Cat who won't use litter

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by MidwestMom, Oct 23, 2009.

  1. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    My oldest daughter has a beloved Maine Coon mix who won't use the litter box. The story is kind of an eye roller, but she lived with her SO's mother and SO for a few years so they could save money for a house, which they did. However, his mom is really sweet, but not very bright and she put pads all around for the cats to do their business on (she has an assortment of animals) and my daughter's cat apparently got used to that. She had a litter box, but now daughter is thinking she didn't use it with the pads being easier.

    Now that they are in their own home her SO and her are going ballistic because the cat refuses to use the litter box. My daughter really loves this cat and has tried everything she knows. Do any of you cat lovers have any suggestions? She doesn't want to have it put down. Would a rescue take a cat who won't use the litter box? I'd pay the surrender fee for her but somebody told me that nobody would take her because she'd be unadoptable.

    Any rescues in Illinois?

  2. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    Cats go in the same place because they smell it. So, when the cat pees somewhere else, put the towel used to clean it up in the litterbox - and show it to the cat. Same thing with the poop.

    In order for that to really work, though, they'll have to completely get rid of the smell out of the carpeting and padding. If it's along the wall or in a corner, you can pull up the carpet and cut out the affected padding and replace it, then really soak the carpet (actually soak the carpet while the padding section is out).

    If it's not, you'll have to find a product that is really good at getting rid of those odors. Someone else may be able to help with that because I've never had any luck. Fortunately, when I had a cat that would have issues, she always went in a corner. Replacing the padding and soaking the carpet with shampoo and water fixed it every time. (But she already used the litterbox.)
  3. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Flutterby is right. However at the same time, cats prefer to go the same places and they like to be clean!

    If the cat is used to the pads, don't start with litter in the box. Start with the pad in the box. Maybe 3-4 boxes with a pad in it in various spots that the cat prefers to go. Once the cat is consistently using the pads in the box, she can start sprinkling a tiny bit of litter on the pads, slowly increasing the litter until the pad is no longer visible and the cat is still using the box, and scratching to cover their waste with the litter etc.

    I hope it works out. Its so sad when people cater so much to their healthy animals that it ruins the animal long term for potty training.
  4. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I hope it works for you.......Heather and MM's suggestions are both good.

    But we had a cat who's Momma never taught it to use the litter box.........we tried absolutely everything.......and he would only go in the corners of the rooms. :(

    So......he became an outside cat. Fed and loved by the whole neighborhood. :) He had his own dog house against the elements.
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Thanks, guys.

    I also asked for advice on Craigslist and got many responses, very similar. I am passing all suggestions, including these, to my daughter.

  6. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    Google Maine Coon Cat Rescue. There is a nationwide network of foster to permanent homes out there with a focus on adult/older cats.

    You should be able to find a branch in IL. The only downside is transporting the animal. In some cases transport is done by volunteers doing 100 mile legs until the cat arrives at it's destination.

    Last time I dealt closely with them, I took the long leg from Chicago to OH. At that time there were no fees for placing a cat. I don't know if there are in these tough times, but I am quite sure that a nice donation wouldn't hurt.
  7. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    That's what I was going to suggest too, about placing the pad in the litter box and gradually covering it with litter.

    Cats can be very funny about using the litter box though. My daughter once had two grown neutered male cats that did fine together for quite a while, but then the younger one started refusing to use the box. He would go next to the box! They finally figured out that he was refusing to use the box after the other cat had used it. He didn't want to share.
  8. Star*

    Star* call 911

    My suggestion? Get a large cat cage or rent one from a local animal rescue. Put/keep the cat IN the cage with a litter pan and fill with a good litter (one she intends on using for a long time).

    Things like declawing can alter a cat's perceptions later in life and cause them irreparable damage. Causing them to not use the litter box. See tons of that at the rescue. People turn their cats in by the dozens citing "all of a sudden" their adult cat (always declawed) started relieving itself on their comforter or couch or plants "out of spite" when it NEVER did as a kitten. Our first question - "Did you have them declawed and when? Usually the answer is about a year ago.

    Sometimes the problem is kidney stones or feline leukemia which can be easily tested by a simple urine test. Then there is a special diet and medication regime. Cats don't do things like this out of spite or anger.

    Once a routine and potty place is established it's best to NOT move the cage OR the litterbox but LEAVE them both in the same spot and just clean daily lumps and don't disturb as much as possible with a re-trained cat. Eventually - months- you can remove the cage once you see the can start going to the litter box on his own, with no other mistakes - but she's going to have to be dilligent about making sure magazines, books, blankets, doors to rooms are shut - plants in the house are OUT...and other 'desirable' places are not desirable. If the cat is def. in corners of the house? Make the corners unavailable - place tinfoil or some other undesirable sounding material there or scent away purchased at a pet store.

    As far as the litter pan - tell her for the first few months to NOT clean the scent out of that litter pan with any household cleaner or (best thing to use to get that cat smell out is vinegar) but let him have his natural smell.

    He WILL need to be allowed out of that cage for a few hours exercise a day but when he is? I would have him on a harness and long leash and confine him to a room like a laundry room that has no carpet. Or if the room with the cage is a room with no carpet - then leave the litter box in the cage - COVER the cage with a sheet - and leave the door open and let him be, but don't allow him to have full run of the house.

    Maine Coons are extremely intelligent cats - if she has a couple more months patience left in her she'll find she has a very loyal and loving cat.
    He's just never had training - I mean WHO puts pp pads down for a cat? UGH. :ashamed: Poor thing - he never had a chance from the word go.

    Oh and Flutter IS right about the smell - She will HAVE to get the smell OUT of matter HOW much training he has - if he gets out and smells his own scent? BAM....They are wild after all - and territorial. Just so unfair for him.
  9. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Give it back to mother in law?
  10. Star*

    Star* call 911

    When mother in law gets to "that" age; you know where you could buy her Depends or puppy pads.............(smacking my own hand) :tongue:
    (why do they even let you out of the house Star?)
  11. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    If possible, shut the cat in a room with a litter box - the pads in it, then slowly add litter is a great idea too - make sure he has food and water - NOT next to the box - and he can stay there for hours at a time. If it is a room, you won't need to let him out for exercise.

    A room with tile instead of carpet is better. Fold up a towel and place it on a counter or surface for somewhere for the cat to sleep. Not on the floor.

    Also a good way to get the smell out of the carpet is the old volcano trick. Fill a spray bottle with vinegar. Sprinkle baking soda on the floor, spray till WET with vinegar (and watch it foam!). Let sit for about 20 minutes then use a carpet cleaner or a scrub brush to scrub it up.

    FYI - most cats do NOT like this!!!

    Do not, whatever you do, use ammonia to clean it up.
  12. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Thank you all. I talked to J. today and this is what she is doing and so far it's working.

    She had P. in the bathroom with clean litter, her bed, her toys and frequent visits.

    Daughter also has another cat, who can pick on P. I told her that stress (from all the advice I got!!!) can make a cat behave this way and that maybe she will need to seperate Buck from P. She has a lovely bedroom JUST FOR CATS. One day maybe P. can spend the day there (lots of toys, climbers, scratchers,'s crazy!). The next day Buck can stay there. When the cat is not in the room, it could roam the house (they are both indoor cats).

    Does this sound like good advice? I'm far more aware of how to help dogs than cats. I know one thing though: This big ole baby isn't going to be euthanized if I have to bring her to MY house to train her. But things are getting better. SO and daughter are both cat lovers galore!

    My daughter thanks everyone for helping and has printed off all the responses ;).
  13. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Oh no - all the responses?
  14. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Yes :)

    She also got a lot of help from Craigslist, and I forwarded her all their suggestions. It's amazing how many people love furbabies and just jumped in to help.