An opinionated feline in Edmonton, Canada who lived with a retired cat behaviourist, Greyce provided behavioral advice to cats in need until her death in July 2014. Because her entries are useful even today, the blog remains posted.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Molly's Update (from Oil & Water)

Dear Readers, You may remember Molly (the painfully shy and very sensitive feline) and her new, more resilient companion, Ivy, about whom I wrote in my entry Oil & Water (11/10/09).

Molly wrote to share her good news.

I've been in my sanctuary (my purrson's bedroom) for about a month now, surrounded by lovely music with the Feliway diffuser working its magic. Feliway is even helping Ivy settle down a little.

Ivy got into the room a few times when I was in bed with my purrson; she ate at my feeding area; and I didn't even react! When the door has been left ajar, I ventured into the sewing room across the hall a few times. My purrson takes me to the dining room where I sit on my favourite chair and she made me a partial tent to help me stay calm; and I stayed there for a few hours. I still gave a little hiss when Ivy went under the chair, even though I don't think Ivy even saw me.

My purrson put up a small tree that I used to sleep under last year. It has a garland right to the bottom and when I climbed under it, I am almost comletely hidden. At first I just never took my eyes off Ivy who was across the room sleeping. Now I can fall asleep under the tree - though when Ivy passes by I still hiss.

So I AM making progress. Thanks again for your help.

Dear Molly, You are doing such fine work. Just remember, slow and steady wins the race. And you ARE doing so very well. Congratulations and best wishes for the new year!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Cat's Use of Xmas Tree

Dear Readers,

My colleague, Mango, encourages all cats to participate in decorating their homes for the holiday season.
He provides inspiration to those of us who are hoping for a cat tree.

Until I can write more about cat trees and what you should look for in one that will grace your home, I thought you might enjoy what Mango has to offer. He can be a bit shy when he is in the spotlight, but he did want to indicate what prime viewing such a tree can offer. You can see how well you can use it for camouflage when engaged in ornithological activities!

With best wishes to you and yours throughout the holiday season and into the new year,
Precious Greyce

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

House of Poop! - Part 10 of Litterbox Blues

Dear Greyce, Our mom had five kittens. We were fostered for the local shelter until we were eight weeks old and then three of us were adopted into our current home. We are now six months old and live with three elder cats (ages 5, 7, and 10). The elders tend to ignore us.

We have three litterboxes: two in the basement and one upstairs. They all have unscented clay litter. One is deep and two are not. And they are cleaned every two days. We use all these boxes for peeing and especially favour the one by the furnace. As for pooping, sometimes we use them and sometimes we do not. Instead we go beside the furnace, behind the dryer or under the laundry shelf. And one of us (Pepper) likes to get into the bag in which the litter comes and poop there!

Our poop is pretty good most days (shaped like small cigars) but sometimes it is very runny.

We think all of this is quite fine. But our purrson is not amused. How can we get her to like having our poop all over the place?

Pepper, Bibs and Cali-who

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Pile of Poop - Part 9 of Litterbox Blues

Dear Greyce, I am an eight-year-old, very shy, longhair and for the last few months, I've had diarrhea. I poop just after I eat. My goldy-brown waste is liquid and very smelly - so smelly, in fact, that my purrson has put a room deodorizer in the room that houses my litterboxes. And sometimes I have gas when I poop.

I went to the vet (and I really don't like going there) who recommended I try some food for sensitive cats, sprinkled with Fortiflora. But that change in diet has made little difference.  

My male companion, Toby, and I share two big, open litterboxes located in the spare bedroom. While I poop in the litterboxes most of the time, every so often I also go outside the box - on the floor, the stairs, just elsewhere. To entice me back to using the box exclusively, my purrson has tried many different kinds of litter.

We don't know what to try next, Greyce. What do you suggest? Willow

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Only On My Terms - The Aloof Cat and The Cuddly Human

Dear Greyce, I am a four-year old, female tabby and have been adopted by a purrson about two months ago. My home is quite fine except for one thing: My purrson is a cuddler and I am not! My prefurrence is to keep to myself and seek attention on my own terms. My purrson, however, has always had cuddly pets and expects me to submit to all sorts of handling. Case in point: I will let her pet me but she overdoes it and I have to snap at her or run away. Even worse, she took me to the vet for nail clipping and the fur really flew! Greyce, I like my new home - even my new purrson, but her habits are getting me down. What do you advise? An Anonymous Tabby

Monday, December 14, 2009

Puzzled by Poop - Part 8 of Litterbox Blues

Dear Greyce, I am a 13-year-old cat with chronic renal failure. I lived with an older couple who were around all day and gave me lots of attention. But they went to live in a seniors home. Then I was taken to a new home (their daughter's) and since she works all day I have been quite lonely. When she returns from work, I talk to her a lot and she gives me attention. I no longer have the strength to jump on and off things, so she has placed stools to help me get to where I need to go.

I have two, deep litter boxes with unscented litter which is scooped several times a day. I use them for peeing but now prefurr to poop on the carpet rather than in the box. When she discovered my deposits on the carpet, my purrson used to be angry with me. Now she is just puzzled and I can't explain it to her. Can you help me? Kitty

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Putting One Paw Forward - Re-integrating the Pariah

Dear Greyce, You were so helpful to us (see Family Feuds, Thursday, Nov. 12/09), that we would like your advice on another problem. As you know, we are a rather large family gathered in one household: three, one-year-old youngsters plus both our parents; and then there is Grandma. Her name is Rosebud; she is five years old and what a purrson would call sweet and shy. For some time, we have been picking on her -- so much so that she moved outdoors. Of course, she asked for it because every time one of us came up to her, she would hiss and act scared. So brave cats that we are, we responded accordingly -- by attacking  her to put her in her place. Now she still hangs around in the yard -- which is over half an acre in size. (Sorry I don't know how many hectares that would be.) She just doesn't hang around with us. In fact, she is behaving just like our Grand Uncle (her brother) who, when faced with the arrival of a new cat, left the house except for occasional visits. 

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Stimulating Ideas

Well Minoose, I've finally had a chance to continue our discussion of toys, etc. for the active cat in a single-cat household. Readers might remember that Minoose is a very indulged cat whose energy level gets a bit much a time for his purrson -- especially since she is a dog-convert and was quite surprised at how active a young cat could be.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Share and Share Alike

Hey Greyce, Getta load of this! My Mom, Cinny (a lovely tortoise shell) and moi (a black beauty) live together in a good home. We are fed the same food but on separate plates near one another. We each take one plate and then about halfway through the meal, we switch.

We were okay with this until we heard that our purrson thinks it's strange? Are we weird or what? Just have to be sure, Spot.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Moving On

Dear Greyce, My name is Ted and I am a handsome, two-year-old, orange tabby. In my short life I have had four addresses and while I've been treated well in each of them, I've had to move on through no fault of my own.  (I became a stray when I was about a year old. Then a householder offered me temporary shelter because I cried under her porch every night for a week. She took my to another my purrson who looked after me well until she became very ill and could no longer care for me. And so on.) 

At present I live with Herself and Kato, a wise fourteen-year-old cat who tends to keep to himself. But Herself is moving out of the country! There are boxes all over the house and furniture is being moved.

The next while is going to be quite stressful for at least three reasons. First, several new (to me) adults will be visiting for a few weeks over the holidays. Kato knows them and assures me they are okay, but I'm always nervous with new people. Second, a few weeks after those people leave, Kato and I will move to our new home. Our new purrson is a good friend of Herself. Kato and I know her pretty well already. Third, our new household has two children (ages 9 and 13) whom we have not met. Did I mention that I'm nervous with new people?

Now it's not all scary. Herself assures us that this will be a good home. Kato and I will have separate, safe rooms. There are several carpeted staircases on which to run and from which to jump; I like to view things while seated on stairs (a great combination viewing and hiding spot, I think). There is a small park just out the door; we will be allowed to use it sometimes, just as we are able to now.

But the whole idea is a big challenge for me, Greyce. What do you advise?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Smooshie's Success

Somedays it is absolutely wonderful to be a cat advisor. For example, I've received a lovely note from Smooshie. You may recall she was having problems using her litterbox -- even though she was in it at the time, her waste would travel outside the box! (See entry: Stand and Deliver from October 29,2009) She wrote:

I've had a change of medication (no more sore joints thank you very much) AND a change of litterbox. I've been peeing with more comfort because Himself took your advice and made me a high-sided box just like the one you showed on your blog.  There's lots of room in the box to position myself. I no longer feel confined like I was in my previous, smaller boxes. I'm squatting down when I enter the box, with my bum facing the opening. And even though it faces that way, I don't pee outside the box!

Well Smooshie, all I can say is Congratulations and you DO look wonderful -- thank you for the photo. This is such wonderful news that I'd like to throw a catnip party!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Figgy's Funk -- Getting Over The Loss of a Dog

Dear Greyce, I am Figaro -- a four-year old, black female who lives indoors but goes outside. I deal with my household on my own terms; I have never been affectionate with most of its members -- two adults and their three children (ranging in age from 16 to 20) along with a rabbit and two rats. However I did have a soft spot for our Bull Terrier whom I'd known since I was a kitten. We developed a strong, mutual understanding; and although I was never as demonstrative as that rambunctious and cheerful dog, we loved each other. In the face of her demands for repeated attention, I would respond if and when I pleased. 

If I got locked out of the house at night, my beloved companion would bark until the purrsons would let me inside. When I'd stroll through the door, I'd show my respect for her efforts on my behalf by rubbing against her to mark her -- in acknowledgement of her higher rank in the household.

She died four months ago. Needless to say, I miss her terribly -- as does the rest of the family.

Since her death, my behaviour has changed. Depending on whom you talk to, there are slightly different pictures of what has happened, so I will try to stick to the facts as much as possible: 1) I used to sleep on one of the kid's beds. Now I sleep under the bed. And some believe I sleep more than I used to. 2)Apparently I look 'lost', as if I don't know family members. Some say I growl and hiss at them without provocation (hissing just like I do if someone interrupts me when I'm chattering at the birds outside or chasing other cats away from the yard). Others suggest that I just startle easily. 3) I am not interested in playing. But I am still eating well. And I will sit by the dining table when the family is eating there, in the hope of getting a human food treat.

I like to have control over my purrsonal space. So I have never liked to be touched by humans unless I approach them for the occasional stroke; then I purr. I haven't purred in a long time.

My humans are concerned about these changes and wonder what they could do to help me feel better. And they'd like to get another Bull Terrier and wonder if it would be okay to have a puppy join the household at this time. Would a puppy help me feel better?

Yours, Figaro (but you may call me, Figgy)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Coping with Loss -- Part 7 of Litterbox Blues

There is a song with the words, everybody's got a story that will break your heart. Daisy's story is one of them.

Dear Greyce, My world has turned upside down and I don't know what to do. There have been so many changes in my life that I can hardly keep them straight. So let me begin at the beginning and try to put you in the picture.

I am a senior (11 year old) black and white, Holstein-patterned, shorthaired cat who was the darling of her purrson. We spent a lot of time together; I would sit on her bed and she would fuss over me. I'm using the past tense because my purrson died, seven months ago. Since then all hell has broken loose.

Around the time that she died, there was a strange cat outside who unnerved me by hanging around the windows and spraying the front door. And then the adult human who lives here (along with her partner and a young, teenaged boy) developed a serious medical problem, the symptoms of which were scary and stressful. Then they (those humans) turned the place upsidedown -- packing things in boxes and carting them away, rearranging and getting rid of furniture. I couldn't even recognize the place! To add insult to injury, a male kitten invaded about three months ago and it sure looks like he is here to stay. He is very energetic and wants to play ALL the time. It gets on my nerves so I give him a swat but I lack the confidence to do anything else but run away.

I have been coping with these changes as best I can -- by NOT using my litterbox for anything. I've been doing this ever since my purrson died. It's a good box, filled with clumping litter and scooped clean every day. But I just can't use it. The humans are fed up because they say I've made a mess and its just too much for them. So now when everyone is away, I'm locked up in the bathroom. I pee in the shower stall and poop on the floor. And just the other day, when I was let out of the room I peed on the running shoes by the front door.

They think I am beyond redemption. My only advocate is my 'human aunt' who does not live here; and I cannot go to live with her because she already has several cats. Now they are talking about euthanasia. I wonder if there is another way to help me.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cat Attract - Important Information

Dear Readers,

The unfortunate has happened and all because I was indulging in catnip as I was blogging. It makes my pupils enlarge and I find it difficult to focus. And so I didn't read all the print on the package of Cat Attract Litter Additive before I made my recommendations (see my blog entries: Turned Off the Box AND Good Habits Gone Bad). I forgot to mention that this litter additive should ONLY BY USED WITH UNSCENTED, CLUMPING LITTER. Please do not use it with any of the following litters: paper, wheat, corn, pine, cedar, OR any litter -- even clumping -- that has baking soda added to it. (I am going to add this to those entries so they are up to date.)

It just goes to show that even purrfect cats can make mistakes. (Actually, I would prefurr to blame my secretary!)

I vow now, never to indulge in catnip before preparing a blog entry!

Good Habits Gone Bad - Part 6 of Litterbox Blues

Dear Greyce, I am a 16-year-old  female and live with one purrson. For a long time (several months and likely longer) I have not wanted to use my litterbox for pooping. Instead I poop around the house and am tending to favour Herself's bed.

About a month ago I peed on top of Herself's bed. She washed all the sheets and she moved one of my two litterboxes to across the hallway (much more convenient than the laundry room). All was fine until just a few days ago when I did it again!

The only thing different in the household routine is this: The first time, Herself had been visiting a relative who has two dogs and three kittens -- one of whom may have been in heat. The second time, that same relative (and her human family) came to our place to visit.
Herself has put up with cleaning the poop. She figures I'm too old to retrain. But she is getting distressed by the liquid deposits on her bed. What should I do? Calie

Friday, November 13, 2009

Alarm Clock Operetta

Dear Greyce, 

My daughter Babette has become quite vocal at the ripe age of six. She uses an astonishing range of tones around six a.m., sometimes when sitting on the kitty condo and looking out. The sound really travels, especially since we usually sleep with our purrsons and they have a loft bedroom that has no doors. 

I'm so shocked, I do my best to ignore her. I would never join in (although I have been known to be vocal in the middle of the night, a behaviour with does not meet with approval by the human residents). 

Himself is not at all pleased. 

Herself either calls Babette to her bed or puts her in THE ROOM - our safe place fully furnished with viewing spots, litterbox, food and water (though she never touches the water there). Babette might stop briefly as a result. But if our purrsons arise, she will talk until about 10 a.m.!

There are a few other things about Babette that might be relevant: She has become more sedentary of late and she has misformed kidneys that do not function fully. While she is not expected to have a long life, she enjoys what she has - plenty of food freely available and lots of fresh water in a loving home.

I am concerned. Greyce, what can be done?


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Family Feuds

Growing up in a multi-cat household can be hazardous at times. Witness the meows of help from Ziggy, Curly and Persephone:

Dear Greyce, We are three gorgeous, fabulous, one-year old cats who live with our parents (Felicia, a magnificent Maine Coon and Felix, a tiger-striped tabby); we share our household with humans. At night we are sequestered in a large bathroom (with food, water, litterbox and toys), where we sleep soundly. The humans keep us there; otherwise some of us tend to want to wake the humans up to play. At around 6:00 a.m. Herself enters and lets us out. Mom wants to go outside immediately. If she can't (Herself has this 'thing' about not letting Mom outside until it is light out), she gets really snarly and takes it out on one of us. She lashes out and attacks! We have heard that the behaviour of some females can be volatile and moody at certain stages in life. Do you think she is going through meno-paws? Please help us! Ziggy, Curly & Persephone

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Overcoming Trauma - Thoughts on The Four-Paw Declaw

Today (November 11th) is Remembrance Day in Canada and my purrsons went to City Hall to attend the ceremonies that honour those killed in by war. Herself, who is a bit of a softy, said she wondered about  all the animals who have died in wars -- the horses used by the cavalry in WW1, the dogs who find landmines, the pets who are maimed and displaced along with their humans. When humans go at it, it is amazing that we (and they) manage to survive!

Herself saw some amputees in the crowd (veterans whose legs or arms were taken off) and when she started to talk about that it got me to thinking about Molly.

Those of you who read my most recent blog entry know about Molly and the challenges she faces. For those who are not familiar, let me briefly recap: Molly has a history of abandonment and being picked on by other cats. She has very few defenses: no claws and almost no teeth. She was picked on by other cats in the shelter that was her temporary home. Now in a new and loving home, she kept good company with an older Persian until his death. The Persians I've met tend to be laid-back and this one was older (i.e., less energetic) and had a heart condition. No threat there! I assume they could both adopt a philosophy of live and let live and this allowed Molly a large measure of comfort. Her new home continues to be great except for the presence of a new arrival -- a confident, energetic cat called Ivy who won't take no for an answer when Molly tells her to back off. Confronted with a hiss (which any cat knows means keep your distance; I'm afraid, but if I need to I WILL fight), she continues forth and gets a bite or two in return. After that? Ivy bounces back. But Molly is even more scared -- hiding, crouching, and becoming more anxious. Holy tuna! What an kettle of fish.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Oil & Water - Introductions Gone Wrong

Humans can be exasperating, even with the best of intentions. Take my friend, Molly, for instance, who wrote as follows:

I am over five years old with light blue eyes and a coat that goes from white to tanny rust. I have a lovely round face with perfect small ears, long slim legs, and small dainty paws. Regardless of how beautiful I am (and I AM beautiful), I've had a very hard life. First, the people I used to live with had me declawed on all four paws. Most of my teeth are missing (though, thank goodness, I can still eat quite well). Second, I was abandoned -- found on the streets in winter. Third, after being rescued I was put in a small room of a sanctuary with five other cats who left me alone until I ventured off my perch to go and eat; then they'd attack me! My nose got scratched several times. The good news is that I was adopted about 18 months ago into a loving home. There, my feline companion was a laid-back Persian who I liked very much. Unfortunately he died almost a year ago, from a heart condition.

The difficulty started because my purrsons have big hearts. And because they have the space, they decided to open MY home to another cat. So about six months after the Persian died, an interloper joined the household. Her name is Ivy and she is an energetic, three-year-old. She, too, spent time in a sanctuary after being found wandering around. I have to admit that she is quite pretty: large ears with moon-like markings nearby, perched atop a small, triangular face, a black and grey ringed tail, and a snow white body. She has only eye and it is blue.

When she arrived at MY home, she stayed in the basement for two days. Don't worry, she got good care: there was lot of food, water, even a litterbox. And my purrsons made sure to keep her company as well. They soon learned that she is a lap cat.

After two days they let Ivy venture upstairs. Like any respectful cat, I ignored her at first. My folks thought I wasn't curious. They didn't know that I was sizing her up.

Now she is permanently upstairs and I wish she would keep her distance. When she passes by me, I hiss to tell her to back off. I will also howl. I've retreated to the bedroom and spend most of my time there (even though I would like to be in the main room -- perhaps on the dining room chair where I can be somewhat hidden).  

Ivy scares me. I've even peed a few times when I'm afraid to go down and use the litterbox for fear of running into her. (Also when my folks have gone on holidays, but that's another story.) When I venture out of the bedroom, I do so in a crouching posture, like I am hunting. Guess why? And yes, I admit to using the few teeth that remain and giving Ivy a good bite or two. Ivy also likes to go outside and spend a lot of time on the front deck. As far a I concerned, she could live out there!

I really like my purrsons -- even the human kittens. I liked it best when my folks took Ivy to stay with relatives who have three dogs while they took a vacation (the folks, not the dogs, that is). Ivy became the pack leader and I was left blissfully on my own (with a housesitter)!

So Greyce, the bottom line is this: I am anxious all the time. I never know when Ivy will come around me. And considering the life I've had, I think I have every reason to be scared. I didn't ask for this interloper and she won't leave me alone. I've tried to get her to back off, but she persists. I'm very vulnerable and have few defenses -- no claws, a few teeth and my growl. I fear that Ivy is here to stay. And now I hear talk of putting me on drugs! Help me, Greyce, I'm scared!!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Guys Just Wanna Have Fun!

Just when I think I'll get a nap in, I get an e-mail instead. This time it's from a teenager -- Minoose who is at loose ends.

Dear Greyce, he wrote. At two years of age, I'm stunningly covered in black, brown and white fur with a stylish white ruff on my chest. To add a dash of chic I have coloured fur on my left ear. My green eyes turn dark when I'm up to no good. (I have a mischievous streak.) I was feral and didn't see purrsons until I was eight-months old but I'm okay with humans now (except for their kittens who can be a bit much) and am most attached to a converted dog person if you can believe it. The problem simply is a difference in expectations: Herself expects cats to just sleep a lot and purr -- the ultimate low-maintenance pet; but I have lots of energy so I expect her to partake in activities throughout the day that are mutually entertaining. I'm afraid I'm exhausting her.

Here is my typical day. I start after Herself rises by supervising the preparations for breakfast from my perch on the dining room table. A meow is sometimes necessary to get Herself to speedread through the morning paper so that we can embark on the next phase: massages and pets for as long as I can stand them! This is followed by races all over the house (with rests, of course) chasing the laser pointer. (I go through my tunnels, too.) Then it's back to supervising morning chores, after which we usually take a nap together. In truth, we usually nap a couple of times a day unless she goes out or doesn't feel like it. For example, sometimes Herself shows no sign of settling down in the afternoon and I have to whine a lot to remind her. If she ignores me, then I go off by myself and sleep in the closet. Laser races commence before Herself's dinner. (I free feed throughout the day.) Around 9 p.m. I get dry food and a few teaspoons of yogurt. We are mostly content with ourselves as company. But she seems to be getting a bit harried by my energy level. In my younger days, I used to play with meeces, tossing them up and hiding them in Herself's bed and shoes; but they don't interest me much now. What do you advise?"

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Turned Off the Box! - Part 5 of Litterbox Blues

Sometimes cats are a mystery, even to me and Starla, an eight-year old female with a lovely orange and brown long-haired coat, is a mysterious feline indeed. She wrote:  For the past three years I have been living with a couple of humans and am kept exclusively indoors. Then they had the nerve to go away for three weeks and some other people moved in to be my temporary caregivers. Something happened (and I'm not telling); but since then I don't want to poop in my box anymore. Instead I leave it on the carpetted landing at the entrance to the house. So my purrsons got me a new box, a new brand of litter and even placed the box at my new pooping area; I still don't want to use it for that. I am a very private cat so I don't feel up to telling you more about how I handle my business, except to say that I deposit my waste in the middle of the night when everyone is asleep. (In case you need to know, I'm fine with peeing in the box.) My people are getting upset and this is upsetting me. Please help me get back on track.

Oh Starla, I think you need a cat detective especially when you keep so many important points hidden. Nevertheless I will do my best to get at the heart of the matter by offering a number of suggestions. It will be up to you to figure out which may work for you.

When your temporary caregivers were with you, I wonder how often they actually cleaned (scooped out) the litterbox? The reason for my question is simple: Many cats develop an aversion to using the litterbox when it is cleaned less often than they prefurr. And then they find it difficult to switch back, even when the cleaning pattern goes back to 'normal'. It seems to me that this could be part of your problem, especially if you were not too thrilled with the substrate (that is, the litter itself) in the first place. Many cats tolerate a sub-optimal (to their preferences) substrate until some change happens in the household and then they go 'off' using the box. And since we all spend more time in the box when voiding solids compared to liquids, it makes sense that you'd go elsewhere for that.

Now your people got you a new box, a different brand of litter, and put it where you poop; but as far as you are concerned it's still 'no deal'. That suggests to me that you aren't particularly impressed by the litter inside the box -- it's not enticing enough for you to want to use it when it comes to leaving the solid stuff. You mention that you prefurr to use the carpet, even when the box is left right in the area. So help me out here: How far from the box do you leave your deposits? I ask this because I'm trying to figure out if you'd really rather use the box if there was only something worthwhile in it. Cats who feel this way often poop very near the box, but not in it.

I understand that you are a very private cat. You remind me of Greta Garbo. Perhaps you just vant to be left alone! I don't want to pry any more than necessary. So instead of subjecting you to further questions, I will leave it to you to encourage your people to do the following:

  • Leave the old box with litter in the basement (old) location so you have a nice place for your liquid waste. (I figure they are already doing this, but just wanted to cover the bases.)
  • Keep the new box in your new pooping area, for now. (At least at night which is when you seem to use it.)
  • But get them to change the TYPE of litter. As I understand it, they went from one type of clumping litter to another. Frankly from my point of view there isn't much difference between brands of clumping litter (unless one is scented and one is not), so I don't blame you for not being impressed. Besides for all I know you could be like some of my long-haired friends who detest clumping litter because it messes their fur or makes their paw pads uncomfortable. So I'm going to give you two choices for new kinds of litter to try (in no particular order). Try only one at a time over a period of several days or longer, to see if one will work for you: a) Something soft like Yesterdays News (which is made of soft clumps of plain, unprinted newsprint and is often used when cats have been declawed -- but let's not go there); some cats who like carpet, like this. b) Dr. Elsey's Cat Attract Training Litter or Dr. Elsey's Cat Attract Litter Additive. This comes in two versions -- one is a complete litter to be used in place of whatever is inside the box now and the other is an additive that you put into existing litter AS LONG AS that litter is UNSCENTED CLUMPING (with NO BAKING SODA added); otherwise, please do not use it. Since the humans are paying, they get to choose which of the two versions to buy. This litter/additive has an herbal attractant in it that might entice you to use the box, rather than to go elsewhere.
  • Okay I can hear the complaint already. Isn't it a clumping litter? What if it's added to a clumping litter and I already hate clumping litter? Well Starla, that's why it might be worth trying the newsprint version first. If you like that, then it is a pretty sure thing that clumping litter ain't your fave. But if newsprint doesn't make you fall in love with your litterbox all over again, then the second litter option I suggest is definitely worth trying. 
  • Both Yesterdays' News and Cat Attract are available at pet supply stores (your people should call first to make sure). Be aware that your folks will probably mutter over the cost, since both options are more expensive than the brands you currently use.
I have another thought as well. Is there a cat who comes to your door (or nearby window) at night to bother you? Have your people check to see if there are any spray marks on the outer door or window closest to where you leave your deposits. If so, you might be middening -- leaving a visible reminder of your presence to warn off an invader cat. If that is the case, enrol your purrsons in helping you to get rid of the invader. One way is to thoroughly clean off your outer door (and/or screen) or window using a cleaner made to deal with cat waste. Again the pet supply stores have such products and they work as long as your people follow directions carefully. The purpose of cleaning the area is to discourage the cat from topping up the scent -- because such scents re-attract cats back to the area for a top-up from time to time -- exactly what neither you nor your people would like to have happen. Note that I say your people should be following the directions; I'd never expect you to have to clean up the mess!

If there is any possibility that there is something that makes you anxious enough to midden, consider having a Feliway diffuser plugged into an electrical outlet nearest where you deposit your solids at present. Feliway is a synthetic pheromone which reduces anxiety and is available from your veterinarian. A container of diffuser should last at least one month. The initial purchase (which requires both the diffuser and the container of pheromone) is a bit pricey (be prepared for muttering again), though it's far less expensive than most things that humans consider essential for their well-being. But if they are at the point of calling the vet to order this, then they should ask about the worthiness of a possible stool check-up as well. A bout of constipation, problem with an anal gland, etc. could put you off your box for sure. And if you make that trip to the dreaded vet, take a fresh (or as fresh as possible) stool sample with you in a clean, plastic bag. It sure beats having to hang around the clinic for a day or so, until you produce one on the spot!

So Starla, I've done my best to give you some options to try. Whatever you choose to go with first, just get on with it. And keep on it until you find something that works.

I wish you the best.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Painful Drop - Part 4 of Litterbox Blues

After supervising leaf-raking in the backyard, I thought I'd climb up on Himself's chest so the two of us could snooze together. Alas such was not to be, for over the wires came a cry for help.Twila a two-year old tabby was in distress.

"Oh Greyce," she lamented. "My people are so thick I am at my wit's end. For the past day I just hate using the litter box. I feel the urge, get in the box and only a drop comes out. And it's soooooooo painful! Just when I think it if over, I get that urge again . . . and again. My people are so pre-occupied that I can't get my message across. What do I do now?"

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Stand & Deliver - Part 3 of Litterbox Blues

I have been basking in admiration from the coverage in Saturday's Edmonton Journal. While I have mentioned it before, I want to reiterate how noteworthy I am in my local area; of  course, other cats know this but on the off-chance that one of their purrsons might read this, it is best to set my cards straight on the table. I will keep my larger aspirations to myself for the moment and concentrate on some of the e-mails that have resulted from the publicity. Smooshie, for example, wrote:

I am seven-year-old, female tabby -- black and white with a morsel of brown --  and a cute, loving face. In the words of my purrsons, I am (like yourself) attractive. My most significant beauty features are my big ears which are to die for. People melt when they see them! I am well-treated by kind and loving people who dote on my every need. However there is a habit of mine that is making them nervous.

It seems to have started with my homeopathic treatment for feline hyperesthesia syndrome. So here is what happens. When I use my litterbox, all my paws are inside the box (of course); but when I void, the liquid goes outside it causing my purrsons distress. They got me a new, larger litterbox and while that is working, it isn't working all the time. Herself remarked that my adorable rear end seems to be a bit high in the air when I spew forth. Last time I was doing my business, she gently pushed it down a bit and solved the problem -- all the liquid landed in the box. Should I have her accompany me to the box everytime I need to use it, or is there another way to avoid causing them distress?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My Big Backyard. Indoors or Out: Part 1

I've been exhausted from my appearance in the Edmonton Journal. Calls from old friends and e-mails from new admirers means that my holiday card list will be expanding. But enough about my fame! As the weather changes from that terrible snowstorm to a bearable fall to rainy weather and now back to the possibility of snow just in time for Halloween, I want to deal with the issue of going outdoors.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Biting the Hand That Feeds You

I was settling in for a snooze when I received a telepathic message from Mouser, a mackerel tabby of some repute. His story was enough to put me off my nap.

"Well Greyce," he said, "this has been going on for some time. I settle into my favourite spot on the sofa beside Himself. He starts to pet me ever so gently at first and I respond with a deep, rumbling purr. He continues and all would be well if he knew when to stop. But instead he keeps going, and going, and going until I can't take it anymore! I've tried to tell him to stop, using my best cat etiquette; but nothing gets his attention until I give him a nip or two. Then he shouts at me and pushes me off the sofa. And I was there first! Can you figure this out?"

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dining by Your Toilet - Part 2 of Litterbox Blues

The snow continues to fall and I am ready to curl up in a ball and hibernate for the rest of the winter. This is SO not October! The only things that keep me going are the desperate mewsings of my fellow felines. Take McManx, for example.

McManx as you probably gathered is a Manx (no points there for guessing correctly), a cat whose end is not followed by a tail. He is happily ensconced in an apartment overlooking the river valley with a screened, walk-out porch. Now if that apartment was in any other city, right now he'd be enjoying the fall colours and the scurrying of mice as they gather things for the winter. But being Edmonton, he'd freeze his tail off (if he had one) by venturing out there. So much for the weather report and on to his problem.

Oh Wise One (he wrote -- I'm a sucker for flattery), my living quarters are on the small side but I'm afraid it doesn't excuse my person from the action he has taken to save space. My litterbox which in better weather was stationed on the balcony, is now in the storage room. I can access it through a cat door. No problem except it is also the location of my food and water dishes. Now they are all side by side! I'm faced with a dilemma: Do I continue to use the box for its intended purposes, bury my waste as usual and then move on; or do I wine and dine from the dishes provided and find a toilet elsewhere?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Size Matters - Part 1 of Litterbox Blues

I meant to make this entry sooner but I've been recovering from the shock of seeing snow on the ground this early in October. Those soppy, cold flakes are murder on the paw pads.

I raised the topic of litterbox issues amongst my colleagues and now have case after case of litterbox blues.
For example, Harold wrote: I am an adult male with fabulous long fur. When I stretch to full size, I am quite magnificent. Being magnificent is not difficult because I am Maine Coon. Stretching, also, is not difficult but that is another matter entirely. I wanted to report my frustration in dealing with my devoted though somewhat dimwitted human.

We have been together almost all of my ten years and, naturally, she adores me. But she continues to think of me as a kitten. I'm getting fed up with being called her "itty bitty kitty" for I can assure you at at 9 kg (almost 20 pounds American) I am a force to be reckoned with. But I could stomach the indignity of such a moniker, IF she would do something about the size of my litterbox.

I have to use the same litterbox I had when I first joined the household. And it was made for a kitten! Now when I park my presence in it, there is barely room for me to plant all my paws in the litter  and then my rear hangs over the end. Still I mostly manage to keep the liquid in the box; the problem is with the solids.

You'd think the packages I leave just outside the box would be a clear enough message to her about the nature of the problem. But she just doesn't get it. Instead she put a rubber mat around the box to catch my deposits. I cannot bury my waste! Please help.