Roommate wants Terra the Cat to “relearn” to use litter box

thefishyone

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Typically, when Terra’s litter box goes without being changed for too long, she will pee on my roommate’s clothes (hich he kerps in a pile in the laundry room). I recently got a litter-robot for Terra as I am bad about keeping a regular litter box. I am also legally blind and can’t always see when the indicator to change the bag lights up (the wifi functionality got b0rked; long story, don’t ask).

I had been doing good about it by using a weekly alarm on my phone that I use due to a brain infection that affected my short term memory (see legal blindness), but the alarm somehow got reset last week, so it never went off and Terra peed on my roommates clothes. He now wants her locked in my room for an unspecified amount of time to “relearn” to use the litter box.

Teraa hates not bring able to follow me around the house like she usually does. I personally don’t think my roomie is being rational with his insistence that Terra relearn to use the litter box as he has a habit of talking out his backside and making up “facts,” but at the same time I can understand him being pissed over Terra peeing on his clothes.

Is my roommate right in thinking she needs to relearn to use the litter box? I changed it right after the incident (yesterday), and it had only happened once in the last few months. I want to do right by my cat, but I can also understand my roommate wanting to keep his clothes clean.

Who has the right of it? Do you think Terra should be forced to reacclimate to a litter box, or is this an exercise in meaninglessness?
 
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danteshuman

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How does he want her to relearn the litter box?!?!?! Maybe it might be better to pay him to change out the disposable boxes once or twice a week?

Step one would be keeping her box clean & step 2 would be him keeping his laundry off the floor. ⭐ Add 1/2 a small box of arm & hammer baking soda 1 pd box in with the stinky laundry will get the smell out. I used to use a full box on the loads of Sarah towels that were soaked in pee & it got them fresh smelling every time.
 

Talien

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Cats will use piles of dirty laundry as a litterbox, it's just something they usually do. Dirty laundry is, well, dirty and it smells, so for whatever reason they associate it with a convenient place to go. He should consider himself lucky she doesn't also crap on his piles of dirty laundry. Buy him a hamper and teach him to use it.
 
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thefishyone

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Thanks for the feedback, guys!

I will pass the hamper advice onto my roommate. He can be very stubborn and resistant to change (he’s 24 and I’m 38) but if all rlse fails, I can ask his mother to hammer home the point.
 

UnoMama

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Locking her in your room isn't going to help her 're-learn' anything and she will have no idea of why she's being punished anyway.

Get your roommate to get his laundry off the floor - humans have to adjust their ways to animals too, it's not only up to the animals to do all the 'learning' and adjustment in trying to live with us. Cats are used to being able to pee and poop where they please in the wild, and they've already tamed this instinct CONSIDERABLY and use whatever form of litter box we give them. The least we can do is get the clothes off the floor and not expect them to make that distinction too.
 

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thefishyone thefishyone , as you are legally blind, I assume you're using a program to read the forum posts aloud. If so, please wait until you are completely alone before continuing with this post.

Your room mate is wrong. Locking a cat in a room is a form of bullying, whether that's the intention or not. Locking a cat in a small room locks it away from the rest of its territory. A cat denied it's territory often reacts by peeing in places other than the litter box in an effort to reclaim its territory. Locking up your cat will only make the situation worse.

Your cat already knows how to use a litterbox. It's keeping it's end of the bargain. It only goes outside the litterbox when it hasn't been cleaned. Terra is keeping her part of the bargain. She just needs her guardian to keep its part. There are times I walk in a restroom and find it so filthy, I have to find somewhere else to go. This isn't a dig against you or your limitations. We know you're doing your best. But all your cat knows is, "the litterbox is dirty, I gotta go someplace else."

Now, to get to the heart of the matter- Regardless of what your room mate claims to know, do not listen to him. Locking a cat in a small room is bullying. Bullying a cat ends in disaster. It will lead to more peeing and pooping out of the litterbox. The real solution is cleaning out the litterbox more often and keeping all clothes off the floor. If your room mate is unwilling to get a hamper and help by gently reminding you the box needs attention (or even offering to help keep it clean), there's something wrong with him.

By insisting you "relearn" Terra how to use the litterbox, your room mate is also bullying you, whether that's his intention or not. In fact, I suspect you're having other issues with your room mate. You already know you might have to get his mother to talk to him about this problem. You have enough challenges taking care of yourself and Terra. You don't need to be taking care of your room mate as well.

I can hear in your words that you love Terra. She's part of your family. Don't let your room mate cause problems between you and your cat. Don't let him stress you or Terra. You can tell a lot about your room mate by the way he treats your cat. Right now, that's not so good.

A word about robo boxes- From the perspective of a cat, they are a step backwards. The noise can be frightening, the cat can still smell the waste and a mechanical failure can result in the box activating while your cat is using it. They are also more difficult to clean between the scraper blades and the nooks and crannies. Litterboxes don't need to be surgically clean, just reasonably clean. Robo boxes are difficult to keep reasonably clean. I know. I saw what my mother went through with hers.

However, robo boxes aren't evil incarnate. You have to do what's best for you and Terra.

Would setting a daily alarm on your phone to remind you to clean the litterbox help you? Remember, this is for you and Terra, not your room mate.
 

susanm9006

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If cleaning a litter box is difficult for you, I would suggest you get a sifter box. It is a set of two litter boxes and a screen box. You set the screen box in the empty litter box and dump the in use litter box in it , then lift and dispose of the clumps and poop in the screen box. Fast and easy and nothing you have to see to clean. Then all you need to do is set a reminder to do this twice a day.
 
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thefishyone

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thefishyone thefishyone , as you are legally blind, I assume you're using a program to read the forum posts aloud. If so, please wait until you are completely alone before continuing with this post.

Your room mate is wrong. Locking a cat in a room is a form of bullying, whether that's the intention or not. Locking a cat in a small room locks it away from the rest of its territory. A cat denied it's territory often reacts by peeing in places other than the litter box in an effort to reclaim its territory. Locking up your cat will only make the situation worse.

Your cat already knows how to use a litterbox. It's keeping it's end of the bargain. It only goes outside the litterbox when it hasn't been cleaned. Terra is keeping her part of the bargain. She just needs her guardian to keep its part. There are times I walk in a restroom and find it so filthy, I have to find somewhere else to go. This isn't a dig against you or your limitations. We know you're doing your best. But all your cat knows is, "the litterbox is dirty, I gotta go someplace else."

Now, to get to the heart of the matter- Regardless of what your room mate claims to know, do not listen to him. Locking a cat in a small room is bullying. Bullying a cat ends in disaster. It will lead to more peeing and pooping out of the litterbox. The real solution is cleaning out the litterbox more often and keeping all clothes off the floor. If your room mate is unwilling to get a hamper and help by gently reminding you the box needs attention (or even offering to help keep it clean), there's something wrong with him.

By insisting you "relearn" Terra how to use the litterbox, your room mate is also bullying you, whether that's his intention or not. In fact, I suspect you're having other issues with your room mate. You already know you might have to get his mother to talk to him about this problem. You have enough challenges taking care of yourself and Terra. You don't need to be taking care of your room mate as well.

I can hear in your words that you love Terra. She's part of your family. Don't let your room mate cause problems between you and your cat. Don't let him stress you or Terra. You can tell a lot about your room mate by the way he treats your cat. Right now, that's not so good.

A word about robo boxes- From the perspective of a cat, they are a step backwards. The noise can be frightening, the cat can still smell the waste and a mechanical failure can result in the box activating while your cat is using it. They are also more difficult to clean between the scraper blades and the nooks and crannies. Litterboxes don't need to be surgically clean, just reasonably clean. Robo boxes are difficult to keep reasonably clean. I know. I saw what my mother went through with hers.

However, robo boxes aren't evil incarnate. You have to do what's best for you and Terra.

Would setting a daily alarm on your phone to remind you to clean the litterbox help you? Remember, this is for you and Terra, not your room mate.
i just spokr with my roommate, and it seems she has a habit of peeing outside the litter box (far more than s dirty litter box would suggest) which makes me think there’s more to this than just a dirty litter box.

Terra had her yearly vet appointment about a month and a half ago and received a clean billog health, so I doubt it’s a UTI. She does spend most of her yime in my room and rarely leaves unless she is following me. Could this be a sign that she is not secure in the ownership of her territory? My roommate also has an old English Bulldog who has the temperament, patience, and general activity level of a log at rest. He also has a skin condition that makes him stink to the point where a human can easily smell him.

I’m thinking I may have to hite a cat behaviorist to sort this out, but would rather that be a last resort as money is toght for me. Do any of you guys have experience helping a cat to cope with a stinky bulldog? Might scent diffusers help?

That was a great idea about daily phone reminders to check the litter box; I will set them up once I post this.

Thank you all for all your help! My living situation is a bit more complicated than a simple roommate arrangement, but my roommate means well. He just doesn’t understand cats like many of you do.
 
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thefishyone

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If cleaning a litter box is difficult for you, I would suggest you get a sifter box. It is a set of two litter boxes and a screen box. You set the screen box in the empty litter box and dump the in use litter box in it , then lift and dispose of the clumps and poop in the screen box. Fast and easy and nothing you have to see to clean. Then all you need to do is set a reminder to do this twice a day.
I actually used to have a sifter box, but it broke.Terra DOES use her littr-robot, and seems to enjoy always having a fresh, clean place to poop. Admittedly ,I need to do a better job of staying on top of it, but I’m positive that there’s more to this than a dirty litter box.

Keeping on top of it is easy, I just need to set a regular reminder for myself, so I will do that right now.
 

LTS3

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Locking a cat in a small room locks it away from the rest of its territory. A cat denied it's territory often reacts by peeing in places other than the litter box in an effort to reclaim its territory. Locking up your cat will only make the situation worse.

Keeping a cat confined to a single room with all the necessities is not bullying IMO. There are situations where a cat has to be confined to a bedroom or a basement or other room. A teeny closet sized room is obviously not suitable but most bedrooms are plenty big enough for a cat to live in comfortably. A cat could even live in a typical small college dorm room or one of those trendy new micro apartments. There have been threads here on TCS asking about confining cats to a room and how to make the room more enriching.


You can start a new thread to discuss whether keeping cats in a single room is cruel or not.
 

Cat McCannon

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Keeping a cat confined to a single room with all the necessities is not bullying IMO. There are situations where a cat has to be confined to a bedroom or a basement or other room. A teeny closet sized room is obviously not suitable but most bedrooms are plenty big enough for a cat to live in comfortably. A cat could even live in a typical small college dorm room or one of those trendy new micro apartments. There have been threads here on TCS asking about confining cats to a room and how to make the room more enriching.

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You can start a new thread to discuss whether keeping cats in a single room is cruel or not.
I should have been more clear- I'm talking about bullying under the specific circumstances of this discussion.
 

danteshuman

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A black light will show you all the pee spots. An enzyme cleaner is necessary on every pee spot.

That said until you determine which (or maybe both) pets are doing the peeing, you shouldn’t take any drastic action. If you can, I would set up a motion activated web camera; that way if it is the dog, you will have proof. If it the dog, the first step is the vet. If is the cat, you might want to rule out urinary crystals just in case.

Meanwhile cat attract litter &/or a second box in another room will not hurt.
 

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Just because she didn't have a UTI the last time she saw the vet doesn't mean she doesn't have one now. Stress can bring them on. Cats know when people are annoyed with them or using them to gain the upper hand.
 

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thefishyone thefishyone
I agree, get her checked for a UTI. Tests for that are not normally part of a regular check up.
Have you considered more than one litter box? I would have two in different areas.
Get in a schedule for cleaning them. I clean my cats boxes twice a day at minimum.
It isn't fair to your cat to leave her with an overflowing litter box. Sight issues or not, I think if you can do it you should do it, if not ask someone else to or pay for help.
 
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thefishyone

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To whomever suggested to be certain the dog didn’t do it, I’m positive he didn’t. Cat urine has an acrid smell to it that dog urine doesn’t, and my roommate says it definitely smells like cat urine.

Getting a backup litter box might be a good idea. The only place I can think toput it is my roommate’s room, so I don’t know how keen he’d be on that. It’s gotta be preferable to peeing on his clothes, so it couldn’t hurt to ask.

My vet’s office is having issues with their phones today, so I will try contacting them tomorrow.
 

Cat McCannon

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Put on your Cat Detective hat and see if you can figure out what's going on. Cats are pretty good at not missing a litterbox unless there's some issue- medical, environmental or both.

The dog could be stressing the cat. If, for example, the cat needs to get away from the dog and has no place to go (like vertical spaces) that could lead to going outside the box. There are other possibilities to investigate as well.

If the dog has smelly skin, it should be taken to the vet for a check up. Smelly skin is one indication of a possible medical issue. Healthy dogs rarely stink.
 
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thefishyone

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Riggs the Dog is an Old English Bulldog, and as such has a genetic condition that makes him a stinky doggy. There aren’t a whole ton of places for Terra to get vertical, but I do have a cat tower in my room for her. She spends most of her time in my room, but most of her spots are in the stairwell where my computer is, or around the kitchen table, where I eat.

Might it be a good idea to move the cat tower downstairs where Riggs spends most of his time?
 

danteshuman

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It might be worth trying. Expanding her terry is always good. Is she a tree climber or cave dweller? If she loves to climb; a cat tree in the living room where she can go up high (& feel secure) would probably be appreciated.

However if you never go in the living room & you never see her in there, it might not get used. Is there a way you can add a couple of triangle cardboard scratchers to the house? I would put a scratcher outside your bedroom & slowly move it towards the living room. Basically expanding her turf. They make all types of cat trees. Some are smaller. Some are very narrow but very tall. A tree climbing cat would love having it in the living room. A cave dweller would probably like a cat cube in the living room.

Is there a reason she is not wanting to go out of your room? Because even when I lived in a crowded house full of roommates, my cats at the time still explored the entire house. So a cat choosing to stay in a room most of the time is very telling that something is stressing your poor kitty out! (Which can lead to stress peeing outside of the box.)
 
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