Our question this week was:
Dr. Debra - A friend of mine has decided she can't keep her 2-year-old cat due to urinating-outside-the-box problems. I've given her all the encouragement and guidance I can, including guidance from your newsletters, but her new babies and husband just can't deal anymore. It breaks my heart, but I want to help by finding some group that will help find her cat a new home. Can you tell me what to search for? Are there groups that will take and place cats? Can I rely on web pages? Thanks,
Lara in Washington, DC
Dear Lara – I had a wonderful cat lover email a respond to your question that I thought I'd share.
Dr Debra – can you send this on to Lara? We are assuming she has ruled out a medical issue, right?
It is nearly impossible to find a home for a cat with urinating problems – who would want to take her? I know – given that I have two peepee girls. If she has not tried it already, I would try confinement therapy, in which you put the cat in a small confined space for a minimum of 2 weeks (w/frequent visits from the owner) where she is forced to use the litter pan. In the alternative, if there is only one or two places she is urinating on, she can put food on those spots. Putting her cat in the box and praising her can also be practiced in addition to other methods. I would not give up on her! If nothing else works, she can do what I do – basically confine her in her own room or large playpen/cage (if no extra room is available) and let her out to socialize for a few hours at a time, putting her back in before they decide it is time to peepee.
I wonder if there is some jealousy with the new babies? If she suspects this, she can reward kitty when she is near the babies and try to show her that "good things happen around the babies"...then put her in the box and praise her again.
That being said, it sounds as if the person has already made up her mind. She can call no-kill shelters in her area for suggestions and work the phones, trying to find a group that will help. Web pages are helpful to source these groups, but cannot replace personal contact. She will be competing w/ kitten season right now....her best bet is to work her own network of friends and family.
C. H. – a cat lover with two pee-pee girls
Lara – I hope this helps.
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