I have a five year-old orange tabby cat. She is a sweetheart but she has developed an annoying habit in the last month of doing ALL of her business in the middle of the night on my carpet, near the bathroom and my youngest son's door. Nothing worse than waking up to that! She is an indoor cat and has never done this before. We have a nine month old Sheltie whom she adores and plays with all of the time. I have always bought whatever cat litter was on sale - name brand only- so I have ruled out those two things as an issue. She is eating normally, her fur is shiny, eyes bright, etc. I just do not understand why she has developed this bad habit and how do I stop it?
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First, use a heavy-duty cleaner to remove any and all trace of her scent from that area of the carpet. She needs to get it out of her head that that place is a toilet. If you can, use something with a citrus scent. Cats hate orange-scented anything.
Second, get her checked by the vet. It may be that she has to go urgently and can't make it to the box -- this could be a sign of a physical problem.
Third, find a brand of cat litter she likes and stick to it. Sounds like she's developed a fondness for one particular type, and what you're currently using isn't it. Also, have you moved her box recently? Even a little? If so, move it back. Cats don't like any sort of change.
Finally, she may need to be re-trained. This could mean locking her up in a small room for a couple of days with food, water, and her litter box. It should be a small enough room (like a bathroom) so that she only wants to go in the box. You can go in to visit with her, but don't take her out.
Good luck! This can be a hard habit to break.
Cats are creatures of Habit. Like Anniecski said, they don't like any sort of change, so if you moved the litter box, or changed the type of litter, she could be "rebelling" against you. Even a change in the Environment could cause this behavior. Also, how often you clean the box can be a factor, but that would depend on the cat. Cats like to be clean and in clean areas.If their litter box gets to dirty (in their opinion, not yours). Some cats like to have it cleaned daily, while other can go a 2 or 3 days between cleanings. If they don't feel it's clean they will find some other place to go. As far as cleaning up, I recommend an Enzyme based cleaner..Something you should be able to get at the pet store (I'm currently using something called "Nature's Miracle, which seems to be working good). Retraining is something you might have to do also. I had 2 cats, that no matter what we did, went everywhere except the litter box. What I ended up doing was putting them in room with the box for 2 weeks (with food and water) and that seemed to have worked. After that we really didn't have any problems. As of course as with all pets, if you see a major change in daily habits with them, have them checked by your vet, as it could be a medical issue.
I am not a "cat expert," but I agree with both DWI and Annie that getting a vet check-up should be on your to-do list. Sudden changes in behavior are often rooted in medical problems. I recall reading that cats are pretty susceptible to urinary tract problems, which can be really painful although the cat will not show pain. Often these problems present as accidents outside of the litter box.
Agreed that a UTI could very well be the source of the problem - take her in to see the vet.
You can also try a product called "litter attract" or something like that. It attracts cats to the litter box. We tried it and it worked. Amazingly.
The other advice on here seems correct except for the smart-a$$ comment. Behavior changes in a cat could mean health or something has upset the cat. Also, he/she may just find it more convenient to use the carpet.
Try a bag of the attract litter and see if it helps.
Having two cats doesn't make me an expert, but in my experience, all of the advice you've been given before is excellent advice. I'd add one thing. Alway have one more litter box than you have cats. One cat = two litter boxes. Two cats = three boxes, etc. Put out another litter pan. Also is it possible in your current litter box location has she been accidentaly startled while using it? She might not feel safe there. I have one cat that could handle a dynamite explosion next to him but the other would be clinging to the ceiling if the door accidentally slammed shut. When you find a litter they use by all means stick with that brand.
If none of these things work, vet check, additional litter pan
and determining her favorite litter, then crate her at night.
No solid food after 9:00 and lock her up. She'll get used to it and you won't have a mess to clean up every morning.
Thanks for everyone's advice. She is pooing also, but only seems to happen at night. She has me stumped. I will get her vet checked though. She is a very social cat and I am not sure how she would react to being locked away.. I did not have to train her before. Just showed her where the box was and she did her thing so she has me stumped.
Sundance: If euthenasia was a good thing I woulda tried it on my boys- two teens ages 15 and 17....LOL.. they make more of a mess than the cat and puppy combined...LOL
Does she socialize at night while you're sleeping? This is only for the hours everybody's sleeping.
I don't suppose that another pet was brought into the house recently and temporarily, without your knowledge? Maybe one of the children brought in a stray and didn't tell you.
golddustwoman, as you can see from this link, urinary tract infections can cause a cat to go outside its litter box because it associates the pain of urinating with the litter box and tries to avoid it.