DEAR JOAN: At the end of last year, our cat, Duchess, started pooping in the backyard, and then her sister, Princess, started doing the same thing. Both would still use one of our three indoor open litter boxes for peeing.
Unfortunately, we lost Princess last November but Duchess is still pooping outside and peeing inside, unless she’s locked in, and then she will poop in the litter boxes.
Duchess has been on medication for quite a while for peeing outside the litter box prior to the pooping outside. There have been no changes in the environment, litter, etc.
Although, we allow them in the backyard, they can’t get out because of the cat fencing. Any insight would be appreciated.
DEAR JIM: Cats can have complicated relationships with their litter boxes.
The most common reason for rejecting a litter box in favor of somewhere else in the house or going outdoors is a medical issue that causes pain when urinating or defecting. Cat logic blames the litter box for the pain, so they start avoiding it.
That could be the reason Duchess started peeing outside the box, and you’ve done the right thing by seeing a vet and having her on medication.
I think it’s likely Duchess’ preference for pooping al fresco is likely nothing more than preferring a breeze beneath her bum when she goes, but it could be a matter of extending a dominance over her domain.
She could also be pooping outside as a way of distancing herself from any real or imagined enemies. When cats were truly wild, they would defecate far from their dens so their scent didn’t betray them to predators. Today’s cats do the same thing, which is why wandering cats poop in the neighbor’s flower bed and not their own.
Pooping outdoors will only become an issue if Duchess starts visiting other yards, which you assure me she can’t, or if she starts refusing to use the indoor litter boxes. As long as that doesn’t happen, I say let the Duchess reign. (Although she should be supervised when outdoors to protect her and the wildlife in your yard.)
DEAR JOAN: Our two cats of 15 years both died a few months ago. We adopted a 2-year-old cat from Milo Foundation 5 days ago.
She is a lovely cat but she ignores us. My goal was for a cat that I could pick up and hold and hug and kiss and would sit on my lap frequently. She lets us pet her and will let us pick her up very briefly.
Do you think this can change or is it unlikely to change? If so, we need to return her to Milo even though it will break my husband’s and my heart to do so.
Barbara and Don Bushee, El Sobrante
DEAR BARBARA AND DON: Only time will tell, but I think you’re off to a great start, and I encourage you to stay with it, especially as it’s obvious you’ve already fallen in love. The cat is still settling in to a new home and new people, and it can take a while for her true personality to come out.
Some cats are very cuddly and loving, while others are more standoffish. Some never change, and some can change overnight.
All you can do is to keep loving whatever kind of cat you have.
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