Senior Rescue--litter box troubles--HELP

jmvito

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I recently rescued an 11-yo neutered front declawed, polydactyl, cross-eyed, Ragdoll-Wannabe. He was an owner surrender and spent about 4-weeks at an animal shelter before coming to me. I was assured he got along well with dogs and cats--dogs yes, cats not so well. He spent the first several days in the basement near litter boxes and had no issues. As he became accustomed to the household. I allowed him the freedom to integrate when he felt comfortable, and he did quite nicely for the first several weeks. He has particular issues with one of my females (spayed 7-yo) who wants nothing more than to be friends. First the rescue poo'd in a bath tub and we took him down to the boxes (there are 5 large boxes for 5 cats but seldom used as they go out doors). We didn't notice any more issues until laundry time then found he'd been urinating in the hubby's laundry. I spent a few days in the hospital and the reports from home were not good--he even urinated on the leather recliner! I told hubby to move boxes closer to basement door in case he was fearful of others in the basement. This seemed to rectify the problem until I caught him urinating in an empty card board box on the floor of the crafting room. He'd used the box before judging from how soaked it was with urine.

I do not know what to do next. Bringing boxes upstairs is not a viable solution as we have a Shiz Tzu and he will eat from the boxes if given a chance.

We use non-scented, clumping litter, and boxes are scooped nearly daily, refreshed and changed often.

I even caught him urinating in a large house plant once.

I've had cats for 45-years, and have solved any litter box issues except this one.

I would appreciate any and all suggestions!

He seems otherwise happy, is eating well, and seems to be defecating in the boxes just not urinating. My suspicion is that he avoids the basement when the one female is down there (which is almost always.)

PS: I typed this on iPhone so please forgive any typos or auto-corrects.
 

stephanietx

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How long has he been doing this and how long has he been free to roam the house?  How many boxes do you have and are they located in various places in your home or just in one area?  Do you have a Feliway diffuser running?
 
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jmvito

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He has been with us since mid-Jan. he's been free in the house after a week isolated. There are 5-large boxes. I do not use Feliway.
 

catspaw66

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How close are the boxes to one another?  Are they open or covered? Could one of your other cats be ambushing him near the boxes?  I'm pretty sure you have considered all these, but maybe the questions will trigger a thought from one of us.
 
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jmvito

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He does use the boxes at times. They are all large, uncovered, and spread around the basement. My suspicion is that the female that spends most of her time down there ambushes him before he makes it down there. I have 4 other cats and sometimes one or more sleep on the stairs. I am also considering perhaps he has night vision issues, so we are keeping the stair lights on at night.
 
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jmvito

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I guess that's the trouble with rescuing an adult--I have no idea what his back ground is, how he was raised, fed, etc. I don't know why he was surrendered in the first place (perhaps he developed box issues that his previous keeper couldn't/wouldn't handle.).

I don't/won't give up so easily. He's an otherwise very nice cat, though a bit quirky. He is affectionate, playful, sweet, beautiful and likes people and dogs.

He does sleep on the heat vents and lives to sit in front of the fire which I am attributing to age. He does limp on his right front leg, but he has two extra thumb toes on that foot. The awkward gait may be his way of walking with 7-toes on that foot.
 

1of10000fists

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Im new here... First post. But does he maybe have bladder issues? They sometimes associate the litter box with pain or discomfort so they won t use it to pee (or to poo if its a constipation issue). Is he drinking plenty of water? My cat sometimes has bladder issues bc he refuses to drink water. Out of nowhere, he just doesnt want it. I started him on smart water and gave him stinging nettle tea. Cleared it up in a couple of days. He loves his smart water... Just a suggestion if you havent thought about this yet...
 

minka

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First of all THANK YOU for rescuing this boy. You are a godsend to senior cats everywhere. :)

First things first I would get a urine sample taken to make sure he doesn't have any crystals, infection or the start of a blockage.
Two, I would put him back in isolation to A. retrain him to go in a litterbox and B. rule out that no one is picking on him
Three, I would change out his litter to Yesterday's news, or some other type of semi-soft litter. His poor declawed feet probably hurt him, so switching to something softer will help out a ton.
:nod:
 

peaches08

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Like Minka mentioned, my last declawed cat had sore front paws in her older years so I had to find a softer litter.

Other thoughts would be diabetes or some renal condition. Of course getting ambushed by other cats as well.
 
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jmvito

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Thank you all for your replies and ideas. I have not yet gotten him to the vet, but off-hand, he doesn't act as if he has health issues. He drinks and eats plenty and has gained some weight since he came to us.

I don't have experience with declawed kits as its something I am dead-set against, so will take that consideration under advisement. He is quite sensitive about having his feet touched, but I assumed because his previous keeper didn't get him used to having his feet handled like I do with my cats. He could indeed have sensitive toes from having his claws ripped out. (He has 23 toes altogether). Including an extra on one back foot.

I have not found any spots around the house in a couple days, so am hoping that keeping the light on the basement stairs at night is helping. If it is, it's likely because no one is snoozing on the stairs because of the lighting.

I am considering buying all new boxes with my tax refund. The ones I have now are well-used and probably should be changed.

I need to be careful on changing too much as I do have 4 other cats to consider. I don't want to upset their environment any more than absolutely necessary.

I do suspect Tabby is eagerly ambushing him as soon as he hits the basement floor. She and he need to get their differences worked out. I'm trying as best as I can to help them all by use of group treats time and catnip parties. I think he's integrated quite well considering his age and that my others have been together for 7-years. He is the one to snarl not them.

Anyway, I'll continue to monitor the situation and distrust him for a bit longer and see how it
progresses.
 

peaches08

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Great that things are improving! And geez...why do cats think it's funny to bother each other when using the bathroom? Mine do that. Goofy cats!
 

1of10000fists

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another suggestion.... but maybe you already have one..... a giant litter box. Hes a big boy (beautiful too btw) and when they are so big, they are uncomfortable in smaller boxes. Especially when they smell all the other cats in a smaller box - its intimidating. If hes the new guy, he may feel out of place and since hes being bullied, in a sense, it makes him less likely to want to use the box. If you haven't already, try a huge litter box, maybe even a large plastic tub with no lid (and a small step for him to get in). Like for storage. My cats all prefer the biggest box, even have the dome one and they all use the biggest one most of the time. In my experience, locking him in the basement, or containing him won't really make him use the box. He may just go beside it. It may work, who knows. But dont count on it. Theres a reason he's not using it. Before having to move it to another location, try a huge box with no lid and let him use it first, to mark it as his (you may have to "re-potty train" him to use this box, like after he eats and drinks). Maybe put it in another corner of the basement, if thats possible. I wonder if you could get a big box, like for a stove, and put it in there. So he has his own space in the area you want him to go. Maybe put his blanket so it smells like him and the other cats can get the hint, thats his area. Maybe he'll hang out in there, maybe it wont work, but its worth a try. Especially if he seems healthy, drinks well and doesnt squirm or cry when you touch or press his belly and tail area. Or did you say you cant pet him yet? Cant remember... Anyway, I hope it helps...
 

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My old fellow has let me know twice in the past few years that his teeth were bothering him by peeing outside the box.  So, I would really recommend a vet visit.
 

lizk

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I have two cats, one that will tolerate changes in her environment and surroundings, and the other who is so sensitive that any little change bothers her. Slight changes have led to behavior problems, I.e. urinated everywhere. She would be fine for a few weeks and then pee on something. I went to different vets trying to find a cure. Her health was excellent, I realized she had allergies to chicken, seafood and any vege not green. I have to be extremely careful in her diet. With that under control, the behavior continued on and off. I could write a book on this cat. I tried EVERYTHING, read hundreds of ideas and NEVER stopped trying to get her under control. Finally, I ended up with a Holistic vet that put her on a Chinese herb called Bupleurum Shu Can Teapills made by Plum Flower. I have had excellent results and I am not breaking her body down by giving her pharmaceutical drugs. This Teapills is put in the back of her mouth once a day and calms her anxious state. It is for depression, irritability and mood swings. This is my cat. Anyone else would have dumped her in the pound. I have used every cat removing enzyme available to save my house and my house does not smell. Apple cider vinegar with Borax works in wash or I like OdorMute. Sometimes no matter what you do, it boils down to the cat's temperament. Try the Teapills, I have been using them for a long time and they work. They mellow the cat out and take the anxious edge away. Good luck, I finally happy.
 

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