Not using litter box

by Susan

Hello, I'm hoping for some help. After having to put my 9 year old cat (Kennedy) down, I wanted to get another companion for my 7 year old cat (Khloe). I decided to go to the local SPCA.

I found an adorable cat (Angel) that was already declawed and neutered. He is a little over a year and was dropped off at the shelter (left in carrier with note) at the beginning of June. The note said he was a great cat, loving, used the litter box and the reason they had to get rid of him was because his "little brother" was allergic.

I brought him home on June 24th so today is 2 weeks. My problem is that he's not using the litter box. I do have two (in the same room, but not together). My apartment is not large enough to have boxes in any other room but the second bedroom (where they are now) and the bathroom.

Angel and Khloe have good days and bad as far as getting along. They can pass one another without hissing but 10 minutes later, pass each other again and the hissing begins.

I've picked him up over the last two weeks numerous times and put him in the litter box but that doesn't seem to be working. He has worked his way into my heart and I don't want to have to think of taking him back to the shelter but I can't have him not use the litter box. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

My thoughts:

My immediate reaction is that one, both Angel and Kloe have been through a lot lately (as have you). Two, since the adoption was recent I'll assume that the vet has given the all clear on medical issues. And, three, and most importantly, you have introduced the two cats too quickly to expect a smooth situation.

You have to allow Angel the privacy of adjusting to the new territory (cats are
extremely territorial), gaining his confidence, and getting his litter box habits in order without having to compete with Khloe. For a cat, the mere sharing of territory is competition.

If I were to introduce a new cat or cats to my house, the very first thing I would do is set up an area for the new cat. It would have separate food and water, toys, and be behind a closed door from the other cat(s).

A separate litter box would be in that area of the house as well, and I would make sure that the new cat started using the box and could do so undisturbed by any other cats. Any litter box problems would be detected and addressed at that time.

A towel would get stuffed under the door so that there would be no fighting under the door.

Each cat would get plenty of attention each day. I would "scent swap" every day by taking a small towel and rubbing it on each cat, then the other, then the other, etc. In between, I would rub the towel on myself and other people in the house as well in order to spread the communal scent that develops among felines/humans who live together. This will ease the transition, when you're ready to let them interact.

After a few days, everybody would swap locations. This swap would go back and forth as many times as necessary. To satisfy curiosity, slowly, over a period of days, the towel would be removed, and supervised "under door play" would be allowed. Then that would increase to open door play.

At some point, everyone would share the house. This is more or less the process that was used to introduce Teddie and Frankie to Priscilla, although I don't think the location swap was done with them. That would probably have made things a litter easier and quicker.

Please read this article on how to introduce a new cat to the house.

I hope that helps.


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