Loss of House Training

by Alan
(Hertfordshire, UK)

Our cat problems are with our 17 year old cat who has lost her house training and has taken to peeing and defecating in the same place (a mat area by the front door).

Despite all our attempts at persuading her not to - additional tray (she has a tray on the balcony and a garden to use) buying new mats, cat repellent from vets, plug in cat calmer from vets, use of disinfectant etc. she keeps going back to the area even if the mat isn't there. She also keeps mewing a great deal as if she is distressed also, but when she is picked up she is calm and affectionate as usual.

4 years ago we bought a seaside flat and we go there for a couple of days at a time leaving her at home. She doesn't like this and tells us when we return. Her usual routine is to have breakfast and spend most of the day in the airing cupboard sleeping. She has been doing this for many years. She sits with us in the evening and comes into the bedroom in the morning.

Any suggestions?


Reply from Liz (editor): These types of cat problems can be very difficult to deal with, and I empathize, I've gone through something similar myself a few years ago. My thoughts / suggestions on this are as follows:

  • Have you had her checked by the vet recently? The distressed sounding meowing you describe concerns me a bit, especially if it's only recently started. Because she's so old, I think it's worth getting her checked out by the vet to make sure the meowing (and the inappropriate elimination) aren't due to any cat illnesses or underlying cat health problems.

  • It's essential to get rid of all the cat urine and poop smell from the area around the mat. Even if you get a new mat, there could be a residual smell on the floor around the area. Any smell left over will encourage her to pee and poop there again. These pages on the website tell you how to get rid of cat urine effectively:

    How to Clean Cat Urine

    Cat Urine Cleaning Products

  • Once you've got rid of all the cat urine from that area, put her food bowl there. Cats hate eating where they can smell pee and poop, so putting her food there can be a very effective deterrent.

  • Are her litter boxes easily accessible? You mentioned there's one on the balcony - does she have any indoors? As she's now pretty old, it's possible she doesn't want to go outside to do her business, especially if it's cold or wet... Also, if she has to walk some distance to get to her box she may decide she can't be bothered! You mentioned she likes sleeping in the airing cupboard, so putting a litter box somewhere near to that may be a good idea.

You mentioned you go away to your seaside flat and she doesn't like that... Because you've had the flat for 4 years now I'm guessing her litter box problems have happened more recently, which suggests it's not this that triggered them. However, it may be a contributing factor. Could you take her with you when you go away, or if that's not possible get someone round to your house she likes to give her some fuss when you're away (preferably in the evening when she normally sits with you)?

I hope some of these suggestions help to solve your cat problems - I wish you the best of luck.

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