Unhomable cat - out of ideas :(

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dtmark
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Unhomable cat - out of ideas :(

Post by dtmark » Tue May 01, 2018 8:51 pm

Hi,

I hate that it's got to this point, we're both very upset, but can't see a way out of this. I'm posting in the hope that someone can come up with an option that we can't see.

About three years ago we adopted three cats together. All male, two brothers, one from another pair of brothers. They were all together at the cat rescue centre and we didn't feel we could split them up since they had shared history and got along. So while we were looking for a pair, we took all three. They're all fantastic cats. However one of them scents literally everywhere. That's the one that isn't one of the two brothers that we took. The one in the picture.

We got wise to this too late, largely because he doesn't do it in front of us. It was the growing smell that brought it to our attention. Every corner. Every item of clothing or fabric. Every new object is destroyed.

We do know that his brother was rehomed and brought back to the rescue centre for the same reason. The back-story which may not be accurate is that they both lived with an elderly gentleman who had died. The one we have has suffered a nasty injury in the past and almost lost his sight. We don't know how that happened. It is possible to suppose that his brother was aggressive. Maybe they both used to scent everywhere.

I knew then and still that we couldn't simply have him homed again. It is entirely possible that he would be PTS because of this behaviour. I suspect it is ingrained and unchangeable. He is about seven years old. Tempting to think maybe if he were the only cat he might not do this. However tempting though that is, I think it will continue.

So we've lived in a house stinking of cat pee for years. It can't go on. We're having the carpets replaced throughout, the sofa, we've had to throw so much away. But, we agreed to take him on. He's not a product you take back to the shop because it's defective. And he is gorgeous, really affectionate. He's currently shut in one room which we're allowing him to ruin while we repair the rest of the house.

The idea of getting a cat psychologist is a lovely one, but we can't risk it. Nor can we afford it. It will cost us about £2000 to repair the damage as it is. We can't do that twice. My instinct is that he's done this since birth; both him, and his brother. Despite what products claim to do, once the smell is there, it will never go away. Nothing can rid of it. We've tried everything.

Our current plan is to try to build some kind of enclosure in the garden rather like that of a cat homing centre and keep him in it. He craves contact so this might seem cruel but I can see no alternatives. Our house doesn't have any more spare rooms. There is nowhere else we can keep him. And to be fair to us we've tolerated much more than most would have. Again if rehomed, he will in all likelihood be rejected. And since I wouldn't be prepared to ask someone to take him without explaining this condition this means that nobody will take him, so this is the best option possible.

Unless anyone can think of any others. I know we have sanctuaries for animals but those tend to be wild animals like owls or donkeys. I know of no such thing for cats.

I'd dearly love someone to be able to think of something that we haven't been able to.

Mark

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Re: Unhomable cat - out of ideas :(

Post by jhomardeleon06 » Fri May 04, 2018 4:29 pm

If your cat has been peeing where it shouldn't, you'll need to remove all trace of the smell or block off the area entirely. Clean the spot with an enzymatic cleanser rather than an ammonia-based one, cover with foil or plastic, and prevent access for several weeks to give the neutralizer sufficient time to work.
If there is a new cat in the house, give them separate litter boxes. Give them different territories until they are comfortable with each other. Sometimes not getting along can cause cats to show aggression through urination.
If your cat is threatened by a new baby, guest, or other change, give it time to adjust.
Moving to a new home is a big change in your cat's life. Not only is the cat claiming and adjusting to a new territory, it might also be reacting to the scent of a former tenant's pet. You'll need to reassure your cat and completely remove all odors of other cats so your cat won't feel the need to mark its territory.

Never rub a cat's nose in its urine or feces.
Never yell at the cat or physically drag it to the litter box.
Keep the litter box separate from where the cat eats or drinks.
you must remove the odor from your home. Your cat will keep returning to that area if he can pick up the scent. Clean up the urine as soon as possible. Wipe up the mess with a paper towel and then use a disinfectant and odor neutralizer. Avoid ammonia-based disinfectants because your cat will think it's urine and continue peeing in that area. A cleaning spray that lists orange oil in the ingredients works well. Cats dislike and will avoid the smell of citrus. A home remedy I use is homemade citrus cleaner made with orange peels. You can also use a good old-fashioned warm water and vinegar solution. Both are inexpensive and "green" alternatives to toxic chemical cleaning products.

Even if you can't smell it, your cat can.To make sure you got all the urine off the floor, use a black light. A black light will show everything, even in spots you didn't know about.
You can also try moving your cat's food and water dish since a cat won't pee where it eats.
Aluminum foil is another option. Cover the spot where your cat has peed with foil. Cats don't like the sound or texture and will avoid it.

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Re: Unhomable cat - out of ideas :(

Post by Kay » Fri May 04, 2018 6:21 pm

I think the idea of an outside enclosure is well worth trying - and if possible I would site it where he is unlikely to smell or see any other cat, so he might not feel the need to scent mark what will be effectively his own unchallenged space

and if you can make it big enough you can always take a book or laptop and sit in there with him - it will need to get some sun but could become a nice little bolt hole for an escaping adult, or child

and further down the line, who knows? you might want to consider fostering a cat or two using the enclosure

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Re: Unhomable cat - out of ideas :(

Post by Ruth B » Fri May 04, 2018 8:56 pm

At the moment the best option does seem to be a run out in the garden for him, however I do want to add one possible hope for the future.

A good number of years ago we introduced a third cat to my pair when the elder one was terminally ill, I thought it would give the younger a new playmate. It was a disaster, the new comer started to spray, and the others then started to follow suit (unlike yours all three cats were females). I tried everything, but after three months I had to give up the stress was just too much. Knowing the charity she had come from I wasn't worried about returning her, they kept her separated from other cats for a week away from anything that might make her think there was another cat around, and she behaved perfectly, never sprayed, never soiled and used her litter tray just the way she should. She was advertised afterwards as having to be in a single pet household, she was adopted and the charity never heard of any further problem with her. Knowing a little of her history she came from a house with several cats, dogs and probably other animals as well and had had to fight for everything she got. Even when there was plenty of food, beds etc available she still felt she had to fight for it and the spraying was her trying to be dominant, and the other reacted in their natural way.

I would suggest when you have the pen in the garden try and make sure that the other cats can't get close, give him the space to feel safe, if someone has attacked him previously then there is a chance that he feels he is fighting his own corner the only way he feels he can, particularly if he is now part blind. Don't use any bedding from in the house, if possible buy him everything new so there will be no scent on it and try and avoid going from cuddling one of the others straight to his pen to give any scent on your cloths a bit of time to fade. Once he feels he is safe in his own little space there is a possibility that he will stop feeling the need to spray everywhere. If this does happen it might be that you could re-home him yourself, and make sure that the new owners knew what his problem was and that they wouldn't try and have another cat for company for him.

I will also add that I have been assuming he is neutered, if not that might go a long way to improving his behavior.

Fingers crossed that he does settle down with time. Cat urine is no fun to have around its' smelly, vicious stuff, and be warned as well as furnishings and carpets, check your wall plaster, if he has been spraying up the walls there might be patches of that that need to be redone. Let us know how you get on.

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Re: Unhomable cat - out of ideas :(

Post by Sniper1 » Mon May 07, 2018 7:57 pm

Massive respect for your commitment and care and I agree his habits are very unlikely to change I would iopt for the outdoor house but something more like an adapted summer house and get electric correctly installed it needs to appealing for you to spend time with him as well as suiting his needs it may not be the same as being indoors for him but its a decent solution to a very difficult problem

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Re: Unhomable cat - out of ideas :(

Post by Marla » Tue May 08, 2018 10:39 am

I echo Sniper1's comments about your commitment and care.

As this kitty craves contact, I don't think an outdoor run is going to be a good solution for him or you.

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Re: Unhomable cat - out of ideas :(

Post by Marla » Tue May 08, 2018 2:42 pm

I edited out my suggestion about a cat sanctuary because I've spoken with a rescue who said he probably would be homeable as an only cat and this would be better than a sanctuary which would of course have lots of cats.

Hopefully the rescue will post their advice here.

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Re: Unhomable cat - out of ideas :(

Post by Sniper1 » Fri May 11, 2018 6:58 pm

If you are going to try the rehoming route I would only do so if you are willing and able to do it yourself all on condition he comes back to you if it fails once you sign him over to rescue his future is out of your hands I have known numerous cases of cats as habitual lifetime sprayers in one pet only homes it is not always the solution people think it is and any rescue or even yourselves will massively struggle to find anyone willing to take the risk with him and all the work and expense that could entail you love him so you've got this far and are willing to do more but if someone wants a new pet cat there are millions of easier choices out there to be honest

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Re: Unhomable cat - out of ideas :(

Post by Sniper1 » Fri May 11, 2018 7:01 pm

If you are going to try the rehoming route I would only do so if you are willing and able to do it yourself all on condition he comes back to you if it fails once you sign him over to rescue his future is out of your hands I have known numerous cases of cats as habitual lifetime sprayers in one pet only homes it is not always the solution people think it is and any rescue or even yourselves will massively struggle to find anyone willing to take the risk with him and all the work and expense that could entail you love him so you've got this far and are willing to do more but if someone wants a new pet cat there are millions of easier choices out there to be honest

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Re: Unhomable cat - out of ideas :(

Post by YogiBoy » Fri May 18, 2018 1:29 pm

Hi Mark,
Firstly, well done on caring so much for this little fella, despite the issues!! Just a few thoughts to throw in here for you - in no particular order:

As has already been mentioned, I assume all the cats are neutered? If not, that is the first thing to do. Not just the cat who is spraying, but all of them, because if any of the other cats are 'entire' they may be stressing him out for that reason. At least if he is neutered, the spray smell will be a lot less strong too.

A product called "Simple Solution" Stain & Odour Remover is really good for neutralizing the enzymes in cat spray, and even smells nice too - you can get that online or at Pets at Home, and other pet supplies stores.

I applaud your thought of building him an outside enclosure, so good luck if you decide to try that. However, it sounds like in the long-term this puss might benefit from being an only cat, so it would be worth talking this all over with one (or more) of the rescue organisations in your area. I would advise talk to those who have foster homes, rather than those with a permanent shelter first as they may have a fosterer willing to take this lad on and work with him on a one-to-one basis. Find details on our shelter listings here: https://www.catchat.org/shelters

There are a few sanctuaries for cats. Although as this lad likes company, that may not be best for him. Celia Hammond Animal Trust have a lovely sanctuary down near Hastings in Sussex, I don't know how far that is from you though. Details on the above shelter listings.

Also, drop an email to our behaviourist: [email protected] as she may be able to offer some advice for you.

Also, drop an email to Samantha here, as she runs a "rehab pen" where she works one to one with cats who have behavioural issues, and gets them ready for rehoming. She usually works with shelters, but still worth asking in case the Rehab pen is free - or just for more advice: http://www.gyrncats.co.uk/

If after all you think rehoming is the best solution - and it may well be, if he is spraying from stress about the other cats being around, or any other localised reason - discuss it with a rescue organisation locally, as above, and they can use their Cat Chat page to find the right new home for him, as an only cat. He may need some time working with a fosterer first, and some 'settling in' time, but if he given one-to-one help with no other cats to stress him, it should hopefully be do-able to train him out of this. If you do end up rehoming him, please don't feel that you have failed him, you may be doing the best thing for him.

My final thought is that we truly believe no cat is Unhome-able - just that some are more home-able than others!

Hope that helps - good luck!!!

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Re: Unhomable cat - out of ideas :(

Post by Snats45 » Tue May 22, 2018 9:32 pm

Hi Mark and to everyone else who’s posted on this thread. I’m new and came looking on here because I have the same problem and am also at my wits end.

We adopted two rescue cats 10 years ago now, two brothers. Gary, the smaller and more vocal of the two and Ian, much quieter and far more chilled out. A few months in, Ian started going off for longer and longer periods until he eventually disappeared altogether (he actually came back around five months later in the middle of the night very poorly but that’s another story) Gary would exhibit behaviour towards him that was both aggressive and dominating which is probably why he left.

Gary wasn’t any happier when Ian left and started to spray indoors. As Mark mentioned, we didn’t notice it at first until it got worse and worse. He used to spray up the microwave and the controller for the central heating (managed to blow one up) as well as electrical sockets, the bed, curtains and the sofa. This was in our last house where the kitchen/diner looked out onto the garden. Our stairs were in our living room and there was one occasion where he sprayed through the bannisters into the living room.

Anyway, although it was clear he absolutely hated some cats (this behaviour seemed to be brought on by a particular cat who lived two doors away) he also seemed quite lonely and would try and play with other cats in the street. I decided to get another cat, a female kitten and he’s always been ok with her and she’s almost 7.

Fast forward to now; we moved to this house 4 years ago and I did consult a behavioural specialist as I felt I just couldn’t bring the problem spraying with us. I did also read that some of this therapy would involve covering up the bottom of the windows so he couldn’t see out. That was a deal breaker for me and I hoped things would improve once we moved. That coupled with the fact that I’d need to monitor his behaviour which is impossible to do when I’m out of the house for 10 hours a day, 5 days a week. However once he’d been out for the first time after 2 weeks, he seemed to be ok with his new surroundings. Of course, that didn’t last.

The problem I have is that Gary has a huge problem with cats in the local vicinity. He absolutely hates and detests the cat next door. He fights with him whenever he comes into the garden which is often, even though we’ve tried to block up places where he can get in. Obviously cats can still jump. He’s pretty much the only cat who does dare to come in the garden though.

This now means that despite trying everything I can think of, our house, like Mark’s, now stinks of cat urine. He sprays up every single (solid wood) door downstairs. Radiators, kitchen cupboards, chairs, any bags left on the floor, the fireplace, our bed (has ruined a nice throw we bought), the brand new sofa, bedside cabinets, the blanket box at the end of our bed, the TV cabinet, has blown a plug socket, sprayed up a Feliway plug in and religiously sprays up the front door which he can’t even see out of, walls, the list is endless. The boundary on the left in our garden where next doors cat comes across/through even stinks of cat urine. This behaviour is markedly worse if they’ve had a fight or he sees him.

But apart from all that, this poor cat must be beyond stressed. He spends all his time in the garden looking in case this bloody cat is in our garden. The only time he’s relaxed in the garden is if he knows we’re around because next doors cat won’t come in if we’re around. Of course, we’re at work five days a week. In the winter or when it’s raining, he stares out of the window looking for him.

I’ve found this post because I was thinking the same; how do you rehome the unhomable? It’s not about living with other cats where he’s concerned, it’s cats next door or strange cats that come into the garden. He cannot be happy, he must be stressed out of his mind but he’s such a gentle, loving and affectionate cat. But I also feel I’m coming to the end of what I can cope with. It’s making us extremely unhappy (I actually get quite down sometimes because the house feels filthy knowing there’s cat urine everywhere, sometimes in undiscovered places) and living next door to a cat he hates is also making him unhappy. The summer months are always worse as obviously the cat next door is out and about even more.

So, having just read back over this, I’m not sure what I’m looking for. Advice on whether there is a home in the middle of nowhere that is desperate for a mad tabby who at 11 years old, was racing around the garden earlier, running up trees and pouncing on dandelions, permission for me to rehome him without feeling horribly guilty or advice on how we can keep him and all live happily ever after.

Above all Mark I also wanted to tell you that I know exactly how you feel. It’s awful to live with and it’s relentless. The feeling you get when you see they’ve ruined yet something else is pretty depressing.

Thanks for reading if you got to the end of this missive. Advice gratefully received. He’s neutered and always has been since 8 months old which is when we got him.

Thanks,

Nat

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Re: Unhomable cat - out of ideas :(

Post by Kay » Tue May 22, 2018 9:51 pm

Is cat proofing your garden an option, to keep all other cats out?

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Re: Unhomable cat - out of ideas :(

Post by Snats45 » Wed May 23, 2018 6:08 am

Hi Kay,

I honestly can’t see how we could do that no. We have ivy boundaries down one side anyway (the neighbouring cat side) but even if we had with 6 ft fence all the way round, I can’t see how that would stop him, or any other cats, getting in.

Thanks, Nat

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Re: Unhomable cat - out of ideas :(

Post by dtmark » Wed May 23, 2018 3:04 pm

So many thanks for your responses and words of encouragement.

First, to confirm, they are all indeed neutered. This particular one has a very wide head. I'm led to believe that may mean he was neutered fairly late.

In terms of the dynamic between him and the others - so that's to say the spraying one, Mungo, and the two brothers Firefox (long-haired ginger) and Riley (short-haired tabby):

Firefox is very submissive to Mungo. They play together in a sort of 69 routine on the floor. No hackles, they both enjoy this, either may instigate it. Nobody gets hurt.

His brother Riley is precocious, a little naughty and highly vocal. He is very cuddly and although he struts around in a dominant way I think some of his behaviour is a little anxious. For example he vanishes when guests arrive and is the last to re-emerge. He is rather clever and if you watch closely, a little machiavellian.

He's also like this with Mungo. There was a litle bit of a stand-off for what I might describe as "Alpha" position between he and Mungo originally. No fighting, no aggression, just little clues. Gestures, eye contact.

They all go everywhere together as a single unit. They all sleep together. They're all happy. Exactly what you might wish for with three male cats. They all get along very well. And that's why we took all three. There are no "grudges". Barely even the occasional "spat".

We've had all three locked out of the living room while that has been completely refurbished. Everything has been replaced including the carpet.

In the meantime Mungo has been spraying everywhere else. We allowed him to destroy the small bedroom. They're now locked out of that - which has also been completely refurbished - and have all had to exist in the hallway and far end of the kitchen while we fix the house and while we're not present to supervise continually.

Mungo's behaviour when allowed back into the newly decorated and carpeted rooms is very telling. He immediately gives away all the scented areas we found out about, going to each in turn. (There is no extant smell. Everything is new, he just remembers where it was). He would spray them but he knows we're watching. So he doesn't. Were he left alone, they would now be ruined again.

We now have to repaint the hallway and replace the front door mat as both stink of cat pee. But then we knew that. Basically, Mungo simply cannot be kept indoors. He cannot be trusted. Even though he knows it is wrong to spray (otherwise he'd do it in front of us and he is well aware what that cautionary calling of his name when he ventures near a corner is for). He simply cannot stop himself.

Whether he would do this as an only cat is debatable. As I mentioned, his original brother was adopted - as an only cat - and brought back because he sprayed.

But this becomes academic because I wouldn't ask anyone to take him on knowing full-well that the probability is that their house would be destroyed.

He's not evidently anxious nor nervous. He likes going out, more so than the others. He will confront other cats who enter the garden. Otherwise he's very, very laidback.

My instinct, and it is only that, is that the behaviour is ingrained and permanent. We simply cannot afford to leave him unsupervised anywhere at any time because he will destroy everything in his vicinity.

So our only option remains a "run" in the garden. In the meantime the smell in the kitchen is now building as he's working on part of that.

Or, to find someone prepared to take him on with all of this in mind. And for us to "let go" of control and potentially, to never know what happened.

I have been researching those and it appears we can get a decent one built professionally for circa £800 which is a lot cheaper than constantly replacing bits of the house and living with a foul smell of wee.

We've tried all products and none of them work. Absolutely nothing can remove the smell of cat wee from fabrics. It may fade a little and on a sunny day it is subdued. Come a rainy day and it smells just as bad as it ever did. It is basically permanent.

We are, unfortunately, beyond "psychological" approaches. We just can't take the risk. We can't pay out all this money again. He can never be left alone indoors anywhere at any time.

So it's either rehoming or the cat run, and I can't honestly know what's best for him. But I do have to consider what's best for the others, and that isn't being reduced to smaller and smaller areas of the house because of him.

We'll finish replacing everyting in the house, while he destroys the far-end of the kitchen, and, with a heavy heart, and with the application of another £800 or so, sort out a new home in the garden for him.

It is a dreadful situation to be in, and anyone else in this position has my empathy and sympathy.

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Re: Unhomable cat - out of ideas :(

Post by Sniper1 » Fri May 25, 2018 8:37 pm

Please don't feel guilty for trying your best for everyone cats will behave how they like a garden home may not be ideal but you will love him care for him and keep safe so much more than many animals have his spraying is not your fault and understandable you can't cope with it

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Re: Unhomable cat - out of ideas :(

Post by Kay » Sat May 26, 2018 8:43 pm

just one last idea, Mark

have you had his testosterone levels checked? it's just possible, as he wasn't in your care when it was done, that the job wasn't done properly - sometimes a testicle is inside the body, and it can be expensive to operate on it, so it may not have been done

it would be wonderful if a simple op now sorted him out for good

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