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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 32867
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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My cat is about 8/9 years old We have had her for five years.

Customer Question

My cat is about 8/9 years old We have had her for five years. She is a lovely natured cat and has been very well behaved. However of late she has started to urinate about the house..not all the time just occasionally on this rug, then that, at different times. We have had her to the vets who has treated her for cystitis once. However the wetting continues in sporadic events. She still uses her litter tray. there is no evidence of any illness un happiness.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 4 years ago.
Aloha! You're speaking with Dr. Michael Salkin
I'm sorry for the delay in responding to you. There appears to be a delay when posting questions from the UK.

Considering Meg's history of cystitis it would be prudent to have a urinalysis run in order to rule out a urinary tract infection (UTI) or idiopathic (unknown cause) cystitis before we attempt reconditioning for what may be inappropriate behavioral marking in Meg. If a medical etiology (cause) can be ruled out we would address marking behavior as follows:

Treatment involves two major considerations: 1) remove the cause - easier said than done. You might have to be quite the detective to discern the stimuli for her inappropriate eliminative behavior 2) prevent Meg from returning to previously soiled areas. To re-establish a consistent habit of using the litterbox, Meg should be temporarily contained to a small area with the box and only allowed out when she can be supervised 100% of the time. When confined to a relatively small area, most cats seem to prefer to eliminate in the box rather than soiling the floor. It is then a matter of confining her long enough for a consistent habit to become established. As a rule of thumb, one week of confinement is usually recommended for every month of soiling. Meg should be removed from the confinement area as much as possible for socialization and play, but never allowed out of sight. Food rewards may help when given immediately after she finishes eliminating in the box. If she refuses to use the litterbox when confined to a small area, the confinement area should be changed to a large cage. The floor should be covered with litter, forcing her to use it for elimination. The litter is gradually removed and replaced with a litterbox. Once she has used the litterbox in a confined area for an appropriate amount of time, she can be allowed to have more freedom in the home. Previously soiled areas (the bed) can be safeguarded by changing the behavioral function of the area by placing food bowls, cat bedding or toys in the area. The area can also be made unacceptable for her by placing a motion-activated alarm or lemon-scented room deodorant in the area. Plastic carpet runners can be placed upside down with the "feet" facing up. Plastic, foil, or double-stick carpet tape can be used to protect specific areas. Removing urine and stool odor is important. Products such as Nature's Miracle which are specifically formulated to work on these types of odors are recommended.

Some cats are extremely sensitive to changes in their environment. They may mark in response to the most minor of alterations. You must strive to keep the home environment as constant as possible. When situations occur that are likely to upset Meg, you might want to consider confinement, closer supervision and the use of anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) medication such as paroxetine (Paxil) and fluoxetine (Prozac). In fact, most behaviorists feel that without the use of psychotherapeutic drugs our chance of correcting inappropriate marking behavior is near nil.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.