16 year old cat suddenly refused to use the litter box

by Linda

Devilcat is 16.5 years old and just had radioactive iodine treatment for hyperthyroidism. Afterwards, he was secluded for two weeks in a large guest room with his own private food, water, and litter box, and he did just great.

Then, when he rejoined the household, he started pooping and peeing on the floor, something he had NEVER done in the 16.5 years we have been together.

Now he was refusing to use the common (and only) litter box he had been sharing for five years with his adopted brother, whom he barely tolerates and sincerely wishes would disappear.

I had not changed the litter, the box, or the location, so I couldn't figure out what was wrong. Nothing worked.

I kept the common (and only) litter box immaculate. I removed the swinging door. I completely changed the litter and sanitized the box. But Devilcat kept pooping and peeing all over the carpet and drapes.

When he peed all over a kitchen towel that had fallen to the kitchen floor, I was done. I banished Devilcat to my very neat, clean, and oversized garage where he could come and go between the garage and the outside through a cat door.

But I felt really bad doing that to him, especially since we have a problem with feral cats and other wild creatures coming into the garage through the cat door and wreaking havoc and it's also about to get very chilly here, and Devilcat hates cold weather.

Then it occurred to me. Maybe Devilcat had gotten used to living in isolation with his very own litter box and missed it.

Plus, that box is smaller, and he has arthritis, so maybe it was easier for him to get in and out of that litter box.

So I set up that litter box again in the same guest room and locked him in the room so that his brother had no access to that box.

He used it! But he also began howling at 5 AM to get out of that room.

I decided that the howling was far more tolerable than cat poop and pee. Problem solved, I hope.

Devilcat has the run of the house when I'm home and can watch him, and he is locked in the guest room, or goes outside, when I can't watch him.

My thoughts: I'm sorry to hear your cat has been ill and was having box problems, but I'm glad he's doing better.

And... good thinking!

It sounds like you figured him out. Thanks for sharing this with us and please let us know how he comes along.

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