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Old 20.06.2011, 08:58
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Smelly Cat / Cat Litter?

Hi,

A few weeks ago, I noticed that my cat's litter box was smellier than normal. It's one of those covered ones with carbon filters in the lid, normally there's no odour until I open it to dispose of solid waste, but I noticed that there was an unpleasant smell in the bathroom generally, and when I opened the box it stank.

So, I replaced the carbon filters, and the next time I changed the litter I gave the base of the box an extra thorough scrubbing.

The smell in the bathroom dissipated, but the extra-smelly litter remained. My mum suggested that maybe my cat wasn't drinking enough water, making her urine extra concentrated.

So I started giving her a mix of wet and dry food (she was just on dry food), and adding a little extra water to her food. She still ate it, and the problem seemed to reduce.

But now it's come back again...

The other unpleasant thing is that, for reasons best known to herself, the cat litter tray is one of her favourite haunts (coming second to under the bed). So now she's starting to smell too...

I'm a little reluctant to take her to the vet, as I was concerned about her litter habits once before (she was visiting the box every 10 minutes) and they wanted to sedate her and then do a biopsy of some sorts... not keen on putting her through that if I can find a simpler solution. In the previous case, it turned out I'd changed the type of cat litter I was using... as soon as I switched back, her behaviour went back to normal. Someone asked me if I'd considered that, I put it to the vet who said to try that before going down the operation route... and it worked. So I'm wondering if any pet-lovers on here have any suggestions?

She's female, neutered, and her estimated age is 9 (she was an abandoned cat, I've had her for 6 years). She's an indoor cat, and she has had weight issues in the past.

Any ideas?
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Old 20.06.2011, 09:07
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Re: Smelly Cat / Cat Litter?

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Old 20.06.2011, 09:13
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Re: Smelly Cat / Cat Litter?

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Old 20.06.2011, 09:34
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Re: Smelly Cat / Cat Litter?

Cats are usually clean proud animals, I would say there is a problem for sure if she is hanging out in the litter tray...

I would speak with the vet again and see if there is something more simple before biopsy. WHy did they suggest this and has any of her other behaviour changed? How much fresh water is she drinking?
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Old 20.06.2011, 09:50
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Re: Smelly Cat / Cat Litter?

Without going through all the graphic details, there are two ways to approach this problem – what goes in and what comes out...

To address the first problem, you need to look at what you’re feeding your cat. High-quality food with less filler produces less waste and less smell – put it this way: at Casa Idiot, you can always tell when we’ve had to substitute an inexpensive supermarket food instead of a vet food by how quickly the litter tray fills up. Good brands to look for are Iams, Eukanuba, Royal Canin, or Science Plan.

We order our food online (or shop across the border in Germany) and it works out cheaper than buying a supermarket-quality food here in Switzerland.

The second plan-of-attack is to look at the litter box. Each time we clean ours, we soak it in dilute bleach, then rinse-and-dry it thoroughly. You might consider using tray liners which keeps the tray cleaner. Finally, we use Catsan, an odor-absorbing litter that works much better than anything else we’ve used. It's more expensive than other litters, but it really does work.

Also, check that you’re changing the litter frequently enough – some cats are very fussy.
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Old 20.06.2011, 09:54
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Re: Smelly Cat / Cat Litter?

Here is a website with some answers about why cats may sleep / hang out in their litter box.

I've seen this behavior myself for one of my cats was when I was young and we moved across country, my father made a wooden cage that would "fit" both our dog and my cat. In the shared space, the cat would lay in the box, which was secured onto a shelf, rather than cuddle with the dog.

I remember one of my mother's cats doing this when he became sick. He was among the first cases of failed kidneys after eating tainted cat food years ago, before they realized it was a problem. He was sick, having trouble in general and would lay wherever he felt most comforted, one favorite spot was on top of my old computer monitor, the other was in his box.

I have seen this often also at animal shelters and pet stores where there were multiple cats in the same cage. With my mother's sick cat, he was one of three cats that she owned so in each instance, keeping the "pound kitties" in mind, it seems to be a matter of it being a space the cat could seek comfort and claim as their own.

With this idea of comfort in mind AND the fact that your cat box is covered, combined with you stating that your cat also spends time under the bed, perhaps your cat is nervous / scared / insecure about something, including also possibly being sick. I think kidney troubles or diabetes could account for the cat becoming somewhat dehydrated even with enough water available, this would also explain the stronger smelling urine. As you've said your cat is middle age'ish (9yrs?), perhaps something along that line is a factor.


To double check, if you want to try some things before heading off to the vet, try getting a filtered water fountain for your cat to drink from. Some cats really enjoy flowing water to drink, my sister and sis-in-law each have something like this for their cats. Having something like that may tempt your cat to drink more than stale water does.



Another thing I'd suggest as often (usually even) the laying-in-the-box is a security issue, is to make sure you've got someplace else where the cat can "hide." If you have young children or maybe dogs, you may want to consider a space high up (cat tree or on top of a shelf), otherwise, something at ground level may work. They make cat beds that are covered, this may be a workable solution as some have a general shape similar to a covered litter box. Of course, a benefit for you would be the cat would smell better and usually the cat bed itself is washable to some extent as well.


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Old 20.06.2011, 18:07
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Re: Smelly Cat / Cat Litter?

Thanks everyone...

saint7uk: The vet suggested the biopsy last time as an alternative to collecting the cat's urine using a special sand... which sounded very complicated and to be honest I didn't understand how it worked... they said 'we will give you a little sand and she has to urinate in it...'... just how was I supposed to do that?

Village Idiot: I already use Catsan, the food is a possibility as I do use supermarket stuff, but I've always done that and it's never been a problem until now. I used to use litter tray liners but I stopped as she scratched them to bits and I don't think she likes them - she's scared of plastic bags. I already clean the tray with a dilute alcohol mix... would bleach be that different?

Peg A: Thanks for the website, I'll have a look. She is a very nervous cat - I think she was badly treated before I had her and I'm sure having an owner who keeps on paying extended visits to hospital doesn't help. She can always hide under the bed, and the litter box is her recourse if the bedroom is too 'scary', e.g. when I'm hoovering in there. I tried (when I first moved in) providing her with a box to hide in, but she ignored it. (The same way she ignored the cat bed, and the many scratching posts I have provided...). It's just me and her so no young children or dogs in the picture (or other cats).

However she does seem to be getting more withdrawn... for example she used to hide from everyone except my parents, she now will not come out when my parents visit either.

So, having read all your advice... I think a phone call to the vets may be in order. Just to be on the safe side (if nothing else they may advise me about food). But if it might be kidney troubles or diabetes I don't think I want to leave it too long in the hope that a home remedy might fix it.

Here's hoping she doesn't have to have a biopsy though.
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Old 20.06.2011, 18:08
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Re: Smelly Cat / Cat Litter?

probably won't find it here (not a pet owner so never looked).

But in Canada, there was an Arm and Hammer baking soda mix especially for litter boxes. Worked wonders whenever the Pootch ate something bad and odours werern't pleasent
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Old 21.06.2011, 20:04
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Re: Smelly Cat / Cat Litter?

Update:

I rang the vets this morning and explained my concerns. They were very sympathetic, and suggested (again) the special 'sand' for the litter box. I think my French must have improved as this time I grasped the method. I have to empty the litter tray, clean it, put in a (rather small) amount of sand and wait for Tabitha to perform... Then I have to collect the urine (which will not be absorbed by this sand) and take it to the vets for testing as soon as possible.

I have to go out tomorrow, so shall attempt this on Thursday... what fun.
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Old 21.06.2011, 20:35
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Re: Smelly Cat / Cat Litter?

Hiya,

Sorry to hear about your worries with Tabitha!

I’m afraid I can’t offer you much of an answer, but I thought I would let you know my experience of kitty piddling.

One saturday about 9 months ago our little female (BellaMia) started showing similar signs to Tabitha. The litter tray got seriously smelly over the course of a week or so and eventually I noticed her paying it a visit every 10-20 mins.

We were keeping an eye on her for most of Saturday and we’re quite pleased to see that she was drinking plenty. By Sunday morning however, she seemed really unwell and dehydrated, so we decided to take her to the emergency animal hospital in the city.

They told us that she had a urinary tract infection and that they would need to keep her overnight. The next day we went to collect her and they told us that cat’s (especially females) sometimes get a build up of sediment in their urine which can cause a blockage and subsequent infection. They said that females fed solely on dry food are very susceptible. We were told to put her on a ‘mostly’ wet food diet to stop the problem ever returning.

Since then, she’s been on a dry/wet food mix and is doing fine. The vet trip cost us over 1000chf in the end, so I would advise anyone who feeds their female cats on a dry food only diet to try ‘mixing it up’ a little whenever possible. You could prevent kitty from ever having to go through what Bella went through, and you could protect yourself from a ridiculously large and fairly preventable vets bill.

Hope you get to the bottom of things with Tabitha!

-Laurie x
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Old 23.06.2011, 10:29
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Re: Smelly Cat / Cat Litter?

Ok. So today is 'Collect the urine' day. Normally, our morning routine is as follows: I get up, have breakfast, and then have a bath. While I am in the bath, Tabitha wanders into the bathroom and uses the litter tray.

But not today. The one day I WANT her to use the litter tray, and she has not been. It's been 3 hours...

So...

Any ideas on how to make a cat urinate?!?
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Old 23.06.2011, 10:43
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Re: Smelly Cat / Cat Litter?

If the sand stuff smells ‘funny’ to her, she might not urinate on it. I tried to change my cat’s litter once and they took it upon themselves to pee right next to the litter box, on the floor. Keep an eye on her is all I can suggest.

If she does pee on the floor in protest, next time try putting a plastic sheet down or something that will collect the pee, and then you can just pour it into the ‘sand’ once she’s been.

I hope you succeed!

-Laurie x
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Old 23.06.2011, 10:50
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Re: Smelly Cat / Cat Litter?

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Any ideas on how to make a cat urinate?!?
Simple. Strong coffee...



(Our kitty isn't much of a morning person...)
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Old 24.06.2011, 02:46
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Re: Smelly Cat / Cat Litter?

So got woken up 20 minutes (2:20am) ago by the sounds of a very distressed cat... poor thing clearly couldn't bear to use the litter tray with that pathetic amount of cat sand in it... so she urinated on the rubbish bag with her old litter in by the front door (that I'd left upstairs by mistake) and is now clearly very unhappy and ashamed of herself... am SO cross with the vets for putting her through this, I TOLD them that they hadn't given me enough sand. Plus I STILL can't give her new 'proper' litter as I'm not sure the bin bag was uncontaminated... feel like an awful cat owner. She's wandering around meowing pitifully...
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Old 24.06.2011, 06:56
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Re: Smelly Cat / Cat Litter?

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So got woken up 20 minutes (2:20am) ago by the sounds of a very distressed cat... poor thing clearly couldn't bear to use the litter tray with that pathetic amount of cat sand in it... so she urinated on the rubbish bag with her old litter in by the front door (that I'd left upstairs by mistake) and is now clearly very unhappy and ashamed of herself... am SO cross with the vets for putting her through this, I TOLD them that they hadn't given me enough sand. Plus I STILL can't give her new 'proper' litter as I'm not sure the bin bag was uncontaminated... feel like an awful cat owner. She's wandering around meowing pitifully...
Oh no! Poor you and poor her too! My Bonny complains quite a bit if her box isn't to her liking as well, I can easily imagine your poor girl crying and acting ashamed!

Perhaps you were able to "salvage" the situation a bit by sprinkling the sand from the vet's office on the puddle, using it to soak it up?

If she's going to that length to avoid using the box with the new sand in it though, you may not have much choice but to close her up in a large'ish travel crate, along with a smaller-than-usual (but still big enough) litter box with the vet sand in it, so that she's forced to use it. Not really ideal but perhaps it would be effective.
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Old 24.06.2011, 09:22
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Re: Smelly Cat / Cat Litter?

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Oh no! Poor you and poor her too! My Bonny complains quite a bit if her box isn't to her liking as well, I can easily imagine your poor girl crying and acting ashamed!

Perhaps you were able to "salvage" the situation a bit by sprinkling the sand from the vet's office on the puddle, using it to soak it up?

If she's going to that length to avoid using the box with the new sand in it though, you may not have much choice but to close her up in a large'ish travel crate, along with a smaller-than-usual (but still big enough) litter box with the vet sand in it, so that she's forced to use it. Not really ideal but perhaps it would be effective.
Thank you... Unfortunately the sand is designed not to soak up urine so I couldn't try your suggestion... am going to take what I did manage to get down to the vets and ask if it is ok, and if not insist that they give me more sand... after all, I assume I'll be paying for it...

I mean, what self respecting cat would do its business in this?
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Old 26.06.2011, 19:18
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Re: Smelly Cat / Cat Litter?

Just an update...

I took the traumatically-obtained sample to the vets, having spent a considerable amount of time calming myself down (I'm looking forward to the looks on the faces at the people at my therapy group as I explain how (and why) I put our 'emotional management' techniques into place this week...).

To my relief, the fact that the sample was collected in an 'unorthodox' manner didn't render it unusable.

Vet rang me back that afternoon, and explained that Tabitha is fine, there were some crystals but no blood. So she now has special cat food to reduce the crystals.

I had to keep myself from laughing as the vet advised me on how to introduce this new food into Tabitha's diet. Eventually when I could get a word in edgeways I explained that my cat has never turned her food up at any brand of food... if it's in her bowl, she'll eat it!

So we'll see how it goes... my only concern is that common sense tells me they'll want another sample in a few weeks time to see if the crystals have gone. Eeek...
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Old 26.06.2011, 19:58
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Re: Smelly Cat / Cat Litter?

This is indeed great news fingers crossed!!!
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Old 26.06.2011, 23:38
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Re: Smelly Cat / Cat Litter?

I'm glad they were able to test the urine okay, and get some results that seem like a fairly "easy" fix compared to it being some psychological kitty problem.

Hopefully you and Tabitha are both doing better soon!
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