Friday, 10 June 2011

Help from cat lovers please?

One of my cats is scent marking all over the house, and I’m at my wits’ end. 

About a month ago Rusty had a urinary problem (stones) which was very serious, but we got him to the vet on time, and they sorted him out after a three-day stay.  Apparently he behaved very well and was very affectionate with all the staff, they loved him.  John and I visited him every day for a cuddle, and he always seemed delighted to see us.  On the third day we took him home, and he ran about his old haunts – though I suspect with hindsight he was checking them out to see if any other cat had taken over his territory.

His brother Banjo was suspicious of him at first – it had been explained to me that cats smell different when they go somewhere for a while – but after a day or so he seemed to accept him back with no problem.  They’re both 10 years old.  No other humans or animals had been anywhere near the house during that time, and haven’t since, except a neighbour he knows well.  There have been no other traumas, life has continued as normal, except that they are both now on special urinary diets, the food for which has to be purchased on line and in huge quantities.

About 4 days or so after having him back we noticed with horror that he was backing up against a particular armchair and spraying.  This has never happened before.  A pet shop gave us cleaning solution and lots of advice, as did our vet, who charged us through the nose for it.  The vet homed in on why he was scent marking, and concluded that there was a rivalry problem between Banjo and Rusty, and that this was the cause.  I should forthwith give them separate eating areas, another litter tray (if not a third).  Above all I was not to get cross with him.

These cats have known each other for ten years, and occasionally have had spats, but it’s rare, and there’s been nothing for the last few years.  However, we bought them separate feeding bowls (Rusty in any case had to have his own because we needed to put ‘calming drops’ in it every time), though we didn’t get another litter tray – my house isn’t that big, I simply don’t have the space to do this.  There’s nowhere dry outside, and we keep them in at night because of foxes and a very aggressive local cat (“The Brute”).

We started out with good intentions, and John is far better than me at being patient about it.  But he doesn’t have to clean up behind Rusty, as I do, and his sense of smell is very poor.  I’m the one who can smell it when I walk in the house, even with the cleaning fluid, and it horrifies me.  Although they have separate feeding bowls they cross-pollinate all the time, so I daresay Banjo is more super-calm that he needs to be...  That is if it’s working, which I doubt.

The only way we can deal with the issue half way successfully is to watch Rusty like hawks when he’s indoors, since we’ve noticed that he tends to do it when he comes into the house and after eating, and that it’s usually in the front part of the house and in our presence.  What we do is intercept him when he backs up against anything.  Depending on how close we are to him, we pick him up saying “No, no”, or I put my foot under his tum and move him gently but firmly sideways (not a kick – never a kick, I’d never hurt any animal, even if I didn’t love them as much as I do Rusty), or if I won’t make either of these in time, I must admit I bellow “No!” at him at very high volume – it makes John jump out of his skin, not to mention the cat.  I feel my house is being trashed... and yet I don’t feel any less demonstrative towards him, and he purrs with me in his usual way.  Sigh...

I bought a cat behaviour book which has made more sense of the whole thing, and perhaps it’s tied up with his needing to reaffirm his right to be there and feeling very insecure when there are doors open. The book suggests enclosing him in a room (with one of us) for a while, then in a bigger area, and gradually the whole house, and to put tins with a few of his biscuits at the bottom around the areas where he marks, (which he can’t reach) because cats won’t soil the area where they eat, but I haven’t tried it yet.

Yesterday I came back from work, it was a warm sunny day, and as soon as I went into the sitting room, just inside the front door, I could smell that Rusty had scent marked, John had missed it and it was happily drying in the sun – except that I couldn’t identify where it was. 

I refuse to have any guests in the house till this is sorted out, and John is getting fed up with it – after all he can’t smell a thing.   So I said “Right, enough.  I’m going to see if there are any bloggers out there who have experienced the same thing and dealt successfully with it”.  And here I am, asking you for help and advice. 

How do I stop him? 

Pussywood Studios - on a closed set (X-Rated)

Banjo to Director:  You want us to do WHAT????????????


To finish on a lighter note, there are a few posts from my Eavesdroppings blog which I thought I would include here from time to time – and here’s one of them.

From Eavesdroppings Blog - 16.  At the Bus Stop

Older brother (22 at the time of the incident):

We're coming back from the nightclub at about midnight, obviously p*ssed, and suddenly my brother clutches his chest and doubles over. "What's the matter?" I says. He doesn't answer, just looks funny, like. "Come on" I says, "what's up?" His face is all screwed up and he gasps "it really, really hurts".

I'm getting really worried now, looking for my mobile phone, going to dial 999. He's falling on the pavement, his knees drawn up, still clutching his chest, and I'm swearing at the phone because I had switched it off in the club and now it's taking forever to come back on. "Hang on in there bro", I tells him, "I'm getting an ambulance".

Then suddenly out of nowhere I hear this massive long fart, with so many notes to it I thought it was God Save the Queen. Now it's me that's gasping for air - he just jumps up right as rain and says "That's better. Quick, here comes the bus." Just like that.

Lucky I hadn't got through to the emergency services - how do you tell them you've changed your mind 'cos it was just a fart?

(With thanks to Nick, the would-be 999 dialler, who told me the story)


Photo Finish
from Lonicera's digital archive


'Patience', Gilbert & Sullivan, 2010

The Maldives

The Pianist

Wisteria variety chosen by yours truly because
 the variety was called 'Carolina' - and serve me right,
because it has virtually no perfume...

Non-digital.  North west Argentina, 1994

Open aspect behind my house, at sunset, with cows
in the field and the Portbury Docks cranes on the horizon.

Non-digital.  Fuerteventura.  Can never resist a hibiscus.

Non-digital.  My friend Mike, with whom
I worked in the seed trade for 18 years.



Zanna said...

Oh Caroline feel your pain and frustration - and I'm no help at all. As you know I'm a doggy person and the only cat I ever had was an outside cat (who often thought she was a dog) who came as far as the dogs basket in the laundry and shared with the two of them on cold nights. But I have a well developed sense of smell - one of the benefits I noticed when I stopped smoking - so I can relate to how you must feel when you get a whiff whenever you enter the house. Fingers tightly crossed that someone in blogland has some good ideas for you. Zxx

OneStonedCrow said...

Wow Caroline - I'm a cat lover but I have no advice to offer ... I absolutely hate the smell of cat P and cleaning up after their messes makes me retch ...

... if one of my cats squirts in the house he gets chucked outside but I understand that your circumstances are different ...

good luck and I hope that Rusty will change his behaviour soon

I love the portraits on this post ...

Reddirt Woman said...

I wish I could be of help but I've always been a dog person. Can't tolerate the smell of cat urine and I can smell it the instant I walk in a place that has a marking cat or overdue for cleaning litter boxes. The food theory makes sense to me as dogs don't go where they eat either but it would be nice for you to not have to worry about it at all. Maybe yet someone will have a good idea that will work with the 'mad marker' short of finding him a home where he's the only cat...

Loved the fart story, too... God save the


Vagabonde said...

I was just watching a cat show on TV I had not seen before. These people had problems with their cat scratching them, pretty bad. A cat behaviorist was telling them what to do. I found the site of the TV channel, here it is called Animal Planet, and the name of the guy is Jackson Galaxy. Here is the link for him: The section on the show, which is called “My Cat from Hell” is here: There is a lot of information there; you may find a way to ask this host what to do, or read on that page something that may help you. Has your cat been spayed? Could be that. Good luck.

Lonicera said...

Thanks Zanna. Actually it's one of the reasons I never had a dog - I just can't bear the smell of them when they're wet, though I love doggy temperaments.
Graham - I know, I imagined this would be your response, i.e. if I lived in the countryside there's no question that they would spend a lot more time outside. But here a lot of the time they spend outside is guarding their territory, so it's not surprising they come inside for peace and quiet.
You're right Helen, but in my case finding another home for him isn't an option.
Good advice Vagabonde, I'm reading those sites now. Stupid of me to forget to mention that both cats were neutered just as soon as it was possible to do so, precisely because (apart from being responsible about multiplying cats and not wanting them to wander too far) I wanted to avoid the possibility of scent marking...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...