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C2006-06

Dear Christopher Cat

My name is Snagglepuss, and I am a shy 13-year-old neutered male cat who is frightened of new people.

It should come as no surprise that when our house was full of people during the Christmas holidays, I relieved my anxiety by urinating on two fuzzy bathroom rugs upstairs.

Even after my people washed the rugs, bought new fuzzy rugs and sprayed a pheromone designed to prevent such behavior, I continued urinating on the fuzzy rugs.

Throughout my weeks of inappropriate urination, I also urinated in my litter box.

I stopped urinating on the fuzzy rugs only when they were replaced by thin ones. My people wonder what they can do to prevent me from urinating on the new thin rugs.

Christopher Responds

Stress triggers inappropriate urination in many of us cats, even me.

Once it happens, we can develop an affinity for the material we urinate on. It’s called substrate preference, and it can linger beyond the stressful time.

Next to litter box materials, we cats are most attracted to soft fabrics. That’s why some of us urinate on piles of clothes or fuzzy rugs, especially when they are bunched up in a heap.

Perhaps unwittingly, your people solved the problem by providing a surface you find less attractive, a thin rug.

The next time they entertain overnight guests, they should provide you a quiet place away from the guests to eat, nap and relieve yourself. A litter box in your folks’ private bathroom should prevent a recurrence of the Christmas episode.

If it doesn’t, they should talk with your veterinarian about giving you anti-anxiety medication when guests visit.

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