Urinating Problems: Cat Crisis in New Home

by Lisa
(MA)

caught at the computer

 

caught at the computer

 

 

We just moved from an apartment to a single family home. My cat, Loretta, is one year old. We have been living in the new home for one month with no problems. We have moved in with my fiance and his dog, both of whom she knows and has visted frequently in this house prior to our moving. She has never had any litter box issues or hissing behaviors (except towards the dog).

All of a sudden within this past week she has taken to urinating on top of a cushion in the back corner of the basement. She will use the litter box for solids, but did have one accident next to the cushion yesterday. She is also hissing at my fiance and swats at him when he tries to pat her, even when she goes over to him to be patted. It's almost like she is trying to trick him into patting her so she can swat at him. Are these jealous behaviors?

I am absolutely a wreck and want to help her. Also, any suggestions to get out the urine stench? It permeated the cushion and seeped into the tiled floor under it. I tried a solution from the pet store but it hasn't taken the entire odor out.

Thank you,
Lisa C.

Hi, Lisa,

Loretta is TOO cute! Thank you for the picture.

Even though she had visited your new home and the dog and your fiancee before you moved, moving permanently is a different matter. Change of any type is very stressful for a cat.

Stress in turn can bring on urinary tract infections and that is the first thing you need to rule out. You'll need to take her to the vet for an analysis of her urine. Only if that is found to be perfectly normal can you then feel confident her behavior is totally psychological.

In either case, you need to do everything possible to make her feel secure and loved and happy. Extra attention, new toys, treats, and a quiet space of her own where she has her own food and water and litter and the dog can't get to her will all be very helpful.

I've moved several times in my life and always with several cats. I always start them out in one room with their food and litter and water and some articles that smell like the previous home.

There's always hissing and a general sense of unhappiness for a day or several days. They remain in that room until they are comfortable with that room and each other.

When I feel they are ready, I open the door and they come out and explore other areas as they wish and when they wish. They have their original space to run back to if they need to feel safe. That has always worked well for me.

I know you have already been there a month or more, but I would recommend "starting over" and following the plan in the previous paragraph. If you make her living space smaller and her litter box close, cats will often stop the undesirable behavior.

I would certainly keep her out of the basement. I don't know if it is a completely finished basement or not. If it isn't, cats seem to often start urinating in unfinished basements.

Keeping her out of the basement will give you some time to get rid of the urine odor which takes time. I have used cat urine neutralizers such as F.O.N. and EliminOdor with success. Also, white vinegar.

However, sometimes urine odor just won't ever come completely out and the flooring has to be replaced. If you repeatedly clean the area and keep her away from it for awhile and perhaps place a chair or table or something over the spot, you may not have to tear up the floor.

In regard to her behavior with your fiancee, I believe that is a fearful behavior also. Your description indicates she wants him to pet her, she wants to get closer to him, but then is scared when he pets her.

There is an easy solution to this. Tell him not to pet her regardless of how much she asks for it. He can talk nicely to her, let her rub against him, but he should not respond by touching her. This may take awhile, but it will work. The bigger the deal you make about anything with a cat, the worse it gets. The less you react, the quicker the problem will resolve.

Likewise, when she urinates outside the box, do not yell or attempt to punish, even if you catch her in the act. Praise her if she uses the litter box, but only after she's stepped out of it so as not to startle her.

There are several tips that apply to your situation on the page entitled Cat Elimination Problems. There are also other questions and answers that may give you some advice on environmental things to change.

Again, though, the first step is make sure she doesn't have a urinary tract infection.

 

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