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DigitalBlue's avatar

What can I do about my cats and their territorial fighting?

Asked by DigitalBlue (6467 points ) March 3rd, 2013

My two adult male cats are being very territorial for the last few months. There has been a lot of bickering and noise making and pooping next to the litter box/not covering type behavior. I’m not sure why, they have lived together for 7 years and always got along fine up until about 6 months ago, give or take. One of them was treated for a UTI a few months back, which I thought might be behind the litterbox behavior, and perhaps stressing him out, but nothing has changed although he is healthy now.
Normally when they are physically getting into it, I just shoo them apart.
The real problem is that in the last few days I notice that they are taking turns peeing in the corner of my living room. Not okay. I’m also getting new carpet next week and so this needs to be dealt with ASAP.

I’ve had cats all of my life, and usually I know how to handle things, but I don’t really know what to do about this. Any ideas? :(

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14 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

I am no expert on multiple cats, but what about a litter box for each of them plus an extra one
in a different location?

My daughter has her own cat, Betty, with her private litter box, and a cat, Wilbur, whom she is fostering for a while. Wilbur, who has anxiety/socialization problems (hence the fostering) lives in and poops in a large unused bathroom with his own litter box.

DigitalBlue's avatar

@gailcalled we do have that setup, with the litterboxes, that is.

gailcalled's avatar

Sorry. From your description, it sounded like just one.

Are they each pooping and peeing inappropriately? If so, that is odd…I’m not going to be able to help, but find this interesting.

Cat behavior (and misbehavior) is one of the universe’s true mysteries.

However, I will send this Q to @tinyfaery, my cat wrangler.

PS. Or just laugh it off

DigitalBlue's avatar

Yes, both. I have caught both of them pooping by the box(es) instead of in them, and now with the living room they both went to the same spot and peed. I love my cats dearly, but I really need this to not happen. :(

gailcalled's avatar

Again, being the official non-expert, I wonder about any change in environment, cleaning materials, perfumes, room aromas, smoking. Did you remove the old carpet? Did it have a unique aroma?

I live with wide-board pine floors (which I love) and have Persian carpets of various sizes scattered around. That allows me to clean an individual rug if my cat has the occasional accident (usually hairball barf). Not a solution for everyone, I realize.

ccrow's avatar

Maybe you could put a litter box in that corner? Either they’ll use it or they’ll be so annoyed they’ll stay away from the corner… Are they just peeing, or are they spraying? I lean toward @gailcalled ‘s thoughts, that it seems like they must be reacting to something for this to just start up.

DigitalBlue's avatar

It’s not just starting up, per se. They are definitely acting territorial and that has been going on between them for quite a while now. The peeing did just start. Yes, the room has been emptied (carpet isn’t out, yet), we’re doing work, so that may have prompted the urination – but the underlying issue of them butting heads has been going on for a while.
I don’t know for sure, but I don’t think that it’s unusual for cats, particularly male cats, to periodically act up and assert their alpha-kitty status, but these two suddenly can’t seem to resolve the issue.
Like I said, I’ve had cats for all of my life and usually I know what to do or what might affect them, but this seems to be escalating and I don’t know what the problem is.

tinyfaery's avatar

The first thing to do is take them both to the vet. Behavioral issues are usually brought on by physical ailments that you might know nothing about. The fact that after so many years together they only now start having these issues leads me to the idea that one or both of the cats is somehow ailing.

In the meantime, clean all areas that have been soiled with special enzymes (at most pet stores.) Move the boxes to a new location, an area that they do not associate with marking.

Read the book Starting From Scratch. I recommend it to all cat owners.

Let us know how it goes.

All cats should be neutered. If they are not, do it NOW.

DigitalBlue's avatar

They’re neutered and were to the vet, the older cat was treated for a UTI. (I said this up there somewhere, but not sure if you missed it.) I wouldn’t be surprised if him being sick is what triggered it, but although he is healthy now, it hasn’t been resolved.

I’ll look for the book, thanks.

diavolobella's avatar

I’m also very interested in this question since I have similar situation with some small differences (original cat in household (female) was adult when the male kitten – who is now also an adult) was introduced, both are fixed but the female has never gotten over the male being in the house. She hisses at him and at us when he’s around and he chases her. She’s the only one pooping right outside her litter box and peeing on the floor by the back door though. They both have their own litter boxes. If I’d have known they would never get over the squabbling, I would never have gotten the 2nd cat. It’s been over a year now and she still doesn’t tolerate him.

Shippy's avatar

Perhaps the cat that was treated for the UTI has had a urine scent change? In the past when I had fighting cats, I would spray felaway into the air, it really did help.

DigitalBlue's avatar

@Shippy I’ve heard of it, but I’ve heard mixed reviews and never tried it. Maybe I’ll give it a whirl.

hearkat's avatar

@diavolobella: My situation is similar to yours. Our female cat, Rudy, was 6 years old when the boy cat, Thor, came into our lives at about 4 months old. She was spayed as a kitten, and we had him spayed as soon as he was healthy enough (he was a very malnourished stray). We knew that Rudy is territorial from past experience, but hoped that an older male kitten might not bother her as much as the females she had been around before. Nope.

We have 3 litterboxes, as we were told years ago by the vet that it’s best to have one box per cat, plus one extra. We separate them at night so we can sleep – Rudy is closed in the master bedroom with my 21-year-old son and Thor gets the run of the rest of the house. We tried it the other way, but he just cries and claws the carpet; while she is fairly content to sleep and cuddle at night.

It’s been a year-and-a-half now, and Thor is realizing that he is bigger than Rudy (although she weighs more because she’s a butterball). They still go at it, but neither is clearly dominant, and I never hesitate to remind them that I am the Alpha-Kat. But she has started pissing in the corner near the litterbox in the bedroom. She pissed on the power strip for my son’s computer and it started sparking and smoking – it’s a good thing I was right in the next room when it started!

My son rearranged the room, and we try to be more diligent with keeping the boxes scooped. I just bought a bunch of urine cleaner, and a deterrent spray to use after we get the urine up.

wildpotato's avatar

When one of my cats started going outside the box due to a new cat’s aggression, first I separated the litter boxes, then had to very slowly and stubbornly re-introduce beta cat to the catbox area, which she was now scared of. It took a lot of me taking her over there, petting and sitting there with her every 20–30 minutes (during the day; I just cleaned up the messes in the morning) for a solid two weeks before she started using it again on her own reliably. I also had to put a piece of furniture with a box under it over the spot she was going in the living room so she could not access it at all. It sucked as a process, but it worked.

They might also be pooping next to the boxes because they are hanging their rear ends over the side, if you use open-air boxes. You can cover your litter boxes to prevent this if you use a non-clay litter, without dust. Or you can get larger open-air catboxes.

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