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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep. 16, 1999
    Posts
    831

    Default Barn cat with personal hygiene issues

    I am a cat lover, but I am at a complete loss at what to do with the following situation. Any help would be much appreciated.

    About 8 months ago my horses and I moved to a self-care barn, with one other boarder and her horses. The barn kitty (an older cat), who has been there for years, has spent most of her time and made her home for years in the barn rafters. Apparently at one point there were some pretty unruly dogs, so she just stayed up high to keep out of their way. She had gotten into the habit of using the bare barn rafters as a litter box (both urination and defecation), and the smell was especially bad during the summer. Right before I moved there, the other boarder had encouraged the cat to make her home in the hay shed on the bales of hay. Well, that went fine for awhile until she started to use the hay bales (which we pay for and feed to our horses) for a litter box. (Ah...not an option.)

    So we moved her bed back to the barn rafters, and I set up a litter box for her up in the rafters. And she moved back to the rafters. And yes, on a regular basis I am up on a ladder in the barn rafters scooping the litter box. (Yes, I did mention that I am cat lover.)

    Well that seemed to be going okay until I noticed that she does not always use the litter box and instead goes back to just using the rafters. And occasionally a bit of cat poop falls below into one of the horses water buckets, etc. (Yes, I probably should have warned you earlier not to read this if you are eating.)

    There is no longer a problem with dogs who threaten her, and on rare occasion, I actually have seen her use a spot on the ground (on this 40 acres of farm property) as a litter box. Hurray! We are heading into the warmer weather months (so smells will intensify), and lets just say that I am more tolerant of this situation than the other boarder.

    I like the old cat and respect her (she lives outside in 0 degrees F nights). But I am at a complete loss as to what to do.

    Help! Thanks. WJ



  2. #2
    Join Date
    May. 29, 2007
    Posts
    807

    Default

    Can you layer some of her access points to the rafters with tin foil? Many cats hate walking on it.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov. 16, 2000
    Location
    Concord, NH
    Posts
    5,118

    Default

    Well, as an older cat, she may not really change her ways, but what about a litter box in a more accessible location? Can her bed be downstairs in the barn? Or in the hay shed with a litterbox?

    I'd rather have the poop in the hay, if she misses the box, than falling from above!

    One of our cats loves to poop right in the center of the driveway, and make an elaborate "volcano" of dirt - at least we know where he went - some of his efforts are more than 3' across. So much for cats wanting privacy!!



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul. 13, 2008
    Posts
    3,048

    Default

    Bleh, gross. Any chance she's having new problems using the litter box? Older cat, maybe arthritic and doesn't find it roomy enough? I've read that the most common cause of cats ignoring their box to go elsewhere is cleanliness - not a judgement, because climbing into a hayloft to clean a cat box in midwinter is above and beyond in my book, but could it be that the box has been cleaned less frequently lately?



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct. 16, 2008
    Location
    Central Oklahoma
    Posts
    3,494

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by vacation1 View Post
    I've read that the most common cause of cats ignoring their box to go elsewhere is cleanliness
    I agree here. My cat will NOT go into her litterbox if it has not been cleaned from her last visit. We got one of those LitterMaids that will scoop up the clump after she uses it and deposits it into a plastic resevoir. It works out good for both of us. She is happy to get into the clean litterbox and I'm happy to attend to her litterbox only when the plastic resevoir is full.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar. 12, 2006
    Location
    Western South Dakota
    Posts
    2,660

    Default

    Try some different litters. We have used "traditional" litter, pelleted litter, recycled paper litter and pine pellet litter. We have now settled on wheat litter. Also maybe two litter boxes so one is always clean. Old cats can be fussy .



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov. 10, 2006
    Location
    Southern Finger Lakes of NY
    Posts
    1,736

    Default

    I've gotta ask...just how good a bargain is this self-care facility?

    I can't imagine how little I'd have to be paying to put up with crap falling from the rafters, urine-soaked hay, and a summer of cat whizz stench...

    Edited to say: Maybe that came out a little snarky...not meant to be. Just amazed...



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct. 14, 2004
    Location
    Connecticut
    Posts
    9,067

    Default

    Could you put a bed and litter box in the different locations? Also, like someone else mentioned, perhaps it is not big enough for her.

    I too have an older cat who has a hard time maneuvering in the smaller litter boxes, so I buy the storage containers from Walmart. They are big enough for a cat to get comfortable in.

    This is why I hate loose and unruly dogs at the barn... Why people think it is okay for the barn cats to be their dog's own personal chasing toy, just bugs the crap out of me.

    The cat in my signature below WAS one of those cats. You may noticed that she now lives with me..
    MnToBe Twinkle Star: "Twinkie"
    http://i236.photobucket.com/albums/f...wo/009_17A.jpg

    Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct. 18, 2000
    Location
    Connecticut
    Posts
    8,193

    Default

    We use hydrated equine wood pellet bedding in the cat's litter box with a dash of Sweet PDZ stall powder and he loves it. Compared to other commercial litters, it is far cheaper and softer. Our vet told us another reason for the cat not using the box properly could be an inability to see it at night. Once we installed a night light in the general vicinity, the problem disappeared.

    I have dealt with a lot of cats, but never with this problem of being in the rafters and all. Perhaps retirement from the barn to an indoor/outdoor home situation may be in order if the problem can't be solved? I don't know.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan. 14, 2007
    Posts
    259

    Default

    Would it be possible to rig up something using fairly heavy polyethylene sheeting?: (http://www.tractorsupply.com/webapp/...g=true&cFlag=1)
    Maybe you could staple (using a staple gun) some sheeting to the bottom of the rafters over the water buckets?
    Good luck -- what a frustrating situation.



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul. 19, 2007
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    11,180

    Default

    And I thought having the occasional peacock in the rafters was rough....



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr. 30, 2008
    Location
    Where it rains a lot
    Posts
    594

    Default

    OMG. That is so gross. Nothing is more disgusting than cat poop.

    I don't have any advice, but if that were my cat I'd be looking into a new home with a different situation or I'd make her a cat house like this: Cat house.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul. 11, 2004
    Posts
    7,020

    Default

    Maybe it's time for kitty to go bye-bye.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep. 6, 1999
    Location
    Phoenix, AZ
    Posts
    5,265

    Default

    For the smell, wash the rafters with bleach/water mixture. This is really the best solution for the smell.
    Then beyond any medical reasons, try showing her where her box is. And I swear this works every time. Hover the kitty over the litter box and drop her. Honestly! It works!



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb. 6, 2003
    Location
    NorthEast
    Posts
    24,851

    Default

    OMG. That is so gross. Nothing is more disgusting than cat poop
    Yes there is, cat pee. Pew!

    Another idea might be to go to camping store or even aa fabric store and buy a few yards of netting. On each beam screw in a bunch of small eye hooks (Home Depot, $2.99 for a box of 10 small brass ones) and then just hang the netting from beam to beam on the eye hooks under the litter box area/poop area. Then any falling surprises land on the netting and you can easily take one side down and let them roll into an old bucket or something to toss out.
    I did the same thing with my barn rafters, but it wasn't for catching cat poop...it was to catch baby swallows who weren't doing a good job holding onto their nest. I can't imagine cat poop weighing more than baby birds.

    BTW...hey H2...I like that floor in your signature cat photo.


    ETA...had to pop back in to say Kudos to the OP of this thread. So many threads on Coth are repeats and this one is *definitely* an original problem. Never ever read a thread about how to stop cat poop from falling out of the barn rafters into your horses' water buckets, LMAO!
    You jump in the saddle,
    Hold onto the bridle!
    Jump in the line!
    ...Belefonte



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Nov. 10, 2006
    Location
    Southern Finger Lakes of NY
    Posts
    1,736

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MistyBlue View Post

    ETA...had to pop back in to say Kudos to the OP of this thread. So many threads on Coth are repeats and this one is *definitely* an original problem. Never ever read a thread about how to stop cat poop from falling out of the barn rafters into your horses' water buckets, LMAO!
    DH and I have been alternately shuddering and laughing hysterically at this whole discussion. I'm wondering now if it's weird enough to be stick-art worthy...



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct. 1, 2002
    Location
    Cow County, MD
    Posts
    7,153

    Default

    I recently attended a fabulous continuing education lecture (I'm a vet tech) on litter box issues. Most litterbox issues are for one of four issues:

    1. The litterbox isn't big enough for the cat to use confortably (she recommended using an under bed storage bax rather than a commercial litterbox).

    2. The cat is marking territorially--usually in front of windows or doors where other cats hover (doesn't sound like this is your problem)

    3. Another cat is intimidating the non-litterbox using cat. She showed us videos of the aggressor cat hovering just outside the litterbox or the door to the room where the litterbox is, just waiting to pounce. She also showed us how examples of the victim cat using the recycling bin as a litterbox because it was a) box-shaped; and b) safe

    4. The cat has a substrate preference. As noted in other posts, you can try all sorts of different litters to see what she might prefer. Sound like the wood pellet litter might be the way to go (so to speak ).

    Good luck! This cat is lucky someone cares!
    Life would be infinitely better if pinatas suddenly appeared throughout the day.



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Oct. 14, 2004
    Location
    Connecticut
    Posts
    9,067

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MistyBlue View Post

    BTW...hey H2...I like that floor in your signature cat photo.


    Thank-you! Can't take the credit though. Hubby picked it out when we were building.
    MnToBe Twinkle Star: "Twinkie"
    http://i236.photobucket.com/albums/f...wo/009_17A.jpg

    Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan. 26, 2001
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    4,466

    Default

    This cat is lucky to have you. Reading some of these responses, it is a good thing some of these other people don't own her. Kinda mean.



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Aug. 9, 2007
    Posts
    9,343

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by vacation1 View Post
    Bleh, gross. Any chance she's having new problems using the litter box? Older cat, maybe arthritic and doesn't find it roomy enough? I've read that the most common cause of cats ignoring their box to go elsewhere is cleanliness - not a judgement, because climbing into a hayloft to clean a cat box in midwinter is above and beyond in my book, but could it be that the box has been cleaned less frequently lately?
    Right. It's good to change litter daily. Walmart's red bagged litter is about the cheapest, and Sam's club has the "oil dry" which is cheap in 40 pound bags and is the same clay from the same place as litter, just darker.

    And there are sprays to put on areas to prevent the use of the rafters. Either petsmart or jefferspet or the doctors foster catalogues will help.

    Nice of you to try to help the old kitty. Old habits are hard to break but she will probably use her rafter kitty pan if she gets it dumped out daily. And you can put loose litter on the ground, cats like soft, dry areas to use and to cover.

    You can get the rubber containers at walmart. They don't have to be "cat pans" as I use storage containers from the houseware section, and for small areas, I use the rubber dishpans, and Rubbermaid products last the best without cracking.



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