Bad kitty, Part 4: The shrink is in
Cody and Stewie are great cats, with one major behavioral problem: spraying. This is the story of one cat lover's quest to eliminate this smelly, embarrassing problem once and for all.
I can't believe this is something I'm still dealing with.I thought it would just take a few days for the boys to adjust to having multiple litter boxes; I actually thought they’d be excited. Another place to pee or poop, right?
Boy, was I wrong.
Reader Claire said, "You also don't mention in any of your 3 posts -- have you gotten both cats vet tested for infection, including a [urine culture] (not just a urinalysis) to check for a bacterial infection?" Another reader, Jamesincalifornia, counseled, "You need to have your cats altered. That should stop the spraying. If your cats are already altered and still continue to spray, they probably have a medical problem, for which you need to consult a veterinarian."
My apologies to Claire, James (do you mind if I shorten your name just a bit?) and any other readers I may have misled; to address your comments, both Cody and Stewie are neutered, and their veterinarian has already ruled out infection in both their cases.
The spraying issue has always been a behavioral one for both boys. I'll admit that I waited longer than I should have to have a vet rule out a medical cause for the problem; I assumed it stemmed from the stress they experienced relating to a crosstown move, which is when the spraying began.
So here we are again.
Some time has passed since the last installment -- with good reason. Since then, I've decided to listen to a suggestion I received from a reader of Part II in my feline-spraying saga. It was a step I dreaded taking: medicating the boys.But I did some thinking, made some phone calls, did some research, cleaned up more of the offending urine, etc., and came to the conclusion that the next chapter of this journey would be trying out kitty Prozac.
Before I went through with it I decided to take the boys in for a second opinion. Don't get me wrong; it wasn't that I didn't trust the first vet ... oh, who am I kidding, he's not reading this! Okay -- I didn't trust him and I couldn't understand half of what he told me. Time for Vet #2!
The boys got checked by a fresh set of eyes, at a new location, and the second vet actually suggested I try medicating because the boys are more than likely stressed. (He echoed Reader Jade's sentiments, "It also seems like they only act up when you aren't home, which can be a sign of separation anxiety.")
Even when I'm home, though, the boys have certainly been known to "act a fool," as my mother would say. I work nine, ten, sometimes eleven hours a day, and even the time I spend at home is largely spent sleeping: Even more time to act up without fear of being caught!
Reader Patrick said medicating his cat took "the edge off his anxiety so that he didn't feel the need to pee on carpets, rugs, beds, etc., but otherwise had no noticeable effect on his personality." Patrick's comment made me feel a bit better about the whole kitty-Prozac route, since, in the back of my mind, I'd never been a big supporter of the idea. (I just had these images of my cats staring at the walls, imagining they saw a big yellow smiley face vomiting a waterfall of fresh kitty litter. I didn't want my boys to wind up with Dr. Drew on "Animal Rehab" alongside a handful of washed-up celebrity pets, you know?)
It seems as if reader Winifred Wilson felt my pain. "I too am wondering if Prozac is the last resort but I hate hate hate the thought of that. I feel absolutely desperate. I have the urine going down the side of the litter tray but I can cope with that. I can't cope with the spraying [around] the house and also not exactly sure where they might have done it and I haven't yet found it."
Well, Winifred, I'm pleased to inform you that Patrick was right: Cody and Stewie are now receiving regular medication, and it's begun working like a charm. (Though Cody has shown no side effects, Stewie has become a little more rambunctious than usual, running around the house, but I couldn't care less. He's always been an Olympian-level sprinter, and if he wants to run himself ragged around the house all day and all night, he can go right ahead. I've even ceased using my kitty laser-pointer toy because he wears himself out on his own.)Best of all, I haven't cleaned up a marking in more than two weeks! I realize the medication, which takes some time to reach its full effect, may not have fully kicked in yet -- but whatever is happening I love the results. And so does my dry kitchen.
But could it be a fluke? To be safe, I still want to track down two other reader suggestions I've been dying to try out: Feliway and Cat Attract.
What do you all think? Is this the end of the Bad Kitty series as we know it, or do you expect to see me here again? Share your thoughts -- and, of course, your own experiences.
If this is the last time we see each other I'm beyond grateful for every single tip and ounce of encouragement that I've received from Unleashed readers. It's been my pleasure to invite you into the chaotic world of my two Bad Kitties.
-- Gerrick D. Kennedy (Follow me on Twitter @GerrickKennedy)
Photo: Stewie is always up to pose for pictures, unlike Cody. Credit: Gerrick D. Kennedy / Los Angeles Times