Katz Tales: Why is our cat suddenly peeing on the furniture?

  • Animals
  • Monday, 14 May 2018

Cats will only use their litter box if it is clean. Photo: 123rf.com

Two weeks ago, Swooner peed on the living room curtains. Immediately after, he tried to pee on the sofa. As we yelled at him, he shot out of the house. We were barely settled after cleaning up, when he marched back in, jumped on to my lap, and peed on me.

Yes, you read that right. I was the subject of a golden shower, kitty style.

When he peed on the curtains, I was really annoyed with him. When he hit the sofa, I was bewildered, and by the time I got the treatment, I was seriously worried.

There are several mundane reasons that lead cats to pee outside the litter box, so my first move was to check his box; it was clean. Also, it’s up in the little bathroom that he’s claimed exclusively. Target and Guido don’t go there. So this was not sparked by a dirty litter box.

I considered it might be a urinary tract infection but, frankly, I didn’t think that was the issue. When Swooner was peeing, he didn’t seem to be in any physical discomfort.

It can be tricky to gauge cat emotions accurately, but I know my kitten very well and I could have sworn there was a look of determination on his face. But what was he trying to say?

Some cats pee on things they own, and this can include their humans. We thought it might be that, but in the light of him trying the furniture first, it didn’t seem very likely.

Our next thought was that Swooner was reacting to Tom, my husband, breaking a leg and an arm. Cats have a rep for being cool and calm in the case of even the most challenging of circumstances but, after the accident, we had to make some changes.

The cats consider having Tom at home a plus, but on the negative side we moved some of the furniture and we’re temporarily sleeping apart. I suspected that Swooner, being a little cat, was picking up on all the emotions, and expressing himself in the form of a dirty protest.

To be sure there was no medical problem, I called the vet and made an appointment for the next morning.

Trouble comes in floods, right? The very next morning, at the crack of dawn, Swooner stepped out and got into a fight with Charlie, the cat who lives across the street. I’m pretty sure that Swooner started it but Charlie certainly finished it. His dad texted me to say Swooner streaked out of their compound after having had his ears boxed.

So we went to the vet, who found Swooner had a scratch under his eye and a cut ear. My poor kitten was terrified, so he put his paws around my neck and hung on for dear life as his doctor checked him out.

Swooner had a slight temperature but, for the rest, he seemed OK. The not-quite-a-fever was possibly from the fight or it might have been a sign of an infection.

This is the problem with animal health: the furries can’t talk, so there’s a lot of logical deduction and interpretation. In my kitten’s case, the vet wasn’t sure if the peeing was a result of a mild urinary tract infection or emotional upset.

As Swooner had been in a serious scuffle, the vet recommended a course of antibiotics. These would prevent the wounds from becoming infected and cure any other infections that might be lurking. He recommended we throw the “kitchen sink” at the problem, and also give Swooner some emotional support.

I took my pet home, and to make sure it was extra easy to hit the litter box, we installed a second one downstairs. Also, as cats are creatures of habit, we began watching him closely. When Swooner lurks in a meaningful way, we pick him up and cuddle him – or clap our hands and say, “No.”

Guido claims Tom, and – as the big cat and the kitten aren’t huge friends – I began taking Swooner to bed with me, as well as Target, at night, rather then let Swooner choose where to sleep. My senior cat is a generous soul, and so the three of us are fine dossing down together.

For two weeks, it worked. Swooner ate his medicine – cunningly hidden inside some sticky treats – like a champion, and we had no incidents. But the day before yesterday, Swooner had a barney with a marauding cat from down the road, after which he came into the house, and headed for the curtains.

I caught him just in time by yelling, “No!” and he went racing out the door.

He came back 10 minutes later, and almost peed in the house again. I put him outside and shut the door behind him, figuring he’d pee in the ferns. After half an hour, I let him back in.

Swooner looked guilty and defiant when he marched back into the house, but when I took him up to bed with me, I got head butts and purrs. He went back to using his box again, too.

Given the circumstances, I suspect Swooner doesn’t cope well with upheaval. It might be because he had such a rough start in life, or he may simply be a sensitive cat. With luck, our plan will help us manage the problem in the long run but it’s going to take time and effort.

Let’s hope it’s an end to the dirty protest.

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