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


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.

Attention make-up wearing ladies! Does YOUR lipstick contain lead? Mine did!

At one time I told everyone – “Use NARS lipstick, it’s gluten free!” Wheat gluten is nasty stuff and your cat faerie avoids it.

Then I heard about the articles circulating the internet about lead in lipstick. Being obsessed with this sort of thing I spent an hour hunting for an article which didn’t just sound the alarm but which told us which lipsticks are the worst offenders. And darn it to pieces if my NARS wasn’t at the top of the list! Goodness, I’ve probably eaten a massive amount of it over the years!

Here’s the best article I could find:

Once the initial shock wore off I marched back to where I bought my NARS with a copy of the article and the unused lipsticks and got my money back.

And not being one to just warn you and leave you without an option I want to pass along what I’ve switched to:

My favorite make up line is RMS Beauty. It’s everything this girl could want: it’s soy free, gluten free, worn by fussy fashion models, and it’s the purest I have found. I’m head over heels with: Lip2Cheek, Un Cover-up, Un-powder, the cream eye shadows, the illuminizer. I’m loopy for all of it! What you’ll notice is that founder Rose-Marie Swift believes in a “human palette.” No bright green eye shadows or black lipstick here!

If you know of a makeup line this good let us know and we’ll post it. Since a good majority of our customers are women, and who can resist wearing even a tiny bit of make-up, we pass this on to you because we want your pretty self to stay healthy!

“I found some unopened and expired Comfort Zone with Feliway refill bottles, are they still good?”

Recently we got an email from a long time favorite customer who wrote to say that shortly after her beloved cat Puck died she went going through his things and found a few Comfort Zone with Feliway refill bottles for her diffuser. She told us that they had expired two years ago and wondered if she gave them to a friend if they would still work. She also asked us if there was any way expired bottles could be harmful.

Very good questions and we love these! The expired diffuser refill bottles will not be harmful. And because she had never taken them out of the box or removed the cap they will still work – but they won’t be as strong. In the name of being thrifty and being generous they’ll be of benefit to her friend’s cats.

To customer B.F., we are so very saddened to hear of your loss of Puck, we know how dear he was to you. We are pleased that his things will help other cats.

Anti Icky Poo – not just for cat urine odor, for deodorizing clothes too

Anti Icky Poo urine cleaner from

The other day Mr. Cat Faerie found one of his favorite shirts at the bottom of a pile of damp dish towels. The shirt was quite icky smelling to say the least! Plus, it stayed icky smelling despite repeated washings? What to do?

Anti Icky Poo and its odor eating enzymes to the rescue! He filled a pot with water and about a third of a cup of unscented Anti Icky Poo and let the shirt soak 24 hours. Then it went into the washer with the usual Seventh Generation unscented clothes soap. The shirt now smells like freshly cleaned laundry rather than ick! Thank you Anti Icky Poo and your odor eating enzymes!

If you still have some Anti Icky Poo left over pour it down the kitchen drain and leave it for at least an hour, then turn on the hot water. It will gobble up soap scum and grease!

Massive salmonella cat food recall expands again! Affects all Natura brands including: Innova, Evo, and California Natural (but there are others, keep reading)…

We are disgusted – for the third time Natura has expanded their recall of cat and dog food because of salmonella. All of Natura’s brands are affected – dry cat and dog food and various bars and treats. Brands are Innova, California Natural, EVO, HealthWise, Mother Nature and Karma.

Read Natura’s press release here which gives all of the brand names, products, lot numbers and expiration dates for this latest expansion.

Which air cleaning houseplants are safe for cats?

Spring time has me cleaning, rearranging, and thinking of planting air purifying house plants. But are they safe?

NASA among others have done extensive research on common houseplants which can remove toxins which are unfortunately common in many US homes. Let’s keep disease causing cooties to a minimum! Plants are our friends!

However when Cat Faeries reviewed the lists of air cleaning plants which are considered to be the most effective we were disappointed to see that many of the hard workers are deadly toxic to cats.

NASA came up with their top 10 list of the best air cleaning plants. But nearly all of them are toxic to cats. But don’t despair, we’ll tell you what’s safe. Also just about any safe houseplant will help keep your air fresher and safer.

After Cat Faeries spent a lot time checking for safety there are only a few which we consider to be safe and which you can install in abundance throughout your home:

Indoor palms
Spider Plant
Boston Ferns

With that tiny list, kitty can chew on them while they rid of your home of evil toxins like Benzene and formaldehyde.

We learned that “air plant” Tillandsia species are epiphytes (also called aerophytes or air plants). They normally grow without soil while attached to other plants. Epiphytes are not parasitic, depending on the host only for support.

We like them because they are so crazy looking! And the containers you can put them in are really fun, you can get very creative.

Air plants are very good in bedrooms as they absorb carbon monoxide. Most of the plants are safe for cats. Also you’ll be planting them in very cool containers which can be attached to a wall, like a picture. You cat most likely can’t access them. Even if they do, we are told the plant itself might not survive, but kitty will!

Many shops which carry Epiphytes (air plants) also carry succulents – note that many are toxic, so stick with Tillandsia.

The air cleaning plants that NASA likes, but which aren’t safe for cats, would be suitable in your work place (if it’s not in your home and where cats and dogs aren’t allowed).

If you want to read the NASA study with their list of the best air cleaning plants:

Here’s a list of plants to cats, including outdoor plants.

Worried that your cat has been poisoned with any substance? Call the ASPCA hotline 24 hours a day, from anywhere in the US – but note, there is a fee: 888-426-4435.

This is a list of safe houseplants – many are not on the top 10 list of air cleaning plants but any plant will help keep air cleaner.

But be aware that most of the plants are not safe for cats. A few are not safe for dogs, and a few are not safe for children. We have given you the short list if you don’t want to read up on your own.

For a home as free of toxins as possible put a plant or two in the kitchen, near the fire place, the bathroom, and in all bedrooms. And while you are at it, ditch the carpet which is a nasty brew of countless toxins – consider that your cat is just a few inches taller than carpeting and is breathing it in at a faster rate than you are. Besides, what’s lovelier than hardwood flooring, with perhaps a handmade cotton scatter rug?