Ann was desperate. Her cat Missy, an indoor/outdoor cat who stayed in at night, was peeing in the kitchen and in the downstairs hall at night. Missy rarely meowed, but she would find paper to shred or knock over objects until Ann got up in frustration to see what Missy needed. Missy was waking Ann up 2 or 3 times a night. This had been going on for three long years and Ann didn’t know what to do. A friend of Ann’s, who was a client of mine, suggested that Ann try communicating with Missy to try to resolve the issue.
Missy let us know immediately where she stood — she said she was the “top cat” (Ann has two other cats) and “the queen of the house.” Ann said that this completely matched Missy’s attitude with the other two cats and with Ann as well.
Ann asked me to see if Missy felt she had a urinary issue. Missy didn’t “point” me at any physical problems and I didn’t feel anything when I “scanned” her body. In fact, Missy seemed a bit insulted that we would think that there was anything at all wrong with her. Ann said she’d had Missy checked by the vet and the vet didn’t feel Missy had any urinary issues either.
So what was the cause of the night time urination? Ann said there were several litter boxes in the house and that she kept them very clean. I asked Missy about her feelings about the litter box. Missy was very clear — “Why would I use the litter box? It just makes the room smell.” Missy also didn’t like the texture of the cat litter Ann was using. Ann said she would try a different cat litter and hopefully Missy would like that better.
I told Missy that she needed to be very, very sure to only use the litter box at night. I showed Missy the picture of the behavior we were looking for and Missy said she would try. I reviewed what Ann should do to reinforce the behavior we were wanting from Missy (using the litter box at night) — talking/visualizing to Missy the behavior she wanted NOT what she didn’t want. Ann said she would follow through with her part of the agreement. I told Ann I couldn’t guarantee that Missy would change her ways, Missy had free will after all, but I hoped that Missy would comply. Ann said she understood.
About 3 weeks later, Ann contacted me again. She was at her wits end. The good news was that Missy hadn’t peed in the house at night since out last conversation, but Missy was continuing to make noise at night and wake Ann up 2 or 3 times a night. Ann was afraid that Missy would pee in the house, so Ann was continuing to get up each time Missy made noise and tried to figure out what Missy wanted . . . Food? Pets? To go out? Ann said she hadn’t had a decent night’s sleep in years and she just couldn’t take it any more.
I asked Missy if she was hungry during the night. Missy said she didn’t like the wet food that was left out at bed time, “I don’t like old food. The [wet food] in the kitchen at night isn’t fresh.” Ann was getting up and giving Missy fresh wet food, even though there was dry food available. Missy also said she wasn’t particularly hungry at night. Missy showed me that she would eat a little of the wet food Ann put out for her, but without much enthusiasm. Ann confirmed that when she got up and gave Missy additional food during the night, Missy would just pick at it and not eat much. So obviously Missy was not waking Ann up because she was hungry.
I asked Missy if she woke Ann up because she wanted to go out. Missy said that since Ann was willing to get up, she was happy to have the chance to pee outside. But it did not feel to me that Missy was desperate to go out to pee.
I asked Missy if she woke Ann up because she wanted attention. Missy said that when she was awake at night. she got bored — so she made noise so Ann would get up. Ann provided an entertaining diversion for Missy during the night. Missy said, ” I just make noise and she gets up. I’m awake so she gets up and gives me something to do. She gets up every time — what’s the problem?! “
I explained to Missy that even though Missy was awake at night, Ann needed her sleep. Missy said that was silly — Ann should just take naps during the day like Missy did. I told Missy that it didn’t work that way for people — people needed to be awake all day and they needed to sleep all night.
I told Ann that Missy was right — Ann was getting up every time Missy made a noise, so to Missy’s way of thinking, Ann was cooperating with her. That works really well for Missy, but not so much for Ann. Ann laughed and said, “I guess she’s trained me pretty well, hasn’t she?”
I told Missy that from now on, she needed to be quiet all night so Ann could sleep. I told/showed Missy that she needed to be quiet from the time Ann turned the lights off at night until she got up in the morning, when it was light out. It was OK for Missy to be awake at night and if she was bored, she could go eat some dry food, have a drink of water or play quietly with her toys — which were not in the bedroom. I reviewed this plan several times with Missy and asked if she could do as Ann requested. Missy said, “OK — if I have to.” I assured her that she did have to and Missy said, somewhat grumpily, “OK.”
I reminded Missy that because Ann wasn’t going to be getting up to let her out, she needed to either pee in the litter box or hold it and go out in the morning when Ann got up. Missy was again clear with her feelings — “I’ll just hold it and go outside in the morning.” But she said she wouldn’t pee in the house anymore.
A few weeks later I heard back from Ann. Not only had Missy continued to “hold it” at night and pee outside in the morning, but Missy had not once made noise at night and woken Ann up! Ann reported that Missy had been sleeping on the bed with her and didn’t even get off the bed when Ann got up during the night.
Ann was finally getting the rest she needed and Missy was cooperating. Ann could not have been happier and Missy was happy and content too, now that she understood that Ann wasn’t going to get up to entertain her at night.
“I am grateful to Sky for sharing her gifts and enabling me to communicate with my cats and know what is going on with them. It was amazing to experience the joy of hearing their comments, each one so true to the cat’s behavior and know we were connected. This experience has put my mind at ease as I know I will be checking in with “my girls” on a regular basis through Sky. Sky is such a blessing — an Angel to animals and their care givers.” — Ann G., VA
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