know it seems a lot of trouble to do all that, but if you're wanting forever homes for them, I feel sure that you don't want them to keep using your couch as a litter box. lol

I really hope this has helped. The citrus scent really works. Spray it all over where they have used it, and they won't go back. If the scent fades somewhat, just spray again. Of course, I would test it on an unseen area to make sure it won't do any damage first. Good luck.
 

tallyollyopia

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Anything of Citrus scent works as felines HATE the smell. Lemon, orange, lime, and citrus fruit scent should deter them from using the couch. Also, have you taught them about scratching in the litter box? And for multiple cats, you really need multiple litter boxes, not near their food.  Take each cat and take both paws in your two hands and actually scratch in the litter. Then too, you might try a new litter brand, as they may not
like the litter brand you use. I know it seems a lot of trouble to do all that, but if you're wanting forever homes for them, I feel sure that you don't want them to keep using your couch as a litter box. lol
I really hope this has helped. The citrus scent really works. Spray it all over where they have used it, and they won't go back. If the scent fades somewhat, just spray again. Of course, I would test it on an unseen area to make sure it won't do any damage first. Good luck.
Not always true; my brother's cat would actually play with Clementine's. She hated ammonia based cleaners though.
 
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mommybun

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Robbie Watson, we actually had thought of getting some citrus-y essential oils and putting it in a spray bottle with water to spray on the couch. Haven't tried it yet, though. As far as the litter boxes go, they're 3-3.5 year old cats. They've always used the litter box fine, they scratch in it fine (this was all taught to them when they were kittens). It's just one cat that is urinating on the couch and she still uses the litter box regularly without a problem. She only urinates on the couch one time a night while we're asleep. It's not like it's a regular thing she does multiple times a day, or something. We've even left the house during the day and she doesn't urinate on the couch. But for the past 4 nights (and counting) we've woken up to a single pee spot. And there were no issues prior to us bringing in the new couch (a week and a half ago).

Since there were no issues prior to bringing in the new couch.. and she's ONLY having "accidents" on the couch.. this leads me to believe it's not a problem with their litter boxes (we have multiple large storage totes and no where near their food).
 
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mommybun

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Okay, so now we have a new issue. We put down the plastic with the comforters on top as protection last night. We had some citrus (orangy) scented oil that we diluted with water and sprayed on top of the comforters to see if it would deter her. We woke up to a pile of cat poop on top. The covers were not wrinkled as if she tried to cover it up.This is a first. I did a quick google search and found "middening" -- a form of serious territorial marking. Does anyone have any information on this? I'm wondering if the smell made her more upset (as if it was the smell of something else / not her, and so she defecated to get the clear point across that the sofa is hers?).
 

tallyollyopia

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If she's only doing this during the night, maybe you or your husband could take a nap on the couch during the day?
 
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mommybun

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Everything is fine with her medically.

So, we've been putting plastic over the couch, and comforters over the plastic to soak up the "accidents" and protect the couch. We pulled up both of the comforters and washed both of them (even though she only pooped on one) for good measure. We left the plastic on and I only folded up the plastic where I sit at (I work from home). Everything was fine throughout the day. When my husband got home from work, I got up for a whole 2 minutes while we were pointing around the house at potential places to add another litter box in case it had anything to do with that. When I went to go back to my seat, we caught her scratching on the only part of the couch that was left visible (my "spot") and she had peed onto the couch. We quickly dealt with it like usual.. carefully sop it up, enzyme spray, damp towel..

We went to the pet store to get some wet cat food because we had decided we were going to permanently (for the time being) leave the couch covered and not even use it. In the mean time, we would keep all the food bowls on the couch and give them Natural Balance wet food (their favorite) as a treat, also on the couch. The idea behind this being.. reintroducing the couch as a happy, safe place.. and also they shouldn't pee where they eat, right? While we were at the pet store, we voiced our concerns to the nice gentleman who works there and he highly recommended Four Paws Keep Off! Dog & Cat Repellent. He explained how his dog would accidentally scratch his leather sofa when she'd get on and off of it. He sprayed down the sofa with it and it kept her off for good. He said if we 'break the cycle' we should be able to go back to normal.. not spraying the couch and not covering it up. We were skeptical  but we wanted to try whatever we could.

We sprayed it on the comforters that we left on the couch. She hopped up once, sniffed around, and got down.. clearly not enthused. We woke up this morning and did our couch check. 100% A-ok. No accidents. Husband proceeds to get ready for work, I make him coffee and lunch to take with him. As he's on his way out the door, I turn to look at the couch.. and there it was. She had peed on it within the 15 minutes I was in the kitchen. The spray is supposed to work for 24 hours and we had "double coated" it before bedtime. Clearly a fail. Going from a victory to a fail so quickly today.. sucked, for lack of a better term.

We're now thinking we'll try the other route of having them use the couch as food central for the next week or so.. and use the Feliway once we get it (expected arrival is Tuesday). What is everyone's opinion on reintroducing the couch as a happy eating place, along with the use of Feliway? If the behavior stops and we gradually stop feeding them on the couch, should the behavior stop? Or what are the chances that she'll go back to doing it?

Thanks for everyone who has been helping and reading <3 it means a lot to me. We really want to help solve the problem. I've heard of people going as far as putting their pet to sleep, if they couldn't get them to stop urinating, and that is unthinkable to me.. While in the pet store, someone overheard our situation and said "And you still let her in the house? I'd give her one of these.." and simulated a boot kick out the door. I love her and want to help her stop doing this.. If we can't stop it before the baby comes, I don't know if we can keep her. And we've had her all her life. I can't have her urinating on his things, or just around the house in general. At the moment it's isolated to the couch, but what would stop her from going on his bed, or stroller or carseat once they're brought in? Gah.. I'm just rambling now. I'm so stressed about this.
 
 
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