Monday, June 3, 2013

If Your Cat Had Opposable Thumbs They Could Write, Instead All They Can Do Is Poop On The Floor

I received a question on pawbly today that got me thinking. I think that the question is important for a few reasons;

  • It reminds me that I still have to try to convince people that pets don't act out of spite, nor do they feel shame. They react to our actions, they are afraid when our body language and past experience teach them to be fearful or untrusting.
  • It also reminds me that those poor pets of ours, who have no way of articulating to us what is wrong with them, try so hard to tell us that there is a problem and we in turn need to be patient, forgiving and persistent to finding relief for them.
  • We pet care givers need to provide a plan for immediate AND long term care. The quick one day fix is often unrealistic and we forget many of these pets go home, hopefully feeling better, but in many cases their clinical signs return, and their families feel as if we care givers/veterinarians have failed. Many clients do not return, they instead excuse our failings as a reason to give up, whether it be dictated by lack of funds, or a belief that it is not treatable.
  • We veterinarians need to do a much better job of providing resources to our clients to help them understand their pets problems and provide some sort of support network so they do not feel alone or overwhelmed.
Today on pawbly Michelle asked me;

I'm trying to get second opinion- I have a cat, and have had her for several years - she keeps going 'poop' in my house right beside her cat box -- I've tried everything- changed the litter, changed the cat box - I also have another cat as well... he's male --- he goes in any cat box he can - and I have 3 cat boxes.
I took Maggie to the vet, they said she has idiopathic cystitis ? They said she may think it hurts when she goes to the bathroom and the litter box is the cause of it? Her 'poop' is also hard, and I told the vet that as well.
I really can't continue with her doing this ... it's daily she does it - she knows too, because when she sees me, she runs and hides ... so she won't get scolded. Wondering if you can give me a second opinion by this email - or do you know of someone that will take her and take care of her?

Here is my answer;
First, please,please never scold a just makes everything else harder to resolve, because cats don't associate the act of whatever you are scolding them for, (in this case the urinating out of the box) with the scolding. They just hear scolding and then they are afraid of you..We mistakenly treat cats like dogs, and although you can train a dog with correction (never scold them either) you cannot do the same with a cat. Also, to train a pet to NOT do something you have to catch them in the act, show them what you want them to do, like place them in the litter box as they are peeing or posturing to pee and then reward them for doing what you are training them to do..the old wives tail of rubbing their nose in their waste doesn't work, they just don't associate one action with the correction after the fact.
IF, your cat was diagnosed with idiopathic cystitis then there are many treatment options for this. This can be incredibly painful and those poor cats associate the litter box with the pain so they avoid the box in an effort to avoid the pain that urinating causes.
I would strongly encourage you to follow up with a veterinarian to help alleviate the pain and discomfort that the cystitis is causing. (Can you imagine how awful it would feel to always have a bladder that hurts and then try to pee and have that feel like your urinary tract is on fire? Not fun!).
Many cats that I treat for cystitis need repeated follow ups, multiple medications and a good long term plan. Please try not to get frustrated ( I know that's not always easy), and please try to understand for many cats this is a very painful problem and I think that sometimes the only way a cat has to tell us that they are in pain or having a problem is to pee (or poop) outside of their litter box.
I am at the clinic for any additional questions, and I would be happy to see you and go over all of the medication and environmental changes can help alleviate the cystitis.
I hope this helps..
Krista Magnifico, DVM
Owner Jarrettsville Veterinary Center
Jarrettsville, MD
Here are some very good articles to supplement this Q & A;

if you have any questions about cats, litter box aversion, or idiopathic cystitis you can find me, and some other very smart pet advisors @pawbly, or at pawbly. always free, always there for you and your pet1

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