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Elimination Problems (Urinating, Defecating, Marking) Behaviors
When urine or feces is coming out of your animal in your home, this constitutes an elimination problem. The first step in dealing with any elimination problem is ruling out any underlying medical/physiologic causes. This can be done in some cases solely w/a brief history. If an animal is both urinating and defecating inappropriately, it is most likely a behavior problem. The most probable medical cause would be one of a loss of neurologic control of the anal and urinary sphincters. This is of greater potential in old animals and those that have suffered some significant physical trauma to the spinal cord. If an animal has been well housebroken or litter-trained, and begins urinating in inappropriate places, a urine sample should be brought into your local veterinarian for Urinalysis. The specific gravity of the urine will determine if the kidneys are effectively concentrating the urine. Cytologic examination of the sediment (which is produced when the urine is spun down in a centrifuge) will reveal any cellular changes associated with infections. Withhold water for approximately 4 hours before getting a sample. Quietly, gracefully hold small plastic cup/container/ bag with top folded over to create a rim under the stream as your animal urinates. Refrigerate sample until it can be brought to vet that same day. Specific types of elimination problems in Cats include aversion to litter/litter area, substrate preferences (e.g. carpeting), location preferences (e.g. dining room), fecal marking (rare), urine spraying (on vertical surfaces) which can be either urine marking (in territorial- minded cats) or simply urine voided through a spraying posture. The distinction is made based on volume of urine and whether urine is also being found sprayed on the inside walls of the litter box. All elimination problems in cats can be a direct sequela (result) of territorial disputes between cats. Most cat elimination problems can be successfully treated if all influencing factors are treated simultaneously. Often people try one or a few of the multiple modifications necessary to effectively cure these problems, and these efforts often, unfortunately, fall short of fixing the problem. In dogs, elimination problems include housebreaking problems (often with location and/or substrate preferences), urine marking, fecal marking (rare), submissive urination, excitement urination, coprophagia (eating of feces) [this is really an ingestive problem], anxiety/distress related, fear of going to appropriate location (which can be a sub-cause of housebreaking).