21 January 2013

Anya's Peeing

Well, I spent most of yesterday cleaning the carpets in the bedroom and in my studio.  They really needed it in general, but the reason I did it was because this room began to smell.  With a bit of warmth from the sun, it was bothering me, and I'm not terribly sensitive to smells.

And what was the smell?  Cat urine... from Anya.

Anya is my 14 year old, one-eyed, lilac-point himalayan cat.  She also has herpes and on/off nasal infections, which I can control with lysine and echinacea.  But she's quirky at times.  She'll be asleep, wake up, stretch, and then howl.  She's also very loving and affectionate.

She just doesn't always use the litter box.... And this is probably part of the reason she was dumped at a shelter.  Anyway, sometimes she will go for 2-4 days with no accidents and then sometimes she will go 2-4 days without using the litter box.  Well, you know a cat has to pee, so she does it on the floor.  (And she occasionally poops on the floor too.)

Normally, peeing outside the box normally comes down to 3 causes:

  1. Urinary tract infection -- Cats relate the pain of peeing to the litter box, so will pee outside the box.  The pees are usually small and frequent.  Maybe with a drop or two of blood.
  2. Dislike of litter/box -- Some cats object to deodorizing crystals in litter, or the size of the grains, or the height of the box, or ...  If the cat doesn't like the box, the cat will find a place and substance it likes to pee on.
  3. Dirty boxes -- Many cats object to using a dirty box.  And if you think about it, it's like going into a public toilet and finding "stuff" in the toilet.  With these cats, you need to get more boxes and/or scoop frequently.
None of these fit Anya.  So, I'm left with the more exotic causes:
  1. Incontinence -- Cats can lose control of the bladder sphincter.
  2. Dementia -- Older cats forget where the box is.
  3. Medication -- Oral steroids can cause sudden urges to pee.
  4. Not trained -- I know there are some cats who never were trained by mom or the breeder to use a litter box, but I personally think these are few and far between.
  5. Tumors
The dementia and incontinence fit to some degree because she will walk along, pause, pee, and continue walking.  If I see her pause and especially if she's pawing at the carpet, I can call her name and usually that is enough to interrupt her and THEN she will use her box.  But I really can't sit here 24 hrs a day!  This is why puppy pads won't work -- she will pee anywhere and not just one spot.

I also wonder with her if her nose isn't a factor.  Cats are attracted to places to pee by smell.  Since I clean the litter box and remove the smells, the carpet ends up being smellier.  Now that I cleaned the carpet (and 90% of the smell is gone), I'm hoping she'll be more attracted to the litter box.  So far, it is working... knock on wood.

I know many people wouldn't tolerate this and... well, I don't know what the alternatives would be.  Dump her at another shelter?  Put her to sleep?  Lock her in a bathroom with hard floors?  These just don't seem viable options to me.  When I adopt an animal, it's for their lifetime, come good or bad.  Putting up with this problem does not make me a saint -- I just love her for who she is.

But she has helped me clean my house... win-win for both of us!  


Barbara said...

I think I read that the howling could be a sign of dementia as well.

L.M. Hornberger said...

Good point!

Cynthia said...

Welcome to my world

L.M. Hornberger said...

Ah, thanks, Cynthia.

Barbara said...

I read this today and thought of Anya. It is from Amy Shojai and was posted on a listserv for breeders etc. on health issues.

A senior citizen kitty often becomes more vocal due to a couple of possible issues.

1. hearing loss--she can't hear herself (or you!) and so calls extra loud and long to locate you.
2. hypertension (several possible causes--hyperthyroid, heart issues, kidney issues)
3. feline cognitive disorder

Bottom line, a veterinarian is in the best position to diagnose. Hearing loss can be managed somewhat, and there are some medical interventions for the other possible causes.

L.M. Hornberger said...

Thanks for the info! She had bloodwork done in June when I got her, but I probably should have it done again soon.