Visitors to the Sanctuary are always reminded that most of our cats are non-adoptable because they may be feral, semi-feral, have health problems or behaviour problems. And most of the latter cats have usually been surrendered to us because of “inappropriate urination”. But there are various reasons for that situation. In some cats, it’s their way of saying “I’m really stressed”. What that stress may be will vary. Perhaps the people next door have got a dog barking at all hours. Perhaps there’s a new baby in the home. Perhaps there’s a new boyfriend or too many loud arguments. The cat lets the owner know that it’s not happy by doing its business in the middle of the bed, or wherever – and next thing it knows, it’s being surrendered to us.
We don’t know why Leland was left at the vet, but we do know that the kindly vet-tech who took him to her home hadn’t allowed for his degree of stress, or for a well cat-marked apartment. Poor Leland is still stressed, living with us, but he does have some people to love, and we just mop up after him as needed.
Some of our older cats don’t handle stress very well; Nina has just come to us, rescued from being put down after things changed in her home. It’s quite possible that when things are calmer for her, she might make an adoption prospect to the right person; she has shown no signs of peeing in her bed.
For people who have multiple cats, having one or more cats acting out by peeing is common. Sadly, it’s all too often human-generated by there being too few litter-boxes, or boxes that aren’t cleaned often enough. Sometimes one cat will ambush another and create a situation in which the subordinate cat associates fear with the litter-box and decides it’s better to go elsewhere. We have had cats brought to us from hoarding situations, or just from multi-cat homes because of this problem. These are all what I would call the situational pee-ers. And there is very little doubt that most often the original problem-solving needs to start with the human – whether it’s an emotional, physical or medical problem – because there’s very little the cat can do… But just occasionally someone will fall in love with that cat, and take them home to be a one-and-only, and the cat behaves perfectly – as was the case with a lovely Siamese called Tristan a few years back.
We have our share of cats that have the best reasons for being with us. Harry was left at our gate with a note that let us know that he’d had surgical treatment, but still ruined two floors!
Our darling SweetPea has no control over her sphincter muscles and leaves a little trail of drips (and the occasional “egg”) for us to clean. Noonie (in the Moore House) and Brady (in Old Aids) are both fragile cats and when weakened, it’s easier for them just to pee than to get up and find a litter box to use.
And then there are the incorrigible pee-ers – Jake, in the front courtyard, who is everybody’s friend and loves to be carried; Jake wasn’t surrendered for peeing, but has taken to it with great enthusiasm –
and Elliot, who likes nothing better than to find a lap and be fussed over – in both cases we have to warn visitors not to put anything down because it will immediately be marked! In fact, occasionally Jake likes to mark his favourite people!
Our elegant Bengal, Lucky, probably has a pedigree and cost his purchaser quite a lot; but once he started peeing around the home, the pedigree doesn’t count! Handsome Tugboat, cuddly Yoda, noisy Booster, elderly Bluebell – they’ve all just got into the habit of “going” wherever they are, rather than finding one of the many litter-boxes around. It’s hard to know if it’s a habit that could ever be broken, or if it’s so ingrained now that even the most loving private home can’t deal with it. So instead they have a loving home with us – and we smile and mop up after them!