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FuzzysDad

Registered:
Posts: 3
 #1 
I'm sitting in my apartment an absolute basket case after having surrendered my sweet 13 year old cat to the shelter today.  I have not been able to stop crying and I'm so angry at myself and feel so guilty.  I don't want anyone to make me feel better or tell me I did the right thing or exonerate me.  I don't know what I want, really, other than just to talk about her.  I apologize if I sound crazy.

I got her in the summer of '06 at the humane society.  I originally went there to adopt an older cat as a companion for my one year old boy cat but he was no longer available.  I looked around and saw a little of black manx cats with one grey one in the middle.  I wasn't looking for a girl cat because I had been told boys and girls don't get along if they don't grow up together, but I took her to the room and she just curled up on my lap and seemed so content that I decided to adopt her. 

Once I got her, I took her directly to my vet before bringing her home to have her checked out.  The year before, my boy cat came back from the shelter with a URI and I wanted to make sure she was okay.  It turned out she was very sick, had pneumonia, and was severely dehydrated.  I had to hospitalize her twice in 10 days but I brought her home, sequestered her in my bedroom for a month and nursed her to health.  She became very bonded to me and was a little annoyed to find after a month that she was going to have to share me with my other cat, but they forged a polite cohabitation.  But through the years, she was always a shy cat, did not like other people, would oftentimes hide, and was very attached to me.

11 years later I moved out of my long time apartment into a bigger place.  Neither of them took the move well but I tried to stay close to them and help them adapt and after a month or so, they seemed to be used to things.

About 7 months into the move, I started noticing that there was a lot of "wet litter" on the rubber mat in front of the box.  I didn't understand what was happening and would clean the mat off every time I cleaned the box. I thought maybe it was a digging problem.  I finally threw out the mat after a couple months and while waiting for a new one to arrive found that there was a big puddle of urine in front of the box.  So someone was peeing outside the box.

I initially thought it was my boy because he's very smart and can be vindictive and I had been traveling a lot for work over the past couple months. I took him into the vet anyway to have him checked out and he was fine (but developed pancreatitis a couple months later, which I'm having him treated for).  However, I realized a couple weeks later that it was actually my girl cat.  So I took her to the vet, had them do blood work and xrays and she was in perfect health.  No one could explain the peeing outside the box.  I tried a new litter box, I tried different litter, I went back to the old box and back to the old litter... nothing seemed to work.  I started leaving puppy pads down in front of the box.

The urination was random.  Sometimes it would happen 3-4 times a week, sometimes she would go for 10 days without peeing outside the box (and she always pooped in the box).  It was also affecting her in terms of urine soaking her nethers and I was having to use wipes on her (which was difficult because she's always been a very stressed out cat, even though I never gave her a reason to be and she always had a quiet life) but if I came anywhere near her, she'd run and hide.  Getting her to the vet was an ordeal.  I started having a mobile groomer come and give her spa treatments and a sanitary clip every 6 weeks or so.

Since there was no medical reason for the urination, and there was no pattern or rhyme or reason, I put up with it.  But it was really stressing me out.  a couple years previous to this, I had cancer and went through several months of chemo.  I did it on my own and cleaned up a lot after myself if you know what I mean.  And then last year, my mother got very sick, wound up in a nursing home with heart and kidney failure and dementia, and after a very brutal struggle with that, died last August.  I'm not sure I ever properly processed or dealt with either of these things, and on top of that there's been job stress. I say all of this not for sympathy, but to try and explain where my head has been.

So the past few months, the urination thing has gotten worse. I'm changing pads daily, and cleaning up pee, and trying to keep her clean.  I've been thinking for some time about getting rid of her, but I've really tried to deal with it.  Right before the 4th of July I went to the dr because of headaches and found that my blood pressure was sky high, and the stress from everything really has been impossible. Every time I have to clean up after her, it would make it worse.  The past several days, it progressed to every time she pees, she pees out of the litter box, so I was cleaning up three times a day, and I think today I just snapped.  After cleaning up, I picked her up and put her in her carrier and drove her to the local shelter and surrendered her.  Again, this was not an impulsive decision.  I've been considering it for a few months and even contacted a few rescue places in my city.  No one ever returned my email or phone call.  The humane society where I adopted her is now a big no kill facility, but they would not take her because I don't live in the zone anymore.

The shelter I brought her to, the people were very nice. Too nice.  I felt like garbage and even told the intake person to stop being so nice to me.  I didn't deserve it. 

I didn't even get a chance to say goodbye.  They gave me some papers to fill out and when my back was turned, they took the carrier and brought it into another room.  I walked out the door, burst into tears and I have been crying on and off since.  I went on the website.  She's listed.  She looks so sad in the photo.  

I don't know what to do.  I've thought about going back to get her tomorrow a million times because I made a commitment to her.  But getting her back isn't going to solve the problem and I've really begun to realize in the past few weeks that the last three years of things I've gone through have really taken a toll on me mentally and emotionally and I don't think I knew just how bad of shape I was in, so I don't think I'm equipped to handle her. (Not that I ever hurt her or did anything to her. I'm simply taking about the stress.)  But I don't know how to deal with the guilt.

Thank you for listening.  I know it's long and if I don't get any responses, that's okay.  It helped to be able to write it out, at least for the moment.  I don't imagine I'm going to feel better for quite some time, and I am just not sure how to cope with that.
Shdfx1

Registered:
Posts: 5
 #2 
Cats are very emotional, and urination is one of the languages they use. I had a beloved cat who was so attached to me that if I went on a trip, he would always pee on me, in my bed, the night I got home. Then never again after that. It's like there was no way for him to express how my disappearance frightened him any other way. 

Non-medical reasons why a cat will start urinating outside of a litter box:
1. There are other cats outside looking in, making her feel stressed about her territory
2. She is stressed about sharing her territory with another cat
3. She has not accepted the new territory as her own
4. She does not have what she needs to feel comfortable in her own home - places to hide, high places to look out from, scratching post
5. Food or supplements

I wanted to ask you how many litter boxes you have in the house. It might be that she cannot pee inside a box filled with another cat's pee, especially if it is a male. They mark with urine. So a female cat using a male's litter box is going right into his marked territory. Peeing outside the box might be as close as she could bear.

Did you try separating her in a room, with her own litter box and territory?

Did you try separate litter boxes while they share the same home?

Does she prefer an open litter box, or one with a hood? 

Is she a cat who likes high places, or does she like to go to ground, like under the bed? Whatever she prefers, give her a safe space, whether it's a cat ledge, or a cubby with a hole for her to nest in. If other cats are looking inside the window from outside, there are motion sensing water sprayers you could put outside.

Cat's can't talk. The only way she can tell you that she's really, really upset is by peeing. You were getting a "no" response to everything you tried, which if I understand correctly, was a medical exam, changing the litter box, changing the litter, pee pads, clips, and cleaning up. That doesn't change her environment, and maybe that's what she's been trying to tell you. I know the urine is horrifying and stressful, but kitties don't really have any way to communicate complex problems to us. Urine problems translate to "I am really, really, really upset and cannot handle this." 

The chances of an older cat who has difficulty using the litter box are low, which is why you are upset. 

If you surrendered your kitty to a shelter to improve your stress, I don't think it's going to work. Now you are worried about how she's feeling, if she will be euthanized, and guilty. You don't have a feeling of relief, which would have been an affirmation that you made the right decision. 

If it were me, I'd give it one more go of 30 days. 

You have every right to feel exhausted, worn out, and fed up. You had to do something to improve the situation. The problem is that this type of decision can become a strong regret later on. 

I would recommend the following. 
Pick her up from the shelter. She might develop an illness after coming into close proximity to so many other animals, so watch for symptoms.
Isolate her in a room. Get her 2 new litter boxes, one that's just an open pan, and one with a hood, and use whatever litter she used before. Do not put soiled litter from the existing boxes in there, as many people do with a new litter box. Fresh everything. These are HERS. See if she has a preference for one of the styles. 

Check out Galaxy Jackson, the "cat whisperer" website (https://www.jacksongalaxy.com/solutions/by-issue/behavior/) Cats are extremely emotional creatures, and sometimes a supplement can help their stress. 

In the meantime, ask for help and review suggestions on a cat website. Try this one (https://thecatsite.com/tags/litterbox-problems/)

As your plan B, you need to find the local cat lovers organizations in your area. You said you contacted two rescues. I would tell your vet that you need help with your cat, and ask for recommendations. Your vet would probably know a reputable rescue, cat association, or someone who takes in problem cats. Plan your out if nothing you do works.

In my opinion, the problems are that you may not have addressed the root of the problem, and you don't have an exit strategy you can feel good about. If everything you tried failed, but you had the ability to re-home her to someone who could care for her, you would feel at peace that you'd tried everything, and she was safe. 

So my advice is to address both of those. Go get her, try the suggestions above so you can feel confident that you looked at this from all angles, and get an exit strategy that won't cause you more stress than you already have. 

Good luck. Litter box problems can be devastating. Sending you a hug. 


FuzzysDad

Registered:
Posts: 3
 #3 
Thank you, Shdfx1.  I have tried some of the things you've suggested and others I can't because of the size of my apartment.  However, the two cats have been together their whole lives so I would be surprised if it had to suddenly do with territory.

Anyway, I am going to go back and get her tomorrow.  I feel awful, and I don't see how I will feel any better.  She is my responsibility and the thought of her in a cage, afraid and alone, is killing me.
goofygirlinva

Registered:
Posts: 1,125
 #4 
Fuzzy's Dad, I hope you do go and get her and I hope some of the things Shdfx1 suggested will work. I can understand how difficult it is to live with a cat that does not use the litter box. My grumpy old boy Thomas, who is 22, has litter box issues. I've only had him for 2 years (I adopted him at age 20 when his person died and none of his person's family would agree to adopt Thomas). It can be very frustrating and in Thomas' case I think some of it might be territorial, as I have 3 other cats, including one that does not get along with him at all. It might also be the same with you. Sometimes if a home is small and you have multiple cats, they will act out even if they have been together their whole lives.

I really hope that when you bring her home things get better, for both of you. Please post an update here when you can - even though you may not realize it, there are lots of people on this website rooting for you and your kitty...

Hugs to you and your kitty

- Kelly
Angel Blackie's mom
Angel Squeeker's mom

Shdfx1

Registered:
Posts: 5
 #5 
Fuzzy's Dad:

Let us know how it goes. Please consider visiting both of the websites I posted above. They are good sources of information when you need expert advice, plus a source of support. Meanwhile, you can work on your plan B exit strategy. While working on any suggestions from the websites and others, you can canvass rescues and experienced cat people just in case nothing works. That way, if this doesn't work out, you can have an option that you'll be at peace with, and doesn't exacerbate your stress.

It is also possible that there is an undiagnosed medical condition that would not show up without further testing. 

Sending you hugs and support. 
FuzzysDad

Registered:
Posts: 3
 #6 
I'm sorry for not replying sooner.  I have good news and bad news.  But the good news is for the cat, thankfully.

I had made the decision to go back and get her on Saturday morning when they first opened, so that I could take her to the vet and groomer before bringing her back home.  However, she was adopted the day before.  They had put up a new photo of her on the site and she looked really good and really cute so I guess it attracted someone.  I talked to a woman there without telling her who I was at first and she said someone had come Friday morning to adopt her.

So while I'm still missing her terribly and feel awful about my decision, I'm so happy that she's in a new home and I hope she has more peace there.  I'll keep checking the site in case she's returned, but I hope she isn't and I hope her new family loves and takes care of her.  There's not a day I don't think about her several times, but I did what I felt I had to do. I was not equipped mentally or emotionally to keep up after her.  

I appreciate everyone's kind words and helpful suggestions.  If for some reason she is returned and I do go get her, I will take them into consideration.  Thank you all.
Karmacat

Registered:
Posts: 133
 #7 
Hi Fuzzy Dad

That's good news for the cat. We all hope the new owner will keep her and take good care of her.

After watching many Jackson Galaxy programs on YouTube, in most of the cases where a cat refuses to use her litter box and pees in various other places, there was always some stressor or other factor at work. By analysing and addressing the issues in each case, he was able to solve most of these problems of random peeing and defecation. The owners were always quite shocked that the problem could be fixed, as most of them had given up hope after a long exhausting struggle with the problem, just like what you went through.

Perhaps you might want to go check out these videos on YouTube as a preparation, and for your own understanding. It sounds very much like you would like to have your cat back, and in case this somehow happens, at least you would have some clear ideas as to how to tackle the problem.
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