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Home » The Vine

The Vine: February 6, 2013

Submitted by on February 6, 2013 – 10:37 AM40 Comments


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.

Dear Present,

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.

Good luck!

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  • Cimorene says:

    Before we moved into our current apartment (and unbeknownst to us), two hoarders lived here. They had a cat when they moved in, left the door and windows open all the time (it's a first-floor apartment), and apparently, by the time they moved out 18 months later, they had 19 cats. 19! 19 cats! And a bunny that died! And several ferrets! And they didn't believe in litterboxes, so they just poured a bag of kitty litter on the floor of a closet, on top of the hardwood floor! And they never cleaned it or anything!

    Anyway, the cats used the floor as a litter box. My landlord ripped up the carpets (exposing the beautiful, old, pee-stained hardwood floors underneath) in the living room and dining room, painted the walls, and refinished the floors. We didn't notice the smell when we were looking at the apartment because everything just smelled like new paint. And during out apartment visit, when I was lamenting the smell of the paint, he mentioned that he was hit by a car a few decades ago and lost 80-90% of his sense of smell (the point is that my landlord wasn't be shifty and sketch, he just literally didn't notice, and he told us this thing about his sense of smell during an entirely different conversation–also, he's a great landlord). So even after the floor was refinished, once the smell of the poly went away, the stench of cat piss returned, and he never noticed it.

    We ended up refinishing the floor like 7 times to get rid of the smell (…mostly. Sigh.), at least in the areas where the smell was the worst. When it was really bad, this is what I did that was most effective:

    First we did several rounds of nature's miracle–pouring it on liberally, scrubbing, wiping up, pouring on more, scrubbing, letting it sit overnight until it all dried, etc.

    Then I took a bunch of baking soda and made a paste of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. I scrubbed it into the walls. Then I let it dry, scrubbed it again, and vacuumed the dried out pee-filled baking soda paste. Then I poured boiling water all over the area. Then I washed it a lot, mopping with normal soap and stuff. Then I poured apple cider vinegar–apparently something about the acidity helps with the cat pee smell?–and let that it until it dried. It didn't really stain the floor, but that's because it's dark wood and they're already stained from the hoarder situation.

    It was intense, but it worked. That wasn't for a carpet, obviously, but you might try a variation of this.

  • Erin W says:

    I don't know anything about cats, but I know when my dog was a puppy, I used this bitter apple spray to deter her from things she wasn't supposed to get into. Is there a cat equivalent? If so, that would keep the cat out of that one corner at least.

  • Maria says:

    I've heard great things about Odo Ban. Daycare used it, saying it's so good that funeral homes use it to get the smell of death out. The online reviews are pretty good. The only thing is it can be a little hard to find unless you have a Sam's Club.

    My suggestion is that if everything fails, you do something to move the air so odor can't build up in the room, such as a dehumidifier or air purifier.

    Agree also with taking the litterbox to the main floor and doing some judicious gating or using a half-door if possible.

  • sam says:

    When I adopted my cat a few years ago, I did a bunch of research online about good litter boxes and whatnot, and learned something I didn't know when I had a cat growing up. Namely, that you should really have at least 1 litterbox per floor per cat. So if you have a 2 story house, and two cats, you should have 2 boxes on each floor.

    Also, how often are you cleaning out the box? If it's less than once a day that's a problem. As I read on at least one site, you wouldn't want to go in a toilet that hadn't been flushed in two days, so why should you expect your cat to put up with that?

    Growing up, we used to keep my cat's litterbox in the basement, and he would pee other places. We thought it was just because he was an ornery old tomcat, but it could also have been because the box was too far away/too difficult to get to, and because we didn't clean it often enough (teenagers + old school non-clumping litter = major problem).

    These days i clean out the box at least once a day and (fingers crossed) haven't had a problem yet.

  • turtle says:

    so this is a tip from my hair dresser (I have a cat who pees (peed?) on the futon and somehow this came up last time I had a haircut.)

    Before you try the feliway plug in, try a pheremone releasing collar. Like this one, for example:
    The feliway plug-ins are like $50, and this is $10. Also, the feliway diffuses pheremones throughout the whole room, so if the room's big, they won't necessarily be that concentrated. The collar keeps the pheremones right next to the cat, and stay with it even if it goes to another room. Maybe try it next time the dog is visiting, since that seems to be a trigger.

    I'd tried the feliway plugin with my cat and it didn't work. I spent a small fortune on nature's miracle and feliway products and a replacement futon mattress and a waterproof mattress cover… you get the idea.

    After basically ruling everything else out, the vet ended up prescribing a very low dose of prozac for my cat. We get it from a compounding pharmacy in a supposedly fish-flavored liquid, and she seems to actually kind of like it. I mix it in with her food. It hasn't seemed to make any difference in her personality at all, and she hasn't peed on the futon for a month. Who knows if it'll last, but I'm hopeful.

  • Stewart says:

    Years ago, when we got our second cat, the first one decided she was having none of it, and started acting out by jumping up on the kitchen counter (a designated cat-free zone) and peeing there. On my kitchen counter. I'm getting angry just thinking about it now. She had learned to weaponize both pee and poo, and used this knowledge frequently from that point on.

    To deal with the counter-jumping, we got an awesome product called (unfortunately) Scat. It's a can of compressed air with a motion sensor on top. You put it wherever the cat is not allowed to be, and when it senses motion nearby, it lets out a sudden loud hiss of air. It works beautifully, and has the added benefit of being hilarious to watch. (Although when we forgot about it and set it off ourselves, it was much less funny.)

    To deal with the smells, we tried a lot of products, but the only one that worked for us was a Nature's Miracle clone that involved a liquid cleaner and dry crystals at once. Left to dry and then vacuumed up, it only took two applications to remove all traces of the smell. Highly recommend. I just wish I could remember the exact name of it. Sorry. A similar combo product should work on the same principle.

  • Emily says:

    One of my cats has anxiety issues and so will sometimes pick one specific piece of furniture to pee on. It sucks and we've had to throw away two couches and a love seat, but one trick worked every time. It will look weird, but trust me: aluminum foil.

    Cats don't like to walk on it apparently and so putting it on the surface you don't want them to be on keeps them away. I crinkled it up just a little to make it even more awkward to walk on (and if you fold the ends over together to make one long sheet, it is easy to pick up when guests come by, but then put back down as soon as they are gone).

    It really did work for my cat and kept her off of it…until we went on vacation and forgot to put it on the couch.

    As for getting rid of the smell, well, I've tried almost all of them with various degrees of success. Nature's Miracle works for somethings, the baking soda hydrogen peroxide worked for others. It may just take some trial and error (spot testing if possible to make sure you don't cause other stains).

  • Emily says:

    I would suggest putting a litterbox right in that spot where the cat is pooping. Sure, you don't want a litterbox in your dining room, but it's better than cat poop on the floor! Once the cat starts using the box, you can try slowly moving it elsewhere. I also agree that you need to have a box on the main level of your house. They make some fancy unobtrusive ones now, or check out Ikea Hacks for ideas to hide them in cabinets and the like. Clean the box OBSESSIVELY. Twice a day at the very least. Give this cat no excuse not to poop in the litterbox.

    As for the smell, in my opinion every pet owner needs an extraction spot cleaner. If you are just scrubbing and blotting, you really aren't pulling the stain out, just smearing it around. And if it's a stinky stain, well, you do the math on that. The stink stays. We have a Bissell Spot Bot. Works great. For really gross stuff, I like to do one round with the animal cleaner solution and then another with a distilled vinegar and water solution (rinses the cleaner out, plus vinegar neutralizes odors extremely well and leaves no scent once dry). I'd suggest renting a carpet cleaner and doing the whole room once if it's wall-to-wall. Use the upholstery brush to really get into the corner. If it's just a big area rug, take it outside and hose off that corner from the back. It won't hurt the rug (even wool) – just make sure to blot out as much of the moisture with a towel (under and over the wet area, then stand on it) and then hang or prop the wet area up to dry. It really sounds like you're not doing a thorough job of cleaning the rug, since IME poop smell only hangs around as long as there is actual poop present in the stain (I guess same for pee, but pee is liquid and much more pervasive than poo). Granted, my cats are good about pooping in the box, but occasionally one gets a hanger-on and bolts around the house trying to dislodge it, so I do occasionally have to clean up cat poop from my carpeted house (and the barf is a weekly occurrence, since one of my guys is a barfer).

  • Erin B. says:

    Another vote for adding a litterbox plus Feliway. My beloved orange cuddler started peeing in the front entryway of the third apartment she lived in. I don't know what started it — the stress of moving again, being mad that the litterbox was on a stairway too near the connecting door to the neighbours' apartment containing a crying baby & barking dog, NO idea — but once she started there was no stopping her. We put a litterbox in the area, which helped on a regular basis but whenever she was mad about something, boom. She's fine, she's just an asshole.

    Cue another move, and having learned that the front door was her acting-out place, she started doing it again, this time with no reason at all — on a perfectly happy normal day she would just eat breakfast and pee on the front door mat. We went through a million cheap front-door mats then stopped having a mat there at all. Without a mat, it was better, but after a while she did it again. Finally we caved and put a litterbox near the door, plus we finally bought a Feliway dispenser thing. We also kept the area bare at the time of day when she was going (same as the letter-writer, in the morning after her breakfast, even when she wasn't mad about anything — it was just habit by then).

    I suspect the combination was key, since we had tried the box near the door before with poor results. We only went through one refill (2 months' worth) and things seem fine now. It never happened again once we added the new box and got the Feliway, though we kept the front door mat elsewhere for a while. The new box isn't even in the exact place where she was peeing — there'd be no way to enter & leave the house — but it's just down the hall. She seems content and like she's forgotten that she used to use the floor at the doorway. THANK HEAVENS.

    In this dining room situation, you could probably put a box and a Feliway dispenser right in the room, and move the box somewhere else when there's company. (Because gross, but you do what you have to do! And the current situation is no less gross, really.)

    Cleaners: I've tried them all and they're mostly not super helpful, sadly. With Nature's Miracle the scent kept coming back (and that's to HUMAN noses). Vinegar's good. After you've changed the behaviour, Febreeze (or an alcohol solution if you don't want to use Febreeze) helps on repeated application till you stop noticing.

  • Val says:

    For cleaning pee – white vinegar is the only substance that actually breaks down the crystals. Douse any affected linens or carpet, and then either flush with water or extract with a carpet cleaner. I actually had to soak a cushion cover (bc cats love them some new furniture) in vinegar, and the smell dissipated immediately.

  • kategm says:

    Hey, it's my letter! An update since I first wrote this (yes, it was on Christmas)
    -We had some initial success with the pheromone sprays and plugs back in November? but obviously, she's still pooing in the dining room since then. So…meh on that?
    -Tried Nature's Miracle for cleaning. Not working :-(
    -The tablecloth turned out okay. And as it turns out, it was like, a $10 thrift store purchase so if it doesn't survive to next Christmas, my mom can deal :-)
    -A few weeks ago, my parents went out to an inn that had its own cat so of course it followed my dad around the whole time. About five minutes after they got home, Amber hit the dining room again. So for whatever reason, she is definitely reacting to other animals "honing" in on her territory.

    Thank you so much for your suggestions! We have baby gates that we put up when my nieces and nephews come over. I'm not sure they'll deter the cat but I'll keep it in mind. I'll also ask my sister about the cat Prozac suggestion. That did seem to work for one of my friends whose elderly cat started randomly peeing in her human's bed after we got an apartment together.

  • Meagen Voss says:

    My cat started having pee problems when I was dead broke, and by far, the cheapest solution I've ever found for various cat smells is hydrogen peroxide.

    I've been told that the smell mostly comes from the bacteria that hang out where the pee/poo has been deposited, and the hydrogen peroxide kills the bacteria that produce the smell. I've only ever used it on light color carpets, so I don't know if it will bleach your carpet or whether it's suitable for your table cloth. But whenever I've used it, it does wonders for the smell.

    I buy the concentration they use for first aid (3%). Usually you can buy bottles at the grocery store for around 99 cents.

  • Megan says:

    My asshole cat (cat-hole?) has picked a random spot in each of our last 4 apartments to pee. Luckily our last couple of places have been carpet-free, so he just picked his "favorite" (…gross) bathmat and peed on it. We've only been in the new place a couple of months and he hasn't peed outside the box yet, but my nose is paranoid now… I regularly turn to my husband while we are on the couch watching TV and ask him if he can smell cat piss, I think I smell cat piss, oh god did the cat piss on something? So I feel your pain. Just like others have described – perfectly happy cat, just got it into his head one day to pee at the front door and then it smelled so he did it again and then it was routine.

    Not a remedy per se for the smells, but we did find it helpful to buy a cheap black light so that we can find EXACTLY where the smell is coming from – sometimes it's a bigger area affected than you realize. It'll also show you if you're dealing with more of a puddle or a spray (ew). It has been great for peace of mind on the nights when I smell phantom cat pee.

    If you're intrigued by the Scat product mentioned above but want something EVEN MORE HILARIOUS, I recommend the ScatMat. It comes in several sizes (some as large as a couch) and it gives them just a little electric shock when they step on it. Nothing cruel, just like a static shock. I highly suggest looking up YouTube videos of this product in action if you are bored at work.

  • Angharad says:

    For cleaning carpets, I swear by Spot Shot. It's a big blue industrial-looking aerosol can that somehow just…works. It sounds like you're dealing with older stains, so spray them with some warm water first, then spray a fair amount of Spot Shot on the stain. Let it sit for a few minutes, then blot (don't rub) with a towel. Cover with a clean towel until dry. You might have to repeat the process a few times, but it should get rid of the stain entirely. I find it breaks up the smell pretty well, too, but sometimes I'll soak the newly-clean area with the Febreze for pets fabric spray, cover that with a towel and let it dry. That gets rid of any lingering odors.

  • ferretrick says:

    For the tablecloth, I'm assuming it's a cloth that can be washed, although from your description maybe not. But if it is, try putting it through the washer and pour about half a cup of white vinegar in there with it.

    Another vote to put a litter box, if not right on the spot, at least on the first floor. Personally, I would make this an additional box, rather than instead of the basement box.

  • Rebecca says:

    Oh lord, you're reminding me to be grateful that I don't (currently) have a problem pee-er or pooper (KNOCK ON WOOD) (just have to deal with the occasional vomit but she is generally thoughtful enough to do it on a hard surface.) When my family did have a pee issue, the cat in question chose this one spot by the piano in the living room. She had a thing about peeing on plastic bags, so we tried not to leave them on the floor, but there was a bag there for a while, she hit it a few times, and it seemed to start a habit. (It may be worth noting that contrary to another commenter's advice, that was the only floor on which there was no litter box.) After doing battle for a little while, my mom eventually gave up and put the litter box in the spot. After a few months of the cat getting out of the habit of peeing outside the litter box, she slowly moved the box back to its proper home and did not have any repeat problems. So it might be worth a try…

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    @Megan, I go with "cat-wad," but we will also accept "cat-hole."

  • RC says:

    @Erin B: No way, I am having that EXACT problem with my cat right now! Fortunately it's linoleum by the front door, and fortunately it's just poo (albeit often mushy gross poo… ugh) so it's relatively easy to clean, but I'm going to try feliway as well. I've already moved a litter box to the area… yesterday I tried slowly migrating it back to its actual home not in the doorway, and got home to another poop a foot away, next to the door, not in the box. Sigh. And I know it's a door thing because he did it at my parents' when we were visiting for Christmas, too (thanks, Ian). Either I left the litterbox unscooped once too often, or he finally (after, like, 5 months) decided that he really didn't like The Foster Who Stayed very much at all thank you, and so it's door-pooing time. It's gotten to the point where I suspect he's having a Pavlovian response to me actually cleaning the litter boxes and when he hears me over there it triggers him to poo by the door… but more data is needed.

    Anyway, point being, I don't have much to add, but if someone finds a miracle cure for cats being vindictive… I will *totally* buy that…

  • Kim says:

    Oh, the joys of gato poo-nanigans. We're a Nature's Miracle household, and I also bought one of those Office Depot plastic floor mats that are supposed to go under rolling desk chairs to keep them from scratching the floor or mangling the carpet. This is under the litter box, since one of my geriatric kitties went through a "missed-it-by-THAT-MUCH" phase; it's much bigger than those little paw-wiping mats to put by the entrance to the box, and so it protected more of my hardwoods and could be cleaned up easily.

    I also wanted to extend my sympathies to Sars again, but really to say that I wish dearly that Little Joe's Mission Impossible over the baby gate had been captured on video. Peace be upon him!

  • Sherrybell says:

    This is making me very glad that my cats chosen outside the litter box pee area is the bathtub drain. To try keeping the cat away you could try spraying the area with citrus scented febreze. It's the only thing that keeps my cats from clawing the arms of my sofa. I've tried the aluminum foil and the double sided tape, my cats just like to ball it up and play with it. But citrus! They hate it. A few spritzes every few days keeps the cats away.

  • DMC says:

    On top of all the other excellent suggestions, my only remaining thought is to rearrange furniture to make the beloved Poo Corner physically inaccessible. Plant a bookshelf on that spot to make sure the offending area disappears and is thus no longer even an option. If you just can't do that, I'd get a corner litterbox and hide it back there behind something one way or another.

  • Sue says:

    My experience is that unscented Tide will get out almost anything. I have a cat with separation anxiety issues whose favorite place to register his disapproval is the dining room table. (As a proof of how much he's loved, he's been doing this on and off for years and he's still with me….) Tide gets the stink out of the tablecloth. I use the enzymatic cleaners on the table and they seem to work.

    As far as discouragement is concerned, I've gotten really strong smelling bars of soap (mint & citrus work particularly well) and put them where he shouldn't be "going." He doesn't like the smell, but it's one that I don't mind. This seems to have broken him of the habit of going into some places where he was lingering in… suggestive ways.

    He's now on kitty Prozac, and it seems to be working. The last time I left town (his trigger), he didn't pee inappropriately. It's not terribly expensive ($12/month). The only drawback is that I have to Pill Him Every Day. So… something to consider there.

  • frogprof says:

    Try Folex — it has worked miracles on carpets that the DCs ["darn" cats] have barfed and pooped on. It's good for removing pee odor, too, although I've also had success with RESOLVEĀ® Pet Oxi Advanced Carpet Cleaner with ODOR STOPĀ® Technology [I'm pretty sure that's the one, anyway — I know it was Resolve, anyhow] for the odor part.
    Folex doesn't have any scent or feel slimy or greasy or … anything, really — I'd swear it was vaguely-pink water if it didn't get stains out so well!
    Also, my first son — Mr. Willi, Hairdresser to the Stars — developed a bad habit of peeing in a particular corner of my apartment's dining room [how do they know?!], and it turned out that he had kidney disease [which ended up being fatal] … he had to go when he had to go, so he went wherever he was. Damn his hide. Somehow, though, I ended up getting that [apartment] deposit back in full.

  • JenV says:

    I have had a ton of success with a product called Simple Solution that you can get at Petco. In addition to enzymes to break down the stain, it has non-pathogenic bacteria which supposedly eat any particles of urine or feces that are still present.

    I would highly, highly recommend getting another litterbox and putting it somewhere in the vicinity of the dining room. Even better if for the time being you can put it directly over her preferred spot to get her retrained to consistently use the box. Some cats have a weird thing about not wanting to go number one and number two in the same box – perhaps the cat would like a second box just for pooping in.

    Also, have you tried changing the type of litter that you use? It might be that she doesn't much care for the current cat litter in the box; maybe she doesn't like the feel of it on her paws or some such thing. Cats tend to dig a lot more before they poop so that is a possibility.

    Is the cat by any chance declawed? Declawing can give some cats litterbox issues because digging in the box while they are still healing is painful (declawing in general is very painful) and they can develop a negative association.

  • coleBlue says:

    I've had good luck with Petzyme odor-wise. Stain-wise it can be hit or miss, but that's why the litterbox lives on an old scrap of carpet for that sole purpose. I would definitely put something you're willing to chuck or is easily washable in that corner in the meantime, so the smell on the regular (harder to remove) carpet doesn't get worse.

  • Shanchan says:

    Something you might try is to put the cat's food dish and water bowl on the spot for a while. This worked with my sister's cat, who suddenly decided to start using a corner of the living room as her sometime litter box. It made feeding time a pain, but she did not go there after that. After a month or two they moved the food back to its regular spot, and she didn't go back!

  • KAT says:

    Speaking up here for kitty Prozac, also! We had a whole saga with my cat and peeing habits after moving into a new place, which I won't bore you with. The up-shot is that nothing worked – Nature's Miracling everything, Feliway, hippy flower drops in his water, behavioral retraining, antibiotics for any possible UTI – so he is on a 2.5mg dose of Prozac daily. It started working almost immediately (much faster than I expected!) and it's working great – it's been at least 4 months and he's doing amazingly. I worried about it changing his personality but it hasn't at all, and he literally hasn't peed outside his box since. He also seems less anxious than he had been before we put him on the Prozac. Two thumbs up, super-awesome. Highly recommend it.

  • KAT says:

    Oh, and (at least here in IL), Target and Wal-mart have Prozac on their $4 formulary list. If you get it in pill form, get a pill cutter and you can cut a 10mg pill into 4 equal parts and a $4 bottle for one month will last for 3 months! Not bad.

    I also like how my cat now has a pharmacy account. Hilarious!

  • Stanley says:

    This thread has cured me of any thoughts of getting a cat (the fact that my dogs would harass a cat probably to one or all of their literal deaths is the main negative factor, however).

    @KAT: speaking of animals with pharmacy accounts, one of my old dogs was on medication for a chronic condition and I ordered some through a sketchy off-shore pharmacy, specifically instructing them to address the package to me. They didn't. So I had to try to explain to the nice lady at the post office that Stanley was a dog, that he wasn't able to come to the post office himself, and that he didn't have the necessary ID even he could come to the post office. She stared at me, got her supervisor, who laughed, said that was a first, and gave me the g-d package.

  • Jobiska says:

    I was going to suggest Nature's Miracle too; sorry it didn't work. This is secondhand, but an online friend with a lot of her own cats who also does rescues swears by "AntiIckyPoo," which has a website of that name. So yet another product to try, I suppose.

  • re: Keeping the cat away
    Another vote for tin foil. All of my cats have HATED stepping on it.
    A slightly more aggressive version is tape, sticky side up. Not only do they dislike touching it, but when they do, you get a little bit of evil entertainment, watching them shake their feet to try and get it off.

  • Jo says:

    Everyone recommended the same stuff I would, but I should say that as far as I know, Nature's Miracle isn't really meant to CLEAN, it's supposed to take out the enzymes that make the cat be able to smell the old pee. I've never really used it on poo, but it's awesome for pee.

    I've also had good luck with this stuff, although it's expensive and kind of smells weird:

    It comes with a needle so you can inject it down underneath the carpet where the enzymes can hide.

  • Lianne says:

    I also STRONGLY suggest getting another litterbox that isn't in the basement and making sure to scoop every single day, perhaps multiple times a day. Put it in the currently-used spot in the dining room once you've done all of the cleaning. No, it's not ideal to have a litterbox in the dining room. But sometimes you have to do it. Then you can slowly move it elsewhere if she's using it regularly. But she's telling you that she needs a box there even if this is behavior-induced from other animals. And I completely agree with the litterbox on each level of the house rule. I don't quite have two boxes per level, but I have at least one on each level. And praise her/reward her each time she uses the litterbox when you're around. Punishment doesn't really work for cats; they don't make the same associations you do.

    Another thought about having litterboxes in places you don't typically want… when my oldest cat started getting senile, I needed to add a box. I didn't have anywhere to put it except on carpet. Since I had a sporadic pee-er who would go in front of the box if it had a lid (he's bottom of the totem pole among my cats), this was of great concern to me. While I was poring through websites for suggestions, I came across the idea of putting a dog crate liner/tray underneath the litterbox. I also needed to have a lid on the litterbox in that particular spot because with a bannister above it I knew things would be falling. I got a big litterbox with a clear lid — and lo and behold, my sporadic pee-er completely stopped once he could see if the other cats were coming — and put it on the dog crate tray. It is FABULOUS. The tray catches any leaks over the edge (rare, but they occasionally happen), has a lip so liquid can't escape, and most of the litter stays on the tray when they're getting in/out and I can sweep it up. I still need to vacuum a bit, but it's nowhere near the level it could be. This is the crate liner I got (I got the 700 series) —

    Good luck.

  • Karen no longer in Japan says:

    I'm going to second Shanchan's suggestion of temporarily putting the cat's food in the Beloved Poo Corner. My cat would go through phases where she'd pick a corner to be a DIY litterbox, and that usually would cause her to rethink that strategy. Apparently some cats interpret the adage "Don't shit where you eat" literally.

  • Nikki says:

    1. Nature's Miracle the heck out of the corner – you'll probably use at least a quart of product. Follow all the instructions exactly.

    2. Cover the spot with *tin foil* – kitties hate how it feels on their paws.

    3. Use Cat Attract Litter instead of your normal litter to get kitty "going" in the right spot again.

    Other Ideas:

    * Put a scratching post there in case kitty is trying to leave her scent.

    * Take kitty to the vet and ask about this behavior. You never know.

    * Install a feliway plugin to make kitty feel happier. TIP: to save product, use an outlet timer and only have it "on" 15 minutes out of every 30.

    MAKE SURE your litter box is in *her* territory and the dog can't get to/near it. If the dog is blocking the litter box, near/in that room, etc, it could easily prompt her to go to the backup location.

    Good luck!

  • kategm says:

    The fuzzy "brat" in question
    (The caption is in honor of Little Joe)

  • Katie says:

    Sars, did I read that correctly, has Joe recently died?? I am so sorry, I read all your essays on your lovely cats in the past and I know how much you loved him. I lost one of my cats in August and was devastated. I still tear up thinking of her.
    I am really sorry for your loss.

  • Jennifer says:

    IME the plug-in Feliway doesn't do squat, but the spray bottles are amazing. I have had a houseful of hissy, spitty, angry cats one moment, and then – after a few spritzes of the spray Feliway – piles of purring, snoozing, furry contentment sprawled about my living room.

    Also, I have read the Nature's Miracle changed their formula to be less effective (apparently because it's less expensive to produce). I have lately tried Anti Icky Poo and found it really effective – one of my gals peed in the car on the way to the vet's one day – it soaked through the carrier and deep into the back seat. Her stuff is always really stinky and this was especially bad, probably because she was stressed. Anti Icky Poo got rid of the smell so that you can't even get a whiff in the summer when the windows have been rolled up all day.

    Sars, if I read correctly about Joe, I am so sorry for your loss. Cats have such presence – it's really hard when they leave us.

  • saro says:

    After cleaning the area (using most of the above suggestions), I put tape in the area sticky side up. It worked really well.

  • Lysippe says:

    My beloved 14-year-old tuxedo has had a number of UTI and diarrhea issues throughout her life (she's been doing well since I changed her diet to raw food). Nature's Miracle never worked for me.

    The only thing I have found to work on stains AND odor is this:

    You can usually find sales on amazon, and it comes in a variety of sizes so you can give it a try first. Good luck!

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