Mrs. Green barged into my examination room. “One of the cats has been urinating all over the place, including on my new Moroccan rug!” “Take action!”
This was a difficult task. Green’s cats were neutered, but I believed that the presence of so many other cats in such a small territory was causing stress. Green had lately added a sixth cat to the five she shared a one-bedroom apartment with, and it was only after the new cat arrived that urine spots were discovered. But which cat was the perpetrator? Was the issue medical, behavioral, or a combination of the two?
I started by asking Mrs. Green to isolate one cat in the bedroom at a time. Toby, a 4-year-old boy, had urinated on the carpet beneath the bed. One of the other five cats, however, urinated on the living room drapes as well. We have two patients presently! Urinalysis is critical in ruling out medical causes for this problem, and Toby’s tests indicated that he did, in fact, have a medical ailment that frequently causes house soiling and necessitates lifetime dietary changes. Because there was no more urination in the bedroom, my second patient remained unidentified.
Trying to figure it out
Urinating outside the litter box, or house soiling, is fairly prevalent. Non-medical causes, which are sometimes mislabeled as “behavioral disorders,” are normally totally normal feline responses to an environmental stimuli and can be further classified as urine-marking and normal voiding outside the litter box. The latter, which is the most prevalent cause of feline house soiling, includes situations in which cats quit using the litter box because they dislike the type of litter or the location of the box.
These aversions could be caused by pain from a medical condition, fear from being startled or attacked by another cat while in the box, or stink from infrequent cleaning. A behavioral consultant can help determine why a cat has stopped using his litter box and propose strategies to entice him to use it again.
Cats, on the other hand, urine-mark items to mark territory, compete with one another, and proclaim sexual availability. Marking is more common in unneutered cats, in males than in females, and in overcrowded households.
Although some cats mark with their feces, the majority of cats mark using pee spray. Squatting and discharging a medium to huge puddle on a horizontal surface is how cats generally empty. A cat sprays by standing with its tail straight up and twitching and squirting a little stream of urine onto a vertical surface. Because my second patient was putting urine droplets on a vertical surface – the living room draperies – it appeared to be a case of marking. Mrs.’s entire family Mrs. went against my counsel. Urine samples from the remaining cats were all normal.
To test remedies
I proposed various methods for Mrs. Green to alleviate stress in the home. Mrs. Green refused to find a new home for the visitor who had “disturbed the calm.” Blocking access to windows where outdoor cats might be visible, as well as adding more litter boxes to the home and separating cats so each has his own territory, could all assist. If the marking behavior persisted after social and environmental factors were addressed, medicines might become an important part of therapy, according to Green.
Mrs. Green needed to get rid of all traces of pee odor to avoid re-attracting the offender or attracting other cats who might start marking as well. I strongly advised using urine odor eliminators for this job.
The Function of Drugs
Mrs. I explained Even in a small apartment, private space can be created by putting accessible shelves high up on the walls or giving cat condos with enclosed ‘caves’ towards the top. This is especially true in long-term or regular recurrence circumstances. Marking activity should be stopped as soon as possible since repetitive behavior can become reinforced in the cat’s mind. In most cases of non-marking house soiling, drugs are not required.
Human sedatives, anti-anxiety medications, and antidepressants are among the medications used to treat marking. None have been licensed for use in cats, thus their use may pose some danger. Unfortunately, many cats only react partially to medicine, and nearly all cats relapse once the drug is discontinued. [Editor’s Note: A new product called Feliway, a synthetic feline face pheromone that is sprayed in the cat’s habitat, can minimize urine marking and stress, according to our Animal Sciences department.]
We obviously needed to treat the proper patient, so we performed a specific dye test on each of Mrs. Green’s cats separately; eventually, we identified Joe as the spraying cat. So far, none of Mrs. Green’s methods have stopped Joe from spraying, and we are considering putting him on medicine. The good news is that Toby’s new diet has brought him back into the litter box, saving the Oriental rug!
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