DEAR JOAN: Can a male cat that urinates outside influence a house cat to do the same indoors?
We have a male cat, who stays outside because he pees inside. The indoor cat comes in contact with him, and now the indoor cat has started urinating inside.
I figured that you would know the answer. The outdoor cat, Charlie, was adopted last winter. He isn’t feral. He is a beautiful cat, but he has to stay outside.
R.W., Bay Area
DEAR R.: There is a slight possibility of this, but the first thing you should do is take your indoor cat to the vet for a checkup.
Although cats seem the most unpredictable of creatures, there are reasons behind all their behaviors. We might not agree with them or fully understand them, but there are explanations for all of it.
When a cat that previously has had good litter-box manners starts going outside the box or elsewhere in the house, most of the time there’s a health related issue, such a urinary tract infection or kidney ailment. The cat goes to use the box and experiences pain, and they blame the location. It hurts to pee over here, so I’m going somewhere else the next time.
These ailments in cats are fairly common and usually can be treated with antibiotics or a change of food, but it’s important to get treatment now and not let it fester into something more serious.
If your cat gets a clean bill of health from the vet, then we should look at what factors might be triggering the cat’s errant peeing.
Does the indoor cat get along OK with the outdoor cat? If not, she might be using the urine as a threat, marking her territory and trying to exclude Charlie.
If they both use the litter box indoors for other bodily functions, a territorial fight might have broken out. Even if Charlie isn’t in the house, your indoor cat might not feel comfortable about using the box. In this case, you might consider getting a second box.
Cats can be quite picky about their litter, so be sure to keep the box clean and more inviting.
Does Charlie still sometimes pee indoors? If so, the smell coming from his pee spot might confuse the indoor cat, who thinks this is now the acceptable, designated spot for urinating.
Be sure to clean any mishaps to remove odors. At the same time, try products that are sprinkled on the litter, making the boxes more attractive.
I’d also like to make a pitch for Charlie to become an indoor-only cat. Adding a second litter box and using products that draw cats to the box can help make sure Charlie thinks inside the box. A beautiful cat such as Charlie deserves the comfort of an indoor life, not to mention how much safer it will be for him.
Get him neutered, if he’s not already. An un-neutered tom often sprays because that’s how he marks his territory. Neutering will take care of that issue in most cases.
DEAR JOAN:In the case of the woman whose planter box was being eaten by unseen creatures, couldn’t it be slugs?
Tena Gallagher, Bay Area
DEAR TENA: It could be slugs, earwigs or other insects. The woman should definitely check for those. Thanks.
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