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Nearing the last straw with one of our cats

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Hustle, Sep 29, 2008.

  1. Hustle

    Hustle Guest

    This is going to be a long backstory, and I apologize in advance for its length.

    We have two cats, Grace and Hank; both were rescue kitties we got when they were less than a year old (though Grace's relationship with my wife predates me). Hank is a neutered male and has a history of bladder infections; we feed him special dry food ($50 a bag!) and when he drinks water, it's usually filtered water. And he drinks a lot of water. Still, we've had him to the vet at least three times because of this.

    Today, however, was a new one. Our house is such that at the front entrance is a wood floor near the door, carpet on the nearby steps and about 8 feet from the door. This afternoon, we spotted Hank trying to 'dig' through the wood floor, something he's never done. Several hours later, as we're bringing dinner into the living room, my wife catches him trying to pee there. (Bear in mind this is within visual distance - say, 10 feet - of his litter box, which has been at virtually the same spot since we moved here in April.)

    There is a history of this. Back in our apartment, Hank would often pee in one of the corners of the tiled areas; it was a way to show us something was wrong and he didn't feel right. Except that after he got better, he'd still pee in the same spots, despite our best attempts at cleaning it up, even with the stuff that's supposed to erase the smell altogether, even for cats.

    My wife, upon seeing Hank peeing in the wrong spot tonight, starts yelling at him. He runs upstairs, I go after him and bring him back. I hand him off at the bottom of the steps; my wife proceeds to not-so-gently remind him of where his litter box is.

    I sat and stewed most of the night, flipping between being angry, disappointed and worried. Let's say he's sick; we take him to the vet and get him cleared up. But I don't know that we can afford to do that every six months; the last bill was over $100, not including the $375 ultrasound. Putting him back on meds for six weeks will be another $100, plus we need to get him a bag of food soon. And who's to say this won't happen in six months again?

    Let's say he's not sick but somehow traumatized by the litter box. Then we're looking at incessant cleanups and, frankly, we're not sure if he'll take to litter box training. It hasn't been very successful before.

    As I saw and stewed, I thought of the possibility of taking him back to the shelter we got him from. That's an absolute last-resort thing and not really something I can bring myself to consider seriously; but I can't say it's beyond the realm of possibility, either. It's frustrating because we've been down this road before and I can't shake the feeling that we're back at the beginning yet again.

    Can anyone offer advice, either for me or for Hank? I desperately don't want to lose my little buddy; he's the only real pet I've ever had and he means the world to me. But at some point, those feelings are going to clash with the reality that keeping him happy and healthy may simply be beyond our means.
  2. gingerbread

    gingerbread Well-Known Member

    You need a "Cat Whisperer."
    I know nothing about cats, but thought you were never supposed to raise your voice or act in anger while trying to train a pet? At least that's how it works in dog world. Maybe your local ASPCA will have some advice?

    There must be loads of people facing the same horrible situation in this economy: give up the family pet(s) because they can't afford to keep them. Heart breaking.
  3. Hustle

    Hustle Guest

    That's the thing. We weren't training him. His litter box was perfectly fine one day (many days prior, actually) and not the next.

    And if there was a Cat Whisperer, my God, the world would be lined up at his/her door.
  4. gingerbread

    gingerbread Well-Known Member

    A friend's cat suddenly stopped using the litter box. Turns out she was allergic to the lining. Found this from the Humane Society site:

    There's really no such thing as "litter-training" a cat in the same way one would housetrain a dog. A cat doesn't need to be taught what to do with a litter box because instinct will generally take over. The only thing you need to do is provide an acceptable, accessible litter box, using the suggestions above. It's not necessary to take your cat to the litter box and move her paws back and forth in the litter; in fact, we don't recommend it, as such an unpleasant experience is likely to initiate a negative association with the litter box.

    Hopefully your problem is something simple, and won't cause another trip to the vet.
  5. Chef

    Chef Active Member

    For Hank: They won't let you do your business wherever; Put a cap in em.


    For Hustle: You see a cat coming at you with a 9mm pistol, drink more.

    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2014
  6. It may be just a matter of changing the cat litter. I would try changing it to see if that would help the situation. I don't know how often you clean it out but some cats are picky about that.
  7. dooley_womack1

    dooley_womack1 Well-Known Member

    Rokski scoffs in your general direction.
  8. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2014
  9. ink-stained wretch

    ink-stained wretch Active Member

    How old is the Hankster? If'n he's into the double-digits, think kidney failure.

    As far as his behavior, use vinegar on the spot. It will help break the habit. Consider crating him when you're not in the house and at night.

    Taking him to the shelter is a none starter. Either find him a new home as an outdoor cat. Or ask the vet to put him down, and learn to live with yourself.
  10. Inky_Wretch

    Inky_Wretch Well-Known Member

    On a somewhat related note, my wife's 18-year-old cat has started pissing outside the litter box. Just hangs its ass over the edge while standing in the box and lets fly. I tried one of those enclosed litter boxes, the cat managed to do it out the opening.

    Any suggestions for fixing that?

    (The cat is declawed, so there's no putting it outside.)
  11. EStreetJoe

    EStreetJoe Well-Known Member

    Hustle... with Hank, if you haven't changed the brand & type of litter and litterbox liner you'll need to retrain Hank for the litterbox. Lock him in a room with the litterbox a little food and water. Don't let him out of the room until he's only using the litter box (no accidents on the floor). Go in a few times a day to feed him/give him water/pet him-comfort him. Once he starts using the box again, and only the box, then its safe to let him out and then pick him up and gently show him the new location for the box.
    My vet told me that sometimes when cats are sick they'll get into the habit of going outside the box and need to be retrained to go in the box after they're healthy.
  12. KG

    KG Active Member

    I had this problem with a cat once. To help, I used an upsidedown toe lid under the litter box and put some litter in it too. That way when he hung his booty over the box to do his business, it was at least still caught in some litter. It won't get covered though.
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