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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 25930
Experience:  I am a small animal veterinarian with a special interest in cats and am happy to discuss any questions you have.
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one of my cats, I have three, has suddenly started to wee on

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one of my cats, I have three, has suddenly started to wee on my bed. I have three big litter trays and the litter is changed often. she an old cat, nearly seventeen. how can I stop her doing this and get her back to using her tray?

Hello & welcome to Just Answer/Pearl. I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.

How long has this been going on?

Does she pass feces in the box still?

Any changes to the litter box (ie different brand of litter, location, etc)?

Is she indoor only or have outdoor access?

Any lifestyle changes at home (ie new people, babies, furniture, house, renovations, etc)?

Have you noticed any other cats in the house perhaps trying to usurp Katie's position in their kitty hierarchy? Are any of the other 2 females as well?

Any changes to her weight, drinking, eating or the volumes of urine produced?

Does the urine appear normal volume, color, and odor?

Customer: replied 7 years ago.

the weeing has been going on for just over a week. I did changed to paper base litter a couple of weeks ago but I have changed back to her normal litter. the other two cats are female. one is seventeen who I took from my friend last year and the other one I have had about seven years.
she still use the tray for faeces. she has a thyroid problem and see my vet monthly. she on daily medication for the thyroid problem and has a monthly injection for eczema. the urine seems normal. she eating well and her weight seem ok. .she an indoor cat but out go on my balcony. I have had quite a lot of work done to the flat over the past eighteen months and have a lot of new furniture including a new bed. i have the recommended plug in infuser to calm her down

Thank you for the additional information.

Can you tell me when she was last tested for her thyroid and if she were stable at that point?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

she had her blood tested about a month ago. my vet said katie's blood levels were at the top of the normal range but she kept her on the same tablets and said she will see what the bloods results are next time which is two months time.

Thank you again for that information about wee Katie.

Now you have actually noted quite a few wee factors in her life that could be triggering this behavior. It will be a case of channeling our inner Sherlock Holmes to tease apart her situation and pinpoint which is pushing her into this inappropriate urination.

As I am sure you can appreciate, cats do not suddenly urinate outside the litterbox for no reason. This is because it is a behavior that goes against kitty instinct (to hide and bury waste from predators). Urinating out of the appropriate spot in a cat is like a message (since cat’s don’t do email). Therefore, we do have to appreciate that Katie has initiated this behavior in response to something that is amiss.

First off, I would put litter box concerns lower on our list of triggers for her. The reason is because she is still using it for feces, which suggests that she is not suffering an aversion to the box or recent litter changes you had made. So, at the moment, I wouldn't be focused on that differential for her.

Considering the issues outside the box that could induce this behavior, we need to think about medical and stress/behavioral based reasons for her actions. And if she was borderline on her thyroid hormone levels, I would be a wee bit concerned that perhaps the balance has tipped this week and the polyuric (increased urination) effects of thyroid disease could be making her feel 'not right' and thus may be leading to this inappropriate urination. Alternatively, we cannot rule out that perhaps something else within the body (ie kidney function or even a bladder infection) is disturbing her health to a level that is making her demonstrate this behavior. And while I do think having a urine sample should be checked to rule out medical causes for any elderly inappropriate urinating cat, I'd say that this would be even more important for Katie. Furthermore, it might be an idea to consider moving up that thyroid level check to make sure that this isn't an early warning sign that she isn't as stable as she should be.

If medical reasons can be excluded, then we do need to assess her current environment. If there has been a lot of change going on for the past 18 months, then we'd have to ask ourselves why her behavior started this late. (though if the bed has been a more recent addition then that might be enough). You are right to have the Feliway plug in for her to reduce stress but remember it is only a coping aid and not a cure-all for stress. Therefore, we do need to see if we can pinpoint what might have set her off this week and if that can be removed, then we may see her signs settle. Otherwise, you can consider including other treatments with the Feliway to further try and allay stress for her. Other options would be nutritional supplements like Zylkene, which use a casein protein to soothe anxious cats. As well, there are treats like Composure (LINK) and even a Bach Flower Remedy (LINK) for cats (though not as well tolerated as the other agents and isn’t as feline specific as the other de-stress agents are). It can sometimes be a case of minimizing triggers while finding the right combination of support to allay stress for them.
Furthermore, at the same time, you need to make sure that you are taking steps to discourage her associating the bed/non litterbox places with being somewhere she can go, by making sure the areas are cleaned afterwards. I would advise using an enzymatic odour neutralizing cleaner (LINK1 LINK 2) wherever she has urinated because while normal cleaners will eliminate the smell to us, she may still be able to smell her own scent and thus choose to go there again. Her scent will be the red flag that its 'ok to pee here'. To make sure you get everywhere she has been, you can use a black light to illuminate any areas that she has urinated on (example).

Overall, in Katie's case, I would strongly advise ruling out medical causes for her sudden lapse in litter box manners. A urine sample is a quick and cheap way to check her kidney function and just give you an idea of an underlying bladder infection is present. As well, since she is a delicately balanced hyperthyroid kitty, I'd suggest that rechecking her thyroid level now would be prudent. If you are able to check these, they will aid you in determining if this is an early hint of something being amiss with her health. And if they are clear, it will allow you to focus on the stress based differentials and work to get her settled and back to urinating where she should.

I hope this information is helpful.

If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!

Dr. B.


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