The Cat Whisperer? I don’t think so

I took 8-Ball, my senior cat, to the vet this week for her twice-yearly haircut and to let the doctor run some tests. For the past few weeks, she has been embracing the concept of bizarro litter box, meaning that she has been going to the bathroom everywhere BUT the litter box.

8-Ball, post-haircut

She knows it’s wrong, because if I catch her, she runs like the grim reaper is after her. If you can’t tell by the picture of her, 8-Ball does NOT run. And when I’ve picked her up and brought her near the litter box, she screams like I’m about to drop her into a pot of boiling oil. So I wanted to make sure it wasn’t a medical issue.

At times like this, I really wish it was easier for animals and humans to communicate with each other, because I basically spent $400 to find out that 8-Ball hates Skittles. Well, duh. 8-Ball has hated Skittles from the second he entered this apartment.

The vet recommended a behavioral specialist, but the idea of throwing away money in the hopes that The Cat Whisperer will work his or her magic just doesn’t appeal to me. I just don’t see it helping. Still, I was ecstatic to find out that 8-Ball passed every medical test with flying colors and was declared to be a perfectly healthy cat, albeit a bit on the chubby side.

8-Ball went through something like this a few years ago, when she had picked three different spots in the house to urinate, none of which contained cat litter. I almost hesitate to ask for advice again, because it didn’t work out so well the first time, and the problem dissipated on its own.

Someone suggested sprinkling pepper in the areas where she was urinating. Cleaning up cat urine is a disgusting enough task, which was made far worse by having to clean up wet pepper.

Someone else suggested putting aluminum foil down, saying that cats are afraid of the crinkling sound it makes, and they won’t walk on it. 8-Ball walked right onto it, stared me dead in the eye and urinated right on it with a smirk on her face.

But, screw it: I’ll ask for advice, anyway. Note: This request is solely targeted toward cat people. Those of you who hate cats (you know who you are) have already made your ill-informed opinions quite widely known, so keep them to yourselves.

For the cat people: Has anyone had to deal with a cat who would NOT use the litter box, and what did you do about it? What worked, and what didn’t work?

My senior cat and I thank you in advance.

5 comments on “The Cat Whisperer? I don’t think so

  1. yelbakk says:

    Ooh… I think the advice you got so far starts at the wrong end of things. They try to *punish* bad behavior – or they attempt to punish bad behavior. But that is the wrong approach. 8-Ball *knows* it’s bad behavior. *You* know he knows. Plus… when he looks at you while lifting his proverbial leg (sorry for the dog metaphor), he wants you to know he’s doing it. Urinating is his way of communicating his opinion on Skittles… or on something else?

    Something very similar is happening at our place right now. Chap, the Mongolian Hunter Cat and Son of the Gobi Desert, dislikes Amenu, a former stray cat who kindly adopted us. What is strange is the fact that Amenu has been with us for a while now and Chap started his opinion-giving only very recently. Maybe it’s something hormonal that makes him kinda urinatey? Something about the season that makes 8-Balls and Chap “voice” their opinion on others?

    Anyway… Such things have happened in the past, and as you say, they mostly stopped on their own eventually. What seemed to help was to let the urinator know that you love him more than any other cat in the whole universe (just like you love the *other* cat more than any other cat in the universe). This way, the jealousy factor can be reduced. But in more practical terms, what seemed to work was 1) caressing one cat excessively and immediately after caressing the other one excessively. Take care to stroke the chin area of both cats. This way, they can get used to their respective scents. Plus, they learn to associate it with the nice stroking and petting. 2) Give them both some extras. Are they allowed to go outside? If so, giving them some extra time outdoors might help to use up some of the extra adrenaline… (such a male thing 😉 )

    My wife actually once got yet another cat to serve as a “buffer” between two hostiles. And it worked. As a threesome, they got rather calm.

    Anyway, good luck.

  2. Deb says:

    I sympathize.

    While caring for our friend’s cat, Milo the Great, we endured a very similar problem. And I think a lot of it had to do with the dramatic stress of his owner returning, leaving, returning, leaving… and her inability to make up her damn mind about what she was gonna do with herself. Cats, dogs, any animal picks up on the stresses of their owners.

    Believe me, we would have kept Milo if it came down to that. But that’s not what happened, and the cat pissed everywhere. We went through two new litter boxes in hopes that maybe the transition would help. For us, the Clevercat (Google it) did the trick– eventually, Milo’s piss parade marched away.

    Maybe a new, extra litter box in addition to affections and maybe little treats for 8-Ball? Does that sound stupid?

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