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Vet help
Vet help, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 2597
Experience:  9 years experience as a small animal veterinarian; 19 yrs exp. in animal care field
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my cat keeps peeing on the couch...i wash the blankets with

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my cat keeps peeing on the couch...i wash the blankets with soap and apple vinegar.... a few days later she wll do it again. I did take her to the vet who says she has UTI...but she knows where the litter box is...I think she must have been abused before I adopted her...she is almost 2 years old....is there something I can put or do to stop the cat from peeing on the couch?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Vet help replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for your question.

There are a host of medical issues that may result in inappropriate elimination including infection, bladder stones, structural abnormalities, kidney disease, and diabetes mellitus.

Your vet has determined that she does have a UTI. UTI's create a painful burning sensation and an urgency to urinate. A cat is not mentally sophisticated enough to understand that she has an infection and the infection is causing her pain. She just knows that sometimes when she is urinating in the litter box, she experiences pain. To her, this means that maybe it's the litter box causing the discomfort. As a result, she avoids the box- this is called a litter box aversion. She's found that urinating on something soft seems to decrease the pain when she pees, and so has elected to go on the couch when she is uncomfortable.
Prior abuse is not likely to contribute to her litter box aversion. If it had, she would likely have never used the litter box since you had her.

Hopefully, your vet put her on an antibiotic and some pain medication to treat the urinary tract infection. Often, UTIs are secondary to a condition called Feline Lower Urinary Tract disease (FLUTD).
FLUTD- probably one of the most frustrating diseases affecting cats, owners, and their veterinarians.
It is one of the top reasons that cats are relinquished to shelters every year.
These cats seem to have periodic sterile (absence of infection) inflammations of the bladder wall. As a result of this, they feel an urgency to urinate and don't always make it to the litterbox. Moreover, cats begin to associate the discomfort of urination with the box itself and so then begin to develop a litter box aversion. They don't understand why they hurt, they just know that they hurt when they're in that darn box so they begin to avoid it.

FLUTD has been compared to idiopathic interstitial cystitis in women (idiopathic is a fancy way of saying unknown cause). This condition is so painful, that women will sometimes attempt suicide to be free of it.

FLUTD cats typically urinate outside the litter box, and can have any, all, or none of the following: blood in the urine, difficulty urinating, urinating small amounts frequently.
Flare-ups seem to last for 7 days or so, and usually resolve without any treatment. They may occur at any time.
Stress seems to exacerbate the symptoms of this disease, and it seems to be a little more prevalent in cats that are high strung.
Certain breeds like Persians and Himalayans seem to be slightly more predisposed to development of FLUTD but no evidence for a hereditary basis for the disease has been established.

FLUTD is managed, not cured and steps include:
-increasing water intake: canned foods and easy access to fresh water (sometimes fountains or leaving the tap dripping).
- minimizing stress
- frequent litterbox cleaning
- sometimes the tricyclic antidepressant, amitriptyline, works because in addition to it's mood altering properties, it's also believed to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.
- Cosequin- a polysulfated glycosaminoglycan, it's believed that since the lining of the bladder wall consists of similar components that supplementing with Cosequin helps the inflamed bladder repair itself. Anecdotally this seems to help, but I've not come across too much really hard evidence that it does.

Often, because both UTI's and FLUTD result in a litter box aversion, the affected cat will development a behavioral component to the inappropriate elimination. Some other things to try include:
- cleaning all soiled areas with an enzymatic cleaner such as Nature's Miracle or Anti-Icky Poo
- adding additional litter boxes. The rule of thumb is one litter box per cat plus one, so ideally you should have 2 boxes if she is your only cat.
- cats have a depth preference believe it or not. Most cats like litter to be 2 inches deep.
- unscented litter is best
- uncovered litter boxes because covered ones hold in odor
- some cats prefer to defecate in one box and urinate in another.
- dump out all litter and wash boxes in mild soap once a week
- some cats, like your girl, have a substrate preference. Since she likes the softness of the couch, sometimes lining the box beneath the litter or the wall behind the litter box, with the same substrate encourages the cat to use the box.
- behavioral altering drugs like amitriptyline or buspirone

Your cat would also benefit from a diet which modifies her urinary pH and helps to prevent crystal formation and inflammation. You can get such diets through your vet.
As frustrating as this condition is for you, it's important to remember that it is also very uncomfortable for her. However, there are things that can be done to help.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I already use Nature's Miracle but I think she will do it as soon as she smells it and I'm out of the room....she uses her litter box every day....we have 2 boxes cause I have another cat...they seem to use each their box...I feel like she is jealous and will do it for spite..can that be a problem....when she jumps on the bed - i'm so paranoid that I will turn on the light to see what she is doing...i think she was about to pee on the bed - I stopped her and she went to the litter box....also not sure if it has anything to do with it but when she goes in the box....or bed/couch ... she will clean around the area...the box...the wall.... or if it's on the bed/couch...it will be around the area she did it...she will go for about 5 minutes as if she is obsessed........ I also noticed when she knew my other cat slept on the bed, she peed on it...when the dog slept once on the bed..she was about to do it but caught her before she did..... so just to be clear on something you said...did you say I should but the blanket against the wall..but the litter box in front of it? also where do I get amitriptyline, tricyclic antidepressant?
Expert:  Vet help replied 3 years ago.
It isn't unusual for there to be a behavioral component to inappropriate urination, however, attributing the behavior to jealousy or spite isn't usually accurate in terms of cats and there emotions. Typically, they tend to act out in this manner when they are feeling anxious or stressed. It's difficult to tell that with a cat because they don't perform the types of activities of stress that we can see in ourselves or in dogs. The inappropriate elimination is more a form of communication of their being anxious about something or someone, or to illustrate physical discomfort.
The excessive burying behaviors that you witnessed occurred because with the location of the urination she wasn't able to actually cover the urine like she would if she'd gone in dirt or in the litter. Since she was unsatisfied with the covering process, it continued longer than is normal.
When this type of behavior is exhibited outside the litter box, it usually means that something about the box is displeasing to the cat. Whether it be the odor, the litter (doesn't like the feel of it, or it's dirty and she doesn't want it on her paws, etc.), or the box itself.

Since you have 2 cats, 3 litter boxes is recommended, as mentioned above. Many cats want a fresh, clean box and to urinate in one and defecate in another. Replacing litter boxes once a year is important, as older boxes hold in offensive odors. I usually recommend clients use a low sided storage tote instead of a litter box because they are larger and cheaper. Cats like a lot of room in the box and many of the litter boxes available these days are rather small for most cats.

I would recommend putting the blanket either beneath the litter box or on the wall next to/ behind the box.

You would need to get the medication from your veterinarian.
Vet help, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 2597
Experience: 9 years experience as a small animal veterinarian; 19 yrs exp. in animal care field
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