Thursday, September 10, 2009

Litter Box Woes

Black cat big eyesA few months ago, my cat, Meeko, decided the carpeted rec room made a far better litter box than her own. At first, I was in denial: "We must have a leak in our basement," I told my husband. Then, "It's the humidity. We need a dehumidifier." But the unused litter box and the overwhelming smell soon disproved my theories.

I used an enzymatic cleaner to get rid of the odor, and had the carpet professionally cleaned. Luckily, there's a door to the room, and after posting a 2 X 2 foot sign advising everyone to keep the door closed, we usually remember to do so. After checking the Internet for inspiration, here are some of the other steps I've taken:

Removed the lid from her litter box -- it seemed to be freaking her out.
Moved the box
Stopped using the scented litter I sometimes purchased by mistake
Used "Kitty Litter Attractant" to lure her back
Closed every other freaking door in the house (just in case)

And I took her to the vet. There's nothing physically wrong with the cat, but the vet thought she might anxious, so has put her on anti-anxiety medication (although, after all this, I'm the one who really needs the drugs). My heart dropped at the thought of having to administer pills to Meeko, so I was delighted to discover the meds came in the form of a transdermal gel that I apply to the inside of her ear. I'm not sure if it's working as she just had her first dose last night.

This problem has consumed me. What if I can't change this new, unacceptable behaviour? And why the heck did she suddenly stop using her kitty litter box? I've always kept it clean -- to the point where the used litter makes my green bin too heavy for the the garbage men to lift. My husband thought Meeko might be lonely because I spent 4 or 5 days a week at the animal shelter. Perhaps Meeko smelled the other cats, despite the fact that I shower and change as soon as I get home. Who knows? Cats can be so sensitive to any change.

Now, I must go and make sure the last person to use the rec room remembered to close the door. And I may as well check the litter box while I'm down there, keeping my fingers crossed that she's using it and not some other, unprotected spot.

13 comments:

NuclearToast said...

Raggs was having a similar problem, and taking the lids off the litter boxes helped. Here's hoping that the litter box changes work for you too!

Lynn Sinclair said...

Thanks, NT. I suppose having to look inside the box, without the lid, is far better than having to side-step the stuff on the carpet. I'm glad it worked for Raggs, and it gives me hope that it'll work for me.

Georgie said...

You left her to go off on your trip abroad, didn't you?

If so, she's probably "teaching you a lesson" the same as my late little darling, Jazzy, used to do -- every time we went away and came back.

What can I say? Cats have their "own" way of letting you know their displeasures.

I'd just monitor her for a while, and hopefully (when she thinks you've learned your lesson) she'll return to normal.

Oh, those kitties...

Lynn Sinclair said...

Unfortunately, Georgie, she was doing it just before we left (perhaps she had a premonition?). She did pee in our luggage a few years ago, the night we returned from our vacation. I'd settle for the luggage now. Any words of wisdom and experience are appreciated. Thanks!

jan said...

Our cat soiled the carpet a year or so ago. It went on for a short time and then just stopped. Who knows what is in the tiny mind of a cat? Revenge? Jealousy?

Karla said...

Hey Lynne,
sounds like anxiety to me too... my mom's cat had similar experience a year ago... maybe moving the litter somewhere more accessible to her & obvious might help... the box lid off will help too... maybe some extra snuggle time for a few weeks might help calm her down too... hope you're both less stressed soon!!! :)

Lynn Sinclair said...

You give me hope, Jan, that Meeko's carpet-soiling days might soon be over. It's amazing how upsetting this whole thing has been.

Lynn Sinclair said...

Thank you, Karla. Interesting how many other cats/owners have gone through this.

Devon Ellington said...

I have a cat with neurological problems who sometimes "forgets" where the litter box is, or is chased out by one of the other cats. For awhile, she used carpets, but we've retrained her to use newspaper -- and keep it in a designated spot, easy to get to, private, and easy to clean, so if she gets anxious or confused, she can go there.

For some reason, she prefers the NY TIMES to any other paper.

Lynn Sinclair said...

You're very good to your cats, Devon. Is it the Sunday NY Times your kitty likes? I've always liked it too.

Raggedy Angst said...

Lynn,
I hope Meeko is already doing better without aid of my comment, but in case she's not, I should tell you that taking the lid off the box, as well as providing a second box (I have two cats), made all the difference. I type this with crossed fingers, but we haven't had an accident since I did those two things. Best of luck--I know how upsetting this can be!

Lynn Sinclair said...

Thanks, Raggs, I'm always open to new ideas. I did take the lid off and added another box, and it helped. But I moved the kitty litter box -- unfortunately, into a more public space. Now I'm afraid to move it back into the basement, just in case it was the location that made her delinquent.

Raggedy Angst said...

Yeah, right now I'm afraid our litter box is pretty public too. We're trying to figure out a way to disguise it from guests that won't also disguise it from the cats! I'm glad your changes have helped and hope your cat continues to behave appropriately!