Bella the Siamese Cat May Not Love the New Baby


Q: Bella is a 13-year old Siamese who recently starting peeing outside the litter box, on all the beds. She is showing a few signs of being confused. Bella saw the vet two months ago and the bloodwork was clean.

Until recently was an only child. She doesn’t mind the baby butting her occasionally with love. She was pooping only. Now pee too. We have changed litter, bought a new litter box moved it – covered it then put it back where she has been using it again. Any assistance is greatly.

Christina. Vancouver. BC

A: A lot of possibilities here. First, congrats on the new baby, but I’m unsure your cat feels that way. The good news is that there’s positive interaction between your 13-year old feline baby and your new baby. If indeed the behavior began when baby arrived, certainly the addition may be stressful – even if your cat isn’t acting stressed.

Here are some suggestions:

  • With the new baby, Bella’s routine may be changed. Try to get back to it or to create a new daily routine of playing with Bella with an interactive cat toy for five minutes at least once a day. At the end of the play session offer a treat.
  • If Bella enjoys catnip – this old school offering will help her to relieve some stress.
  • Plug in a few Feliway Classic diffusers – one in each room she has accidents in. Feliway is a copy of a pheromone that supports a feeling of comfort.
  • It’s not only about stress, it’s about keeping Bella’s mind on other activities. Offer some food and/or treats in food puzzles, such as food/treat dispensing cat toys. There are hundreds of these on the market. Better yet, if you teach Bella to search out the treats in these toys or to “hunt” for them even if she indoors. Insure she has self-directed activities, simple as climbing spaces.
  • Understandably, people with new babies get busy. Don’t forget to scoop that box daily, and I do mean daily. Also, as a point of interest, most cats prefer uncovered boxes.
  • Consider adding a litter box in each room Bella’s has accidents. And cover the bed with something she won’t want to urinate or defecate on. One idea is a plastic runner for office chairs (nubby side up). You could turn up your box spring daily, but that’s a real pain.

Also, things can be going along great with cats until home construction begins, the new washing machine simply makes a different sound or a baby arrives, whatever the change happens to be. It’s true cats hate change, but many cats adjust. Those who have a more difficult time, may previously have been tolerating cat litter she didn’t like so much or location of the box or a very long list possibilities – but this change has thrown her just past her level of tolerance.

You mention that Bella seems confused. While 13 is a bit young for feline cognition dysfunction syndrome (sometimes referred to as kitty Alzheimer’s), it’s possible. You’re already noting accidents, so if indeed you are seeing one more of the following contact your veterinarian:

  • Disorientation: Your call appears confused, perhaps not recognizing people she knows or another example trying to enter a doorway on the wrong side.
  • Interactions: Changes in interactions with familiar people (or other pets). For example, if Bella hid when people visited, and now greets them at the door or the opposite.
  • Sleep/Wake Cycle Changes: Classic example is a cat yowling overnight or sleeping literally all day, and insomnia results. Of course, older cats do sleep more during the day – but the cat’s sleep/wake cycle appears totally “off.”
  • Accidents: Bella is indeed thinking outside the litter box.

It’s complicated, as the above changes may not be solely cognitive, for example, they may be associated with hearing and/or sight loss and/or arthritis.