Too Many Cats--Too Much Pee

niki-nicole

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My family and I have 14 cats: 2 adopted from shelters, and the rest found us. Some of them found us as kittens, others adults that became friendly after wth spayed/neutered them. Four are female and the rest are male (all 14 fixed). They are listed below with the dates and ages they found us:
1) Molly--adopted at 2 months from shelter in 2014
2) Penny--adopted at 2 months from shelf in 2015
3) Bertie--born under the porch June 2018
4) Butters--born under porch June 2018
5) Freddie--born under porch June 2018
6) Lil Bear--showed up on porch March 2019 at about 4 months
7) Marshmallow--November 2019--adult
8) King Henry IIIV--April 2021--6 months
9) Mama Kitty (Mom of previous)--Came back and stayed April 2021--adult
10) Coco--March 2022--adult
11) Pip--March 2022--4 months
12) Bobby--August 2022--2 months
13) Oliver--May 2023--2 weeks (bottle baby from parent's co-worker)
14) Emily--September 2023--4 months
*note: there were a few other cats/kittens pre-2019 but they died of illness or injury or ran away. Also several other TNRs that didn't stay around after they were returned.
*Also, most of these have had an injury or illness when they came to us


Issue:
We used to have trouble with the second-oldest female marking all over the house when 5 new cats/kittens were added to the family. She was my sister's cat primarily and after keeping her separated from the others and confined to part of the house, after YEARS, this cat finally stopped peeing!!!

...Only for the others to start.

1 and 2 were raised as single kittens (my sister had hers while living with our parents and I had #1 with me while I went to college) and they don't like any other cats but are fine. #3-7 get along and 8-14 get along. Some get along with everyone, but most don't cause trouble with anyone.

The peeing stopped with Penny and started with #3, 4, 8, and 10 with the addition of Coco in 2022. He found us during an early spring snow, had 2 broken fang-teeth (can't remember name), and an infected toe that needed to be amputated. We neutered him and kept him on the catio until we could take off the bandage from his foot. He was scared of us but not completely feral like Mama Kitty was. We let him go when he was well and he came back for good after a month. He is the sweetest and must have lived inside for some time because he is not afraid of the vacuum and jumps in my arms when I hold them open.

But Butters HATES him. Coco is one of three black cats and Butters now attacks them all if he is in a mood and thinks it is Coco. The fights can get bad, but we are vigilant and it rarely happens. It took Marshmallow about a year for everyone to accept him but now he is loved by all the cats.

We live in a rural area and they can go outside during the day and come in at night. In the winter they don't go out much, but we do let them out at night because they only stay out for a few minutes to go potty.

(Oh, I say "pee" instead of "mark" or "spray" but they don't make puddles on the floor. It is just a stream of pee on a usually vertical surface.)

I know you aren't supposed to put human emotions on cats, but Henry seems to get jealous and exact revenge when he doesn't get his way. If we don't let him out, he pees in my kitchen on the stove or lower cabinets and turns while he does it to cover the most space.

Coco pees ON my cabinets and counters and on the jar with wooden spoons. He has also peed on me while I was standing in the kitchen and he pees on my dad, his blanket, and his TV. He might do it elsewhere, but I haven't seen it.

We've worked with Butters a lot and he is much better and doesn't pee as often. My mom has been putting him in the litter every morning and treats him and we have been playing with him more and trying to calm him as he is naturally anxious (Napoleon complex as Jackson Galaxy describes it). He is also on a small dose of gabapentin 3x daily. When he does pee, it is random--chairs, couch, doors, my bedroom...)

Bertie marks everywhere and anywhere like Butters but he does it right after he comes inside.

We have tested them for health issues and infections and there are none.
We have 7 litters (most open and big) that get scooped daily and access to the outdoors.
We have a large catified house with a catio, screened porch, climbing access, perches, beds, lots of windows, and water fountains everywhere.
I would be fine re-homing Coco because he would like to be the center of attention and get all the cuddles, but I don't know who would want an FIV+ cat with half his teeth and missing one toe. And I would miss him. So that is the last result.
When we find pee (which is multiple times a day), we use an enzyme spray to fully get rid of the smell and clean it.
I tried adding a scent soaker (catnip-infused cardboard scratcher) to the kitchen, but they peed on it within 12 hours.

Most of the time, everything is peaceful and fine. But I'm getting tired of cleaning all the pee and I'm starting to have trouble getting the smell out of the couch.

Has anyone had issues with this? Has anyone solved this problem?

Sorry this was so long!
 

FeebysOwner

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Tbh, your title says it all. Too many changes, too many additions, too many pretty much everything. You are essentially running a shelter, but with it being a bit free-range. How many of them are neutered/spayed, aside from the kittens younger than 6 mos? What are your plans for spaying/neutering?

If most or all of them come inside at night, or at least part of the night, where do you house them all? What is the outdoor living environment like? If you can't set up an environment that can accommodate the constant pee everywhere, I don't think you have much of a chance of resolving this problem, until you 'thin' the crowd to a manageable number.

What are your plans to rehome as many of these cats as you can - especially the very young ones? Unless you want to run your own personal shelter, you can't do it all. You've already done an amazing job as it is.
 
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Margot Lane

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The advice above is spot on. I am SO impressed you are able to do that, and am glad you have help. But I find myself really worried for you all. You deserve to have a sofa that doesn’t smell of cat pee, however excellent your intentions. Remember your well being counts as much as the health of your cats, perhaps more so, as you’re the one looking out for all of them. There’s a great play called Benefactors, where some people invite their neighbors to live with them, and eventually end up moving out as the neighbors take over their entire lives. I’m sure it’s not that bad (I hope not) but I think FeebysOwner is right about thinning the herd. I know you love them all. ❤ ❤
 

Norachan

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I only have 13 cats at the moment, but I had 26 a few years ago. I think once you get over 10 cats in an average sized home spraying and territorial spats are bound to happen. Are you planning to rehome the kittens? It's much easier to rehome healthy, friendly cats under a year old than it is to rehome older cats with any kind of health or behaviour problems. I'd suggest keeping Coco, as you obviously love him, and rehoming some of the younger ones.

Do all the cats have free roam over the whole house? What helped me was giving some of my more difficult cats their own room and their own outdoor enclosure. I have a very large fenced in enclosure for my cats, but I was able to section of a few corners for cats that didn't tolerate the others or for new cats that needed time to get used to living in the group.

Don't feel you have to share your entire living space with the cats. It's fine to keep your living room, bedroom, office or whatever as a cat free zone so you don't have to constantly worry about what might get sprayed. Maybe have one room as the cat room for the sprayers and just allow the very well behaved ones to come into your living area.

Depending on the climate where you are, having a few outdoor only cats might be an option if your house isn't big enough to keep the cats in separate groups that get on well together. I have 3 cats that are almost 100% outdoor cats (They'll come in to eat sometimes, but only if I can keep an eye on them to make sure they don't pee.) An enclosure with an insulated shelter is perfectly fine. I modified a shed to make an outdoor cat mansion for a few of mine.

Wooden shed with a covered cat tunnel so they stay dry getting in and out.
NewHome99.jpg

I insulated it with those aluminum foam backed sheets you can buy for camping and outdoor activities.
NewHome100.jpg

Cut a hole in the side for a cat door that leads onto their covered veranda
NewHome101.jpg

Wooden boxes for inside the shelter, lined with aluminum sheets and filled with straw.
NewHome122.jpg


It cost me around $1,000 for the shed and other materials, but the cats love it and I very rarely have any indoor peeing any more. You are a rescue, so think of how a rescue would be organised. You need to make your own comfort a priority and give the cats their own set up that works for everyone. I know I won't be able to say no to the next sick or injured cat that comes my way, but you can't keep them all. Rehoming the younger ones leaves room for future cats that it might not be possible to find homes for.

Big love to you, I know you're doing your best.

:heartshape:
 

Alldara

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I'll just add, for the ones you're fine with rehoming, definitely reach out to local rescues and see if their willing/able to help you advertise and screen homes.

Don't be afraid to reach out to ones in a wide range. People are willing to travel for cats they fall in love with, if they have the ability to do so.
 
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