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My F2's inexplicable urine/litter behavior

Myles

Savannah Super Cat
#1
Hi Guys,

New registrant, didn't even know this place existed.

Long story short, my F2 savannah "Dante" is going on 6 years old. For several years, he's had some very problematic litter/urine issues. He defecates in the box without issue, but when urinating, will start to pee, then stop, walk out of the box, and re-start at the edge; or simply walk up to the box, turn around, and attempt to urinate into it from outside of it entirely.

This results in a large puddle, usually > 75% of his urine on the floor. Attempts to relocate the box to force him to walk in (IE: make the entrance face a corner), resulted in urine on the wall/floor. Behavior will follow the box wherever it goes, he's *trying* to get it in clearly.

Dante has also had issues with spraying at certain spots (not due to scent, but due to location [IE: back door, or any rug in its place]), but I'm hoping to address the issues one at a time, and maybe there's correlation (fix this, and the other lightens/resolves).

So far, here are some of the things I've tried:
- UTI check, over a half dozen times throughout, "cat who cried wolf", has never tested positive.
- Feliway, both diffuser, and collar, no effect.
- Confinement, he has his own room, and all of his necessities in it now, 100% his.
- Different litters (he uses pine pellets, I've tried clay, schweet scoop, cat-attract, etc.), no changes.
- Different boxes, tried top-entry, smaller, larger, deeper, hooded, hooded+doored, stainless steel, Tupperware trough with hole cut in side, you name it. Right now he uses the hooded + most of the top cut out (to make one with 24" high walls, see pic). Smaller/no sided boxes often left him peeing out the side.
- Entry platform (so he could stand outside and pee in), my latest attempt (see pic, wood + high gloss paint), no dice, he backs up to this and simply urinates on it, when it's hooked into the front of the box
- More water - he uses a fountain, and drinks lots, pee's usually ~2x/day.
- Made a custom 2"x2" + tarp framed box ~48" x 60", to sit the litter-box in, and catch over-shoot. Not effective.
- Put one box in front of the entrance to the "main" box, worked for several days, till he started trying to pee outside of the front box.

Currently the only known "fix" is to have the litter-box in my bath-tub. He misses, but it goes generally just down the drain. Problem is, I only have one bathroom and this causes real issues. I thought maybe the city-kitty would solve this problem, but I'm afraid to toilet train him when I already have such a huge issue (and only one bathroom).

Notably, some basic background:
- No other cats/dogs, just a gecko whose aquarium shares his room, so he can watch/enjoy.
- Dante is medicated. Started with Feliway when I moved to my house 4 years ago, moved up to Prozac (I think it was?) after marking became a regular issue, now he's dosed with a light dose of Valium per behavioral vet prescription.
- Dante is also locked in his room almost 24x7, I visit him periodically to play, but he's in the "rebooting" phase as per behavioral vet's instructions (2nd time doing this), in an effort to resolve litter issues, and also to resolve marking issues.

What feedback can you guys give? I'm really grasping at straws at this point, he's been to about a half dozen vets between the two issues over his life, none have really resolved this, and I'm at wits end cleaning cat pee 2x/day.
 

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Patti

Admin
Staff member
#2
Wow, it sounds like you have tried the gamut with Dante. I just have a couple of questions - when you say you've used large litterboxes, how large are you talking about? I have found that many Savannahs are too big for 'normal' sized litterboxes so I use Sterlite storage boxes that are up to 45gal and measure close to 3' x 2'. I also find that most cats prefer their litterboxes be uncovered, which is okay with the Sterlite storage boxes since they are almost 20" high.

In what way was the 4'x5' tarp lined box ineffective in catching the urine when you put the litterbox in it - was it not tall enough, or?? I assume you have tried scooping after each use? What happened when you used the cat attract? I have rarely had this fail. You didn't mention whether or not Dante is neutered? Have you considered building him an outdoor enclosure, or is that not feasible in your home?


I have in the past had to bite the bullet and let a cat pee in the shower or in the sink, it is an easy fix and easy to clean up. A bit inconvenient to have to move the litterbox every time you shower, but for me it was worth the extra hassle to not have the cat pee outside of the litterbox.

As for the marking, you want to be sure to use a really effective enzyme cleaner such as Anti Icky Poo or Unique Distributors. Most urine cleaners that you buy at the local pet store are just not strong enough to completely eliminate the urine, and as long as there is any lingering scent it will attract Dante back to that spot.

I not you've mentioned a vet behaviorist, I've not heard of this before but there are animal behaviorists including those who specialize in cats. Marilyn Krieger one is whom I usually recommend: www.thecatcoach.com There are also animal communicators, including Kristin who is on this forum, who can sometimes help figure out what the problem is.

You can also do a search of this forum from the home page to find other threads about this (there have been many) to see if you find anything that you haven't already tried. I hope you are able to work out the issues with Dante, but kudos to you for sticking with it and continuing to try!
 

Brigitte Cowell

Moderator
Staff member
#3
I haven't much to add over what Patti has asked and suggested.

Only thing is, if he is trying to use the box then maybe just placing puppy pee pads around the box would aid cleanup... but it does seem that if he does go to the box there ought to be a way to make this work better. Definitely it sounds frustrating!
 

Myles

Savannah Super Cat
#4
Wow, it sounds like you have tried the gamut with Dante. I just have a couple of questions - when you say you've used large litterboxes, how large are you talking about? I have found that many Savannahs are too big for 'normal' sized litterboxes so I use Sterlite storage boxes that are up to 45gal and measure close to 3' x 2'. I also find that most cats prefer their litterboxes be uncovered, which is okay with the Sterlite storage boxes since they are almost 20" high.

In what way was the 4'x5' tarp lined box ineffective in catching the urine when you put the litterbox in it - was it not tall enough, or?? I assume you have tried scooping after each use? What happened when you used the cat attract? I have rarely had this fail. You didn't mention whether or not Dante is neutered? Have you considered building him an outdoor enclosure, or is that not feasible in your home?


I have in the past had to bite the bullet and let a cat pee in the shower or in the sink, it is an easy fix and easy to clean up. A bit inconvenient to have to move the litterbox every time you shower, but for me it was worth the extra hassle to not have the cat pee outside of the litterbox.

As for the marking, you want to be sure to use a really effective enzyme cleaner such as Anti Icky Poo or Unique Distributors. Most urine cleaners that you buy at the local pet store are just not strong enough to completely eliminate the urine, and as long as there is any lingering scent it will attract Dante back to that spot.

I not you've mentioned a vet behaviorist, I've not heard of this before but there are animal behaviorists including those who specialize in cats. Marilyn Krieger one is whom I usually recommend: www.thecatcoach.com There are also animal communicators, including Kristin who is on this forum, who can sometimes help figure out what the problem is.

You can also do a search of this forum from the home page to find other threads about this (there have been many) to see if you find anything that you haven't already tried. I hope you are able to work out the issues with Dante, but kudos to you for sticking with it and continuing to try!
The current box is about 26" x 32" I'd estimate, it's about as big as I can get through the bedroom door, any bigger then that, and I have an issue. The largest I tried was the rubbermaid trough with the hole cut through the center, it was around 16" x 48" (around 2/3 the size of my bathtub for perspective at that point). The hole was cut in the center, to ensure he could leave a mess on one side, and escape to the other if he saw necessary.

The tarp was ineffective, because he eventually pawed/clawed around the litter box, making holes in it, bleeding through. Moreover, it just spread the urine all around the litter box (since the tarp was elevated on the 2x2" wood, so the litter box was the lowest point in the middle), making clean-up considerable after each urination.

I scoop after every poop, urine soaks into the pine pellets and makes sawdust. He gets the excess sawdust scooped every day or two realistically (since very little urine goes into it now). The cat-attract simply made a sticky biological mess along the outside of the box where it tended to stick, and get peed upon, it was really gross (I still have 3/4 the container in my closet, 2 years later).

Dante was neutered at around 5 months per the breeders directions, the problems with marking started when he saw racoons at the basement window for the first time as an adolescent, the urine thing didn't happen until at random ~2-3 years ago, he was totally fine before that.

Unfortunately an outdoor enclosure is not an option. I live in Toronto, ON, and besides not being practical in the city (I do have a backyard, but lots of big racoons and such), its simply far too cold most of the year for that to work out.

The marking doesn't seem to be scent, I've run across that before, but he gives the "stank face" when he detects his scent on something, giving a good hint. it has to do with areas he can see excitement (IE: windows, outside doors, etc.). He will re-mark those areas if "excited", and only "if excited" (IE: if blinds are drawn/sealed it will not recur at that spot).

For the behavior bit, the vet I visited last specialized in cat/dog behavior, did work at the Toronto Zoo, etc.:

http://www.kingwestvets.com/category/behaviour/

I haven't worked through every possibility there, but my pocketbook can only take so much as you might imagine, and Dante has spent a lot of my good money, on his bad urination heh.
 

Patti

Admin
Staff member
#5
I'm not quite following why the Cat Attract didn't work - how did it get outside the box, was he scratching it out? Have you tried the Cat Attract additive rather than the actual litter? http://www.amazon.com/Cat-Attract-2...01082627&sr=8-3&keywords=cat+attract+additive

As far as the marking, it does sound like this behavior is being triggered by outside activities, which is hard to control. Not sure if there is a way to keep the raccoons away or keep the blinds drawn to lessen these episodes. One more question - has the vet ever checked to make sure the neuter was complete? Even leaving a bit of testicular tissue behind can generate hormones that can prompt these behaviors. I believe your vet can draw a testosterone level to confirm he is not producing any.
 

Myles

Savannah Super Cat
#8
I'm not quite following why the Cat Attract didn't work - how did it get outside the box, was he scratching it out? Have you tried the Cat Attract additive rather than the actual litter? http://www.amazon.com/Cat-Attract-20-oz/dp/B000O5JXKO/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1401082627&sr=8-3&keywords=cat attract additive

As far as the marking, it does sound like this behavior is being triggered by outside activities, which is hard to control. Not sure if there is a way to keep the raccoons away or keep the blinds drawn to lessen these episodes. One more question - has the vet ever checked to make sure the neuter was complete? Even leaving a bit of testicular tissue behind can generate hormones that can prompt these behaviors. I believe your vet can draw a testosterone level to confirm he is not producing any.
I was using the additive. I used the litter very briefly, but found it was terrible clay clumping garbage, with cat-nip inside basically.

The additive would get sprinkled generously over his litter. What I found was that the cat-attract usually outlasted the litter, to the point where when he was spraying urine on the box/splashing/etc., it would wet the walls of the box (as he'd prefer a corner/side), and when pawing at the cat-attract, the dusty stuff would bind to the urine on the side of the box, making an algae like substance.

I did try two boxes, it had no impact on the behavior. In fact, it made things worse (twice the unpredictability in terms of the mess). I have a second box (identical to the one pictured) sitting idle in his closet, as it just makes it harder to contain the spill. I use a little blue mat in front of his existing box to catch the urine, If I catch it on the first go, it gets ~90% of the urine.