Indoor/Outdoor Cat bathrooming in driveway

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Mazzy Moon

Miss Moon!
Purred: Fri Dec 10, '10 9:51am PST 
....RIGHT by the door.

Hi. smile I would first like to give you a little back-story to better comprehend our strange situation. You can scroll down and skip it if you would like. I'm sorry if this is long-winded.

I've had Jake (http://www.catster.com/cats/338373) and Mazzy Moon (http://www.catster.com/cats/338490) for 5 and 4 years respectively. Mazzy Moon is actually Jake's daughter, but that's another story.

They were inside only cats for many years. I adhered strictly to that policy because of everything I'd heard about the dangers of the outdoors to lifespan, etc. Plus, my cats seemed scared of the outdoors.

Eventually, we moved out to the country, and Jake started expressing some interest in going outside. Eventually we would let him go outside in the fenced in backyard supervised, until eventually he would kind of come and go as he pleased, bringing us lizards, mice, rats, and moles as presents. Mazzy Moon never expressed any interest in going outside.

We had to move from our country home when we fell on some very hard financial times and had to move in with my husband's mother, who has an elderly cat who does not do well with other cats, so our 2 kitties had to stay outside. I set them up under the shed with shelter, a crate with beds, food/water, and so they wouldn't wander, they wore harnesses, tags, and were on leads. They were crated at night and were out on their harnesses during the day. My husband's mother didn't work, so she supervised them during the day to make sure they didn't get wrapped around anything or get hurt. I walked them often around the house for exercise. It was a very difficult situation. The weirdest part was, I kept and cleaned a litter box, even outdoors. It was in their crate and night, and during the day I took it out and placed it next to their crate.

This whole situation was very difficult, for about a year we lived like this until we could get back on our feet. I love my cats so much, and I thought about re-homing them so they could have a better life, but they mean the world to me and I didn't want to lose them just for us to have a home again within a couple months. It paid off, because we got a place. But it was extremely small. Less than 700 square feet. But we had a fenced in backyard and shelter for them in the back, so I toyed with the idea of letting them be indoor/outdoor. I continued to leash them up in the backyard until they knew it was home, and let them in during the day and at night.

Basically, there is no room in our new house (hut?) for a litter pan, especially with 2 cats. Our house is so small, even if we cleaned it constantly, it would smell up the entire house. Plus, there's literally just no room for one. Half of our furniture and belongings are in the shed.

Instantly the cats took to being indoor/outdoor, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. For the first time in 5 years, I didn't have to clean a litter box, and the cats went in and out with the dog to potty! It was amazing. They stay in the yard, they do not wander, and we are in a rural-ish area with no busy streets around us. It's perfect.

Whenever we leave town or go on a trip, I put a litter pan down. It's basically in the middle of the kitchen floor (the only place for it), but since we aren't home it's okay.

SKIP DOWN TO HERE if you want to skip the back-story and just hear what the current problem is. smile

Then one week several months ago, we had heavy rain and slight flooding. After the rain was over, and the cats went outside to bathroom, there was only one dry spot in our yard.

Under the carport.

Well, for Mazzy Moon, at least, the prima-donna. Jake went in the yard, in the mud, whatever. Mazzy Moon decided the best place for her to do her business was in the soft gravel, by our door, under the carport. At first, it was no big deal. I cleaned it up, and thought, “Oh, she's only doing that because it's dry here. When the yard dries up, it'll go back to normal.”

Well, it didn't. And it won't. She continues to use that strip of gravel, right next to the house, for peeing and pooping. Even with constant cleaning, we could no longer leave our front door open and use the screen door to let in fresh air, because all we could smell was cat urine.

I got Cat-Away powder and sprinkled it down, which was supposed to repel animals from bathrooming in the area you sprinkle it in. We got a huge bag of lime and put it down often for the smell. We got a natural-herbal spray thing and sprayed it all over.

Then I thought.... What if it's no longer dry? What if the gravel is wet and she doesn't like it anymore? So then I started spraying the area with a water hose, thinking she would find dry ground. No luck.

All any of this has done is made her stop trying to cover her poop.

I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO. It has come down to the point where I am considering finding her an indoor home with a litter box, because I am at my wit's end. Now she has started getting to where she doesn't want to go outside in the cold, and is using the bathroom in the shower. And this morning, I found poop in my closet.

I know the first response is just going to be, “Put down a litter box” but we simply cannot and I am sorry. Our house is too small, and there is no room for one. I know that may be hard to understand, but please just try to put yourself in our situation.

I really appreciate any suggestions or tips anyone may have. I do not want to lose my cat over something like a behavioral issue that is specific to our home and probably wouldn't be happening if we lived somewhere else.

Hobert von- Kingston III

Is it Caturday- yet?
Purred: Sat Dec 18, '10 7:45pm PST 
What about harnessing her in the yard again as you did before, so she's forced to go potty there somewhere. Do that for a few weeks, then let her off. If she potties on the gravel again, hook her back up. Maybe she'll get the picture?


Ambassador at- the Kitty U.N.
Purred: Sun Dec 19, '10 4:29am PST 
I'm sorry, maybe it's the way you explained it, but this all sounds strange. Plenty of people live in places smaller than 700 sq. ft. and have pets. Sheesh, my first apartment was a studio that was probably 250 sq. ft. and I had two small dogs. If you're doing a litter box correctly there shouldn't be a smell, so I guess I'm missing something.

In any event litterbox isses can also signal a health problems. You may want to have her checked out to be sure it's a behavioral issue and not a health one.


headed for the- light.
Purred: Sun Dec 19, '10 6:43pm PST 
Does she dig in the gravel? If so, 1/2 inch mesh wire (sometimes called hardware cloth for some odd reason) over the gravel, at least temporarily, might stop it. In fact, I would imagine walking on the wire might be uncomfortable enough to stop her even if she does not dig there. Otherwise, putting some large size gravel/rocks--say fist sized --there temporarily , spaced "just so' she can't properly place her feet to squat properly. I just think the trick is to make it too uncomfortable to use the area for a bathroon, rather than trying to use plastic or whatever that could get torn up, won't drain, and could harbor extra bugs.


Adopt an adult- cat!
Purred: Thu Feb 3, '11 7:34pm PST 
How about putting a litterbox down outside in the space she likes to go, right in front of the door? If she goes in litter, the smell shouldn't be as bad as when she just goes on the pavement, and it will be easier for you to just scoop and get rid of everything.

An idea for a litterbox in your home would be to put it in the bathtub or shower. When you need to use the shower, take it out and put it in the middle of the kitchen floor, as you do when you are away, and then put it back as soon as you are done.

Penn & Teller

Masters of The- Multiverse
Purred: Sat Feb 5, '11 5:44am PST 
Emma has a brilliant idea, put a litterbox in the area where she goes. Did you say it's all gravely? You may even be able to hide it if you can dig a bit and pile the gravel around it. If the area allows for an even bigger litterbox this may attract Jake as well and you don't have to worry about poopsies in the yard.

Just use Fresh Step, seriously. There's a 5 page thread on the atomic blow you outta the house odor of my kittens' poops and I'm officially an odor control cat litter expert I swear it. I should blog.


wesley- alexis gold

i'm highly- reflective!
Purred: Sat Feb 5, '11 2:55pm PST 
Emma had the same thought I did, and the Masters of the Multiverse...great thinking!!! It's worth a try, yes?applause You can usually reach a more lasting solution through negotiation rather than aversives, and this seems like a great way to start...literally...finding common ground.laugh out loud

(BK, please...try to be a little more supportive and consider taking people at their word. If the situation is untenable for the OP, then it simply is...and we should be helping her find solutions that work for her, her human family and her cats, not telling her she's wrong for having the issue. your place had two small dogs, BK? did they use a litter box, or did you take them outside to do their business? the comparison is not apt. you were not mean, and i'm not trying to be mean myself...but you do imply that the OP is at fault here, or could be...and this is unnecessary and counterproductive. )

Edited by author Sat Feb 5, '11 2:59pm PST



Has been COTD!
Purred: Sun Feb 6, '11 2:30am PST 
BK--When a cat does a poop in a litter box, it smells. Show me a cat whose poop doesn't smell even a tiny bit, and I'll retract that statement. Scoop the poop. Flush it. Throw it away. Until it's gone to poop heaven, it will continue to smell. Human poop smells, too. At least mine does. Maybe yours doesn't?


Has been COTD!
Purred: Sun Feb 6, '11 4:14am PST 
Hey, Emma, you just gave ME a great idea! I have litter boxes in every room but the kitchen and bathroom, and some of the cats like to go in the tub (I usually leave water in there to discourage this). Putting a litter box in the tub when I'm not using it will not only stop them from soiling the tub, but give me an extra spot to put a litter box. My bathroom is TINY, but the tub, at least, has enough room for a litter box. And since I use flushable litter, and the toilet is two feet from the tub--purrfect!