Wednesday, July 26, 2006

On Cats & Cat Pee

I’d like to thank everyone for their comments and suggestions over the past week or so concerning my rental unit carpet. I only wish I had more time to try some of the suggestions because it kills me to have to rip out and throw away carpet that I installed less than 4 years ago. What a waste. Even if I’m not paying for it, it still bugs me. Of course, I still have to do the work, and everyone knows I’d much rather be working on my own house. I think that bugs me even more.

Anyway, considering the number of suggestions I got, it seems this is a pretty common problem. I’ve lived with cats literally just about all my life. I think there were a couple of years in my 20s when I lived in a house that did not have a cat in it. Cats make great pets.

I only started thinking about this today and it dawned on me that in all that time, only once did I have a problem with cats peeing where they shouldn’t. What makes this even more odd is that those cats that peed on the carpet in my parents house were long-time residence of the house. We had several cats when I was growing up, but we had two cats, Zelda and Midnight, that were with us for more than 15 years each. They were well behaved cats for the longest time and then suddenly they picked a spot in the dining room and started peeing in the corner. My Mom was furious. I never really thought about it, but now it seems odd that they could go for so long and then start acting up. So what changed.

The one thing I can think of is that most of the kids had left home. I was the youngest and last to live at home. When they started their bad habit I was about 16 or so and never at home. Now that I think about it, I think these cats were accustomed to having a lot of attention all their lives and over the course of a few years it pretty much all went away. My dad was never a real big cat person, the kids were mostly gone, and the one remaining child, me, was never at home. My Mom was working a lot at that time so the cats never got attention any more. I think they started peeing on the carpet to get attention. It worked, all right, but it was probably not the kind of attention they wanted.

As for my current problem, it is a similar situation. I helped the tenant move in to the apartment. She was only a moving a few blocks, and I have a truck, so I helped with a few of the big things. When we went to her old apartment I was very aware of the condition of the place. I figured this would give me insight as to how well she would treat my place. There was definitely no cat pee smell. The cat was there, along with the food and litter box, and I didn’t notice a thing. It was a pretty normal looking – and normal smelling - apartment for someone who was in the process of moving. So again, what changed.

Well, as we all know, she pretty much abandoned her cat in the apartment so she could spend every waking and sleeping moment with her new boyfriend. Again, we have a cat that probably had a good amount of attention and suddenly it finds itself alone so it began to pee where it shouldn’t to get attention. I don’t think she stopped changing the litter box because I regularly saw empty cat littler jugs in the plastics recycling bin. Even my own cats will go in the litter box no matter how bad it gets, and it does get bad at times. They just keep piling it on.

I’m not saying this is the cause of all cat pee problems but I bet it is a big cause of the problem. Probably fewer people should have pets than currently do. They are a responsibility and they require more than just food, water, and poop dirt. If you don’t treat them right, they’ll let you know.

Now if we could just do something about the throwing-up thing they do. What is the deal with that?


jen said...

my parents had good success using multiple passes of a steam cleaner and ton of nature's miracle IN the steam cleaner to get cat pee out of carpet. didn't stop their cats from peeing there again tho, and so they have to keep doing it.

if it's hairball throwing-up, there's a hairball remedy that comes in a toothpaste-style tube. you give the cat a little shot of it (they lick it off your finger) once a week. voila, no retching!

Actual retching? No idea. but if you find a solution, let the world know.

Jocelyn said...

I had a cat once who started peeing outside the litter box. I was working and going to school and not home alot AND my roommate had a cat that stalked my cat.

I am sure he ruined the carpet in that apartment. It is really hard when a cat starts doing this behavior because it's like they have become neurotic and cannot stop it. I ended up giving my cat away to someone to see if he could mend his ways- but he did the same thing at their home. They put him to sleep- it was quite sad- he was about 10 years old.

Anyway, not my proudest moment and I'm sure my landlord cursed my name after I left.

JLynnette said...

I have a theory that if there isn't any carpet for a cat to throw up on, then they won't throw up. I'm slowly getting rid of the carpet.

We have one that seems to puke about once a week because she's a glutton. She'll walk from the kitchen (linoleum) to the bedroom (carpet) to do the deed. It drives me insane.

I've even tried catching it with a paper towel, but she always turns and hits the carpet despite me diving across the room.

Brent said...

I talked with a friend who owned apartments for over 30 years about your cat urine issue and she told me that she never put down the pad underneath the carpet because the urine would come out of the carpet itself but never the pad. Thus, she installed the carpet directly over the sub floor and was able to use some of the other cleaning methods described by other posts to get the smell out of the carpet. Being a new landlord myself purchasing/installing carpet, this practice was confirmed recently by the local carpet dealer who said landlords in the area (iowa) never install a pad underneath their carpet...

SmilingJudy said...

A vet once explained to me that some spayed cats simply can't help themselves. It's like a compulsion associated with being spayed. He used a big word to explain the psychological condition and said to add extra litter boxes to make it easier for the resident offender to fight her compulsion.

I dunno, sounds like BS, but I looked up the condition at the time and her other symptoms matched. However, as the "plush" carpeting was slowly removed from the house, so did the pee offenses. She can't be bothered with rugs nor the outdoor carpeting that remains in the kitchen.

mindy said...

Cats and dogs DEFINITELY do crazy things for their owners attention and love, including peeing. I also have a dog who gets physically ill if I'm gone too long (say, on vacation). So I think your theory is pretty spot on.

Sorry to hear you had to re-carpet, but your new tenants will surely be pleased.