Ask Anette the Vet!

Q.
I have 5 cats and, believe it or not, I’m single. Next week I have a date with this sensitive hunk I just met at the biker bar, but my entire house smells like cat pee. Help!

A.
This is a very common problem. It’s difficult to find sensitive hunks these days. For the cat pee problem I have good news. It can be solved! The bad news is that you actually have two problems. Getting rid of the odor in your house is one thing, but next we need to find the source of the problem.

Cat pee stinks because it contains proteins that are designed for marking territory. Feline urine is more concentrated giving it a harsher odor and more staining potential. Finding the places where Tom has peed is another challenge. A black light will help illuminate the spots, but I find the most effective method is to simply use my nose. Your cats will enjoy watching you spend your evenings sniffing around on your hands and knees. When cleaning places where your cat has urinated or sprayed it is important to clean thoroughly and neutralize the odor to prevent Fluffy from reusing her old spot. Use damp paper towels or old clean rags to blot up as much of the urine as possible. Diluted vinegar will neutralize the ammonia and hydrogen peroxide is a powerful oxidizer capable of killing bacteria. Baking soda is a well-known deodorizer that absorbs odors. Most stores carry cleaning products for pet stains and odors.

Here are three common reasons your cat may be urinating in the house.

1. He has a medical problem.
Your veterinarian may recommend a urinalysis which is a test that can screen for conditions that cause an urgent need to urinate, such as cystitis (infection or inflammation of the bladder), crystals in the urine, diabetes, or kidney problems. There are natural options for some bladder problems such as cranberry, marshmallow, Oregon grape and corn silk. Arthritis pain is another health concern that can make getting into the box uncomfortable.

2. He may not like his litter box
Have you changed litters recently? Chemicals such as deodorants added to litter are marketed for humans. Cats hate the stuff. Try a natural non-dusty, non-scented product and scoop daily. I recommend using rabbit food pellets or pine litter. I do not recommend any of the ceramic litters because the dust is harmful to our lungs, and your cat’s lungs.
The litter box should be in a private, quiet place away from food bowls and loud noises such as those from washers and dryers. Add an extra box in a new location if you have multiple cats.

3. Behavioral.
Neuter him! If the problem persists, look for other stresses such as anxiety from other pets or a change in environment. Natural options for emotional stress include passion flower, valerian, chamomile and pheromones (calming hormones of smell). An accurate diagnosis by a veterinarian is crucial for the proper formula to be recommended. Pharmaceuticals such as buspirone, prozac and anti-anxiety meds can be effective. As a last resort, there is a proven yet more risky medication called Depoprovera, which is a progesterone that decreases male hormone driven behavior.

Anette Heaslet practices holistic and conventional medicine at Lithia Springs Veterinary Care in Ashland Oregon. More information is on their website at CheerfulVet.com.