feline fury

We’re having some trouble with our cats, and it’s causing unneeded stress in our home–even arguments between J and I. Mostly, we’re having trouble with one cat, and we’re a little beside ourselves.


This is Cleo of belly-lovin’ fame. She’s been my close companion for ten years now, and she’s one of the most sensitive felines I’ve known. Unfortunately, her sensitivity can lead to some very undesirable behavior. Cleo is a binge-eater. She eats and eats and eats and then vomits. She does this when she feels she doesn’t have regular enough access to food. This means that if we feed on a schedule, she gobbles it up in seconds and then it’s back up again in moments. Because we have a baby on the way, and because we had noticed that when free feeders are out, she tends to moderate better, we decided that we’d just start feeding the cats via free feeders all the time and give up on trying to control their portions. This has been working for awhile, but then Cleo decided that with all the changes in the house, she’d like to start going outside. Enter food panic.

Now, when Cleo has been outside for any period of time, and especially if we’ve been gone, she comes in, eats as much as she can as fast as she can, and then–you guessed it–brings it right back up. Last night, when we came home late, she did this three times, even though we tried to distract her, remove her from the food area, etc. She’s so sneaky that she very stealthily went over to her dish when we weren’t looking and proceeded to eat very quietly. I think this meant swallowing the food whole. It was a nightmare.

We’re beginning to wonder whether we should let her out, since it brings on such frantic behavior, but it also seems good for her to have some independence (and it’s good for us to get some time away from her).

And then there’s the other issue: the pee. In this apartment, we have to do what I never wanted to do, and that is keep a litter box in our living quarters (before, it was in the garage). It’s in a bathroom, and it’s cleaned by my wife at least once a day. One day, about six months ago, Cleo squatted outside of the bathroom door and peed right in front of me. She has been a peer for some time, and she does this when she’s been slighted. If she can’t come into our bedroom in the morning, and she finds a rug on the bathroom floor, she pees on it. If we have guests that are taking up what she sees as her space, she’ll go into our room and find something on the floor to pee on. Now that we’ve removed rugs and never drop an article of clothing on the floor and have denied any entrance to our bedroom, she goes back to that spot in front of the bathroom. We have poured over a gallon of Na.ture’s M.iracle on the spot, but to no avail. J cleaned the carpets with a steam cleaner last week. The piss odor is still there.

I’m at a loss. We both are. This cat is very dear to both of us. She comes to us when we’re upset, intervenes when we’re having an argument, nuzzles the baby, gives us kisses, and generally protects us from any harm she can. But she’s driving us mad. If we lived where we used to, she would turn into a primarily outside/garage cat with only supervised visits into the house. Here, in a large apartment complex, that simply isn’t possible, and we’re feeling very much at the mercy of this cat. We’ve tried every veterinary and behavioral intervention we can think of, we’re frankly just tired.

Short of finding her a new home, what would you do?


Filed under blogtherapy, cats

17 responses to “feline fury

  1. A.

    Ugh, you’re definitely in a bind. Thrown-up food is one thing (we too have a binge eater/thrower-upper), but cat pee is a whole other monster. I wish I had advice for you…hopefully you’ll find some resolution soon!

  2. That sucks! We have a “sensitive” cat too and our vet recommended Feliway. It’s a spray or a wall plug in. You can’t smell it but they can. It supposedly emits a happy pheromone that puts them at ease. I noticed a bit of a difference with my cat. Might be worth a shot before having to do something drastic. To get out the smell of cat pee I found Nature’s Miracle to be my best friend!

    • reproducinggenius

      Thanks for reminding me of Feliway. We ran out some time ago, and I completely forgot about it. I’m ordering some today.

      As for Nature’s Miracle–it is great, but somehow it hasn’t been working on this spot. I think I’ve decided to get one more bottle, pour a ton of it on the spot, let it dry, and cover the whole area with a bookcase or something.

  3. tbean

    I’m sorry to read this because I vividly remember your post about Cleo and how she seemed to know about egghead within a few days of your positive pregnancy test. She seems like such a special companion.

    I wish I had better advice as to what to do next. The peeing is definitely emotional and not physical right? Our cat had some pee issues but they were urinary/bladder related and a special food from the vet solved the problem. Can you leave a small enough food out so she doesn’t puke or does she just cry for more and continue to eat until she does? Have you tried different food brands? How about buying her a window seat so she can spend time “almost” outdoors? I’m grasping at straws here, I know…

    • reproducinggenius

      Yes, it’s especially painful BECAUSE she’s such a sensitive and special cat. I really think she’s responding to the impending changes.

      Her vets never seem to have an answer about either her peeing or her binge/purge issue. We do have her on food with good probiotics since her tummy does seem to be a bit sensitive, and that helps to some degree, but even leaving just a small amount out means she eats it all asfastasshecan. We really have determined that it’s a psychological issue for her. For some reason, having a large amount available seems to ease her mind a little–it’s just when she spends time away from her food for a few hours that she freaks out. The window ledge idea is a good one, and I think we may have to go back to not letting her out into the big outside world but rather keep letting her out on the balcony. That seems to keep her calm enough.

      Thanks for trying, any straw-grasping is certainly appreciated. We’re willing to throw just about anything at this now.

  4. poppycat

    We are in the same place with our cat. She has been peeing on the carpet and I could just kill her! Cat works for a vet company and we have had two docs look at her. They found crystals in her pee and they say that will make them go outside of the box. We put her on a special diat to make the crystals go away but it hasn’t really helped with the carpet peeing. We have tried all kinds of enzyme sprays to get rid of the smell but to no avail.

    I’d like her to become an outdoor cat but the wife won’t have it because we live in a busy neighborhood. It’s become a major point of contention between us unfortunately. If you figure something out, PLEASE let me know. I’d give anything to make her stop.

    Anyone want a very very sweet three year old calico? Seriously.

  5. I, too, have an emotional, super sensitive cat. He’s 17 and I’m really a little scared what he’ll do to ‘act out’ when he’s not the center of my attention anymore.
    He doesn’t pee on things very often–but for instance if we have been on vacation and come home and don’t pay enough attention to him, he’ll go pee on our bed as if to say “pay attention to me–OR else!” So, yeah, I now pick him up as soon as we walk in the house!
    It does seem like going outside is making her freak out more and since you do have some outdoor space available on your balcony, I would opt for that.
    We also have a cat (also 17) who used to be a binge eater and vomiter. We changed all of their food years ago when our young male cat (age 5) developed crystals in his urine. The vomiter had some urinary issues as well.
    Now they all eat Wellness wet cat food and no dry food ever. And, none of them have had any of the urinary problems they used to have.
    What we found is that cats can’t really “gulp” wet food like they do dry food, so the binger rarely binges anymore. If she does, she usually ends up eating up or someone else does so at least clean up is easy. I know that’s gross, but it’s true!
    I don’t know what type of food you are feeding them…but maybe a change could work?

  6. G

    Sorry to hear about your cat issues. I don’t often comment but thought I’d through this out for you. If the pee has gotten down to the pad or even to the subfloor N.ature’s M.iracle or any other carpet cleaner probably will not work. The pee smell will remain in the pad and the subfloor. The only surfire way to get rid of the smell for the animal and stop them from going in that spot, is to remove the carpet, pad, AND put KILLZ down on the subfloor. Even if we can’t smell the pee anymore they can.

    On another note, I’m not sure I believe in this… but have you tried an animal communicator? I have a friend who’s been doing this for a few years now and has a pretty successful business going on. People swear by her and say she gets results. She does long distance stuff too if you can’t find one in your area. Just a thought…

  7. Fiona

    I have a similarly sensitive cat (also happens to be solid black) who is very special as well. She has had the pee issue going on intermittently for years. I can totally sympathize. Just thought I’d mention a few things that have been successful for at least a while. One is laying down tinfoil sheets over the place they pee (a little inconvenient when it’s right in the doorway – but worked for me). Another is to buy one of those plastic boot trays with the raised edges and place over where they pee (that way at least it’s very easy to rinse off in the tub and doesn’t get on the carpet). I’ve never found nature’s miracle to be of much use on carpet. Best of luck… cat’s can be so tricky yet so lovable!

  8. Fiona

    p.s. meant to say: most cats hate tinfoil and won’t walk on it.

  9. I actually work for a veterinary behaviorist and I can tell you the best odor remover is called Anti-icky-poo. It works absolute miracles and is guaranteed by the company so if it doesn’t work you can get your money back. I can’t really give you any advice on the vomiting, we have a ct that does that too. But with the peeing she might just keep peeing there because she can smell it. The key is to get the Anti-icky-poo into the pad itself (usually you can use a syringe and inject it directly into the pad). Hope that helps!!!!

  10. vee

    Man, and I thought WE had cat issues! Our peer has been relagated to outdoor life, but as that’s not an option in your case, the balcony space might be a good plan. Surgical spirit followed by Feliway spray seems to stop him returning to the same spot repeatedly, but if your carpet is soaked through, I’m not sure what would lift the smell.

    Re eating issues, is there a type of food she likes less well? So you could, for example, regulate her access to wet food, if she really likes that, but leave out a bowl of something she’s not keen on so she has free access to it and can see it’s therew, but is less tempted to binge on it?

    I’m certainly no cat whisperer – they make no sense to me, but maybe his woman can help:- http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cat-Detective-Vicky-Halls/dp/0593052773

  11. vee

    Oh and if that Anti Icky Poo stuff does the trick for you, let me know! Our curtains are still a bit skanky!

  12. tbean

    One other thought–I know they put dogs on anti-anxiety meds and anti-depressants. Do you think they do that for cats too? Just an idea…

  13. nutmeg

    Hi, just a lurker chiming in because we just visited friends who have binge-eating cats. Their vet recommended a new trick that could possibly help — they now put a golf ball in each dish of dry food. That blocks the cats’ access to the kibble so they can’t scarf it down quite as quickly… perhaps that would help, if you don’t want to rely on the free feeders all the time?
    Good luck…

  14. jay

    I have no advice – I just wanted to stop by and offer sympathy from a fellow person with Cat Issues. There is a solution to every problem, I am sure. xx

  15. reproducinggenius

    Wow! So much wonderful feedback. We’re going to try some Anti Icky Poo to see if that system helps with the urine issue. Feliway usually does keep her from peeing again, so I’m ordering that too. Hopefully, we can get the pee odor to go away forever. It would be so very nice to get our very gigantic cat deposit back when we move.

    As for the vomiting, we decided that Cleo can only go outside when we’re home. This way, she’s not separated from her food for too long, and she knows she can easily come home, thus easing her anxiety quite a lot. For the last two days, this has worked quite well. I hated to diallow her outside visits because she has only just recently worked up the courage to go out regularly, and as a plus sized kitty, she does need the exercise.

    Anyway, I really appreciate all of the suggestions and advice. We have had her checked out by her vet on multiple occasions, but for her, this seems to be entirely behavioral. Still, I appreciate the reminder that these behavior issues in cats often manifest as a result of physical ailments. Such interesting creatures they are! You’re all fabulous, and for those of you struggling with your own felines, good luck! Perhaps something here will prove helpful to you as well. xoxo T

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