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Urination Dilemma

Dear Dr. Margaret:

I have a 4-year-old domestic female short hair that is very sweet and loveable. She is strictly an indoor cat. There is only one problem with her, she urinates on the carpet instead of her frequently cleaned litter box. I tried locking her in the bathroom with her food, water and litter box (several times) but I hate to do that. The problem still is not solved. What should I do? Please help!

Dear Cat Lover:

The situation you describe is consistent with a behavioral problem. If you are providing your cat with a clean litter box, ample space and privacy, she should not be having problems.

Some things to consider as cats are exquisitely sensitive to changes in their environment are: Have you recently moved or purchased new furniture? Have you changed brands of food or cat litter? Have you changed the area in which you house the litter box, or have you changed the type of litter box? Have you recently accepted a new pet (cat dog or other) into your home? Have you recently had any new people, relatives or friends staying with you?

These questions may seem a bit ridiculous, but I have personally treated cats who have manifested inappropriate eliminations in response to some of these situations.

It would be advisable to have your veterinarian examine your cat and rule out any physiologic problems such as cystitis (UTI) or renal dysfunction. However, based on the history you relate, I would consider these conditions improbable, especially if she is voiding in the same area. Typically with either a urinary tract infection or kidney disease, your cat would be unable to control her urination and would void in the area thatís most convenient.

After ruling out disease and reverting back to the "old way," if you made any of the previously mentioned changes, you may want to employ some techniques to dissuade her from urinating on your rug. You could put down a slick surface or plastic such as cling wrap over the area that she is frequenting. Sometimes cats will be deterred from urinating due to the unusual sensation and noise that the surface provides. I have also heard of people using aluminum foil for this purpose.

Another trick is to lay a remnant or old throw rug over the site that has been treated with either some commercially available products that are offensive to cats, or a strong-smelling rug deodorizer that she might find displeasing and thus avoid the area.

If these do not work, you may want to talk to your veterinarian about medication. With limited success, some human tricyclic drugs such as Elavil and Prozac have been employed to decrease anxiety and break the cycle of inappropriate repetitive disorders.

Best of luck,

Dr. M.C. Lane