Unusual Defecation and Eating Mouse
Dear Dr. Coughlin,
We’ve noticed these days that one of our three cats (probably 6-month-old Kashmir) is doing his “stuff” in the basement, in front of a tall cupboard on a pile of old clothes/fabrics, instead of in the litterbox. I’m wondering if he might be trying to tell us something (if he’s sick, he’s acting quite normal, though!) or if he’s just developing a bad habit. A couple of days ago he vomited twice after eating a mouse, so I wonder if perhaps something was wrong with the mouse? He didn’t vomit any more, as far as I know.
Should we get him checked by a vet, or should we just try to break him out of the habit? How do we break him out of the habit?
First, about the vomit after the mouse. That is not such an unusual practice (out cats were indoor/outdoor out in the country where I grew up and ate a lot of mice, and threw up parts all the time). Now some cats will get parasites from this, so routine dewormings or fecal checks at least would be a good idea; I would use a full spectrum product like Drontal dosed according to size, 2 doses 2 weeks apart. An alternative is a topical parasite control like Revolution or the newer Advantage multi as they provide limited internal parasite protection as well as flea, heartworm, and ear mite control.
For the second part – you did not specify whether Kashmir is urinating or defecating out of the box. The general rule of thumb is 1 box per cat plus a spare (ie 2 cats, 3 boxes), so make sure you have enough boxes, clean them daily, and have them in different parts of the house. If you have declawed cats, the clumping litter is considered to be more comfortable, and we prefer unscented litter in uncovered boxes. If he is urinating on old clothes, he may want a softer, more comfortable litter.
A new product that I haven’t tried is Kitten Cat Attract, from the company that makes the original Cat Attract- Dr. Elsey’s. The concept is a clumping litter that has herbs that cats think smell like dirt, and therefore want to use to go to the box, instead of your floor or plants. My cats love this stuff, and the great thing is the brochure in every bag that has a nice guide to why cats stop using the box, what else you can do to help, and coupons for both the litter and other useful products. If you call their toll free number, Dr Elsey will oftentimes get on the phone and talk to you to help out (he did this for a receptionist I worked with and guaranteed it would help with her cat’s problem, and it did). The kitten version is new, and is supposed to be softer and easier for them to dig in. The only reason I haven’t tried it is I don’t have any young cats now.
There is also a new senior cat version as well, again that I haven’t tried yet (not at my Petsmart so far). It is usually found in the pet stores, and if you have a pet store that doesn’t carry it, ask if they can order it for you. If these suggestions don’t help, then definitely take him to your vet for a check up and a urinanalysis, and made sure to get him neutered- unneutered cats do mark territory and it smells AWFUL as they age. I hope this helps, and thanks for reading PetsWeekly!