Trying to Figure Out Cat’s Potty Delinquence

leeloolyndsie

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My cat Lucy (5) has an annoying habit of peeing in clothes baskets which I think maybe started when we got our kitten Zeb 2 years ago and she refused to come out of the closet for 3 days. She didn’t do this all the time and it actually took a while for me to figure it out bc her pee doesn’t smell that strongly (well hydrated? LOL)

This wasn’t a big deal once we figured it out b/c we would just put our laundry in the closet and close the door. But the frequency has increased a lot and includes anything soft, in the last year since our old cat Shermie passed. They were besties and she was his kitten.

Stuff Like piles of clothes, towels, the shower rug, cat beds. We were handling it ok for a while until we got back from a 2-night vacay to find she’d peed on our bed. Figuring it was b/c I’d left a pair of leggings on the bed, we cleaned it up and went to sleep. The next morning, I discovered that she’d peed on the bed, where my feet go, WHILE WE WERE STILL IN IT!

So, we relegated her to the bathroom at night and whenever we were both not home.(Don’t feel bad, it’s where she spends a lot of time anyway. It’s huge and we have a heated floor plus a litter box and food in there and mats she sleeps in and doesn’t pee on).

We suspect she’s stressed but can’t figure out the stressor. Lucy is a pretty timid cat and in our huge house with roommates and a cat menagerie, she tends to stick to our suite. Zeb goes everywhere. Roomies have 3 cats, Belle & Pookie (17?) and Meelo (2), Zeb’s kitten buddy. Pookie is ancient and pretty much lives in the upstairs living room. Belle is mostly in the basement (where our room is) and outside, and was out first thought. So we put a litter box in our bathroom and discouraged Belle coming into our room. She spends most of her time outside in the summer anyway.

Also Meelo is obsessed with Lucy soo that was our second thought. He chases and corners her in our bathroom which is like her sanctuary. Now we keep him out of the basement (it’s easy bc he’s too stupid to use the cat door).

Still though, Lucy keeps doing it. Now I’m thinking Zeb tries to corner her in the litter box. Their relationship confuses me. They cuddle and play (Lucy starts it sometimes), &share food but also sometimes he pays too rough and she tries to get away from him.

Zeb is pretty alpha and NGL we did get him as a “Shermie replacement cat” but figured Shermie had a couple more years to teach Zeb how to before he passed. (Don’t get me wrong, nothing can replace Shermie. He was my heart cat). Anyway, Zeb is rambunctious and I play with him multiple times a day, but he still seems to have energy too harass Lucy. And he doesn’t go upstairs to play with Meelo, but will play if Meelo is downstairs.

Soo I’m not sure what to do. I have had to take away most of Lucy’s hiding spots bc I can’t trust her not to pee in them. I’ve removed and thoroughly washed all her pee stuff and sprayed orange oil in the areas. We hang up our shower rug now. We have 4 boxes in the basement, two pretty much within a straight shot from our room + the one in the bathroom. Zeb has tons of toys and catnip and interactive toys. I’ve tried calming treats (with hemp), food addtives and Feliway.

The only thing I can think of is either separating Lucy and Zeb when we’re gone or getting a litterbox with multiple entries, though wherever she goes out, Zeb could still stalk her. Or, take her to the vet for like kitty Xanax or something…This one has stumped me.

thoughts? Bueller?
 

ArtNJ

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With so many different targets and it lasting a long time, first step is to rule out UTI.

That said, soft things that can be kneeded beneath the paws are frequent targets, and you don't necessarily need a reason. It can become a habit. Beds, laundry, bathmats and the like are frequent targets, and I've had all of that. When this really gets going, the definition of soft things can really expand. I had a cat pee on a child's backpack, a couch, trash in a closed garbage bag and more.

Assuming its not a UTI, I recommend confining the cat to one room for a couple of weeks. A room with no bed, and where you insure there are no tempting targets. After the confinement, you will still need to be vigiliant and remove tempting targets. Perhaps exclude from bedrooms. The hope is that eventually the habit is broken, and you can relax your vigillance a bit.

Other people will talk to you about multiple litter boxes, cleaning more often and the right kind of litter. I just don't think thats your issue, but it certainly can't hurt to try their advice. I don't particularly think its stress related either. I truly believe that an explanation isn't always needed or available for this behavior. Thats what I believe anyway, others may have different thoughts.
 

catsknowme

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:alright: That is a tough situation, for sure. My opinion is that Lucy feels bullied by Zeb and Meelo. Removing her hiding places increases her vulnerability UNLESS you provide perches where she can look down on her "bullies". She is probably grieving for Shermie while at the same time, is losing territory - peeing on your bed while you were gone was her way of trying to get you back (this is the same behavior of cats whose owners have died). You need to discourage Zeb from picking on her - Zeb can see the subtle cues that Lucy is being intimidated. I would rearrange Zeb's perception of Lucy being an easy target by building Lucy's confidence. Greeting Lucy first, teaching her to do tricks such as "tail whips" or "circles" plus adding escape perches should reduce her stress immensely. Adding comfort grooming will help ease Lucy's stress. Zeb might need harness training and the extra mental stimulation of outside walks. Zeb isn't mean, he just has youthful energy & exuberance. Teaser toys are best when they are attached to a long pole so that play includes at least 10-12 foot long mad dashes and high leaps into the air (I attach the wand part to a retired fishing pole) I will ask Jcatbird Jcatbird and FeebysOwner FeebysOwner and Mamanyt1953 Mamanyt1953 for input as well although Hurricane Ian may delay responses.
 

Furballsmom

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With so many different targets and it lasting a long time, first step is to rule out UTI.
Dilute urine that doesn't smell very strongly, lots of stress and finding soft things to pee on are hallmarks of kidney and/or bladder issues. Your cat needs to be seen by a vet as soon as possible.
 
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