My Cat Won’t Stop Peeing On My Stuff…Advice Desperately Needed

I am posting this thread with a very heavy heart as if we can’t find a solution we may be forced to give away a beloved family pet.

Max, my one and a half year old cat, found his way into our home and our hearts in the summer of last year. He was a stray that chose us to be his lucky family. Soon after we found Max we also took in another stray, Pumpkin, a beautiful orange tabby. The two became the best of friends and the best pets a family could possibly ask for. They both never bit or scratched, and loved to cuddle.

Max’s peeing troubles started in early November of this year. He was peeing everywhere – our bed, piles of laundry, etc. We took him to the vet who diagnosed him with a bladder infection. He was treated with antibiotics which quickly fixed him right up.

Fast forward to mid-December. We had just moved into a new house. Max started peeing again outside his littler box. Another trip to the vet revealed another bladder infection. He has gone through two different antibiotics to no avail. The vet is convinced that something else is now causing him to continue spraying. After the first round of meds didn’t work, we tried anti-anxiety meds – kitty Prozac, if you will. He’s been on these for about 3 weeks or so to see if anxiety over the move is causing it. They haven’t worked either. Thinking it may be a behavioral thing, we also got a pheromone diffuser. Nothing.

My husband and I are at our wits end with the whole thing. Few smells are worse than cat urine and it’s really hard to get out of the bedding, mattresses, clothing, and furniture he’s peed on. We’re trying to deal with it as best we can but he’s going after our three-year-old daughter’s stuff as well. He’s peed on her brand new bed numerous times and just sprayed her winter coat about an hour ago. It kills me to think she is now sleeping on a mattress that probably has a lingering odor of cat urine. I will probably just throw her coat out tomorrow and buy her a new one. It’s in the wash now with detergent and a half cup of apple-cider vinegar but I doubt that will be enough.

I have been in near-constant contact with our amazing vet to try to figure out what’s going on. If it’s a medical problem I want to do everything possible to get him cured. If it’s a behavioral problem I don’t know how much we can do. The vet thinks it’s one of four possible scenarios:

  1. Feline urinary tract disease (or something of the sort) – basically, he would be very prone to getting recurrent, nearly constant urinary tract infections. I just don’t know if we can handle this if it means he will be constantly peeing everywhere.

  2. An anxiety over the move – should be at least curbed by the anxiety meds by now, so not really likely.

  3. A behavior problem – again, could be related to the move. Should also be curbed by the anxiety meds and/or the pheromone diffuser.

  4. Kidney stones – we would have to have x-rays done to find them. Then medication and/or surgery to break them up and/or remove them. The x-rays run around $200 but I didn’t even ask about the surgery cost yet. I doubt it’s something we could afford right now.
    We’re at our absolute wits end right now. I’m up at 1:30 in the morning posting here only because my husband just found Max peeing on our daughter’s winter coat. It brought me to tears thinking of what we may have to do. I really desperately don’t want to give him away but unless we can fix this problem we may not have any other choice.

So now I turn to you, fellow dopers. Partly in an attempt to just vent and get this all off my chest but mostly to get possible solutions. The vet really thinks it’s behavioral in nature so I’m looking for some tips on how to curb this smelly behavior.

When I lived with my sister we had a tortoise-shell cat who insisted on peeing on beds when she was upset - sometimes with my sister in it.

I have no ideas except keeping things away from the cat. Hang up clothes and close the closet. Don’t leave things on the floor. Either close bedroom doors or cover the bed with some sort of plastic (I used a cheap plastic table cloth - it was easy to wipe off and I could throw it away).

It’s possible to get the smell out of the mattress - at least to your nose - but you have to be persistent.

Unfortunately, it seems like once a cat starts to piss around it doesn’t stop. Hopefully someone more knowledge than me has more encouraging advice.

We had a cat that did this, although on carpets, not beds. We too thought it was behavioral. Then the cat died very suddenly one afternoon around 5 years old of acute kidney failure. The vet performed an autopsy and it turned out that he had a congenital renal insufficiency and was basically a walking time bomb.

Does your cat like to drink a lot? Ours did, and in hindsight that was probably the #1 indicator that something was wrong, which we missed. He was crazy about getting into bathrooms so he could drink from dripping taps. I am not sure how the vet would have diagnosed the issue before it became catastrophic, but by the time we figured it out it was way too late. He just started acting incredibly sick one afternoon and that was it. They figured out that it was kidney failure and were going to try emergency dialysis but he died before they could get it started. It was horrible.

This is not to say that your cat might not well have a behavioral problem. I would just encourage you to investigate the kidney angle a little further, because I don’t think we’ve ever fully forgiven ourselves for our cat’s sudden death. We should have been more thorough.

The only advice I have is to get rid of Max. To me, this isn’t a tough choice - I like animals and all, and I could forgive an occasional “accident,” but my daughter’s bed? And her winter coat? Oh HELL naw!

You’re not a bad person if you get rid of him. You’ve definitely tried harder than most people to fix the situation. Vet bills add up fast and it’d be easy to break the bank trying to get a diagnosis, and if it’s behavioral I daresay you’re screwed - cats are gonna do what they wanna do.

hug I hope this doesn’t come across as cold, I promise I don’t mean to sound that way. I’m jealous of people that can have pets - I really want a puppy but we need to wait until we get a house and a little more disposable income first.

Good luck, whatever you decide :slight_smile:

Before you get rid of him, consider changing his cat food to one of the vet prescribed foods, like Science Diet or something similar. I’m surprised the vet hasn’t already recommended that. That should cut out the UTI’s, which in turn may cut down on the errant pissing.

As mentioned upthread, cats like to pee where they’ve peed before, so once that smell is there, it’s hard to get them to stop.

For the smell, try an enzyme cleaner like Nature’s Miracle which you can get from a pet store. I’ve used it on rugs, bedding, etc. without a problem, it gets rid of the smell, and does so at a level that cats can’t smell the residue either (which should help with repeat behavior if it’s a behavior issue).

Another thought is that perhaps you can/should ask your vet about an ultrasound – it will cost a little more, but it’s a clearer image than an X-ray, and if money is an issue you don’t really want to pay for an X-ray that doesn’t tell you anything. You could also ask if it would be safe/reasonable to treat as if he had kidney stones (with medication) and see if he passes anything, without doing the radiology.

These things can be difficult to chase down. My cat’s kidney had already failed from kidney stone blockage by the time he started peeing outside the box. He also had a host of other medical problems which I thought were behavior issues, stemming in part from a misdiagnosis four years ago. No one knew how sick he was. So I guess try not to write it off as behavioral until you’ve thoroughly searched for a physical cause.

Cat peeing on your rug? This sounds like unchecked aggression, dude.

Having dealt with persistent peeing I know how heartbreaking and frustrating it is. My husband went through the same process with his adorable, sweet cat Baylee. He went through all the steps you described, and additionally got an automatic litter box so the litter would absolutely always be clean. Nothing changed the behavior and she became confined to smaller and smaller portions of the apartment until it was basically an untenable life for a cat.

Ultimately, she was not suited for indoor life. When I went to live on a horse farm, I took her with me and she became a barn cat. She can pee anywhere she wants now and is much beloved. (ironically, I caught her using a horse stall as a giant litter box!). Since I moved away, we still see her several times a year when we visit.

Can you give him to someone who can keep him as an outdoor cat?

I once a a rash of peeing incidents with my cat smokey. He would continually pee on my kitchen counter (gross!!). The only thing that broke the cycle was when the cats were temporarily moved to a friend’s house when my place was repainted. For some reason, after being gone a few weeks, the behavior abruptly ceased and never re-occured when they returned to the house. My theory there is that the marking was triggered by a previous cat occupant, who I know was fed on the counter. The repainting covered up the “old cat smell” or at least enough that it didn’t bother him anymore. Perhaps that is a possibility here.

BTW, to get the smell out, you need an enzyme based cleaner, such as “Nature’s Miracle.” Treat the stains directly and put a half-cup in the wash water. This works a charm on cottons and helps prevent re-peeing. However, you can never, ever get the smell out of nylon. Also, on hard surfaces, do not sanitize with bleach, for some reason people say it encourages remarking. Use ammonia (or ammonia-based cleaner, like Windex).

And keep your daughter’s bedroom door closed!

You might try a bit of remedial litter box training. Do you have a small room with a door and no carpet, or can you borrow a large dog crate? Basically enclose him in a small area with his box, and make sure the litter is as plain as possible. No scented stuff. If he comes out of there, it’s under eagle eye supervision and for short stints only.

If you can’t do that, have you tried many multiple of boxes, and tried a variety of litters? You might even line a box with those puppy pee pads, see if you can get him thinking about boxes again.

I’d also get away from dry food if you can, upping moisture in his diet via canned food may help the bladder issues.

For the already peed on places I’ve had great luck with stuff called Anti-Icky-Poo. Stupid name, great product!

I think this sounds physical more than behavioral, or it was physical, and now it’s become a habit. It hurts to pee sometimes, and he’s begun to associate the box with pain. Make 100% sure you’ve eliminated the pain, then try all the bhavior stuff agin.

Good luck, I know how much this sucks.

Oh, I have to put a plug in one more time for the Ssscat product: http://www.petsmart.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2751025 Basically it’s motion sensor spray that scares them off whatever they shouldn’t be on or near. Doesn’t really fix the problem, but it might at least keep the bed and couch safe :confused:

http://www.youtube.com/user/MultivetInter#p/u/0/wlCzIr-_0GI

One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is “has your cat been fixed?” My ex and I bought a cat from the humane society when he was about 2 years old. After having him for about a year he became peeing in a corner. Then it was two. Then it was in beds, all over the house, whereever he pleased. The smell was…ugh. Nature’s Miracle did help and so does washing clothes with apple vinegar. We took him in to get checked out and they gave him stuff for a bladder infection (medicine and prescription kitty food). He did better for a bit then started peeing again. One time on me while I was in the middle of sleeping. And he liked me.

So back to a different vet who immediately noticed his niblets, turns out that he was late to drop, very late as it turns out, and the humane society must have just assumed he was fixed.

He was thusly fixed against his kitty will but the peeing did abate.

Before parting ways with the little pisser, do go online and look for cat forums. There are a lot of them and they’ll be of varying quality, but when you find one that seems to be of good quality, repost this there and enlist aid of the experts. Worth a shot.

We have an occasional stealth urinator ourselves. He was semi-feral when we brought him indoors, he was pretty angry at us at first, and he’s had three bouts of feline lower urinary tract disease (blocked urination, requiring catheterization and whopping vet bills)…we think all three factors probably play a role in his habit. We hardly ever see him doing it, but occasionally our noses or our blacklight find a spot. It’s infrequent nowadays, so we’re keeping a sharp eye/nose out and hoping he’s getting over it.

One more piece of advice. Did you possibly change cat litter brands recently, or has the manufacturer changed formulations on your regular one?

Cats dislike change. Changing food, changing litter, changing anything will put them in distress, and a cat in distress is going to act out.

We have seven cats, 6 of them feral cats we took in. All have adapted well to litter training, with only the occasional misstep. But the 7th is 16 years old, and when something changes, he gets cranky, and that’s when you’re going to start to climb into bed only to discover he’s peed right in the middle of your comforter.

That sucks - however, my best friend had the same issue with her cat when they moved.

Short version: Two cats, they moved, Pee got stressed, Mellow was hunky dory.

They tried everything with Pee, vets, new food, moved the boxes, changed the litter, changed the layout of the house, Natures Miracle to keep the carpet somewhat bearable, rigid behavior for the humans re: leaving doors to bedrooms closed and always hanging up clothes and putting things away - nothing worked. (Small note to feel sorry for poor Mellow.)

Finally, at their wits end, they went around with Pee in a carrier to all their neighbors and let everyone know they were going to be letting him outside every day and to please watch out for him. (I know this isn’t really the most desirable answer, or even possible in all areas or for all people, but it was this or Pee goes to the KillKitty Shelter.)

Now that he’s indoor-outdoor, he goes mostly outside, or runs frantically inside and heads directly for the box to reinforce his smell there. Despite that, he’s still having occasional “accidents” (about once every couple of months), and they have been in that house for 2 years now.

Based on all that, I wouldn’t entirely rule out stress causing the initial problem and now he’s just stuck - cats are really habit-based, and once they start something, it’s hard to break them out of it.

The cat-brain reason I’ve heard that make sense is that it’s a process like this:
Move/UTI/pain/new cat/whatever = stressed kitty.
Stressed kitty = need to consolidate and reinforce territory.
Territory = your house.
Reinforcing territory = pee everywhere!
(Big profit!)

Really frustrating for us, basic nationbuilding for cats.

Concrete suggestions:
Fix/spay kitty (makes ‘territory’ less of a vital concern)
Use Cider Vinegar and Nature’s Miracle on all peed spots - toss what you can’t clean. (undermines smell of previously marked territory to maintain with more pee.)
Move furniture to new places to cover peed on carpet spots if possible with furniture kitty can’t get underneath (same as above)
Keep stuff off floors, keep beds covered. Consider incontinence pads for the beds/soft furniture - much better to buy and toss (or wash) than to forever have peed-mattress smell. (ditto)
Consider letting kitty outside or giving to somewhere that will be a new environment/larger area. (new areas in territory to focus on, or new territory entirely)

Sorry you’re dealing with this - it sucks.

  1. More litter boxes.

or
2) Get rid of the cat.

Ask people you know if they are or know someone who is very good with cats. Some people have amazing gifts working with animals as you can see on the show the Dog Whisperer. Some of them may sound ‘New Age-y’ and use terms like ‘animal communicator’ and may sound a bit ‘nutty’, but if there is genuine Love in their hearts for cats they could do amazing things.

Thank you all for the kind words and multitude of suggestions. To answer several posters’ question both kitties are fixed. The very first time Max started peeing was when he matured so he was neutered within a week.

We have been really vigilant, but apparently not enough if my daughter’s coat went unnoticed. She took it off, left it on the couch, and I didn’t even realize it was there. When the cats are allowed upstairs the doors are always shut but on the rare occasion we forget to close them he gets in and pees. We live in a rancher so my three-year-old daughter has easy access to her bedroom and sometimes she isn’t the best as closing her door all the way.

This is my biggest fear. I just can’t handle having a cat that pees on my stuff at least once every two days or so. And it’s not fair to expect him to live the rest of his life in my unfinished basement.

I will be calling the vet later on today to schedule some sort of radiology - either an x-ray or ultrasound it it’s not too much more expensive. My cats are really good, calm, well-behaved cats. This is totally out of his nature to act like this. Having had two UTI’s in only a month or so means he probably has some underlying physiological cause of either FLUTD or kidney stones.

PandaBear77, we are definitely considering giving Max away. But if there is a medical cause I want to do my best to figure it out before going that route. I can handle giving him away. It’s my young daughter and our other cat that I really worry about. And if he winds up with another family and starts this back up again who know how it would be handled and how he would be treated. I can’t bear that thought.

Great idea! I will get some new food asap.
For everyone who suggested Nature’s Miracle… I will also be getting some of that as well. I have something similar at home but I’m not sure how good it is. I’ll give this stuff a shot.

Hello Again, we have strongly considered allowing Max to be an outdoor cat. He lived outside for some time before finding us. But it’s winter here now and we just had a big snowstorm. I worry about him getting out there and not knowing how to survive especially considering the weather.

When we bought our new house we got all new rugs and are slowly working on painting every room. He only pees on our brand new stuff - brand new comforters, brand new couch, etc. So I don’t think he’s trying to cover up an old cat’s scent. I could certainly be wrong though…

saje, he consistently goes in the litter box when confined to the basement. He only pees on stuff when he’s upstairs. He seems to only go on soft stuff. Since there’s only hard surfaces in the basement he isn’t going elsewhere down there (at least that I have found).

I will be getting a few more litter boxes and will even try some new softer litter. Their box in the basement gets filled quickly even when cleaned every other day.

I don’t think we’ll be able to try the motion sensor as we have nowhere stable to put it that wouldn’t also be triggered by my daughter. But thanks for the suggestion.

It just sounds behavioral. We have gone through this with indoor-outdoor cats and just toughed it out (they only went on loose soft things–laundry, jacket tossed on a chair, Christmas tree skirt, easy to eliminate the triggers). I feel terrible for you in this situation. Sounds like you are very close to that line between being responsible for the well-being of this cat you brought into your family and not compromising your life to an unacceptable degree. Definitely try to get feedback on this from as many sources as possible–there might be some totally radical solution that you would never think of on your own. Good luck.

my winken the wonderful had very bad bladder infections. as she was a very good girl at the vets i had an ultrasound done. turned out that she had kidney stones and only one kidney as well as the bladder infections.

for a while we did extra fluids (she only tolerated these at the vets) and antibiotics. kept all bedroom doors closed and her in one room until she finished the antibiotics. things cleared up rather well and she was back to her usual wonderful ways. no outside the box again.

i kept her on special food until her passing 3 years later (heart troubles).

i would go for an ultrasound if you can. it will give you a better idea of what is going on with his bladder and kidneys. it seems to me from what you wrote that something is going on with him physically.