Monday, October 29, 2012

I need ideas, please...and the changing of the guards

With Raven's presence in the house, Cow & Bunny's spraying have increased manifold.

I have been cleaning the furniture, the walls and practically all surfaces non-stop for many days now.

Yesterday, I spent 6 hours cleaning up the room with whatever I could find. Yet, the smell is still there.

The wall under my table is a favourite spray wall for Cow & Bunny. Unfortunately, I only discovered this a few months after moving in, so there are permanent streaks on the wall now. The trouble is, I cannot smell their urine anymore as I've been living with them for so long and my nose isn't very sensitive too.

I've been trying to remove the stains little by little (not so much of the stains, but the smells). I could re-paint the wall, but am told cat urine is so "powerful", a coat of paint might not be able to mask the smell. The pink box is also a favourite spray surface, but that is plastic, and I have been wiping that every day...many times.

The thing is Cow & Bunny spray to mark; it isn't because there is no litter-box for them. There is. They just want to mark to claim territory. Both were neutered at 7 months. The spraying only started the following year when I started fostering kittens. I was too busy to notice the spraying back at the old house.

 The two doors (front and back) are also favourites for them. I reckon both doors will warp in perhaps one more year. So will the laminated doors of the built-ins. They spray on those too. The lamination has actually already warped.

 This bench was also a favourite spot until I covered it with cloth. At least I can wash the cloth and the bench will not get sprayed on. But the two ends get sprayed on too. Sigh...

They come onto my table and spray on the plugpoints as well. Soon, I'd need to get the sockets changed as the urine seeps into the wires inside the socket.

All the walls are not spared. The floor is also not spared. Cow sprays everywhere. All the time.

Yesterday, in a drastic move, we moved this shelf out of the room. We've had this Ikea shelf back at the old house and wasn't planning on bringing it here, but there was space and we thought the cats might like sitting on it so it was put in the room. But I've noticed the cats don't really like sitting on it as they prefer the shelves outside, so we might as well move it out. Actually nowadays, only Pole and Cleo sleeps on the top shelf. But Pole has her condo and Cleo, her Clubhouse shelf (the one Bunny wrestled from recently).

After moving the shelf out, I noticed there were urine stains on the wall behind the shelf and on the floor under the shelf.  I thought that was the cause of the smell, so I cleaned the walls and floor thoroughly but no, the smell is still there.  And since I cannot smell anything at all (an "immunity" I'd rather not have), I needed my son to do the smelling for me.

By the way, I'd like to give away the shelf above, so if by any chance, anyone would like to have it, please do write to me. But please know that cats have used it before and urine has seeped into the wood.

 I use garbage enzyme, Tulipspet and Feliway. Nothing works.

But I shall keep trying. Maybe I'll use baking soda. I know it's excellent in removing stains. But it's actually the smells that I want removed, not so much the stains. I'll try diluted vinegar as well. It didn't work previously, but I'll try again.

I'm a little comforted when I read that Katnip Lounge also had the same problem:

You know how it is when people are quick to point fingers and start scolding? "You spoil your cats, you never trained them properly, you don't understand cats, you should have done this, you should have done that, etc." That doesn't help at such times because I cannot turn back the clock and undo whatever's been done. Every problem is different, every cat is different. "How can I help? Perhaps you could try this?" - now, that would be so much more useful and comforting.   

So, with the shelf out of the way, I have a Zen cat-space now. Personally I like Zen, but I know cats don't. So sorry, please don't scold, this is something I have to do to preserve my sanity. And no, I'm not going to make shelves on the wall because Cow & Bunny would just stand on them and spray ON the walls, making it even more hellish for me to clean. I have shelves outside in the pantry, the garden and the Clubhouse, and the other cats like these very much.

Yesterday, I thought of tiling the walls up to the ceiling. I don't mind a few days' inconvenience of the contractors coming in if it can solve my cleaning problem. Tiles would be much easier to clean than painted walls.

Last night, I Feliway-ed all the surfaces and this morning, found that Cow had sprayed on all his usual spots.

So we thought of something drastic...and perhaps a little "cruel".

 We caged Cow in Pole's condo.

He is the Chief Sprayer. No doubt about that as I see him spray right before my eyes many times a day and nothing stops him. Not even the water gun. Talk about persistence....

 Everyone was surprised and wondered what was going on.

It was not easy getting Cow into the cage, of course. But after he was put inside, he seemed calm. I noticed he did not bother going "upstairs" at all. He just sat on the fishpad.

But it wasn't fair to Pole. Now she had no condo.

 I know, Pole. First we took away the shelf, now your condo. It's not fair.

So we decided on something else.

I have this spare cage so we put Cow in it for now. Of course, we will let him out for playtime, under the strictest supervision. Then, back he goes (if we can get him to, that is) into the cage when no one is around.

A friend suggested I confine everyone outside in the pantry and Clubhouse, but that wouldn't be fair to those who don't spray. And when it rains, everyone comes into the room.

No complaints at all. He's a very resilient guy, I know.

I'm hoping this confinement would re-train him to use the litter-box. I'm praying it will work. Maybe he won't eat so much as well, so that'll be a double bonus. Cow, Bunny and Tiger are obese. When Bunny is hungry (which is like 5 times a day), he will call and call until.....

But with Cow in the cage, I know it will cause a change of hierarchy in the clan. I cannot foresee what will happen for now, but let me take this one day at a time.

I'm still interested in getting the whole room tiled.  That would make cleaning so much easier for me.

So, Pole got back her condo, which she shares with everyone.

 But she is not happy right now, so she shoo-ed Bunny out when the latter wanted to use her toilet.

 Bunny, disgraced, took it out on poor Tabs.

 At least it's back to normal for Pole and Tabs now, which is only fair.

Now, I'm going off to buy vinegar and baking soda.


Joy E. Saga said...

You know, I was just thinking if trizyme (AMWAY detergent booster) would help. If we mix with water and make it like paste and rub it on the area, would it remove? Just thinking, not tried, not proven ... but it does clean remarkably well those urine / blood / poo stains on clothes.

And I think my cat Maori got sprayed on my the stray cat outside my condo (he comes to my door and asks to come in... he comes coz my next door neighbour didn't spay her cat and he wants to be friends ... sigh). So Maori will need a bath tonight - smelt him last night but too late to shower.

Emma said...

Hi Kah Yein,
I have the same problem with Toby who sprays everywhere in the house when he's uptight. At worst he sprays on me when he sees the other cats play with me in the garden.(He now has an outdoor enclosure).
I use vinegar to clean the urine and the only problem is when I cant find the urine marking. Feliway doesn't work. To have him relax, i usually play soothing music. Since you have a computer in the room,get free internet radio on Skyfm and choose relaxation or classical music. At least, it'll reduce the stress. Stress is the problem here so less stress less marking.

Yen Ling said...

Good Afternoon Dr. Chan.

Yes, I agree to tiles! Cleaning all the time is no joke! I think I am becoming a clean freak - I clean all the time too, due to dog fur (massive shedding)and pee (Jack likes to pee at the weirdest places - think floor rugs) and it is not very nice to have family members complaining about fur everywhere and stepping on wet floor rug :(

How about pure 100% lemon juice instead of vinegar? Lemon juice has a better citrus fragrance compared to vinegar.

I used to put dry red chillies and black pepper (in stockings) and line them on the floor against the wall wooden panel to prevent dogs from peeing. The smell will put them off.

Hope it helps.

Nz said...

Hi Dr.,

Im also facing the same issues. My cats were neutered at 7 months too but started to spray when I adopted new kittens. For now, I use Feliway spray .. they're still spraying but less often. However, I was told that Feliway diffuser works much more efficient than the spray type.

in said...

I don't know if they sell it here, but perhaps you can tumpang beli from someone overseas. (Arm and Hammer brand is famous for the baking soda sold in a box.)

chankahyein said...

Hi everyone, Thank you very much for all the useful suggestions. Appreciate it lots! I'll certainly try them. Relieved to know I'm not the only way facing this massive spray problem, NZ! Will certainly consider the diffuser. Have you tried it? The Feliway spray does NOT work at all on Cow.

Joy E. Saga said...

I agree with Emma ... when I travelled back to Ipoh ... the spray to calm them didn't work! What worked was Light FM! They liked the oldies! Not the commercials ... but maybe u can try playing the 60s for them :-)

chankahyein said...

Oh goody then...I like the oldies myself. How about Nat King Cole or Louis Armstrong, Cow? Or, you prefer the Platters? Ella Fitzgerald? :))

cindy said...

Hello KY,
Actually baking soda not only removes stains, they are very effective with smell. One of the things we used to do in the US is to have a packet of baking soda in our fridge to remove odour.

I pour baking soda generously on the spot, let it soaks for an hour or so, sometime longer (my memories is getting worse). Then mop it up.

What I have been experimenting is soaking citrus peels in vinegar (I supposed same as garbage thing you mentioned). I only used lemon, orange peels etc. After I removed the baking soda + urine/spray with paper towel, I would mop with water + this vinegar mixtures.

I am more concerned about toxic with all these commercial sprays. Baking soda and vinegar are very safe for pets and human beings.

I think if we decided to have cats (I did not know this problem then in 1984!) we have to accept all the things that come with them. Much would be the same about our partners, jobs, children ... even roses come with its beauty, fragance and THORNS. I also look at myself, and I am sure I am no angels in my cats' eyes?? I am sure they have to endure many of my 'bad habits' :) !!

chankahyein said...

Thanks for the tips, Cindy. I have family members to consider too 'coz I don't live alone.

Nz said...

Hi Dr,
Sorry..I've yet to try the diffuser type as it was not available in any vets/pet shops around my house(they only sell the spray type). But, I'm planning to get it soon at PLC (Pet Lovers Center) in Bangsar. Will certainly let you know if it works!