Dear Paws: We have four lovable, indoor cats aged 2-4 years. Well, one of them isn’t so lovable sometimes. I keep a throw rug at the kitchen sink, and another at the front door. This cat, for no apparent reason, decided some time ago the rugs are the perfect place to pee on. (Luckily, the rugs are washable.) She regularly uses one of the litter boxes and she does not pee on other carpets. I know she is the only one that does this – I’ve caught her at it a number of times. This has not been going on all her life. My vet has no answers for me. Is there anything you can think of that might discourage this behavior? — Sheryl G., Port Orange, Fla.
Dear Sheryl: Regular soiling of any kind can be really tough to correct – even your vet is stumped at this point. I believe your cat is marking her territory, since she regularly uses the litter box and soils the rugs infrequently. Even spayed females will mark their turf, as their urine still contains a unique combination of scents.
Finding out why she is doing this is important. Observe her behavior closely when she approaches the rug: does she seem stressed? Are the other cats bothering her? Are unfamiliar humans in the area? Marking could be a defensive mechanism.
Other than that, the only ways to stop this are to try and catch her in the act – hiss, clap your hands, jangle a can full of coins to startle her until she no longer wants to hang out there. The second must is to spray the rugs with an enzymatic odor eliminator (available at pet stores) before and after washing – the enzymes absorb the unique scents from her marking, which some detergents can’t fully erase.
Originally published nationwide the week of April 5, 2004.