My cat has started peeing and pooping behind my couch

My brother, sister-in-law and niece moved in with me about 8 months ago and everything seemed to be OK, but now my cat has started peeing and pooping behind my couch.


I don't know what to do. She is 12 years old and I had her checked out at the vet and everything is good. What do I do? I don't want to get rid of her so I need help to fix this problem.

My thoughts:

I'm sorry to hear that your cat is having problems. If the vet has checked her from head to toe and finds no medical problems, then I'll go on the assumption that she may be stressed.

It's very possible that the added number of people in the house has caused her stress. She may feel displaced and threatened.

Her stress may have been building up over time, or perhaps there were some recent changes that have occurred to create or increase her stress.

Here are some questions to ponder:

How is her relationship with each of the members of the household?

Has each member of the household made an effort to bond with her, to take care of her, feed her and make her feel comfortable?

How has her routine been impacted by the addition of new family members? Has anything changed recently?

Is she getting the same level of attention from you (or the person she's bonded most strongly with) as she was getting 8 months ago, before your relatives moved in?

One of my readers had a cat go off the litter box because her son was attempting to discipline the cat incorrectly. When your relatives moved in, did you make the household rules clear concerning interaction with your cat?

If your cat is bonded most strongly to you, do you have daily play sessions with her? Do you groom her daily?

Was the house quiet before but noisy now? She may not feel safe if there is too much commotion for her now.

How many litter boxes does she have and where are they?

Many people place litter boxes in kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms. Yet, these tend to be some of the worst locations because they're noisy and/or high traffic.

With a single or two-person household, that may be OK. When more people get added to the mix, it becomes too much for the cat and she won't want to use the litter box.

If your cat is urinating and defecating behind the couch, maybe she's looking for some privacy/quiet so she can "do her business" in peace.

Does your cat have an area of the house that she can call her own, a place where she can "get away from it all" and release stress?

Is there a cat tree in this private space, with a good view of the outside? Are you making proper use of vertical space throughout the house (perches near windows, vertical climbing areas at least 6 feet high, places for her to look down on what's going on in the house)?

Were other pets brought into the home? Did you do a slow and proper introduction?

Suggestions:

Litter boxes

Follow best practices for litter box management. Add at least one litter box to the house and place it in an area that your cat frequents but isn't noisy and filled with activity.

Try placing a litter box right on or near the spot where she's going now (after a thorough cleaning of the area). If she uses it for a week or two, you can then begin moving it, inch-by-inch, to a better location.

Get some Cat Attract and add it to your cat litter to see if that helps her to use the box.

Clean up

Get a black light and check the entire house for urine stains. Clean them up with a high quality pet odor remover/cleaner that will get rid of the residual smells. The odor will attract her back to the spot, so it's important to do this.

Exercise and play

Cats are built to sleep, hunt and eat. Exercise and play hunting helps to reduce stress and burn off pent up hunting energy.

Play sessions help with the bonding process. I would have twice daily play sessions with her for about 15 minutes each. Da Bird is an excellent toy for this.

Grooming

Some cats love to be groomed. Others get a little too excited by it. For cats that like it, grooming improves the bonding process and can help both of you reduce stress. I would groom her daily.

Vertical space and quiet time

I would make sure that she has a stress free sanctuary area where she can relax in peace. I would also make sure that you're making the best use of vertical space and give her multiple areas where she can look down on her kingdom.

Products you'll need

Black light to check for stains.

Pet Odor Remover (with black light) to remove odors.

Feliway Plug-in Diffuser to help reduce stress (more info).

Cat trees for vertical space and alone time.

Da Bird cat toy to reduce stress and increase bonding.

Cat Attract to help encourage litter box usage.

Make it work

If someone were to come live with me, my arrangement with them would be that if the cat is distressed about it, then either they have to leave, or we all work together to make sure that the cat's needs are met.

Either way, the cat stays. If you're all going to live there, everyone is going to have to work as a team to help your cat.

I would have a meeting with the members of the household and discuss how each person can play a role in helping your cat to feel more comfortable.

Discuss what changes need to take place in the house in order to help your cat get her confidence back.

I hope that helps. Please let us know how it goes with her.
-Kurt

Comments for My cat has started peeing and pooping behind my couch

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Mar 24, 2017
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Ugh.
by: Anonymous

Really?! Pets ARE family, idiot. It's people like you that don't deserve pets.

May 16, 2016
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Really?
by: Anonymous

LOL! So if my cat is stressed out because my brother is sleeping on the couch, your logic is to ask my brother to leave? Not gonna happen. The cat is gonna go.

I accept your answer as a solution though, as illogical in prioritizing that sounds...

Animals are not worth more than family members.

Jul 23, 2017
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Cats are family
by: Anonymous

What is wrong with you people! Cats are family so we must learn to all get along and love veg together. Solve the problem from both the cats angle and the owners and people living there.

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