I’d like you to meet Daisy and Peaches, two of my clients who were introduced to me by their guardian, Dorothy. Dorothy originally contacted me because both of these kitties were pooping and peeing outside of their litterboxes. However, after talking with Dorothy about these cats’ history, behavior, and interactions, I decided there was more going on here than just a case of the litterbox blues. We had a relationship problem on our hands, which was resulting in stress-related litterbox issues!
Dorothy has had Peaches for nearly 15 years, since she was a kitten. Daisy, however, came to her about six months ago when a friend decided to give her up – due to some rough handling by a toddler, Daisy had gotten stressed and started peeing outside of her litterbox. Daisy stayed pretty much in Dorothy’s bedroom and bathroom for a couple of months, and all was fine, until it was decided that it was time that Daisy needed to explore the rest of the house (because, let’s face it, no one wants a litterbox in their bathroom forever!). Well, that’s when the trouble started. Peaches didn’t really care for Daisy, and Daisy was rather scared of Peaches. After some time, Dorothy discovered that the cats had been using the dining room as their litterbox, much to her dismay. After moving the litterboxes to the dining room, the cats were still peeing and pooping on the floor. What a conundrum!
It turns out that the house was Peaches’ territory, and Daisy was just living with it. After giving Dorothy some litterbox makeover tips, I wanted Dorothy to start working on establishing a positive relationship between these two kitties who had never been properly introduced, and start increasing Daisy’s confidence, since she is a bit timid in general. Fortunately, Daisy loves treats and affection, so Dorothy had something to work with! I advised Dorothy to spread resources (food, water, and litterboxes) throughout more of the cats’ environment, and gave her some instructions on scent-swapping and creating a group scent using treats to create positive associations with the opposite cat. That’s been a little tough to implement (Peaches won’t tolerate being petted using a sock, or even being brushed!), but along with some other advice, within a week or two, Dorothy started noticing some changes.
First, both cats have been spending a little bit more time in the living room, which is great since Peaches generally hung out in the bedroom, and Daisy spent most of her time underneath the dining room table. Second, Daisy, little Miss Timid, has been somewhat territorial over one of the water bowls! Look who’s establishing some of her own boundaries! And third, while the stress-related litterbox issues haven’t been completely resolved, they are becoming less frequent.
The other thing to note here is that Dorothy has been a great client. She’s done her best to implement the behavior plan, and when she has questions about how to do something, she asks. She made sure she bought the right kind of container for the new litterboxes, and has sent me updates along the way, including pictures. Given the dedicated work that Dorothy has done and the progress these kitties have made, I expect that in a few weeks, litterbox incidents should be a thing of the past, and Peaches and Daisy will be spending more time with Dorothy in the main part of the house using their own perches and being part of the family.
I love it when a plan comes together, and everyone wins!
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