The Vine: January 19, 2011
This is not REALLY a cat-peeing-outside-the-box question, it's more of a theoretical question based on that circumstance.
The backstory: I gave my boyfriend a kitten 4 1/2 years ago, it was cute and squeaky and my sister found it in a dumpster at work (the kitten could not have been more than 6 weeks old at that point). I had previously given BF a kitten who worked out well and needed a friend. However, dumpster kitty has proven to be THE most difficult pet I've ever partially owned.
BF and I moved in together about a year after Dumpster came and ever since then (more than three years) she's has been peeing on everything I own, including me when I've been asleep in bed multiple times. She's ruined thousands upon thousands of dollars of purses, purse content, shoes, coats, furniture, bedspreads, entire baskets of laundry, mail, papers, magazines. All of which BF has more or less replaced for me without too much complaint. During that time he's also spent upwards of 4-5K trying to FIX her issues, and Sars, he has literally tried EVERYTHING. Prozac, kitty whisperers, every single medical test known to the endless number of different vets we've seen, we've tried new litters, we have multiple boxes and scoop multiple times a day, we've tried cat hormones that are supposed be calming and on and on and on…but nothing is working. We tried making her an outside cat after a particular nasty bout of peeing on our bed that resulted in a new mattress, but that was a disaster because it turns out Dumpster is allergic to both fleas and flea medicines and must be kept indoors or she will scratch herself raw.
Since we've had to keep her indoors the peeing has resumed and it doesn't matter which room we keep her in (we were keeping her in our dining-room area, locked out of our bedroom and away from all textiles, and she promptly peed on the dining room table). I should mention our other cat is perfectly happy and friendly with no pee issues. I grew up with cats and never had any problems with them. From what we can tell Dumpster's issues are just based on territoriality and an extreme aversion to even slight changes in her environment (for example, me setting down my coat or the mail on the table). She almost never pees on anything BF owns unless it just happens to be close to something of mine she's after.
Long story short, I'm not looking for new solutions, even if I haven't listed it we've tried everything we possibly can (we have an entire shelf in our pantry devoted to cat pee removal sprays that don't work). I just want to know, because I feel wildly guilty, if there's ever a point at which it's okay to say "this animal is not working out for us, we need to find her a new home"? Because honestly, I can't handle it anymore, it's making me a nervous wreck and I feel like I'm walking on eggshells in my own home to not disturb the cat. I would like to be able to come home and set my purse down without coming back to find everything ruined 5 seconds later. Though I feel badly giving up on what we feel is a member of our family I don't think I can continue to live like this anymore and I feel like we've done our due diligence being proactive in trying to seek out solutions for her and nothing we've done has helped.
Our last vet gave up on us a couple weeks ago saying "she really can't be an outside cat, but it's also really clear she can't be an inside cat either"; my BF is devastated but has admitted he's willing to give her away if it means us keeping our relationship, because I'm ready to move out after three years of this. I know your policies on never abandoning an animal that depends on you and I've reminded myself of that many, many times throughout the past couple years, but I want to know if there's ever an end to that if there are extreme extenuating circumstances?
Cat pee ruins everything
My near-zero-tolerance policy on abandoning a companion animal proceeds from long and depressing firsthand experience with the selfish horseshit reasons people come up with for ditching their pets. Mabel's previous "human" had a four-day business trip planned, but dropped her off at a kill shelter instead of hiring a cat-sitter (…RIGHT?!), and I can tell you ten variations on that unacceptable story just off the top of my head.
But there's a difference between abandoning an animal because she's inconvenient — or expensive, or a little louder or pointier than you thought — and trying to re-home an animal whose unhappiness is destructive, when you've already tried everything you can to create a happy environment for her. I mean, leaving aside that she's making the humans miserable, you because you functionally have to live in a Tupperware container in order to ward off the peeing, BF because he's in the middle of the two of you? A cat who pees on everything all the time is, as you well know by now, either ill or profoundly pissed off, and it sounds like Dumpster is the latter. She's not happy, and finding another environment for her that's better suited to her territory issues is probably best for her, as well as for you guys.
Cats have personalities and preferences too, and some of them really can't abide staying inside all the time, or sharing their living space with other animals (or other females, or whatever). Finding Dumpster a new place to live, a flea- and you-free environment in which she's the only pet, is the best thing for her and for you. Now, actually pulling off that kind of placement is sometimes tough, but if you'd like to let us know in the comments where you live, maybe the readers can suggest local organizations. Definitely Google for forums or blogs about troubled pets, foster organizations in your area, and so on; at least you'll get some ideas on where to start looking for a new home for her.
And good luck. I know you feel like crap about it, and if you'd written in wanting to street her because she clawed your futon a couple of times, I'd throw a foot up your ass, but that's not the case here. Try to focus on doing your best for the cat.
I have a wedding question I'm hoping you and the readers can help me with. I'm getting married in July, and want to include my brother in my wedding party. My fiancé wants to include his niece, with whom he is very close.
I also have a stepsister and a stepbrother with whom I am not close at all. They live in another state (along with my brother, who's in college). I asked my stepsister if she wanted to be in the wedding party and she said that she'll do whatever I want; my stepbrother is very easygoing and I don't think he cares whether he's involved or not.
My question is: how much of an asshole am I if I don't include her? Do you have any suggestions for something else she could do that would be special? She bakes really pretty cakes, but I'm not sure how that would work if she's coming from out of town — maybe she could make it in my kitchen the day before? Or is that way too complicated?
Trying not to offend
It depends on how elaborate a wedding you have planned; the more traditional the service, the more options the bride and groom might have for letting family members participate outside of the wedding party proper. Could you have your stepsibs each do a reading? Hand out programs? Certainly the cake is one idea, although it's my impression that the average wedding cake is not a night-before undertaking — and you say that your stepbrother probably doesn't care if he's included, but your stepparent might, so if you make one stepsibling a part of things, you should make sure the other has something to do as well.
The only issue I really see is that you've already mentioned the wedding party to your stepsister, so not making her a bridesmaid when you've already asked her about it might seem a little weird unless the wedding party is quite small. On the other hand, she did say that you should do whatever, so: do whatever. Creating spaces for them both to take part in the ceremony seems like your best bet.
Tags: cats etiquette the fam