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When someone contacts Teri with a cat related question, she will post the question, and the answer, by way of recommended links to follow, and in that way can help many, many cats and their owners!
Teri loves ending her day knowing she helped a kitty, or two, or more!
Question: We're looking for an immediate home for our cat. He is very loving and healthy, but will not use his litter box and we just can't take it any longer. We've tried everything, except a change in environment.. Please help if you can.
Answer: Without know the details on how long he has been doing this, if there are other cats in the house, what medical tests he has had and what medications, if any, have been tried, I cannot know if he is rehabilitatable or not. But I can tell you that I have successfully retrained many cats, many who had been not using their litterboxes for many years! I would be happy to speak with you in depth about your situation, but thought you might like to read about what I do when I get a kitty to rehabilitate with litter box issues. Here's my rehab protocol:
I have done a few blog posts about kitties I have worked with...here's one:
Initially, I will set up a cat in the guest bedroom, with the 4'high x 4' long x 2' wide cage, with a shelf for a bed with a heating pad under the bed and on the bottom level, a large open litter box and food/water bowls. I visit the cat twice in the morning before work and numerous times each evening after I get home. But they will also have their quiet time and that will enable me to see if they are anxious or calm and how neat they keeps their cage, as often a cat that makes a mess--dumps over water, pulls the bed off the shelf, etc is exhibiting anxiety behaviors and may need medication for that.
If the cat is good and happy and neat in the cage, then after 2 weeks, I will move it into the guest bathroom, with more room but still easy to clean up. After 2 more weeks, if the cat is behaving, then I tempt it to urination inappropriately by putting bath mats and towels on the floor. Again, the cat will have numerous visits from me during this time.
If all is fine after 2 weeks in the bathroom, then the cat will get to have free run of the guest bedroom, with the cage still in there but left open. And it will be evident if it prefers the security of the cage to sleep and rest or if it prefers the 'human bed' in the guest room. I will nap and sleep with it from time to time while it has free run of the guest bedroom.
If all is fine after two more weeks, then I will introduce, under supervision, one of the other cats into 'it's' room. Of course, by then it will know their smell and meows but meeting one face to face will let me know if it wants to share his space and litter box and still behave. After two more weeks, if it is behaving, then it can have supervised freedom to the 2 upper floors of the house, with interacting with the other cats. But I will still have it confined to the bedroom when I am not home or I am sleeping.
Each progression to the next level of course is dependent on it using the litter box 100%, and if a lapse occurs, then we back up a step. Of course, I keep the previous owners informed weekly on how it is doing, and if it's rehab is successful, then after about 6 months of good behavior, then I will start accepting adoption applications for it. By then I should be able to discern if it would rather be an only cat or has a preference for male or female cat companionship, too.
If it's out of litter box behaviors continue, then I will see if it would like to be a companion for Sammy, who is my retired stud cat. Sammy is most comfortable being confined to his stud room, although on the weekends he does come out and hang with me while I am on the computer or watching TV, but most of the time, I find him back in his room enjoying his 'man cave'. Not surprising as he is 10 years old now and that room has kind of been his world for so many years...but he does enjoy watching the squirrels and birds when he is out in the basement and he and Coco get along well, but he is not too trusting of Disco or Brighton. I think Sammy would come to enjoy the company of another kitty, and by then I will know if the cat in rehab prefers to be alone or with a cat friend.
I have worked with 6 cats for litter box issues and have been able to help all but one of them, Sunny. You can read about him here:
The protocol I follow was developed by cat behaviorists and each step is very important, and none can be skipped, to help ensure success. I am used to such demands, where many times in a family home situation, owners feel the are being mean in separating a cat or confining it, but if a cat relapses and a step has been skipped or shortened, one will never know if success would have been achieved if the protocol had been followed, if you understand my explanation.
I am sorry I am not in a position to help you physically right now, but hope the above info can help you help Oliver out yourselves. You can certainly forward on this email to any family that might consider adopting Oliver as I would recommend they follow exactly the same protocol when they adopt him!