Is your cat urinating or defaecating in the house?
Feline inappropriate elimination is one of the most common behavioural complaints of cat owners and can involve either urine or faeces.
Cats can do this for a number of behavioural reasons but it is important that they have a thorough health check to rule out any common medical causes- for example cystitis (see separate advice on feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD)), or arthritis.
Some cats as they get older find it difficult to negotiate a cat flap (or it is simply too cold!). The problem of house soiling may therefore be solved by the provision of one or more litter trays in easily accessible locations. One litter tray should be provided for each cat in the household, plus an extra one, and should be cleaned daily.
If a litter tray is already provided, your cat may object to a change in substrate, or it may be sited in a busy thoroughfare (eg next to a catflap). Moving the tray to somewhere more private or using a covered tray may be helpful.
If your cat is returning to the same site to urinate or defaecate then preventing access to that area is a good short term solution, but it may mean that that his or her attentions turn elsewhere! Thorough cleaning of the soiled area is important- many cleaners will simply mask the odour rather than get rid of it.
A good homemade cleaning protocol is to spray the area with a 1 in 10 solution of biological washing detergent (test an area first to ensure it does not remove colour from the carpet), leave to soak, blot dry then rinse with clean water. Finally spray with surgical spirit. This ensures that the lipid and protein elements of the urine and faeces are removed, which constitutes the odour.
Stress!! Sudden onset of house soiling can be triggered by stress. Having building work carried out, introduction of a new cat or dog, a new baby, bullying by neighbourhood cats or busy Christmas family gatherings are common causes of stress to cats.
Consider installing a microchip reader cat flap which allows only your cat access to your house, and prevents bully cats from entering. These are more expensive than conventional flaps but are a worthwhile investment.
Feliway pheromone either sprayed directly onto the soiled area or in the form of a plug in diffuser can help to relieve stress. Nutraceutical products such as Zylkene and Nutracys+ both help to relieve stress and are available at reception. Waltham Royal Canin Calm diet is a food with a product similar to Zylkene added to it. They can all be used long term, or can be used at times of stress if preferred.
If these steps are followed and the problem is unresolved, then your vet may prescribe medication to reduce stress or anxiety. It is worth noting that most behaviour modifying medications are not licensed for cats and their effects can be variable.
Please arrange an appointment to discuss any concerns; one of our vets will be happy to help.