I had an uncomfortable conversation with an adoption applicant today…

Posted: April 6, 2015 at 6:38 pm

lets just say, I am not a favorite person.

but here is the thing, rescuers live in 2 worlds. we live in reality but we also live in the ideal.

so when someone tells me they worked hard for over a year to cure a house peeing cat. that they did all of the vet diagnostics, they did all of the common sense things like trying new litter, more and varied litter boxes, different food, pheronomes and anti-anxiety meds without finding a solution and finally in bleak desperation, took the cat to a no kill shelter…I get it.

I would be hard pressed to find many people willing to live with a chronic house peeing cat. I know this is true because we have many wonderful chronic pee’rs here that will never find good homes.

but..the fact of the matter is sometimes cats do become pee’rs, for lots of different reasons. some of these reasons are medical but a vast majority are emotional. and once a cat slips into the emotional down ward slide of house pee’ing..it is virtually impossible to bring them back.

this is for a couple of reasons..one..healthy cats who pee in the house, pee in the house because they are upset and their humans can’t always determine why they are upset. and two, once pee’ing becomes an ingrained habit, good luck in getting them to stop because they won’t.

most folks truly do not understand cats..they really are an alien species. folks like them because they seem independent, they seem self sustaining, strong and fearless, they seem like they own their special worlds.

but in fact..this is all an act. cats are physically quite frail..their bodies are small, their immune systems are weak and they are extremely susceptible to injury and illness. emotionally cats are fragile, everything is good until suddenly it is not. and when it is not, way deep inside, where we cannot see it, they literally fall apart.

it can be anything that knocks out their confidence that all is right in their world…a temporary illness or injury,  painting a room, workman outside repairing the street, a thunder storm, a trip to the vet for their annual check up and vaccines, a move, a new puppy or kitten, a new baby, boyfriend, girl friend, a new cat in the neighborhood hanging out by their window, the unhappy negative energy of a loved caregiver who is going thru an emotional or difficult phase, …it can be pretty much anything that all of a sudden gets them questioning their safety, their place in the world.

and cats are like elephants..once they are feeling vulnerable, once they feel their world shift beneath their feet… they do not forget.

so they pee. pee’ing to them is like putting up an invisible force field to you and me. that is how they communicate, that is the action they take to protect themselves…this is my space, this is where I am safe, this is where I belong and am supposed to be so please do not bother and frighten me.

it is sad really..they pee because they are upset and then they lose their homes over their pee’ing and that makes them even more upset.

so how do you fix it?..well frankly most times you just can’t. my advice is learn to live with it by managing it and minimzing it the best that you can.

there are some things you can do in the early stages to re-build your broken cat’s sense of security and well being. like first of all..ignoring the pee’ing.

the pee’ing is a symptom..it is not the problem. the problem is the cat is sick or upset. if the cat is sick, deal with it with your vet. if your cat is not sick, then take care to rebuild your unhappy cat.

give them A LOT of affection, talk to them A LOT…give them A LOT of fun play, especially letting them win at all of the fun games. stick them up on your counter and feed them roast chicken and hand peeled shrimp, let them climb high on any surface..high up cats have power and power makes them feel safe. give them cat nip and new toys and make toys for them from tin foil balls to chase and paper bags and cardboard boxes to play in..laugh with them, love them, make them feel like they are greatly loved kings and queens in their world again.

help them find their happy again.

and if they still really need to pee in your laundry basket or the pile of clothes you left on the floor by your bed..then give them a basket of old clothes to pee on, wash them every day and put them back. put a rubber bath mat under a pile of old clothes to protect your floors and carpet and let them pee on that..just pick it up and wash the pile every day and put it back. if they are peeing on your furniture and you don’t want the couch wrecked..put tin foil disposable pizza pans on the couch when you two are not cuddling together, the cat will stay off because they will not like that.

this might work..or maybe not. but guaranteed if you do these things with your cat, he or she will be happier and so will you. and if these things don’t work..figure out a kind and gentle way to manage and minimize the problem because taking a peeing cat to a shelter is not going to get them some imaginary perfect home..it is going to make the rest of their lives however long..miserable (but if they are in a shelter that euth’s unadoptable cats, it will be a very short time before they are euth’d to make room for someone else.) most “no kill” shelters have too many cats. if you don’t want your pee’ing cat..you can bet your bottom dollar that no one else wants him or her either and they may well spend their rest of their lives in a shelter with too many other homeless cats. the alternative of putting them to sleep at your vets is not very nice because all creatures really WANT to live, even cats who inappropriately spread urine.

so anyway..the conversation was uncomfortable because while this person thought she had done everything possible and had not given up on her cat until the very bitter end..i would not adopt to her because I never want my cats to ever be in a position of ever losing their homes again. I want homes that will do all of the right things to “cure” a problem..but I also want homes that can and will find compassionate and respectful ways to happily live with “incurable” problems.

I always feel so sorry for pee’ing cats..to them in times of trouble pee’ing seems so reasonable as a solution but to us it is a completely intolerable solution. cats are from venus and we are from mars.

poor, poor cats.

8 Comments on "I had an uncomfortable conversation with an adoption applicant today…"

  • Curt says

    Wow! I learned quite a bit on this post which helps me to understand how & why many of the feline kids @ Saints ended up homeless (family of their own) and why they are there. Great Post Carol!

  • Fiona says

    I too learned a lot from this and my vet has also helped me understand what causes this issue. We have this problem with Pest but on a small scale as he does spray and pee sometimes. I have learned how to manage the spraying and what you said about giving them lots of attention and making them feel loved has worked really well as well as cat treats. I know a lot of his problem was losing his home them moving here with dogs which he really doesn’t care for to much but over the years it has got much better. Him and Barbie actually get along now and he tolerates Precious 🙂

  • Carol A. says

    Well put Carol!

    We have a multicat house hold ( and 3 barkers – but that is another story).

    Some of the are pee-ers, some not so much.

    If the litter boxes (i.e. 8 of them with different types of litters) are not cleaned twice a day…. there are issues. The “good” furniture ended up in the bin a long time ago. Right now we are using the patio furniture which is great and washable!

    Our oldest boy (16) heads out to mark terrirtory with the hounds everymorning and marches back in with them 5 minutes later for breakfast.

    Our peeing girls (7 yrs.) mark if the feliway plug-ins happen to run dry, or if one of the others happens to look at them crosseyed.

    They all react if the neighbour’s cat comes over to use the planter outside the living room window. The carpet has been replaced by Lino. They walls are painted with school house paint. NO Curtains just blinds – the expensive kind without cords…. one of the boys accidentally tried to hang himself one day.

    In the summer they have access to the cattery through the cat door in the basement window which helps a bit, they love it… except when it is cold or raining or there is snow or frost or the neighbours cat is on the other side.

    They are all vetted, healthy (k.o.w.) and neutered.. (FYI it is a lie if someone tells you that neutering stops peeing).

    I must say, if they all used the bathroom sink or tub I would be thrilled.Usually its clean laundry in the basket, laundry waiting for the wash, walls under windows and oh yes the favourite, the orthopedic dogs bed by the TV!
    Its the cat (who I cannot catch at it) who peed on the coffee pot I’d like to get my hands on!

    What is sad, is just like you say… they are all happy, smooching and sleeping together…. until they are not. They have cat trees, and lots of high hangout spaces… and then someone has a fit because our border collie was staring at them and the whole place runs amuck!

    but we love them all, each and every one of them….. just do not ever change the routine!

    Great post Carol!

  • Penny says

    Carol A. – your post made me chuckle. How lucky your pets are to have you!!!

  • Carol A. says

    Hi Penny,
    I thought about adding in the story about our old boy Tony (18 years old at the time), but thought better of it. this however is for you, and the good people at SAINTS who might need a laugh.

    One summer evening, I foolishly tried to repaint the living room. Tony was not impressed. He proceeded to spray the freshly painted wall.

    Unfortunately, the precise target of Tony’s angst was a power outlet!

    There was a crack and a flash and a stunned cat, and instant black out.

    The fire trucks arrived shortly after that, and those wonderful gentlemen had a huge laugh at my embarrassment. (Maybe cats do this all the time?)

    The captain and his crew stomped about in the dark with their big coats and big boots and alien flashlights arcing. Dogs were barking. Cats were flying. And the boys were tripping over misplaced furniture, rolled up carpets and strategically placed cat boxes.

    They checked the walls for heat, and electrical fires, and got the power back on.

    Funny, yes? Not at the time! So all of our power outlets are both kid proof and cat proof and pee proof.

    Every word I swear is true, though I am sure most would think it a work of fiction. And Tony – well Tony was none the worse for the shock (no pun intended) but he never sprayed there again either. He lived a life full of adventures till he and his sweet sister left us at age 20.

  • Faith says

    One of my 5 cats started peeing in the house. On beds, couches, chairs, random blankets. The vet could not find anything wrong so I observed. It took a while for the light bulb to come on but I discovered her problem. One of the other cats was waiting for her to come out of the litter box and would ambush her. It took a while to figure this out because when I was in the room, he wouldn’t ambush her. Now, I escort her to the litter box and she sometimes almost seems to be indicating to me that she wants to use the litter and to come with her. Since discovering the problem, there have been no more accidents. Even if there had been, I would have used soaker pads and other means of protecting furniture.

  • Emma says

    Ahhhh yes the inappropriate pee cats. I’ve had a few. Once my old Thomas marched right up to a Feliway pheromone plug in and after sniffing it then turned around and sprayed it! Hahaha. I’ve covered couches and beds with shower curtains and lined the cat beds with pee pads and fleeces for easy clean up. It’s the way I live. I’m used to it. Sometimes people get upset when they are turned down as a what they think are a perfectly good home but if you are looking to replace a cat (or dog) that you gave up it is not right that you get another one. Animals from a rescue have likely had one or more homes already so yes the potentially adoptive home should be the last. I’ve almost lost my mind with some of my cats behavior over the last few years but I do what I can and so do they and at some point I suddenly realize we have made things work. Not perfectly but good enough for us all for the time we have together.

  • Marisa says

    Great post, Carol. I 110% agree with you.

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