Hit-or-miss bathroom behavior is the top cat complaint that I hear in my consults. When your cat starts leaving solid "gifts" far from the toilet facilities, or begins baptizing the wall and furniture with pungent liquid, the bond you share can quickly become strained. There is no magic wand to wave and make this go away. You must first figure out the WHY of the equation before you can address a solution. Of course, some cats like this clueless kitten think the box should be used for a bed! I've often recommended using the P.E.T. acronym to help people with this situation. Missing the litter box could be due to a "P" problem...(pun intended) when the "P" stands for physical health issues. Cats that suffer from urinary tract problems may need to go more often, or feel pain in the box and blame the facilities for the discomfort. Similarly, a constipated cat that suffers from painful bowel movement might blame the box and look for a different location. Cats with diabetes or kidney failure need to "go" more often and sometimes can reach the box in time. So have the cat's physical health checked should ALWAYS be your first step. Emotional health (that's the "E") also can impact litter box allegiance. Cats feeling stressed may use bodily functions to make their surroundings smell more like themselves--and be comforted by that aroma. So owners that go away on vacation, change working hour schedules, introduce a new pet--anything new--could prompt emotional problems that literally "come out" in bad potty manners. Traits of instinct (the "T" of the PET Test) are behaviors that cats are born with and can't change. Spraying urine is a normal territorial marking behavior of intact cats, both males and females, and some felines also use feces to mark territory. Even spayed and neutered cats may spray to make statements about their social standing. Cats also have incredibly sensitive noses and fastidious natures, and hate dirty toilets (wouldn't you?!). So a dirty litter box often encourages the cat to seek out a clean place to do his business, while a house with many cats increases the odds for territorial marking. Have your cats ever "missed the mark?" What do you think was the reason? And how did you solve the issue? In tomorrow's blog, I'll offer some tips for reestablishing litter box allegiance.
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