The biggest problem is that her special needs put the nix on most of the proven solutions, such as giving her places to climb up out of the way. She can climb up, but not down, which is a major safety concern and means that for her, part of "catifying" means making sure she CAN'T get up higher than a couple of feet anywhere. Add to that the fact that the many limitations of our cramped apartment are frustrating even for the humans, and we have a bit of a nightmare.
Sadly, I'm afraid that the true solutions may be ones I simply can't provide, such as a calmer and more spacious environment. I tried the "No Mark" pheromone spray; she peed on the floor where I sprayed it 3 times in the next 18 hours, a big jump from the usual 4-5 times a week (that I know of). I took her to the low-cost vet clinic at the shelter where we adopted her and Smidge, for blood work to see if she has kidney problems. (It would have been roughly 3 times the cost at our regular vet.) She doesn't, but they think she might have parasites, which could explain her occasional diarrhea and recent poor appetite. Not the peeing on carpets, though. The shelter vet seemed to think it was really a mobility issue, but we've already gone through several litter types until we found the current one which she likes, and several pan styles as well, and currently we're using those under-bed storage containers to give her more room for scooting around. She's perfectly content using them - about 75% of the time. UGH!
The shelter seems in a hurry to take her back, which frustrates me. I was hoping they'd at least try putting her on some anxiety medication to see if that helped. They said they weren't ruling out the possibility, but would prefer to re-home the cats. Perhaps it is selfish of me to try to keep them, but I am very resistant to letting them return to the shelter. It was a terrible environment for Kanga with her difficulties. They did suggest trying a pheromone diffuser (do you know how dang expensive all that stuff is?!), and I put one in the bedroom where they have most of their squabbles. Now Kanga has decided to pee on that floor too. AAAGGGGHHHHH!!!! Of course, it does seem to help with the squabbling as advertised. But at that cost it isn't worth it. Maybe the vet is right about the mobility issue, and she prefers to pee where she feels most relaxed. *headdesk* They said something about "observing her behavior at the shelter to see if the problem persists." Of course she will use the litter box at the shelter, because she can't even leave the dang cage!!! She'll never be more than 12 inches from it!! What a stupid idea.
Anyway, yet again today I started searching ideas for a shallower litter box. The wide boxes we're using are about 6" high, which isn't really shallow enough for Kanga; but cutting into them creates a different problem because of the way she has to hitch herself over the side. I foresee lots of scraped elbows with cut plastic edges. I considered putting foam tube insulation on cut edges, but she will scratch at that and possibly eat the shreddings; she samples some strange things. Until now I really haven't found anything for cats with serious mobility challenges. But today I found this post from Fundamentally Feline. And that led me to search for litterboxes for senior cats. Viola!
It costs a mere $40 on Amazon. (sarcasm) It's actually a puppy training box, but hey, whatever works! I'm saving up for it - and searching Craigslist. Maybe by tax return time I'll be able to spare another $40. The shelter vet also suggested putting carpet in the bottom of the litter box, which would be a great idea if I was rich and could afford to throw out a cheap carpet tile EVERY OTHER DAY!!!
I'm pretty annoyed with the shelter, to be honest. I feel like they weren't up front with me in the beginning about a problem they had every reason to know existed. True, she didn't start peeing on the carpets right away. But she did start within just a few weeks, and she continued the habit in a new room when we took the carpet out of the old room. I have a hard time believing this is something entirely new. And it makes me even more concerned about giving her back, because if they aren't honest with the new adopters, these kitties might get stuck in a cycle of being adopted and returned again and again. I don't want that. They're 3 years old and lived in one shelter until 11 months, then in another until they were adopted at 16 months, then were returned again after a year. I'm seeing the start of a bad cycle here.
I am going to put carpet tiles on top of the real carpet all around the litter box. Maybe that will help to prevent the good carpet getting ruined, even if it doesn't solve the underlying problem. Meanwhile, I just couldn't resist sharing this photo from yesterday of both cats sitting with me. First time ever. :D