The Vine: February 6, 2013
Even with searching through the Vine and TN, I'm at a loss over this: my sister's cat keeps defecating (and possibly peeing) on a corner of the dining room rug. Now that a small table (covered by a brocade tablecloth) lives in that corner, she got the tablecloth too. So I have several questions:
1. Is there a way to clean the carpet area or table cloth that will: a) get rid of the smell of cat feces? b) not leave water stains or bleaching marks behind?
After each incident, I cleaned up the poo but of course, the smell remains. And now I have this tablecloth that also smells like cat poo, has water stains, and probably has a pee stain or two on there as well (it's a heavily decorated tablecloth with Wise Men drawings all over it, so stains aren't readily noticeable to the naked eye).
2. How can I keep the cat from going back to that corner?
Physically barring her from the room isn't an option — the dining room is connected to the living room and kitchen and there's no way to close it off, or keep her out of it permanently. We can confine her to the basement where her litter already resides but with various people going in and out of the basement all day, that doesn't seem like a great long-term plan.
Lately, we've been using a spray bottle to discourage her from even going into the dining room, with mixed results. My sister's tried putting her in basement overnight, letting her out to eat, then putting her back in for about 10 minutes (since that seems to be when she'd normally poop in the dining room), and then letting her back up for the day. My dad keeps putting random junk on top of that corner to discourage her from going back there. Sometimes that all works and sometimes it doesn't, like this morning.
The cat's been defecating in one corner of the dining room, off and on, since July now. The vet has ruled out any physical ailments. She's only about three years old and is in good health. She still uses her litter box regularly — but has also decided that the dining room is a handy litter box too. The only pattern I've noticed is that this all started in July, shortly after my other sister's dog stayed here for a week. And since then, we've had the same dog overnight a few different times for a night or two. Then a few days after he leaves, the cat poops in the dining room. When the dog's here, he usually tries to avoid the cat and she likewise. But we've had the dog stay overnight before, with the cat here, and she didn't poop outside of her litter box after each visit. I don't know what was different about the July visit.
For cleaning the rug, I've tried the OxyClean Pet Cleaner and Stanley Steamer Spot Remover but they haven't worked. You can still smell the cat feces. Most of the remedies I've read about seem to be focused on urinating and territory-marking, not "cat has decided that a non-litter box item shall now be her litter box and will poop there sometimes, but still use her real litter box too."
We've had cats before in my family, with varying degrees of "bathroom problems." Our first cat actually managed to pee on every rug in the house, multiple times, so after she died, my mom replaced all the rugs in the house. Now this cat is using one of those rugs as her personal, second litter box. It's made my mom a bit testy, as you can imagine, especially since she's not much of an animal person to begin with.
And up until this past summer, this cat didn't have litter box problems. Her biggest issue was stealing all of my ponytail holders and hoarding them in the broom closet. I want to solve this problem but I don't know how.
Merry Christmas! I left a present for you in the dining room! Meow, bitch.
On the cleaning tip, try Nature's Miracle. I've had mixed results with it, but many people swear by it, and it comes in every possible formulation — spray bottle, giant bleach-style bottle, I think there's even a powder and/or crystals now. It's easy to use and doesn't smell offensive to humans. That's for the floor; the tablecloth, you can soak in a tub with Nature's Miracle, or take it to a cleaner (shop around for one with some experience with pet staining).
Preventing her from doing it again is another thing. It sounds like the dog is the trigger for the behavior, but unfortunately, you can't unring a bell, and once the cat finds it comforting or familiar to drop some Tootsie Rolls in a particular place, she's going to keep doing it. Not to speak ill of the recently dead, but we had an issue with Joe going down the stairs between my household and the Stupidheads', courting their cat Serena through their front door, and then, when his woo went unanswered, leaving a fragrant calling card next to the laundry table. He absolutely knew better and he absolutely had no other toileting problems, and that's why we have a baby gate at the top of those stairs now.
An open-plan dining room is a challenge in that regard, but if there's any doorway where you could put a gate, that's where I'd start. Not every child/pet gate is a hideous plastic monstrosity; you can find reasonably attractive wooden ones that expand to fit various doorway sizes. Of course, cats can hop over and squeeze through these things if they're particularly determined (and Joe was; there was a whole flying-squirrel routine with the balustrades), but the other thing that might solve the problem is moving the litterbox upstairs to the main level of the house. Yeah, it's nicer to have it in the basement, but if the cat doesn't really spend time down there except to use the bathroom, it may make more sense to lower the barrier to good behavior by transitioning the box to a first-floor bathroom or little-used utility closet. Your sister's current stopgap is a pretty good one — figuring out when these things tend to happen and rerouting the behavior physically — but getting rid of any excuses Little Miss Formal Dining Poo might have for leaving a log elsewhere could help too.
Finally, head to the pet store and get some Feliway. If Miss has a neurosis happening, about the dining room or the dog or some unknowable-to-humans combination, a little soothing pheromone could take the edge off. Like Nature's Miracle, some people swear by it and others say it doesn't do squat, but plugging the time-release version into an outlet in a hallway near the dining room might get you results.
Tags: cats home 'n' garden