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Our indoor/outdoor cat of six years is being strange this week. Exhibiting the following behaviors randomly on and off:

  • Urinating and defecating on the floors/rugs openly (but still occasionally using litter box)
  • Walking low to the ground as if she is hunting or scared
  • Refusing to leave certain rooms
  • Refusing to go outside, which is normally her favorite thing

We are concerned but can't tell what is causing this. In the past week, my wife was out of town for a week (this has happened before). It snowed here, so she was inside for a few days (happened once before.) She used to have a cat scratching post outside and some other neighbor cats around, but these are gone now since our neighbors moved. She was fixed at year one.

We've only seen her walking like this (slow and low to the ground) when we move houses, which has only happened a few times in her life. We don't know if this is something we need to address.

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Every thing you say in your question makes me think your cat is in pain, urinating and defecating on the floor but sometimes using the litterbox (pain using the litterbox).

Moving low to the ground, pain when walking (urinary tract infection pain).

Does not want to leave the room, does not want to move as this causes pain.

Does not want to go outside, not feeling well.

All of this makes me think that this is not a reaction to fear of other cats or anything in the house.

You need to take your cat to the vet as this is not normal for a six year old cat.

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    Completely agree with this answer. A cat I had some 20 years ago was exhibiting similar behaviours at age 5 or 6 - turned out he had recurring urinary tract infections caused by kidney stones. – Aleks G Jan 21 at 15:28
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    If it turns out to be a UTI, we've had great success keeping our UTI-prone cat infection free using cat food designed for urinary tract health. Normally, I'm a skeptic of claims on the outside of packages like that, but he's been healthy for years now. Buying specialty food can get expensive, but our cat was on death's doorstep last time before he clued us in so I rest easier hoping that any new UTI will go slower next time with whatever food-magic is in his system. – SnappingShrimp Jan 21 at 19:21
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    Our cat has literally just finished a course of treatment for idiomatic feline cystitis, and exhibited the exact behaviours you describe. 2 week course of pills. all wet food diet and some liquid painkillers and she's all back to normal. – codinghands Jan 23 at 10:21
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This is their behaviour when they are sick or in pain.

They avoid the places that they associate with pain.

Trond has the most likely cause - if there is a UTI or partial blockage (more common with males), they associate the pain with elimination, and start avoiding the box.

I'd get her to a vet now, as the problem has been going on for a few days, and could be serious.

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Slow and walking to the ground is sounding like she feels threatened or panicked... You say going outside is her favourite thing. Is it in a cat garden? If not is it possible she's injured or something/someone has attacked her? If these behaviours are not constant then she may be in intermittent pain.

Firstly I would check her for external injuries. They may not be openly visible so I would reccomend rubbing a while tissue on her, this will pick up any traces of blood.

Now check her urine, can you see any signs of blood? Does she put up a fight if you rub around her bladder area? It's possible that she could have bladder or kidney stones which are causing her pain/urination problems.

You mention you've had snow, your wife hasn't been home and she hasn't really gone outside. Are these correlated? Is snow frequent in your area? Does this happen every time it's cold/snows outside? It could be that she's becoming athritic and the colder weather is causing pain on her joints. Thus, no longer wanting to go outside.

I will be honest with these are mostly just educated guesses as it's almost impossible to tell without seeing the cat in person or watching their behaviour.

My personal option would honestly be a vet checkup. A quick vet check up can rule out any long term illnesses and ensure that you aren't proloning pain. As well as giving you peace of mind.

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We had a cat like that. It turned out to be diabetes. After the diagnosis it was checking urine samples and daily injections of insulin.

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    Could you add some more detail? – Yvette Jan 24 at 18:55
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I would take her to the vet immediately. As another reader said this could be diabetes. My cat had been showing subtle symptoms- drinking and urinating more with subtle weight loss- but we had yet to diagnose or recognize it. She began hiding in one room of the house, laying down and lethargic. Sadly I think she knew what was happening to her. By the time we took her to the vet she was in Ketoacidosis but the vet didn’t really know much about it or how serious it was so we let her rest thinking she was just weak from the insulin they had given her not in pain. We ended up taking her to the Er and sadly had to help her to kitty heaven when she no longer responded to treatment. I don’t mean to scare you but it seems that if this is what it is you could probably catch and treat it in time before this happens. Every day I wish that we had done something about it sooner or recognized that she wasn’t comfortable before we did. If you can please take your kitty to the vet, because this kind of thing is manageable if caught and treated quickly. Thanks! Stay safe and healthy.

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