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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 15597
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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Hi, My cat is 14 years old and of a very nervous disposition

Resolved Question:

Hi,

My cat is 14 years old and of a very nervous disposition in the last week rather than go out he has defecated in our bath and occasionally urinated on the carpet, we have to close all bedroom doors, as he will mess the bed or on some occasions defecate in the plant pot. He has done this occasionally over the years when stressed but now it's every day. He still goes outside, he has always been a small cat but has got thinner lately, he drinks water regularly he only has Iams mature and senior .
Any suggestions welcome
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 2 years ago.
Hello, I'm Dr. Kara. I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian and I'd like to help with your concerns about Harold's eliminating inappropriately in the house.

Cats inappropriately eliminate for a few reasons:
1) They don't feel well and associate pain with the previous area where they previously eliminated and go elsewhere hoping not to experience discomfort.
2) The area they used to go is dirty, hard to get to, or they don't have enough privacy there or feel trapped in the location it is in.
3) Other cats (can be indoors or outdoor strays), dogs or people are scaring them when they go to eliminate or trying to get to the area.
4) Social stress and overcrowding. Cats in the wild do not live together. If there are new cats outdoors that could be socially stressful for him.

First I recommend limiting access to the areas that he is using inappropriately as a place to eliminate. The longer this goes on the more it becomes a habit. If this has been going on for a while it is likely that we need to find and treat an underlying problem that started all this as well as retrain him.
Ideally because he is an older fellow he needs a physical examination to make sure all is well. Make sure though his anal glands are checked, a urinalysis is checked, and that she doesn't have parasites (check a stool sample) or spinal arthritis that makes it painful for him to go or maintain his position and is making him feel threatened outdoors. If he ever has blood or mucous in his stool, it is soft, hard or very large or small and difficult to pass he may have inflammatory bowel disease, constipation or megacolon which are all uncomfortable. Ideally at his age with evidence of weight loss he should have a complete blood count, biochemistry profile and T-4 checked to look for underlying metabolic disease processes. We need to address any medical problems to have hope of retraining him successfully.

You also need to make sure that the area that he has picked to go inappropriately has been cleaned with an enzymatic cleaner, like Nature's Miracle. Although it may smell fine to you their noses are much better than ours and as long as the odor is there he will be attracted to the spot.

Some cats are very sensitive to being interrupted, so we do need to check for animals outdoors that may be affecting his behavior. I know you have done some of these things already but sometimes you need to repeat them and I list them all to be complete.

To help ease social stress you can try using Feliway products. These are synthetic pheromones which mimic those produced to mark areas as safe and many cats find them soothing. Because he may have several spots outdoors you can also use pheromone calming collars so he will carry the calming pheromones with him. See this link for some examples: http://www.amazon.com/Sentry-Behavior-Pheromone-Collar-Inches/dp/B0026JAKWG

If these measures aren't enough and he is healthy on physical examination and blood testing you can try a homeopathic calming oral medication called Bach's Rescue Remedy. See this link for further information: http://www.bachflower.com/Pets.htm

And you could discuss oral medications with your veterinarian as well such as fluoxetine or amitriptyline as calming agents to decrease her stress.

Given your history I truly believe that he has underlying medical problems that are affecting him and making him too nervous to eliminate outdoors.
Please let me know if you have any further questions.
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 15597
Experience: Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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