Advice on older cats who stop using the litter box

Dear Cat Faeries,

Bart’s inappropriate elimination ramped up. He is now 16 and hasn’t used a litter box for the past month. I don’t want to put him down for this! He is such a lover boy!

Diane in Minnesota

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Dear Diane,

Sometimes when a cat gets to be Bart’s age the kidneys are starting to shrink and not function as they once had. Shrinking kidneys lead to various stages of renal failure, and it’s time to begin diet changes, and often sub-cutaneous fluids. But what we often aren’t told is that it can lead to behavior changes including avoiding the litter box. So have your vet examine Bart and run some blood work.

A few other medical conditions come into play as well. Arthritis is another big one for many cats as their back legs and lower backs become stiff and sore so that getting in and out of a little box can be painful – when that happens your cat might pee next to the box or on a surface like a bathmat. Or they can enter the box but they don’t squat – the urine flies out their back end and hits the wall or spills over the sides of the box.

The solution for this is easy pie: a box that’s shallower for easy in/out access. Or even better, get a large storage container and cut out an opening that’s low enough for easy entry. The high sides are tall enough to contain urine that might be sprayed out. See below – that’s some of our washable waterproof pads in front of the box opening. This box is from Rubbermaid. Another option is a semi-transparent box such as those from Sterilite – some cats may feel less closed in that way.

Advice on older cats who stop using the litter box
(click image to see it larger)

 

Another factor in renal failure is that cats often lose some or all of their hearing. This can lead to loud caterwauling both in the middle of the night and during the day. When a cat goes deaf their world can shatter and this can affect their behavior and out of panic or not understanding what’s going on with their body the cat could stop using the litter box. But the cat’s sense of smell is still very much intact, one of the many reasons we love Comfort Zone with Feliway so much. It works with your cat’s sense of smell. If your cat is feeling rotten from malfunctioning kidneys (it will feel like a hangover to your cat) or scared from not hearing well, Feliway will be soothing and comforting and allows that the negative behaviors can be corrected. You and your cat will be much happier with the smell of the Feliway pheromone wafting through the house. But don’t be concerned about the smell, only your cat can detect it.

A Story from a Customer About Her Senior Cat and Hyperthyroidism

THE SENIOR CAT

Written by: Alison W. Certified Veterinary Technician, Reiki Master

Zaichik the Magnificent came into my life while I was working in Moscow, Russia. I grew up in Connecticut but lived all over the US (personal choice – not military) before visiting a friend who was working in Moscow. I’m a country girl and never thought I’d live in a city (let alone one with a population of over 8 million!) – but I got a job working for US Agency for International Development. I managed environmental contracts and as part of my work travelled over the entire country. (That is a book in itself.) I will never forget seeing Siberian Tiger tracks in the Russian Far East.

Zaichik is a Japanese Bobtail and “Zaichik” [z-eye-chik] means “little rabbit” in Russian. “The Magnificent” part was his own idea. Valentina told me he was a very special kitten, and incidentally the grandson of the Japanese Ambassador’s cat. She insisted that I must have him! How could I resist?



Zaichik the Magnificent in my Moscow flat 1996

Veterinary clinics as we know them did not exist in Russia. Vets made “house calls” for everything, including surgery. Fortunately Zaichik was healthy and his only veterinary encounters were for vaccinations and neutering. I got him an international health certificate and passport and was thrilled when I could bring him to the US in 1997.

In the US cats are far less likely than dogs to have annual examinations. Indoor cats aren’t often exposed to contagious diseases, but they are not immune to other potentially life threatening conditions. This is particularly true as cats age.

Among the most common problems in older cats are:

– Kidney disease
– Diabetes
– Hyperthyroidism

When diagnosed in the early stages by your veterinarian these can all be treated. Prompt care will prolong and enhance the quality of your cat’s life. Symptoms to watch for include:

– Increased thirst (generally paired with increased urination)
– Weight loss
– Behavioral changes



Zaichik the Magnificent in NH 2006

Three years ago I noticed a marked increase in the amount of water Zaichik was consuming. He had also lost weight. My first thought was that he might be diabetic. However, blood tests revealed he was hyperthyroid.

Hyperthyroidism can be treated with a daily pill. Note – I did not use the adverb “easily” in the previous sentence. Does the thought of giving your cat a pill strike terror in your heart? The best medicine in the world is worthless if you can’t get your cat to take it. Fear not! Simply ask your vet to prescribe one of the new transdermal gels that are applied to the skin inside the ear – decreased anxiety for people and cats!

Zaichik’s advice for a long and happy life is “see your vet regularly and just say no to stress”. =^..^=



Zaichik the Magnificent in FL 2013



More from Cat Faeries regard hyperthyroid and medication:

1) When applying the transdermal gels you MUST wear either a vinyl glove or a finger cot because you will absorb the medication and this will affect your own thyroid. Gloves and finger cots can be bought at your local drug store.

2) Veterinary Pharmacy of America can take your cat’s prescription and turn it into a tasty treat. Most cats will gobble their medication in the form of a treat right up!

The treats come in these flavors: beef, chicken, liver, and venison.

We favor the venison because it’s gluten free which is something Cat Faeries feels is important. Wheat gluten causes many health problems and we feel cats and people should eliminate it to maintain health. When your venison flavored treats arrive they must be refrigerated right away.

VPA is located in Texas and can be reached by phone at 877-838-7979 or fax 877 329 7979.

Our favorite litter box isn’t a litter box!

We wrote about this a few years ago. The other day a customer wrote to say that her cat sprays urine while in the litter box. We decided it was time to resurrect the photo of what we use for litter boxes.

When our cats started getting really old and unable to squat to urinate their pee would fly over the walls of standard pet shop litter boxes. So we bought two plastic storage boxes and cut out an opening (you can cut the opening low for cats with poor mobility as we did here or higher for younger cats). The sides are very high which prevents urine from hitting the floor. And the box’s depth is great, the cat get step inside, easily turn around and get in a good position to do their business.

The high sides are also great for cats who like to dig their way to China and who scatter litter everywhere.

These storage boxes will save your walls, floors, and your sanity!

Homeopet homeopathic remedies for your cat. Match up your cat’s symptoms with the formulas.

We really love the Homeopet natural line of remedies and have been fans for many years. The founder of Homeopet is a doctor and researcher and he’s put decades of knowledge gathering and keen attention to detail into these products. Everything is of the highest quality, no scrimping because the products are for animals like we may find in the products of other companies. And you know how we are at Cat Faeries – total fuss budgets when it comes to quality!

The chart below will allow you to match up your cat’s symptoms to the correct remedy.

In some cases you might want to use two remedies. Why? Well, because one of them might unlock the cause but not cure. The other will work with the first remedy to cure. Here are some examples:

Skin & Itch and Skin & Seborrhea

You would alternate doses. So, every 2nd dose –switch. You would dose 3 times a day. In the AM, around lunchtime, and then again in the PM.

Skin & Itch and Skin & Seborrhea PLUS Cleanz – Detox

The addition of Cleanz Detox will remove the toxins which could be the cause of the skin problems.

You would follow the same dosing pattern as above BUT with each dose wait 30 minutes and give a dose of Cleanz Detox.

A combination we are particularly fond of is:

Cleanz Detox and Digestive Upsets


You would dose in the same manner we explained for Skin & Itch and Skin & Seborrhea.

We also like Joint Stress and Cleanz – Detox in combination with each other as older cats have painful joints and years of toxin build up.

You would dose in the same manner we explained for Skin & Itch and Skin & Seborrhea

Behavior • Anxiety • Stress

Your Pet’s Symptoms

Possible Causes

Suggested Remedy

  • Barking, whining, howling, yelping, crying
  • Pacing, panting, restlessness
  • Hiding under table, in bathroom, behind couch
  • Cowering, trembling, shaking
  • Drooling, vomiting, pooping
  • Destructive behavior
  • Bolts, runs away
  • Home alone/Separation
  • Boarding/Kenneling
  • Vet/Groomer visits
  • New arrivals to home
  • Strangers/Visitors

Anxiety Relief
(liquid drops)

  • Storms (thunder, lightning, wind, heavy thunderous rain, tornados)
  • Change in barometric pressure
  • Fireworks, firecrackers
  • Loud noise/traffic noise/airplanes flying by
  • Gunshots, bangs, explosions

Anxiety TFLN
Thunderstorms
Fireworks

(Liquid drops)

  • Fear of car and will not get in
  • Car motion, travel sickness
  • Vomiting, drooling, cowering
  • Cries, barks, whines
  • Restless in car, panting and pacing
  • Car trips
  • Boat trips
  • Train trips
  • Airplanes/Flying

Travel Anxiety
(Liquid drops)

Upper Respiratory

Your Pet’s Symptoms

Possible Causes

Suggested Remedy

  • Sneezing, runny nose, congestion
  • Watery or runny eyes
  • When they breathe, you can hear it
  • Runny nose and eyes
  • Sinus infection
  • Cat or dog flu
  • Allergies
  • Colds

Nose Relief
(Liquid drops)

  • Dry cough, wet cough, barky cough
  • Wheezy cough
  • Hoarse
  • Kennel cough
  • Bronchitis
  • All coughs

Cough
(Liquid drops)

Recovery • Health • Healing

Your Pet’s Symptoms

Possible Causes

Suggested Remedy

  • Recovery from injury
  • Wounds, cuts, bleeding, scratches
  • Post surgery
  • Sprains, bruising, breaks
  • Tail injury
  • Accidents and road traffic accidents
  • Surgery
  • Accidents and traffic accidents
  • Recovery
  • Fighting

First Aid
(Liquid drops)

  • Infection
  • Swelling, pain and shock from injury
  • Wounds that won’t heal, non-responsive wounds
  • Promotes rapid healing in wounds, cuts, bites and burns
  • Surgery
  • Accidents and traffic accidents
  • Cuts and wounds
  • Bites
  • Burns
  • Scratches

HP Healing Cream
(Topical)

Cleans the system of all the toxins the body has accumulated over the years. These toxins come from a variety of areas: spot on treatments, yard sprays, house sprays, air fresheners, wormers, shampoos and preservatives in foods are just some of the areas. The toxins build up in the system and decrease liver and kidney functions which results in the pet looking and acting less healthy.  Also purges radiation.

Cleanz – Detox
(Liquid drops)

Senior Cats and other animals

Your Pet’s Symptoms

Possible Causes

Suggested Remedy

  • Lameness, stiffness, difficulty rising or climbing stairs
  • Limping or holding foot up
  • Hip, joint and back pain
  • Weak hind legs
  • Pain with movement
  • Arthritis
  • Hip displasia
  • Older pets
  • Previous injury

Joint Relief
(Liquid drops)

  • Leaking during sleep/constantly dribbles
  • Puddles or urine stains on carpet
  • Urinary incontinence (old age or fear based)
  • Spayed females/neutered males

Leaks No More
(Liquid drops)

  • Stomach upset, vomiting
  • Cats that throw up 20 minutes after eating
  • Gas, doggie farts and flatulence
  • Diarrhea, loose stool
  • Constipation
  • Bad, smelly or sour breath
  • Colic bloating
  • Constipation
  • Poor digestion
  • IBD
  • Older pets
  • Overindulgence
  • Food allergies

Digestive Upsets
(Liquid drops)

Skin and Coat Allergies

Your Pet’s Symptoms

Possible Causes

Suggested Remedy

  • Constantly scratches
  • Biting, licking, chewing, gnawing
  • Skin irritation and/or eruptions
  • Hair loss
  • Skin allergies
  • Seasonal allergies

Skin & Itch
(Liquid drops)

  • Smelly ears with wax buildup, ears smell like stale cheese.
  • Ear infections
  • Oily, greasy coat, bad, poor dull coat
  • Dandruff, dander, flaky coat
  • Dogs stinks despite regular shampooing and grooming with different medicated shampoos
  • Airborne allergies and seasonal allergies
  • Chronic skin conditions

Skin & Seborrhea
(Liquid drops)

  • Nasty, red, oozing spot
  • Wound-like spot with no hair/dry, scaly skin
  • Bald spot/s
  • Licks and chews at same spot
  • Local allergies

Hot Spots
(Liquid drops)

  • Flea bites normally found in areas fleas congregate: base of tail, head, inside of legs
  • Scabs, sores, chewing hair off, skin discoloration
  • Chewing, licking, itching, scratching
  • Hive-like red spots
  • Bug bites, including fleas
  • Flea allergic dermatitis

Bug Bites
(Liquid drops)

A beautiful story of two beloved cats written by a Cat Faeries customer

We so love people who love cats. And we love people who can tell a good tale probably as much as you do. We hope your heart is warmed, faith in humanity is restored, and that you give your cats a big hug and lots of kisses. Here’s Judy’s story about Casper and Marshmellow:

My Wonderful Cat Faerie,

On Wednesday, our Marshmellow passed away suddenly. We think it was a heart attack. The morning began as it always did. I petted him on the couch and cleaned the sleep from his eyes (Casper used to lick them clean but when he passed away, it became my job). Then I went into the kitchen to wash his bowls and make his breakfast while he went to the sliding glass doors that lead to our deck so he could watch the birds. That was his favorite thing to do. No sooner than I suds-up the bowls did I hear a terrible cry from Marshmellow. It sounded like the sound he made when a black stray cat would wander onto our deck.

Marshmellow was very protective of us and used to “fight” that cat through the glass doors. But it was daytime, the stray only lurked around at night. And the birds were outside singing. If they stray was there, I’m sure the birds would have flown away. I rushed to Marshmellow. He was laying on his side in obvious distress. His breathing was shallow. I ran to get my husband and the carrier so we could bring him to emergency. But as we were stroking him, before we could get him in the carrier, he took his last breath. Our only solace is that it happened quickly, in one of his favorite places, doing one of his favorite things…and, just like Casper, he wasn’t alone when he left us.

Thankfully, our daughter, Carrie, was sleeping out at her friend’s house. Marshmellow’s last moments are playing in a constant loop in my head. I am glad Carrie was spared these images. When she came home, Marshmellow was wrapped in his favorite blanket and looked like he was sleeping peacefully. Just as Casper was “mine,” Marshmellow was “hers..”

Carrie was the one who first found Marshmellow at North Shore Animal League. They put all the hard to place in the Purina Cat Haven, a colorful building that you see first before going into the main building with all the kittens. It is such a wonderful and happy place for these cats to live until they find their forever homes. The main room is filled with carpeted shelves, bay windows with seating, cat condos, scratching posts and toys. From that room, there is a kitty door that leads to a clinical looking room where the cats’ food is prepared, the cats get daily grooming, inspections, etc. That’s where Marshmellow and Casper were most of the time according to the staff. Even though the other room was far more interesting, they didn’t want to be with the other cats, only each other. Marshmellow and Casper almost blended in with the stark white walls of that room. I think that was the way they liked it. They were there for two years. Even though there were many wonderful kitties for us to choose from in the main room, Carrie was drawn to the clinical looking room. That’s where Marshmellow and Carrie first laid eyes on each other. It was love at first sight. Carrie petted Marshmellow while Casper watched a few steps away. When it seemed that Carrie was “OK,” Casper let her get a couple of pets in with him, too. Carrie came running back to the main room where Sam, my hubby, and I were.

Excitedly she said, “There are these two beautiful white cats. One is fat and friendly…” and at that moment Marshmellow came through the kitty door and stopped at her side, “and the other one is smaller and shy.” And that was when Casper stepped through the kitty door and kind of hung back there and watched his brother. Casper let me pet him. Both let out earth-shaking purrs. From that moment, they were our family.

Carrie is an only child. We had just moved to Long Island from Manhatten. She didn’t have too many friends out here yet and was terribly lonely. That’s why we went to North Shore Animal League that day. We intended to get two kitties so they’d keep each other company while Carrie was at school and Sam and I were at work. Marshmellow was Carrie’s confidant. She told him secrets. She cried to him. She laughed with him. She used him as a pillow (he LOVED it). Marshmellow helped her through a dark time in her life in a way that nobody else could. I’ll love him most for that.

The North Shore Animal League figured they were about 9 years old. Same age as Carrie. If that’s true, Casper was 14 when he passed in August. Marshmellow made it to 15. Indoor cats are supposed to live to 20, I hear. I feel like we were robbed. But we had seven great years together and that is a gift. I wouldn’t trade a single moment of it. They were happy here and if anyone deserved happiness in their lives, it was Marshmellow and Casper. Marshmellow was never the same after Casper passed. It was about 3-4 months until he stopped looking for him. Then he seemed resigned to being alone with us. He became a bit needier for affection and the loss of Casper created a bond between Marshmellow and me. He was happy…but never the same. It was a heart attack that took his last breath but I believe he really died of a broken heart.

Anyway, for years you have been a special part of our family. You helped us through a very trying time. Feliway brought harmony back to our home and your toys brought joy to The Fellas (that’s what we always called Casper and Marshmellow together). You know Casper’s favorite was the corn and he was holding it as we relieved him from his cancer. Marshmellow’s favorite was the fortune cookie (I always called it the wonton). We cast Marshmellow’s footprints in plaster, just as we did with Casper. While, Casper was cremated, we buried Marshmellow in our yard, wrapped in a favorite blanket, with his “wonton.” We put the bird feeder above his resting place so he can always watch the birds. It was his favorite.

Thank you for everything. We’ll get new, furry members of the family again…but not now. When we do, you’ll be sure to hear from us. Until then, I’ll remain a fan and recommend you to everybody!

Hugs,
Judy