Do you have a cat pee bed? A couple of weeks ago, I told you about Steve Dale’s new e-book, Good Cat! Steve’s publisher was kind enough to allow me to reprint a Q&A excerpt from the book this week. The problem was, which Q&A would I feature? They’re all great and they all answer important questions.
But today on Twitter, I received a question that I get a lot: what do you do when your cat pees on the bed? What an awful situation. It’s gross. And…it’s a little embarrassing. I mean, it seems to be the ultimate statement, doesn’t it? Well, it is a statement, but likely not what you assume it means.
Check out what behaviorist, Marilyn Krieger, says on this topic.
This particular instance is about a Bengal, and apparently Bengals have some specific issues of their own, but it’s applicable to all cats.
I hope this helps!
USING THE BED FOR SOMETHING OTHER THAN A CATNAP
Q: My friend got a Bengal cat a year ago. She took the cat to a veterinarian because the cat was peeing on her bed. She had to cover her couch with plastic because the cat also peed there. Apparently, the rescue group who gave my friend the cat neglected to mention that it had this problem or the fact that Bengals can be difficult. She contacted some rescue groups to take the cat, but they were all at capacity. Any advice? — L.U., Las Vegas, NV
A: The Bengal can indeed be a challenging breed. And no wonder, when you think about it. Bengal cats were developed as a hybrid cross of the wild Asian Leopard cat with domestic cats. On the upside, Bengals are striking pets. With their unusual swirled markings in varied color combinations, they do resemble wild cats. No one can deny their beauty, but beauty doesn‘t always mean a pet is right for everyone.
The Bengal breed was ―created in the late 1980s, and to this day some wild Asian Leopard Cats are still being used for breeding. Average pet owners should not get Bengal cats less than four to six generations away from the use of a wild cat in a breeding program. Otherwise, they‘re asking for problems, including difficult temperaments and inappropriate elimination.
The Bengal is likely the most trendy cat breed today. Bengals are very intelligent and active. Of course, while you can admire the way a Ferrari looks and drives, it‘s not a car for all drivers. However, if you provide enough environmental enrichment (activities, as well as toys and places to explore), Bengals can be terrific pets. Certified cat behavior consultant Marilyn Krieger, of Redwood City, CA, who oversees California Bengal Rescue, says she consults on behavior issues with Bengal owners around the world.
One way to harness all that intelligence is to clicker-train your Bengal, says Krieger. Of course, Bengals can have many of the same behavior problems as any cat, adds Krieger, author of Cat Fancy’s Naughty No More: Change Unwanted Behaviors Through Positive Reinforcement.
As for the problems your friend is having, Krieger says your friend‘s cat is choosing elevated places (the bed, couch) to relieve herself because she feels unsafe or uncomfortable using the litter box. This most often occurs when other pets (or even small children) bother a cat. You don‘t mention if your friend has other cats, but the ideal situation is to have one more litter box than the number of cats (for example, someone with two cats should have three boxes). My guess is the Bengal is not your friend‘s only cat.
Cats also like high places so they have a view of what‘s going on around them. They like beds because they‘re soft and smell like family members. Sometimes, the problem you describe can be solved by closing the bedroom door. However, the cat may simply pick another soft, elevated spot (on a sofa or another bed).
The cat may have an issue with the litter box itself (most cats prefer an uncovered box), or your friend may not be keeping the box as clean as the Bengal would prefer. Krieger recommends using a large storage container as a litter box. She likes the Sterlite brand (available at many retail stores and online), but any large plastic box that‘s 12-inches high and allows a cat to see though the sides would suffice.
Your friend should also be sure to use an enzymatic cleaner before putting her bedding in the wash, so the cat is no longer attracted by the pee smell.
In any case, she should not give up on her cat. If the situation does not improve, she could consider bringing in a cat detective, such as a certified cat behavior consultant or a veterinary behaviorist
Reprinted with permission by Tribune Media Services, Inc. (c) 2012.
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