Information Centre
Inappropriate Soiling - Cats
We occasionally encounter this problem with pet cats and although it is not a great problem medically it is certainly aserious one socially! The first thing to determine is that there is no disease present that might explain the problem. Cystitis might cause a catto pass urine in the wrong place, as might diseases that increase urine production such as diabetes. Colitis might causean urgent need to defaecate. Careful questioning about your cat’s habits and perhaps a few laboratory tests shouldexclude these possibilities. Once it is determined that there is no pathological cause for inappropriate soiling a regimeto modify the behaviour can be started.
It should be made clear from the outset that it is normal for tom cats (i.e., males not neutered) to spray urine. They aremarking territory and are unlikely to stop until they are neutered. Most vets prefer to neuter male cats of between 6 and9 months -- before they reach puberty and begin this behaviour. It is not always clear why the odd female or neuteredmale cat starts to urinate indoors, especially when they have been OK previously. Sometimes a "trigger" factor is identifiedsuch as a the arrival of a new pet in the neighbourhood, a new baby in the house or the absence of the family for holidays.
Some highly bred cats such as certain lines of Persian are perhaps more likely to be sensitive to such triggers. Othertimes there is no apparent reason for the behaviour.
The behaviour is self-reinforcing, i.e., the more it happens the stronger the stimulus for repetition and it is important toact quickly with preventive measures. Therapy begins by identifying the areas in the house where your pet does not soil-- usually there are some. The offending cat is kept confined there. I suggest a small (1m2) enclosed zone to begin with.
Sharing this area should be a litter tray, food and water bowl and a small bed. Clearly there is now little room for the catto soil outside the tray. Very few cats will contaminate their feeding and sleeping areas and the litter tray is the now theeasiest place to go. Your pet must be released from this area only under supervision and it is vital that she never managesto soil in the wrong place without immediate discovery and removal to the litter tray. "Immediate" means just that. It isno use finding a soiled patch of carpet or bed two minutes after the event and then responding -- this will not be understoodand will only serve to confuse. A cat will see no point in being placed in a litter tray after it has relieved itself. Use of lowerresidue foods (e.g. Iam’s chicken, dry) will reduce the frequency of soiling and make training somewhat easier – providedno other foods are given.
During the period of confinement the previously soiled areas of the house should be thoroughly cleansed to remove alltraces of scent as the presence of urine or faecal odours stimulates the cat to soil the area again. Disinfectants are notnecessary and while they mask smells to humans they will not fool the much more sensitive nose of the cat. Disinfectantsalso inhibit the action of special microbiological products designed to get rid of odours (e.g., "Odour Eliminator") At least initially, the litter tray should be cleaned whenever it is soiled which will mean several times per day. After 7 daysor once your pet is regularly using the tray (whichever is the longer period) she can be given a gradually increasing areabut still released only under close scrutiny. This strict regime continues for several weeks until the cat has forgotten allabout soiling anywhere but her tray, which is kept scrupulously clean. The regime is time consuming and demands muchfrom owners but most succeed if they have the time to devote. Only a small number of cases remain resistant to treatment.
Success rates are increased with the concomitant use of medical therapy. Certain progestagens are useful, as are valiumand amitriptyline. Buspirone, for use in this context. Results appear encouraging and although buspirone, like all medicines,has side-effects (slightly more aggression towards other cats and more affection towards people) these are probablypreferable to the side-effects of the other medicines.


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