Adopted Birman cat urinating and defecating on couch

by Louise

I adopted a 4 year old Birman cat who seems to be using my leather couch as its litter tray - help!!!

I thought at first that it was territorial weeing, however after reading up on this I've established that it can't be territory weeing as there isn't just a little wee, it is a full on amount.

Then on top of this he has also poo'd in another area of my couch. When I previously thought it was territory related due to being new in our home, I purchased Feliway.

I have noticed him constantly rubbing his face on furniture which is a good, happy sign, however it hasn't helped with this problem - help!!!

My thoughts:

I'm sorry to hear that you're having issues with your cat, Louise. Thank you for adopting a "non-kitten!"

I'm going to assume that he has no medical problems and that you've had him checked out by a vet.

A cat that's been thrown into a new environment is usually in a bad state, even if they don't show it outwardly. They've been traumatized and need time to decompress.

When you adopt a cat, therefore, there are several first steps. You didn't go into detail on this, so I'm not sure if you've done these things.

In addition to a vet check and "cat proofing" the home, you need to set up a confined space where the cat will live.

A single, sunny room works best, but a small, restricted area of the house can be used if a single room can't be easily closed off.

In that room, you place all the kitty comforts and essentials... a litter box, toys, a food and water
bowl, a cat perch at the window (or something set up for outdoor viewing), and a bedding area.

The use of vertical space is critical. A cat tree, or an area where your cat can be up high and/or hiding areas are important.

The adjustment period can take several days to several weeks or more, and depends upon your household situation (other family members, other pets, how fast the cat adjusts, and so on).

During this adjustment period, you establish a routine and give him plenty of attention. Set up a feeding schedule (and a bathroom schedule to go with it), and a play and exercise schedule. You can observe him and make sure he's getting along OK, ensure his litter box habits are golden, and let him get used to his new territory.

After you're sure he's 100 percent, you can let him explore more and more of the house over time. Eventually, he'll have the run of the place and you can set up his litter boxes where you want them.

It's a good idea to keep the old box in place for a while, and then move it slowly to a new location if that's what you want.

Without this "training period," many cats will get thrown off their game. This is especially true for cats coming from stressful environments like shelters.

All cats, however, should have an adjustment period in a "safe room" like this. You have to ease them into living in your home slowly.

So, what I would do is place him (back?) in his confined room and start over with his adjustment period. I hope that helps. Please update us on his progress when you can.

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