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Cher
Cher, Cat Behavior-expert
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 20954
Experience:  40+ years Cat Behavior Consultant; Vol. Vet Asst.
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4 year old cat stopped going in the catbox tried to retrain

Customer Question

4 year old cat stopped going in the catbox tried to retrain but now she heads for rugs when she has to go. A new cat box was purchased with new litter and she will sniff it and then put her foot in it and then jump out and run out of the room.
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Cat Behavior
Expert:  Cher replied 5 months ago.

Hello, and welcome.

I'm sorry to hear your kitty is having a problem with using the litterbox. Typically, this can be caused by an underlying medical problem which is causing her discomfort upon elimination. She could have a urinary or bladder infection, cystitis, interstitial cystitis or another condition. Here is more information about urinary problems in cats:

http://www.vet.cornell.edu/FHC/health_information/UrinaryConcerns.cfm

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A product that emits calming pheromones for cats, called Feliway, comes in a plug in diffuser and is used to help alleviate stress/anxiety that can lead to inappropriate elimination problems. It is available in major pet stores and online. Here is more information:

http://www.feliway.com/us

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You can get a litter additive called 'Cat Attract' to add to her regular litter; this contains herbal attractants which encourage use of the litterbox.

Also, make sure to remove all rugs, like throw rugs, scatter rugs, bathmats, etc., unless you only have wall to wall carpeting that she's using, so this will cut down on her opportunities and make cleaning easier for you. In relation to cleaning, get an enzyme based cleaner for pet or organic stains/odors and only use that to clean where she has soiled. This will completely remove the scent so she doesn't smell it and go back there, again. Some well recommended ones are Nature's Miracle, Zero Odor, Odor Mute and many others found in your pet supply store or even a store like Walmart or Target.

I'm glad you got a new cat box and new litter (make sure the box is not covered and the litter is unscented). It also may be a good idea to get a second box, so she has a choice; some cats enjoy this and the rule of thumb is one box per cat, plus one. Put the second box in a location away from the first. make sure both boxes are not in high traffic areas and not near noisy appliances.

Place her in the box right after eating and take her front paw and scratch with it, so she knows what she's supposed to do there. If she jumps out, try again, but after 2 times, let her go. Put her back in the box in 15 minutes and repeat the same 'scratching', while speaking to her softly and telling her what she needs to do in there. If she eliminates, praise her a lot and give her a cat-healthy treat, so she associates good things with using the box. I'm assuming that she's urinating around the house, but if she is also defecating, take her stool from the rug/carpet and place it in the box and show it to her, let her smell it, so she knows that where it belongs. Be gentle, don't yell and don't 'push her nose in it', just let her see it, get the scent and then let her jump out of the box.

Your next best step would be to have her evaluated by her vet and ask for a urinalysis and culture to be done, to find out if she has any urinary infections or other problems. If she's also defecating around the house, have a fecal sample tested, too.

I hope this helped and all will be well with your furry girl!

I hope you found this answer helpful and will please take a moment to select a positive rating from the stars at the top of your page, then click 'submit;' this is the only way I will receive credit for assisting you. Thank you very much!

Even after rating, I will always be available if you need additional information; just click 'reply' and I will be glad to continue.

Warmest wishes,
Cher

Expert:  Cher replied 5 months ago.

Hello again.

I'm just following up with you to see how everything is going and if you found my answer helpful or if you need any additional information.

It would be greatly appreciated if you could please select a positive

rating from the rating box on my answer, so I can receive credit for my time and assistance. Thank you very much!

I will always be available to you for any follow-up questions, for which there is no additional charge.

Warmest regards,

Cher

Customer: replied 5 months ago.

I have had all the medical tests done. I changed the cat box and put the cat attract in the litter. I cover the poo spots with the odor remover. I have picked up her cat poo and put it in her box, taken her to the box and gently discussed going in the box with her. We even try to cover the poo with her paw. Not sure what to do next. I have started keeping her out of my bedroom to eliminate poo in that area. Any other ideas?

Expert:  Cher replied 5 months ago.

Hi again, and thanks so much for your update.

You did everything right and I'm sorry your kitty is still soiling outside of the box. Did you use the Feliway plug in and spray? If not, that would be another thing to try. I wouldn't take her paw and cover the poo, but, when you put her in the box just take her paw to scratch at the litter.

Do you have 2 boxes in total, now? If so, that's great, but make sure they are in different areas of the house, not placed side by side. If you don't have 2 boxes, add another one.

Of course, great idea in keeping her out of the bedroom, so she can't soil in there!

The next step would be to discuss a prescription medication with your vet to try to break her of this habit. There are various choices, including Prozac, but ask about Clomicalm. Here is more information:

http://www.petplace.com/article/cats/behavior-training/normal-behavior/feline-urine-marking

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I hope this helped you further and the problem will be resolved at some point!

Warmest regards,

Cher