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Old 12-03-2010, 01:12 AM   #1
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Unhappy at my wits end with my kitty!!

I am so frustrated and I don't know what to do. I know I posted about this a few years ago but I still haven't found a solution and it's still happening. My kitty refuses to use the litter box. These are the things we have tried:

isolating her in the bathroom with the box, it just upsets her so much she doesn't use it.
buying a new litter box, one that self-cleans and is always fresh and ready to go.
using the urine eliminating sprays from the pet store so when she does go on the floor it gets cleaned up.
treats when she does use the litter box to reinforce good behavior.
punishment (water spray or isolation) when she doesn't use the box.
moving her food near by the litter box in the hopes she wouldn't poop where she eats.
moving the box to multiple different locations to find the right spot.
trying different litters.


we have been patiently and not so patiently working with her for over two years on this problem. We have moved twice since she started this trend- and we have been in our new place over a year so long enough that she shouldn't be doing it because she is out of sorts from the move.

she is about eight years old, has never gone outside, she is pretty fat about 17 or so lbs. the only thing that makes sense is it's just out of habit and she's old and doesn't care or maybe she's too fat for her box? but i've seen her in there and she looks okay.

at wits end. i don't want her to be an outside kitty and i don't want to give her up- but i am tapped for ideas and the internet is not helpful. Anyone?? Experiences? Ideas?
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Old 12-03-2010, 01:23 AM   #2
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Have you taken her to the vet to see if there's an underlying physical reason? We had a cat who turned out to be diabetic and one of the first clues we had was her losing her usually-good litter habits. She could also have something much more minor like an infection or irritable bowel disease, though that's unlikely if it's gone on for years.

Does she go near, but not in the box? Or does she just go any-old-where?

Your vet might also have more suggestions that you haven't yet tried...although I don't know what those would be, because it looks like you've tried a lot of options already. Still, your vet might find an underlying health issue that'll make a big difference in her behavior. I hope so, for both you and your cat's sake.
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Old 12-03-2010, 01:38 AM   #3
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If you haven't taken her to the vet, you'll need to take her in. There could be a problem causing her to not use the box.

Don't ever use punishment, it doesn't work on cats. They don't care.

You should put more boxes out in different locations to give her options.

There is a product called "Cat Attract Litter". A lot of people have used it with great success when they've experienced problems like yours.
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Old 12-03-2010, 02:06 AM   #4
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i'm making an appt for the vet tomorrow to get her checked, given her huge size i can totally see diabetes being a problem.

she usually goes right in front of the box- but she also has some favorite spots, on a rug by the door to the garage and in front of the front door. such a little weirdo!

i love her and i hate seeing her be punished or isolated, i want the kitty cuddles as much as she wants to be out and free to give them. this makes me so sad. but, no matter how much ya love someone- there have to be rules! i'm just sayin' if my hubby went outside the toilet- he'd be an outside husband! haha.
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Old 12-03-2010, 02:32 AM   #5
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Try getting bigger boxes, in case she is just too large.. something easy to get in to - and place them in her usual spots. When my cat got super fat, he'd always poop just outside of the box by accident - but he was super well potty trained prior, and after we fixed the problem and got him a bigger, more shallow litter box he never had another accident.

Also, yes - diabetes in fat cats is really very common, and the number 1 sign people first notice is that they refuse to use their litter boxes, and they pee a LOT.

Also it could just be a weird behavior issue - when pets are angry or not feeling well they're known to do their dirty deeds in their human's beds - it's a cry for attention to a problem.

You could also try lining the litterboxes with those puppy pads with the pheromones in them. I know they're meant for puppies, but they also worked for my bunny rabbit, so they could work for cats as well I'd think.

Your vet should have lots of good recommendations for you though Though it's frustrating, try to stay patient!
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Old 12-03-2010, 02:43 AM   #6
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If she is a large size kitty, she might possibly feel cramped in her box, even if she looks OK in it. Seems like most boxes sold are for average sized cats, not large ones.

The fact that she often goes in front of the box seems promising that she might consider using it. It could be just habit, but if she is old, it might be that she does what is comfortable to her. So if the vet has no answer, I would try a larger box, one that is really easy for her to get in and out of and turn around in (even if you have to alter it by making a cut so that it is easy for her to get into without having to step over a high rim). No hood.

Don't use punishment, that rarely works on cats. They respond better to loves and treats when they have done well than to punishment.

Remember, she is old... in human years REALLY old. And old humans can have accidents too. Hope you can work it out, because it would frustrate me too. So far, I've not encountered a problem, but my cats were all trained from a young age and are still relatively young.
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Old 12-03-2010, 07:11 AM   #7
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Just wanted to make a suggestion if you were looking into something larger for her. Use a rabbit pan. They are metal and only about 3-4 inches high. But, they are large, they are probably 2 ft X 3 ft. I know people that have used them for this problem with great success. Some have even built the sides up a few more inches (3 sides) with cardboard or other materials, so that she can't kick all the litter out...but leave the entry side completely open.

Good luck, I know this is irritating. But, you must really love her, because most people would just go dump them off at a shelter. Kudos to you! You are a great cat mom!!



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Old 12-03-2010, 07:18 AM   #8
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Do you have any other animals in the house? The rule of thumb for kitties is that you should have 1 more litter box than the amount of cats in the house. So even if she is the only one, you should really have 2 boxes at her disposal. I think getting the shallower ones is a great idea if she's a bigger girl.

Sometimes inappropriate urination can be a behavioral issue, or a sign of a urinary tract infection. But the fact that it's been going on for 2 years makes it less likely it's a UTI. Getting a feliway spray (good kitty pheromones), and spraying it throughout the house, or a diffuser that plugs into the wall can help if it is behavioral.

But I definitely think that taking her to the vet is a good first step. She could be having problems with her kidneys.

Good luck!!
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Old 12-03-2010, 11:31 PM   #9
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She might like having two boxes... our three cats have three boxes to choose from, and they tend to all pee in one and poo in another.
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Old 12-04-2010, 12:11 AM   #10
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Have you tried gradually changing litters, or do you empty out the old litter and automatically do new litter?? Gradual litter changes are best.

Do let us know what the vet says. I'm interested in knowing.

Coincidentally, many cats can actually be trained to scratch at the door when they need to use the bathroom and then scratch to be let back in. And though this sounds silly-- I saw this thing on animal planet that teaches cats to use the toilet. Made me want to try it-- but I don't have a cat at the moment!

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Old 12-04-2010, 12:51 AM   #11
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I work for a vet, usually these problems are one of two things, a physical issue, or a behavioral/territory issue.

More often than not it's a physical issue. At 17 pounds, she probably needs to join 3fc, and take off a few pounds, and a diet change is probably in order. Either a prescription diet food or a prescription bladder/urinary food of some type.

If this does not work, it's most likely territorial. Cat Attract is a good product and comes with great behavior solutions. It may take some extra effort on your part, but will be worth it.

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Old 12-04-2010, 09:15 PM   #12
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thanks so much for the feedback everyone. We are going in on Monday and we'll see what the vet says.

She is our only pet. I have tried diet foods, higher quality foods, we have her on an automatic feeder that goes off and plops out the right amt of food every day, but she begs and cries constantly for more. I must say we've been pretty lax about just letting her have bigger portions, she's old why shouldn't she be happy and fat? i know it's a bad mentality to have, but the crying gets to you after a while.

whenever we changed litters we did a mix in with the old to change her- same with changing food- nothing drastic ever for her.
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Old 12-04-2010, 09:51 PM   #13
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We also have a fat kitty. When we adopted her a couple years ago, she weighed almost 20 lbs, and we were able to get 3 lbs off of her, but not much more. She begs for food constantly (and it certainly is enough to drive you insane). Even though we're strict, she doesn't seem to catch on that begging isn't working (although friends don't help, because they will sneak her food when we're not looking, because she's a very effective beggar. She seems to instinctively recognize and targets a softie). She gets fed on a very rigid schedule, but she'll still cry and run for her bowl every time a person walks within 10 feet of her food area, and she starts begging about an hour before each mealtime (she's worse in the morning, and she's more accurate than any alarm clock). If she falls asleep, the minute she wakes up, she will run for her bowl and begin begging (even if it's only fifteen minutes after her meal. We laugh that she must lose track of time and thinks she's slept through the next meal). We give her less than half what any of our previous (thin) cats have ever eaten, and her weight still won't budge. We've tried all sorts of diet food, but the less (calories) we feed her, the less she moves.

As for the litterbox issue. ChubChub (our fat kitty) also was having similar problems in terms of pooping just in front of her litterbox. Switching to a bigger litterbox solved the problem (we used an under-the-bed plastic sweater box lined with a lawn-sized trash bag). Recently (since it's gotten cold and her arthritis seems to be bothering her more) the problem has returned, and we realized (catching her in the act) that it's because she's using the edge of the litter pan as a toilet seat, propping her fat heiney on the lip of the litter pan. I think it's probably the arthritis causing a balance issue. Her litter pan in in the bathroom on a hard tile floor. So far, we've just been scooping up the accidents as they occur (but they haven't been in any other part of the house, and it's been for poopies only).

We had another cat who pooped in front of the apartment door. We thought she was angry that we were leaving her (since she usually did it while we were gone), but we later learned (when the neighbors moved) that it was probably territorial. The neighbors had three poodles who apparently were allowed to poop and pee all over the apartment. When they moved out, the landlord had to rip out every square inch of carpet and vinyl flooring, because of the pet stains. While they were living there, behind the closed apartment doors we couldn't smell it (but obviously the cat could).

We did however smell it after they moved out. Because while the landlord was ripping out all of the carpeting and flooring it sent all the waste smells airborn. It also sent the cat into a marking frenzy. She wouldn't even wait until we were gone to try to mark the doorway area.
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Old 12-04-2010, 10:30 PM   #14
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Oh boy, I know it's hard when they cry at you! I have one skinny girl and two that want to be fat. Those two are slightly overweight and one of them, my big boy male tabby, he does cry for food a lot, just not all day, fortunately. He has the most pitiful high-pitched mew, too! But if I give in, he'll gain weight. I cut his portion size and he's lost some and has a bit of a waistline again. It's a constant battle, because they will both intimidate my skittish skinny girl out of her food if they can. So I have to give her food on demand (she only eats a few kibbles at a time) and then watch the other two like a hawk so they don't get at it.

Maybe substitute some extra love and attention or play with a favorite toy for the food? I don't know if that would help with the crying or not, but I feel for you!

I had a cat recuperating from a coma and head trauma once, and he wanted out once he started to feel a little better, but I couldn't let him be out and he howled his head off non-stop for days. I thought I'd go mad!
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Old 12-05-2010, 12:49 PM   #15
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I used to have a cat who had this issue. I bought a bigger box, because she was a larger cat. What did I use for the box? One of those plastic storage containers with the really high sides (12 inches?). It worked. But I do think you need to take her to the vet first, just to make sure there isn't an underlying issue causing her to avoid the box. Good luck!

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