Guilt. I have it.September 13, 2009
Alternatively titled, “The Saga of Miss Daisy and Her Peculiar Neuroses.”
Back in the spring, my almost ten-year-old cat Daisy developed a habit of not peeing in her litterbox. This was a cause for alarm because (a) she has traditionally been quite fastidious about such things and (b) nothing smells quite as bad as cat pee. (Exception: chicken poop.)
I mentioned it to the vet when I took her for her annual exam/shots, and he thought that it may have something to do with our other cat, Valentine. This despite the fact that Valentine has been with us for over two years. He recommended FeliWay, a feline pheromone spray. He said it would make her feel all happy and unthreatened, so she wouldn’t want to pee anywhere but in her box.
Daisy — who has an acute sense of smell and an even more acute dislike of unfamiliar smells — fled the room whenever I sprayed the stuff. It did not make her happy, it made her freaked out.
I quit using the spray and went into observation mode. That’s when I noticed that she was only peeing outside the box. Never, you know, the other thing. And it was only in the room where her litter box was… never in any other room of the house. Also, one time we left a plastic Wal Mart bag on the floor and she peed on that instead of on the bare floor. I took that to mean that she didn’t like peeing on the floor… she just really didn’t like peeing in her box.
I Googled the issue and found many references to this behavior in cats who are experiencing urinary infections. Apparently the infection causes them pain when they urinate, and they associate the pain with the litterbox… so they stop using the litterbox.
Weird, I know. Yet so normal when compared to what follows.
I call the vet’s office and say that I think my cat may have a urinary infection, then schedule an appointment. They tell me to come pick up a urine specimen collection kit. I take one look at it and decide that it is far too complicated and is bound to cause me frustration. For starters, it involves getting the cat to pee in the litterbox and, hello, if she was doing that I wouldn’t need the specimen to begin with!
So I hatch a cunning plan. I placed some plastic Wal Mart bags on the floor and waited for her to do her thing. She did. On the bag. I use the little syringe thingy to collect a specimen, then wedge her into the carrier and take her to the vet.
They do a preliminary test on her urine and find no blood in it. This is good, but they are going to send it to a lab for a full work up. They give her an antibiotic shot “just in case” and send her home.
A few days later I get a call from the vet. There were calcium oxalate crystals in her urine, which is an indicator of a possible bladder stone. I’m to bring her in for an ultrasound once the antibiotic has run its course.
I take her in for the ultrasound (for which they do not sedate her — oh how I would have loved to see that!). The doctor comes back in and tells me that he did not see any stones, but that there was a “large shadowy mass” near her bladder which could be a blood clot or a tumor. He recommends an X-ray.
I ponder that for a moment, but what I’m really thinking most of all is, “Oh my goodness, how can I justify paying a couple of thousand dollars for surgery on this cat?!?!? I’m the only one who loves her!”
I say go ahead and do the x-ray, and they take Daisy out again, hissing and growling. Again, there was no sedation and she returns even more disgruntled than before, if that was even possible.
The doctor comes in a few minutes later and shows me the x-ray, in which My Precious appears to be the picture of health — no stones, no clots, no tumors. The doctor even commented that her spine looked good, and that was surprising because, “She’s a little overweight. I don’t know if you’d noticed.”
Yes, I’d noticed. Smart aleck.
Anyway, we both stood there looking at the x-ray and looking at the cat and trying to figure out what her problem was. I guessed that maybe it was because I hadn’t re-introduced her to her litterbox. He shrugged as if to say anything was possible at that point, then suggested that I buy her a completely new litterbox and see if that worked.
So I did.
And it didn’t.
UNTIL I began placing plastic bags on top of the cat litter. When I do that, she uses her box like she is supposed to. She pees on the bags and I soak up the urine with paper towels, then throw the paper towels and plastic bags away. Then I put new plastic bags down for the next time.
Oh, and it has to be at least two bags. I tried using just one and she peed on the floor again.
I am using a minimum of four plastic bags and two paper towels every time my cat pees, people! Me! The same woman who brought home her cans & bottles from vacation if there was no recycling bin nearby in which to deposit them. I have environmental guilt like you would not believe!