I have spent a lot of time researching my pets to determine what their behaviors mean, to understand when they are happy and sad, and what to do in problem situations. That said, let me add some particular emphasis to the words “my pets”. This refers to my dog and my fish.

I have gone out of my way to educate myself about these animals and the keeping of them, so today, after having spent the evening at the vet with my husband’s cat, I am asking myself, “Why in the heck haven’t I ever bothered to read about cats and cockatiels?”

Some part of me assumed that my husband understood what he was getting into when he brought these creatures home. But, I haven’t kept in mind that he was a bachelor then and that any information he acquired at the time has not necessarily been passed on to me. Suffice it to say that over the years I have determined that my husband knows a lot about birds, and absolutely jack about cats. (But I still love him anyway.)

I should have been reading about cats and cat behavior. I really should have.

Some time ago, our cat began inappropriately eliminating on the furniture. We tried boundary sprays, we tried upside down plastic hall way runner (the spikey kind that hurts when you step on it), we tried nature’s miracle… and even retrained him to the litter box, and then we spent a ridiculous amount of money on a litter maid.

It finally hit the wire. My husband was ready to give up, and so was I. It takes an awful lot to put me into a position where I am truly ready to give up a pet that I have taken responsibility for. I feel an obligation to the pets in my home to provide them with the best care humanly possible. So, our last stop was the vet’s office.

Come to find out, the cat has a raging urinary tract infection and that cats tend to associate the pain of going to the bathroom with the litter box when they have a UTI, so they avoid using the litter box where ever possible. I also discovered that Urinary Tract Infections are the number 1 cause of cat owners surrendering their pets to animal shelters (this accounts for about 70% of owner surrenders from the material I have read).

You have to be asking yourself why. Most people have no idea why their cats have stopped using the litter box. They don’t catch them in the act, so it’s assumed that the cat is spraying, but one trip to the vet is all it takes to figure out that your cat is sick. A 30$ vet visit can save a life and save so many cat owners a lot of heart ache, but no one ever stops to figure that out.

I feel very foolish for not having suspected that the cat was ill in the first place. When my dog started acting strange, the first thing I did was make an appointment with the vet, but it never occured to me that my cat could be sick without showing any other signs aside from going where he wasn’t supposed to.

So, a head’s up for all you cat owners out there who didn’t know this before. If your cat starts going outside of his litter box, take him to the vet first.