What is the behavior problem?
Milo has been urinating on the sofa in the living room and upstairs sofa and chairs.
Can you tell us about the history/status of the animal?
Milo is a 2-year-old neutered DSH. He was neutered at 8 weeks. He has a clean bill of health and no medical cause has been found for his house soiling. Milo was adopted by Betsy when he was a 2-month-old kitten along with his sister Millie.
Where it is being kept, is it with a family, in a shelter, somewhere else?
Milo is kept with Betsy in her home. Betsy lives with her husband, her two teenage children, and her father. Betsy also has 2 older dogs (Lucy and Minnie) who were acquired before Milo and Millie and 2 other cats she rescued as feral kittens (Bubbles and Maggie) a year after acquiring Milo and Millie. Bubbles and Maggie are now a year old.
Important Background Information:
When going through my questionnaire with Betsy, she indicated the house soiling problem started when she brought the feral kittens into the home a year ago. She said she hasn’t seen any aggression between the cats, but when Bubbles and Maggie sit near or next to Milo he gets up and walks away. She also indicated the problem had increased in frequency since remodeling her home and bringing in new furniture. Betsy said she had caught Milo in the act a few times and always had a crazed/funny look on his face. At one point during this consultation, Betsy called for all of her cats to come over for a treat. All the animals gathered around Betsy front and center, except Milo who cautiously approached her from underneath the coffee table. Betsy has plenty of litter boxes in the home several on the bottom floor and some on the second floor spread out through various rooms. Milo does use the litter box mostly except the times on occasion she sees him going on the furniture.
I’ve determined that Milo isn’t urinating on the furniture, but rather spraying/marking. This was evident to me based on when the problem started when the new kittens were brought into the home, the location of the urine on the furniture, and the "crazed" look Betsy described when she caught Milo in the act. He prefers to avoid the new cats, he is cautious and insecure around the other animals, and the problem escalated when the home was being remodeled bringing in new and unfamiliar smells. This all points to me that Milo is insecure about his territory. Additionally, he feels insecure about his place in the household among the other animals and that's manifesting itself in this marking behavior.
Build Milo’s confidence so he feels more secure in his surroundings and his place in the household ceasing his marking behavior.
- Clean Milo’s hot spot areas with an enzyme cleaner to completely remove the urine preventing Milo from associating that area as a marking spot.
- When bringing new furniture into the home rub a towel on Milo and then rub the towel on or leave the towel on the new furniture allowing for Milo’s scent to be transmitted there making the new furniture more familiar to him.
- Use Feliway or Milo's own pheromones (from a towel that has his scent) and place that on his marking spots.
- Have one-on-one play time in Milo’s hot spots areas using a wand/teaser toy and going through a prey sequence twice a day. I think separating Milo from the other animals during the one-on-one time with Betsy will not only help him re-associate those former marking areas but build his bond with Betsy and his confidence which will make him more secure of himself and his place in the household.
- Incorporate clicker training in Milo’s hot spot areas and by teaching him “high five” and offering him a high-value treat (cooked chicken or turkey) further associating that area as a play/food area rather than a marking one!
- Bring more vertical territory into the home in the form of cat trees or cat-friendly shelves. Also, bring more cat beds into the home. Milo may feel like he has to share a lot of his space with the other animals and would benefit from having more options to get away and have space to himself.
- Plug in feline pheromone diffusers into the home to help diffuse any potential passive aggression/anxiety/tension going on among the other animals.
Betsy will implement these recommendations consistently for over a two week period. I will then follow up with Betsy to check on Milo's progress.
Milo marked one of the chairs upstairs the day after I came for his assessment. Since then with Betsy following through with all the recommendations Milo has not marked any furniture in two weeks! Milo is benefiting from solo play time and now has associated his former marking areas as the place where his training paw game takes place. He now waits for Betsy on the chair to play the paw game with her!
My future goal for Milo would be to build more camaraderie between him and the other cats in the household. My recommendations for this is to encourage allogrooming between the cats by scent mixing. Betsy could use a brush to brush the other cats and then use that brush on Milo. This would help create a group scent between all the cats. Betsy could also incorporate training with the rest of the cats as well as finding an activity like food puzzles all cats can play with together.
That's all for meow 😻,