Marcus Won’t Use A Litter Tray in New Home

Marcus a rescue cat

Marcus a rescue cat

Hi, I received an email from Leanne of Kays Hill Animal Sanctaury. She wrote about Marcus, a lovely, solid, black and white, male rescue cat who looked after Gerty, another rescue cat at the sanctuary, for a while. Here is the email. Leanne wants some help. I make some comments myself below Leanne’s email.

Hi Michael, it’s Leanne. You’ll probably remember Marcus, Gerty’s friend, who was re-homed a couple of weeks ago. Well, they are still having problems with him peeing and pooing all over the house. He has once or twice used the litter tray but usually doesn’t.

He has settled in well with the other cats and he keeps a respectful distance from Sammy, the smallest cat, but is getting on well with the other two. Although the two cats (Marcus and Sammy are not fighting) he is not nervous around the house and happily lies on chairs, sofa, or whatever is handy and also likes to be in front of the coal fire with the other cats.

He is happy to be fussed by his new family and  he comes to them for fuss and cuddles.  He is eating normally and what he is passing is normal. He is healthy and happy but will not stop doing his business in inappropriate places! They have supplied plenty of trays and have put them in ‘quiet’ corners where he won’t be disturbed.

The other cats mostly go outside but will occasionally use the trays. when he was with us we never had any problems, but of course he was quite confined and is now in a house with a lot more space. He only has access to  two rooms at the moment. his family love him and want the best for him.

I know they are not about to give up on him, but I just want to try and help if I can. So, I wondered if you could possibly put a page on PoC and ask if anyone has had the same sort of problems and how they solved them. all any of us want is the best for Marcus, so any advice would be great. I could pass it on to them. thank you….

My thoughts:

There are two reasons why a cat won’t use a litter tray:

  1. he has not learned to use it and/or;
  2. he is stressed

What is the reason in this instance? Marcus comes from a single person household as far as I know:

The ‘gentleman’ who he had lived with all his life, had, a week or so before, given his daughter his cat and the money to take him to the vet to be put to sleep (PTS)..(Leanne about Marcus – see Marcus’s story).

Marcus knows how to use a litter tray. He is in a home where there are other cats and he appears to be coping OK.

However, I sense he is stressed. This is not due to the new home, which sounds just fine. It is that he is in a new place with other cats. He may get used to the new place. I feel he may not. That might sound defeatist. I don’t know.

I have a feeling that he should be a single cat in a single person household; replicating what he is used to.

However, I may indeed be defeatist and would welcome the ideas of others as would Leanne.

Michael and Leanne

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Marcus Won’t Use A Litter Tray in New Home — 13 Comments

  1. 1. He could be still grieving and the latest move is another sign of loss. 2. He could be seeking attention. 3. He is covering up a prior odor.

    Cats can grieve a VERY long time. They may not show bad behavior with the first family, but a second move can renew their grief and signify, yet one more loss. Cats do like continuity.

    The new owners may not be aware of spots where another cat had an accident. A new cat will try to cover the odor by spraying, urinating or defecating on that spot. He may also simply be marking a turf.

    They need to keep a keen eye on him when he starts to prowl. If he is going to a spot to relieve himself, they can catch him in the act and take his butt to a litter pan. This takes time, but eventually ‘most’ cats get the picture. If that doesn’t work, they can try crating him with just a litter pan when they catch him. Cats are like errant kids, they have to be disciplined

    One last suggestion; try putting saucers of lemon slices wherever he heads. Cats really do not like strong citrus odors.

    I read your article on litter box training Michael. I was really glad to see you mentioned the pine litter. I tell people all the time not to use it or Pine Sol. The silica was another good tip. People don’t realize this crap gets in their paws and they lick it out.

      • I’ve tried the enzyme cleaners. They are okay. Some work, some don’t. The other product I’ve used is Listerine. It deodorizes and disinfects. Fortunately, I’ve only had a problem once and it was short lived.

        • The one I have used with excellent results in England is: Simple Solutions: Cat Spray and Urine Spray & Odor Remover. It seems it is American manufactured judging by the spelling of “odor”.

  2. It was months before Sealy would use the litter box. After his permanent move into the main areas Laura would scoop him up and put him in there. Now he goes 95% of the time on his own. Just keep picking Marcus up and showing him. Hopefully he’ll learn. It’s taken a few months for some of our cats to get totally comfortable.

  3. I was corresponding with Leanne a couple of weeks back about this and advised more or less the same as Elisa, to gently lift Marcus to his litter tray when he goes elsewhere. It obviously hasn’t worked, or his new family maybe don’t have the time to watch for him doing this. No punishing, not even shouting, as cats don’t understand punishment, it makes them worse! Even if the person just says OH NO NOT AGAIN, Marcus will have picked up on their displeasure by their tone of voice.
    I saw this article last night and pondered over it in the night and am wondering now if this could be the reason his previous ‘owner’ wanted rid of him? I don’t think he must have been a very good ‘owner’ so it may be that Marcus was ill treated by him and started going outside his litter tray then through stress!
    At Kays Hill he felt secure and was gently treated and loved, in a cat pen there isn’t room to use various places, he wouldn’t want to mess in a small enclosure that he felt at home in. He then lost Gerty his best friend, Leanne kindly tried him with a new friend but he must have wondered why Gerty had been taken away, yes cats can grieve for a very long time and before he had come to terms with his new situation he was adopted out and had to adjust to yet another place to live.
    Now he may be thinking if he marks his new home with his scents he will never have to leave it, he’s trying to claim it for good as he’s stressed with being moved about.
    I hope his people dont give up on him and he would face yet another change because although it may take a long while I think he will eventually feel secure and loved and stop doing this.
    The places he has marked need to be thoroughly washed with biological washing liquid in hot water, then left to dry, that removes any lingering smell which as Michael says makes cats go back to the same spot to renew their scent. The danger is of course the other cats in the family starting to do the same, it can be a problem in multi cat households.

  4. thank you everyone for your imput. i will contact marcus’ new family and point them to this article. they are very kind and patient people who only want the best for the old boy, so i’m sure your advice will be welcomed and put to good use. you’re quite right about the grieving, it is just going to take time and a lot of patience. apparently marcus is loving all the attention he is getting in his new home but of course could be hiding his stress very well, until he needs the loo!! poor old lad has had a rotten time of it, it must all be very confusing. once he has settled properly and his family think the time is right, he will be allowed outside, then maybe his little problem will solve itself. fingers x’d.

  5. Poor Marcus, I hope he will be feeling better soon or if he is already feeling ok then I hope it won’t be too much trouble for him to get used to the litter box. Sounds like he is otherwise happy. Good luck – sounds like he has a lovely familly who are on his side.

  6. Cat Attract brand litter. It’s not cheap, but they claim it is guaranteed to work in just this type of situation.

  7. I must have missed this.
    Poor Marcus he’s had such a lot of trauma lately no wonder he’s messing outside of the tray.
    I’d be very tempted to give him his freedom soon,go out with him a few days first,he might like to use earth outside,I wouldn’t think he’d run away as he seems happily settled.
    I’d think the trays might have the other cats scents on putting him off,maybe he needs a brand new tray if he hasn’t got one already.

  8. i was talking to doreen the other night and she said that marcus does seem to be getting a little better, as in he has used the litter tray sometimes, not always, but this is an improvement. she said also that they have allowed him to go into their backyard, supervised of course for now, the yard has a very high wall all around so he cant just make a run for it, so to speak. she said he likes to have a little explore but then goes back inside himself. hopefully his improvement will continue. thanks for everyone giving advice. i know they have been trying various things.

  9. That’s good news Leanne, it’s nice that Doreen is being patient with Marcus, he’s had a tough time bless him but many a one might have sent him back to Kays Hill which would have been such a shame.

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