A few months ago a new client, Deb, called me for help with her cats, Gizmo and Gabby, two-and-a-half year old brother and sister. One of them was urinating on the bed in the spare bedroom. This had been going on for some weeks, and Deb’s husband was beginning to lose patience. Deb suspected that Gabby, the female cat, was the culprit because she had recently had a urinary tract infection. But Deb wanted me to check to make sure.
We scheduled the session several weeks out so Deb would have a chance to thoroughly clean the room. I explained that there wasn’t much hope of getting the behavior to stop if the bed reeked of cat urine. So she agreed to purchase a product that eliminates the protein in animal urine (and with it the smell) to wash all of the bedding, to replace the pillows, and to keep the door to the spare bedroom closed until after our session.
I began the session, which I conducted across distance, by calling both cats in. Before I could even ask the question, Gabby said, “ He’s doing it!” Gizmo didn’t deny it, so I turned my attention to him.
I explained that this behavior, this marking his territory with urine (which is what I sensed he was doing), is disgusting to humans. I explained that his human companions love him and want him to have free run of the house but that he simply had to stop urinating on the bed. I reminded him that he has a litter box (I found out later that there were two in the house). He indicated that he wanted another one in the spare bedroom. He showed it to me: It was one of the fancy ones, enclosed on three sides, very private.
When I turned my attention back to Gabby, she was outraged. “He’s always getting everyone into trouble!” she said. I admitted that we’d thought she was probably the one making the mess because of her kidney problems. “Just because I had a kidney infection,” she snapped, “doesn’t mean I’m going to pee all over everything!” I could almost hear her stomp her little foot.
Further, she didn’t understand why “his Royal Highness” needed another litter box, but “whatever.” She said she enjoys taking naps on the bed and would appreciate it if Gizmo would “stop being such a jerk.”
Deb got a kick out of the session notes (I called her when it was over), and so at the very least the session had entertainment value. Deb agreed to buy Gizmo the litter box he’d asked for. All there was left to do was to wait and see. At no point had he agreed to change his behavior. He had accepted quite a bit of Reiki at the end of the session, though, and I hoped this would help fix whatever was ailing him.
A week went by. No news. Another week. No news. I assumed that no news was good news and was just getting ready to email Deb to confirm the masterful job I’d done when I saw her email in my inbox. The subject line read “Oops.”
Darn! I thought. That little critter is peeing on the bed again!
But no. This time, the stakes had been raised. This time, someone was pooping on the bed.
I wasn’t sure if I my words would have any effect on whoever was doing this, but Deb wanted me to try, and so I did. As I had done in the first session, I called both cats in, not knowing who the guilty party was. Gizmo immediately came forward. Gabby stayed quietly in the background.
Once again, I read Gizmo the riot act. I told him his behavior was unacceptable, totally disgusting What was he thinking?
He said, very calmly, “You told me not to pee on the bed.”
I was more specific this time. I told him he was not to soil the bed in any way, that this behavior is absolutely disgusting to humans, those same humans who feed him and play with him and buy him toys and fancy litter boxes. Those humans.
While I was talking to him, I got the strong sense that he was marking territory with the poop. To be honest, I’m not as familiar with cat behavior as I am with dog and horse behavior. I knew he’d been marking the bed with urine, but I didn’t know if using feces for this purpose was normal. But that was the sense I got.
When I had finished talking to him, he quietly accepted quite a bit of Reiki. Then he spoke: He said he would stop messing on the bed.
Hooray, an actual commitment! Hoping I had covered all the possible bases, that there was no escape clause in our agreement, I told him that in the future if he was unhappy about something, he should sit in front of Deb or her husband and stare. I gave these instructions just in case Gizmo was acting out, was messing on the bed as a way of getting attention, though my sense was still that Gizmo was marking territory. But why? When I asked the question, I got a quiet inkling that it had to do with Deb’s husband. Could Gizmo be jealous?
I decided to go with this theory. I explained to Gizmo that Deb’s husband is the alpha male of the house, not Gizmo. That the house belongs to him, not Gizmo. That Deb is his mate, not Gizmo’s. I explained that Gizmo is the main male cat, that he is an important member of the family, but that he is not Deb’s mate. Then I reminded Gizmo that he had promised not to mess on the bed anymore and ended the session.
When I shared all of this with Deb, I learned that this spare bedroom is actually more than that. Her husband’s closet is in this room. He dresses in this room every morning, lays his clothes on the bed.
Deb agreed to start spending more one-on-one time with Gizmo, to be sure to tell him what a special guy he is, but to back up my point that he is not her mate. She did this, and while we never knew what had set the furry critter off to begin with, the problem ended as quickly as it had begun.
It’s been four months now and, no longer a litter box, the bed is just a bed.
So far so good . . .
Until next month . . .
*This column originally appeared in From the Horse’s Mouth in April 2008.
© 2008 by Pamela Sourelis