While this post does cover some important issues, there can be more at play.
Litter boxes = # cats +1:
I’ve always been perplexed by the “one more box than the number of cats in the household.”
It is not like you can label each one for each cat and say no no, this one is only for Fluffy, you cannot use it Tiger! In my case, I always scooped first thing in the morning, and again before leaving for work. When I came home, I would scoop again. Check box #1, nope, box #2, nope, etc until I found the litter box du jour – jackpot! So most of the time they were all using the SAME box!! Just for the record, no they didn’t all get along 100%.
Even now, with more cats than before, I’ve noted that there are two identical boxes side by side in the finished basement. I do not get down there every day, but when I do, one will be chock full, to the point where it looks like I never clean it and the other might have one or two “gifts” if anything at all. The “full” one is to the point where these supposedly fastidious cats do not have a clean spot to walk in there!!! Go figure!
That said, I did have one cat who had a pee issue until recently. If I put her in the cat playpen, she would use the litter box. If not, she would go somewhere on the floor. I did have a urine check, just to rule that out, but there was no UTI. I suggested some of her issue is that she tends to be a bit intimidated, but that would not explain it all. The vet suggested anti-anxiety
meds, as she and her brother over-groom as well, she much more, to the point that her belly and inner hind legs are pretty much bare. I did not like the results and it did not stop the inappropriate peeing, so I stopped that. I have since identified that she is a separation anxiety cat.
When I am in the kitchen “zone”, she knows I am here, can see/hear me, but is not allowed in. If she starts yowling for me, into the playpen. What I did then was religiously put her in the playpen 3-4 times/day, at fairly consistent times, and let her out after she used the box. It has taken a long time, at least a year to a year and a half, but she has been going into the playpen and
using the box herself for several weeks now!! That box usage would sync up with the suggestion of having an extra for that cat who needs their own, but really there is no way to ensure no one else uses it!! IF there is, I’d love to know the secret! Although others have used it in the past, for a long time now no one has used it but her. I also in the past week checked her belly – ooooh yeah, she finally has fur growing back in!!! I just hope that she does not backslide after next week, as she and her brother are scheduled for a dental cleaning.
My point here is that you know your cat better than the vet. Except for ruling out a medical cause for the inappropriate behavior, you have to be more observant and try to identify what is behind the behavior. Sure, a behaviorist MIGHT find it, but several of my cats would likely hide from a new person, and unless you are watching them all day (or know the right time), that could be like peeing into the wind (and throwing your money into the fireplace!) As with the space issue (see below), not everyone can afford to bring in outside help – behaviorist isn’t going to be cheap!
Multicat households/personality issues:
I had to make and keep separate zones as some cats here just do not get along. The first two were separated out at my previous home, brother and sister, because he was spraying (even on the Feliway dispensers!) and she would get into big fights with one other, often resulting in a huge mess of fur, urine and feces! While separated in that house, he was still spraying. After moving here, they got their own room (closed door, no visual) and there was no more spraying or litter issues in that room. So that goes along with another reason listed in the article and the solution (however not everyone has the option of separate rooms!)
Medical issues and dry food:
One other concern, which could cause any number of medical issues, many that relate to urinary problems, which can lead to inappropriate elimination – is dry food. Ingrid has at least one post regarding this topic. I know that my vet office is now starting to see the issue with this too, as the first dental this year has a recommendation to avoid dry food, initially for the extractions, and further for it being better for his kidneys! THIS is NEW at their office. We found hypercalcemia in that one who was spraying when looking for a medical reason (there were none, he just needed to be isolated with his sister!). Rather than shove a nasty pill (Fosamax) down his throat, I found Dr. Mark Peterson’s blog on idiopathic hypercalcemia, and the thoughts were that the change in the dry formula some years ago (added acidifiers to counteract OTHER urinary medical issues) may be the cause behind the rise in this condition (and some others.) Lo and Behold! We tested him for 1.5 years and it was resolved. He was just given the all clear, no need to test again when we lost him a few months later to a dental cleaning. I had hoped he would be a good test case if he continued to be healthy. 🙁
That said, dry food is BAD for cats (even the ones who live long and “prosper” on it.) It is not appropriate food (lack of moisture is the biggest problem) and the plethora of medical issues it can lead to are expensive to test for and treat, so as well as costing you more money and emotional pain, causing kitty pain and you could possibly be cutting kitty’s life short – diabetes, kidney issues, UTIs, obesity…those are only a few of the problems dry food can lead to. The urinary issues discussed in the article can be caused, as noted, by medical issues, and dry food can lead to many of these issues. Save yourself time and money, as well treating your kitty to the best!
Ditch the dry food (and do not fall for the marketing ploy that some dry foods now say they have raw – it is STILL dry food – if you want raw, GET raw, not some bag of dry stuff that has enough freeze DRIED raw to let them call it raw!)