About this time last year, we had an ongoing battle with our cat Henry over where was an appropriate place to pee and where was definitely, absolutely not.

Blog commenters and many resources on the web told me he probably had a urinary tract infection, so we made a journey to the vet in town. Henry hates riding in the car, so that was a fun time. Then we had to pin him down twice a day for two weeks and massage his throat into swallowing antiobiotics.

As we’d been told, once they start peeing outside the litter box, it’s hard to break them of it entirely. Henry’s occasional “accidents” took on a more determined quality – he peed on my coat and anything else of mine I left lying around, and whenever he escaped into the office (where I’d first caught him peeing behind my desk), he immediately, determinedly peed on the first object he could find.

So we also made some “lifestyle changes.” First, no more clothes or plastic bags (his favorite target) lying about the house. He was no longer allowed in the hall bathroom or the office, his two favorite pee spots, and we thoroughly cleaned the carpet beside the chair in the living room.

To make Henry’s litter box appealing to him again, we got a second, larger litter box (apparently, you’re supposed to have one per cat) and established a better routine of more frequent scooping. We also used a special, expensive herbal litter that’s supposed to attract Wandering Pee-ers.

All of that seemed to work, mostly, and we gradually weaned him off the special litter. We relaxed and left the bathroom door open again. For a while, things were good. We still suspected him of occasional sneaky transgressions – I’d catch a whiff of something and travel around the living room floor on hands and knees, sniffing – but could never find anything definite.

Somehow a year passed this way. Then, suddenly, it started again. I brought a plastic bag out of the office and found pee on it the next day. Then I went to wipe my face on the hand towel in the bathroom and was hit with the unmistakable aroma of cat pee. Darwin felt angry; I felt like weeping. And washing my face. Twice.

This weekend, I caught him in the act of peeing on my bath towel, which was draped over the bathroom counter. Then this morning while I was getting ready in the hall bath, Henry strolled right in and peed on the bathroom cabinet.

There was none of that pitiful mewling or pained expression from the time I caught him last year, the time that persuaded me to take him to the vet the very next day. Maybe he is defiant. Maybe he is spraying instead of peeing. Or maybe it’s just still in an early stage of UTI.

I don’t know, but it’s back to the vet and the special litter he must go. And if anyone has helpful, practical suggestions, I welcome them.

However, if you – like the belated commenter to last year’s Henry UTI post – think I should “keep the house, get rid of the cat,” feel free not to comment. That is one solution – along with, “put him outside” – I will not consider.

Bath towels and even furniture are disposable – animals are not.

posted by Kristin | filed under Pets | 13 Comments


13 Responses to “He’s At It Again”

  1. meg on November 15th, 2006 3:19 pm

    Male cats can get UTIs much more easily than female cats, so you might want to get him checked again.

    Also, you might ask the vet about his food. Male cats can develop bladder stones depending on what is being fed.

    Cats like privacy to do their business, so I think the fact that he peed right in front of you is a sign he is trying to tell you something.

    My cats, too, have an every-once-in-a-while peeing problem. Usually if I haven’t freshened the litter frequently enough. So it is my fault, rather than theirs!

    Good luck!

  2. John on November 15th, 2006 3:31 pm

    Meg is right. Cats usually pee on things to get your attention. Perhaps you’ve been busier than usual and he’s feeling neglected? May be he doesn’t like his liter box for some reason?

    Or, sometimes they do it to mark territory. I’ve heard of indoor cats marking their indoor territory if they feel threatened by neighborhood cats they see or smell outside.

    His age is a consideration too. My mom had a fairly well behaved cat that started spraying things as he got old. I think he had the feline version of senile dementia, not pretty.

    In any case, good luck.

  3. Jodi on November 15th, 2006 3:39 pm

    I am eager to hear everyone’s ideas too. We have a female cat that has peed on coats, bags, blankets, etc. too. It if infuriating and smelly. We have tried everything to get her to stop and so far nothing has worked. She is now an outside cat because we couldn’t get her to pee in the box. I feel bad but don’t know what else to do with her.

    I hope someone has some good ideas for you.

  4. Anonymous on November 15th, 2006 4:22 pm

    You might try confining him to one room with his food and water on one end and his litter box on the other. Small rooms work well for this (ie, the bathroom). It reteaches him that using the litter box is the appropriate behavior.

    Of course, this is after you’ve had him checked out for a UTI and all the other fun kitty things.

    Mine (now deceased), used to pee in my clean laundry basket. Directly in front of me. Right after I’d folded the clothes.

  5. Denise on November 15th, 2006 4:58 pm

    I’m 100% with you on treating your animals as part of your family! Domesticated cats belong indoors and it’s too dangerous for them to be put outside (also not good for wildlife)!

    Is it possible that his litter boxes are located near the furnace? My friend’s cat started going outside the litter box for no apparent reason and she finally realized that it was next to the furnace and the sound of it turning on spooked the cat. She moved the boxes and problem solved.

    I have 2 male cats who are litter mates. We have a storage closet in our finished basement that is exclusively their “bathroom” with 2 litter boxes (I’ve heard that you’re actually supposed to have 1 more litter box than you have cats, but we don’t have the space for that) and one of those cat doors/holes so we can keep the door closed.

    After discovering that one cat was standing up in the litter box and peeing on the wall, we put in sheets of formica along the base and about 2-3 feet high (of course after ripping out all the urine-soaked drywall). We also put a solid sheet of linoleum on the floor. Occasionally he’ll still stand up and pee, but now it’s much easier to clean up. It seems like he does that when his brother has been really antagonizing him–I don’t know if you have multiple cats, but perhaps his privacy is being invaded too much?

    Anyway, hope this helps!

  6. Monica on November 15th, 2006 5:15 pm

    I found a link to this on a friend’s blog a while back:


    She confined her kitty and got it back to normal afte a few days. Good lucky.

  7. Tish on November 15th, 2006 8:38 pm

    Have you already tried Feliway spray or the plug in diffusers? If you tried the Feliway spray or are thinking of trying, doube the amount it tells you to use. For example, it says 1 spray 2x daily, try 2 sprays 3 or 4x daily.

    The enzyme cleaners (Nature’s Miracle etc.) really do help get the smell out better and discourages the kitty from peeing in that spot again.

    I saw a UTI tester you use in the litter box. I guess it is some kind of additive and changes color when peed on to indicate infection.

    The suggestion to confine the cat in a small room with the box to retrain him to use it is a very good idea.

    Good Luck!

  8. Kristin on November 16th, 2006 10:15 am

    Henry isn’t very old (only 3), so I don’t think his age is a factor.

    We do have a lot of feral cats hanging around our neighborhood. We recently spotted a cat spraying one of our outbuildings. Not long after that, we had a nice day, and I opened the windows to let the cats sit in them. I wonder if Henry might’ve smelled cat odor outside and it triggered him to start peeing everywhere again.

    Then last night we had a weird incident. I heard a screeching/pained noise and thought one of the cats had been injured in some way. But when I investigated, they were both sitting by the front door sniffing it. I looked outside, and there was what looked to be fresh cat poop on the welcome mat. Very weird. Why would an outdoor cat poop on my welcome mat instead of in some nice soft spot he could dig?

    So I can’t figure out if this is a spraying thing or a UTI thing.

    I went to the pet store yesterday and got some of the Cat Attract litter and UTI food. Maybe Henry is just prone to UTIs. Geez, we have to have hairball food for one and UTI food for the other.

    I need to try that Feliway spray and Nature’s Miracle. I’ve tried cleaning the pee spots with vinegar, and wherever we’ve used it, he hasn’t peed again. Not yet anyway.

    I think it might also be a good idea to get that pheromone stuff you sprinkle around outside to keep feral cats away.

  9. halloweenlover on November 16th, 2006 5:55 pm

    This sounds like my worst nightmare ever. I sympathize! I hope you figure it out, wish I had some advice or experience.

  10. mindy on November 17th, 2006 8:41 am

    Nature’s Miracle is my favorite for removing enzymes….. definitely worth buying the next time you’re near a Petco. Especially if you find that it’s marking, not a UTI.

    One of my mother’s cats developed a marking problem when he was about 8… they had a neighbor cat that would hang around the outside windows, so he would mark right underneath the windowsill. It never really stopped, they just put stuff down to make sure that it didn’t end up soaking into their carpet. Much like you (and me), they weren’t ready to get rid of a family member over a little pee ;)

    The outdoor cat leaving presents on your doorstep is WEIRD!

  11. John on November 17th, 2006 3:21 pm

    Lots of animals (bears, wolves, domestic dogs, cats, etc) use a nice, fresh, steaming pile to mark territory and/or leave a message (like “go away” or “this is mine”).

    From you cats’ perspective, the poo pile on the door mat is the equivelent to a hypothetical butt-head neighbor coming over and slashing your tires.

    At our old house, we had neighborhood tom-cat that would come over every evening and sit about two feet away from our sliding glass door; our cats would go nuts. They’d howl, hiss, and try to attack the tom through the door. The tom would just look at them like they were stupid, and sometimes he’d leave them a present too. Fortunately, ours didn’t start marking in turn.

    Anyhow, I’m not sure if that helps, but good luck.

  12. Kristin on November 17th, 2006 4:15 pm

    John, at our previous house we had the same problem. A neighborhood cat would come and stare at Alistair through the porch window. Alistair, in turn, would freak out on his brother.

  13. Emily on December 14th, 2006 1:31 pm

    I just saw this… My cat Zedd does this from time to time. It seems to correspond to stressful (well – to cats anyway) events in the house. So far the only thing we have done is try to keep his environment as consistant as possible.

    Also, I hate to say it, try adding ANOTHER cat box (yeah, I know). For our 3 cats we have 4 boxes in various locations around the basement (the only place the dogs can’t get to). That seems to have helped a little too.

Leave a Reply