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Eclipse - Weeing outside the litter tray :(

Discussion in 'Cat Training and Behaviour' started by alixtaylor, Aug 30, 2019.

  1. alixtaylor

    alixtaylor PetForums VIP

    Jan 24, 2013
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    Hi all,

    We could do with some advice as we're struggling with Eclipse weeing outside of the tray at the moment. :(

    Eclipse is 18 months old (approx), we rescued her from Cats Protection in mid June (around 2-3 months ago). There was very little info about her history, just that she was from an indoor, multi-cat household. They didn't know the reason she was given up. She was spayed on arrival at Cats Protection.

    Eclipse is a very confident cat most of the time, she walked straight out of her carrier when we bought her home like she owned the place! She's not scared at the vets and will often be trying to explore while they examine her! She doesn't usually hide at home, she very vocal and loves to be around us.

    She used the litter tray no problem as soon as we brought her home. We have 2x open top large litter trays (in different rooms) with Greenwood clumping litter, very similar to what she had in the rescue.

    She was happily using the tray up until we went away for 2x nights around 1 month after we brought her home. Our regular cat sitter dropped in to feed both cats while we were away, he visited beforehand to meet Eclipse and she was happy to be stroked and generally seemed fine. However Eclipse hide every time he visited while we were away, when we came back we noticed a wet patch on the rug, it didn't seem to smell so we cleaned it anyway and thought little of it. A few days later Eclipse pee'd on the rug again right in front of us. We immediately got rid of the rug and she started weeing in the tray as normal.

    We had the mother-in-law stay for 5x nights over the weekend (she went home on Wednesday this week). We stuck to regular feeding schedule and routine and we were still at home. Eclipse was a bit more nervous than usual, for example when we all came home together after having popped out or if we were moving around a lot while getting ready, she would hide behind the sofa. Normally she not scared of any noises, I can hoover right next to her and she won't flinch! She's pretty bombproof, until there are strangers in her home. Most of the time when it was quiet and settled then she would go about as normal and be happy to take treats and play with the wand toy with the mother-in-law. Who is a big cat lover!

    We have 2x sofas in the lounge, 1x of these Eclipse often sleeps on and is where the mother-in-law would sit so she had to use other sleeping spots for those days. She doesn't like using the cat trees or beds, she much prefers the floor, sofa or human beds.

    We had no pee issues while the mother-in-law was staying. However last night when we came home from work (the day after the mother-in-law left) Eclipse was asleep on her usual sofa (where the mother-in-law sat) and immediately got up and pee'd on the sofa when she saw us. She didn't look scared or like she was straining, just normal as she would look in her littler tray.

    Luckily we had a throw on the sofa, which soaked up most of it, but some went through to the cushions underneath. We washed the throw and cushion covers and used simple solution on the cushions themselves. We haven't put them back on the sofa yet as they're still drying.

    The rest of the evening she was perfectly fine and wee'd in her tray as usual.

    We're really struggling to put our finger on what the issue is and why she's so nervous about strangers one sec and then fine a sec later. Any advice on getting her used to strangers apart from making it a positive experience for her with treats, play etc?

    We do have another cat, but they are great friends, they'll headbutt and lick each other and are always hanging out together. They sleep in different spots as our other cat likes to be high up in the cat trees. Our other cat doesn't resource guard the litter trays and they seem to happily share both trays. I don't think it's anything to do with their relationship, having always had 2x cats I'm usually ok at spotting any issues between them.

    I'm surprised she wee'd after the mother-in-law left and not while she was here. We often have people to stay as we live quite far away from our families and want to make sure Eclipse doesn't feel too stressed when they do.

    Our plan for now with the sofa is to cover it in foil to hopefully put her off using it and break any habit before it starts, but feel bad for taking away her sleeping spot!

    Apart from adding another tray I can't think of much, also she doesn't seem to have a problem with the tray outside of these more stressful times.

    Any advice would be much appreciated! :Cat

    We are considering taking her to vets and seeing if we can get a behaviourist referral.

    Alix xx
    #1 alixtaylor, Aug 30, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2019
  2. alixtaylor

    alixtaylor PetForums VIP

    Jan 24, 2013
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    For good measure a photo of the monster in question in her spot on the sofa! :D

  3. carly87

    carly87 PetForums VIP

    Feb 11, 2011
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    Reading between the lines, it sounds like your lovely girl may be super under confident. I say this because of the manner of what she's doing, and where she is doing it.

    The peeing sounds like she is scent marking, which cats often do to stake, claim or reclaim territory. However, cats can also do this to reassure themselves that they belong, by putting their scent back on the things that were possessed by someone else. Were she a confident cat, she would territory mark regardless of whether a stranger was still present or not, but this waiting until the territory usurper (in her eyes the bigger, more dominant animal) is gone, suggests she doesn't want confrontation. I think she has pee-ed on the sofa to re-establish her scent in her favourite sleeping place, and over-ride the MIL's input, in the process, reassuring herself that she still belongs there. It's the equivalent to a scared cat hiding in their litter tray, because their smell tells them it's theirs. The rug would have been a focal point in the living room, that perhaps your cat sitter walked over in the course of their caring for the cats, or was a central point where her scent could permeate the rest of the room, thus helping make her feel more secure.

    With a cat like this, my first line of defence would be Zylkene. It doesn't hurt to give it all the time with an underconfident cat, but failing that, start it a few weeks before any changes are expected, and see how things go.

    The other thing I'd do is perhaps sit on that sofa yourself, rather than letting the strange smelling people claim it. Eclipse is more likely to come and cohabit with you if you're up there, or one of you could sit there, leaving room for her in her favourite place.

    I would also add a blanket to this sofa which is exclusively hers. I'd have a few in rotation, so that, when strangers have been, you can bring out these blankets full of her scent, and leave them where they have spent most time, thus depositin more of their smell. This way, her own scent can waft around and mingle to reassure her. when I've had a cat in need of confidence boosting, I have allowed them to use the blanket for a few weeks, then popped it in an airtight bag until they've used the others, and the first in the rotation is ready for a wash. That way, I've always had spares that have been used as and when I need them.

    Sorry for the lenth, but hope this helps a little.
    alixtaylor and lorilu like this.
  4. Ottery

    Ottery Cat Lady

    Jun 14, 2019
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    She's lovely :)

    I have a female cat who exhibits similar behaviour. She is very confident with us, but she's very timid with strangers in the house. It's fine if people come over for a couple for hours, but if they are here a long while and sit on her sofa or sleep here over night, she starts 'inappropriate weeing' (in her case usually a pillow/the floor). She is perfectly capable of using the tray, and often does - just not always. As Carly says, she's scent marking. My cat has an additional issue, two new kittens - who she loves and interacts with completely positively, but I think she also feels threatened.

    She's now been on Zylkene for about 6 weeks. I thought it was helping, but it isn't. Worth trying though and hopefully your issue will be easier to resolve.
    alixtaylor likes this.
  5. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

    Nov 22, 2010
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    @alixtaylor -

    Hi Alix, Eclipse is stunning! I love her beautiful big ears! :)

    I think it might be worth the vet checking that she doesn't have a UTI or feline cystitis causing her to choose soft surfaces to pee on instead of the trays. It doesn't sound like that is the cause but it is worth ruling out.

    If the vet finds nothing wrong physically then I'd be inclined to suspect Eclipse's soiling is not a new thing but something she has been doing for a while (in her previous home) for scent-marking purposes, probably as a means of reassuring herself when she is stressed or anxious, wanting to protect her territory..

    One of my male cats does the same thing. Like Eclipse, my cat was neutered late (approx age of 18 months) at the point I adopted him as a rescued stray. He can be fine for months and then something upsets him and he sprays indoors. He is a feisty, confident cat but he has a low tolerance of frustration e.g. if kept waiting for his food or kept waiting to be let out. (has access to clean litter trays but mostly won't use them) . He sprays or soils to express his frustration and because he has learnt it is comforting for him.

    He dislikes visitors being in the home, not because he's scared of them, but because their presence disrupts the smooth running of the household routine that he likes. Probably he dislikes them bringing in their scent to the home too. ;)

    I tried various things to manage the problem, but these are what have worked over the years:

    1/ a month's course of Zylkene supplement added to his food. The effect is gentle and gradual, but by the end of the course the spraying/soiling has stopped and he is fine for several months. I repeat the course when necessary. (usually this is about 3 times a year on average. Zylkene is safe to give quite often)

    2/ I don't allow him access to my sitting room, because I can't trust him there. He has not always sprayed in there, but more than once is once too often! He finds the sofa and chairs very tempting for "anointing"! He has access to the kitchen and the upstairs, and he is OK with this. Either my OH or I spend a lot of time upstairs with him when we are at home.

    3/ unlike my other cats he is allowed free access to outdoors at night through the microchipped cat flap. This made a big difference to him, but I appreciate it is not always practical for all cats' circumstances. Sometimes he sprays the cat flap on his way out, and I clean it every morning anyway.

    I stopped having having any guests actually staying in the house as my 2 female cats (rescues) would hide the entire time the guests were in the house. My scent marking male cat is happier too now there are no more live-in guests. :)

    I suspect Eclipse would adapt to a long stay guest, it is more the coming and going of guests or visitors that possibly upsets her, as it is a change to her routine. And they all bring in their scent with them and leave it around your home, so she may feel she needs to compensate for that.
  6. alixtaylor

    alixtaylor PetForums VIP

    Jan 24, 2013
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    Thank you everyone for all your insight! @carly87 @chillminx @Ottery :)

    Since my last post she wee'd on the sofa again on Sunday, in the same spot. :( 2 days after this first wee on the sofa and on clean washed throws/blankets. Luckily not much went through to the cushions themselves, which we've cleaned with simple solution. We've remade the sofa, but put tarpaulin over it this time and then put a blanket on top in case she still wants to sit on it, but in the hope we might break the cycle or at least stop the cushions from getting wee'd on!

    So far we've had no more wee for 2 days, all in the litter trays, fingers crossed...

    She has now taken to sitting on the dinning chairs (also in the lounge), which is fine as they barely get used (only my us) so hopefully can just be for her.

    We have 2x spare blankets that I'm using as her blankets to hopefully get covered in her scent to put back in her spots after people leave.

    We don't have anyone else staying the rest of this year atm, but do have a 5x night holiday booking in early October, which is our main concern. Our regular cat sitter is a friend who pops by a lot so we're hoping a few more short visits from her before we go away might help.

    I've ordered a few packs of Zyklene and will start her on that now and continue while we're away.

    I'll update as we go, thanks all for your help so far :) xx
    chillminx likes this.
  7. alixtaylor

    alixtaylor PetForums VIP

    Jan 24, 2013
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    Good news update that we're now 4x days wee free on the sofa! :D

    This is what our sofa looks like right now...

    She still sleep on her blanket in the same spot she used to before, which I was worried she might not with the plastic, but she doesn't seem to mind the rustling!

    In action... :) 20190904_085900.jpg

    Soozi, SbanR and chillminx like this.
  8. Mericatt

    Mericatt PetForums Newbie

    Sep 28, 2019
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    Definitely take her to the vet. My black cat, Darcy, used to do this and I too thought it was an emotional response. It wasn't and she was actually sick.
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