Since you last wrote about me (Small Bits of Urine - A Big Problem for Dash on 11/17/10), I have been making progress. Themselves are getting much better at noticing my behaviour and while my scent marking (urine on the stairs) continues upstairs, the frequency has changed. Instead of day-to-day, I have gone for a week or more without feeling the need to mark that spot.
So I am doing well even though I continue peeing outside the litter box at times, mostly in the basement where Skeeter and I stay when Themselves are not home.
There seem to be three triggers:
1. Herself notices that some of my urine spots are fresh when she gets home. She thinks I become really over-excited at hearing the garage door open (signaling her return) and then I just pee.
2. Sometimes if we have been in the basement all day and beyond our usual dinner time, accidents will happen too.
3. Sometimes it is just a sign that the litter boxes are not to my liking. You may remember that we have two basement litter boxes: one on the landing and one on the floor. Skeeter used to use the one on the floor; but he started to use the landing one as well and it would fill rather quickly.
Good news though, both are now downstairs and next to each other. I use both: one for urine and one for feces.
By the way, Themselves also leave us out for most nights (instead of keeping us in the basement) and I either sleep with them on the bed (Skeeter is there too), or I stay on the same floor in my most favorite cat bed. So slowly I am adapting.
Thank you again for your help,
It is always good to hear of your progress. I'm going to write about those three triggers for peeing outside the box and offer some suggestions. But first, my dear, ARE making progress. Congratulations on having Themselves improve their observational skills. Careful observation is the first step in gathering the clues by which they can help you adapt even more.
Since the beginning of our consultative relationship, I’ve remarked that you are a most anxious cat. And I do know that it was unlikely that you had household socialization at the proper time in your kitten hood. So developing into a more resilient pet will continue to be your life challenge. Nonetheless you have made significant progress.
You mention three triggers for peeing outside the box when you are in the basement.
1. Over-excitement on Herself’s return. That just shows how anxious a cat you are. Some of us become so happy or relieved that our purrson has returned that we just lose bladder control. Believe me, it can happen to humans, too.
I wonder if Themselves make a fuss over the two of you, both when they leave the house and when they return. If they are doing this (and it would be understandable), then they need to modify their behaviour a bit. Some of us just get so emotionally excited that it becomes a stressor.
I hate to mention it but dogs (yes dogs) with separation anxiety, often react (get stressed) by their purrson’s departures and arrivals. The solution in both cases is to diffuse the emotionality around the going and coming into the home. This simply means that instead of making any fuss when they leave or re-enter, they need to do so is a less emotionally-charged way. For example suppose when they return, they immediately go downstairs and greet the two of you and pet you and cuddle you and dance with you and give you treats. Wow! But that ‘wow’ would be to much for you. Much better if instead they just said, “I’m home” and opened up the basement door to let you come up. And then just went about their chores.
Ditto when they leave. If they are giving you special cuddles and whispers and the like, they are inadvertently having you focus on the fact that they will be gone; and that can be anxiety-provoking. Instead ask them to consider giving you a home-made food puzzle to keep you occupied, then say ‘good-bye’ in a nonchalant way and close the basement door.
Let me know if this is relevant and if the proposed solution is helpful to you.
2. Dinner being late. Yeah, I get it. Any deviation from your expected schedule makes you anxious. It sounds to me like you are wearing your telepathic cat watch and when Themselves are late, you worry that they have been bagged by a predator!
If this is problematic, they MIGHT consider an automatic feeder with a timer, so that dinner can happen at the same time every day and thus becomes less worrisome for you. If you decide to go this route (and is the ONLY an option NOT a directive from me), keep in mind your fear of novelty (which I will address in a separate blog entry) in introducing you to this device.
Another option is to have them start to vary their return times (starting with a five-minute variance) but that is likely too difficult in logistics for them to manage at this time. However, if you are interested in how this would work, let me know.
3. Litter box cleanliness. It sounds like their observational skills are improving. Congratulations for getting them to move the boxes so that you and Skeeter can use the boxes properly. And do make sure they keep to a regular cleaning schedule. A daily clean is what I advocate. Even though I live without the presence of others of my species, I insist on a daily clean so I don’t have to navigate over aromatic lumps and bumps while I attend to my needs.
And as for peeing upstairs. It sounds like that issue is getting under control. I do think much of that is related to over-excitement. You need to have those good workouts and yet be helped to return to a calmer state at the end of them. It’s like doing aerobics at the gym; at the end you need to slow down and stretch or you will continue to be so wound up that you aren’t fit to live with! At least that’s what I understand purrsons go through.
Keep up the good work,