The cat has failed to use the litter box 4 times in the past 2 days, altogether 5 times in the past 3 days. She has also yakked spectacularly twice over that time span.
The yakking is one thing -- she's shedding furiously and creating hairballs by the minute, and she doesn't yak all over the carpet on purpose. At least I don't think so.
The any-corner-is-now-my-litter-box behavior is definitely intentional, though. We've been doing things around the house -- de-cluttering the closet, cleaning the carpet in the family room, getting the piano tuned -- and she doesn't like it, not one bit. She doesn't like it that we won't let her out whenever she wants, either. And so, she doesn't use the box.
The vet's pretty sure she has either hyperthyroidism or inflammatory bowel disease. One is treated with an anti-thyroid agent (or RAI, for a longterm fix), the other with steroids. She's scheduled for a teeth cleaning in a week or so, and they'll do a blood draw then and test her thyroid. If it turns out her thyroid is OK, we'll try the steroids...
At this point, the cat is definitely living on borrowed time. We can't have her doing this all the time, every day. It's exhausting and quite frankly, nasty and disgusting. We can get the carpet looking clean but how clean is it really? It skeeves me every time I think about how much ewww-provoking stuff has been left on it lately. And of course the kids live on the floor.
I don't want to think about what will have to happen if we can't get this situation under control. It feels wrong to think about putting her down just because she doesn't use the box. But it's not "just because she doesn't use the box," it's all the stuff that comes along with her not using the box.
I think about her quality of life. She is affectionate and attentive to us. She seems happy, except when thwarted or freaked out by something, she'll go off and hide for hours, and she's really good at holding grudges. Still, she is not a dangerous psycho cat. If that were the case, it would be easy to let her go. But she is as sweet as she ever has been, and it feels wrong to put her down just because she is being naughty.
But when I think about our quality of life, I think of what a relief it would be to wake up in the morning not having to check each room, sniffing, to see if she has left anything anywhere. Not to mention not having to clean up disgusting messes two or three times a day. It seems impossible to put these things -- her messes, my cleaning efforts, the residual "ewwww" in the carpet -- on some sort of scale. There's no level of effort I can put into this that can really make it better, unless we can get her to use the box properly all the time. It doesn't matter how willing I am to clean up after her, we really can't continue to live like this.
Hopefully she'll settle down until her teeth cleaning, and we'll get a diagnosis and then get her on some treatment. It would seem entirely too petty to give her up because of this problem, and I'm so hoping we won't have to.