HYDE PARK, N.Y. (NEWS10) — In December, Lulu, a 13-year-old Himalayan cat, was brought to a veterinarian’s office to be euthanized because she was urinating outside of her litter box. The vet called Dutchess County SPCA (DCSPCA) and they both agreed that this was not a reason to euthanize a cat.

DCSPCA took Lulu back to the shelter. The shelter said Lulu had urinary crystals, a condition which is easily treated with a special diet, and that is why she wasn’t using the litter box.

Dutchess County SPCA Executive Director Lynne Meloccaro said euthanasia literally translates to “good death,” meaning it should be used as a relief from suffering if an animal cannot recover. That was not the case with Lulu.

“Although it is a pet parent’s personal decision about when to euthanize their pet, at DCSPCA we believe the only ethical way to proceed is to determine with a veterinarian’s input that the animal can no longer experience the Five Freedoms that are the bedrock of an animal’s quality of life,” said Meloccaro.

The Five Freedoms are:

  • Freedom from hunger and thirst
  • Freedom from discomfort
  • Freedom from pain, injury or disease
  • Freedom to express normal behavior
  • Freedom from fear and distress

“This determination should only be made after all reasonable interventions have already been performed to address the causes of the animal’s suffering,” said Meloccaro. “If an animal is so sick or so behaviorally challenged that they can no longer in essence be a dog or a cat, then euthanasia is a valuable tool for their relief.”

If your cat stops using the litter box, there could be a number of reasons, said Meloccaro. First, you’d want to determine if there’s a medical reason, as what happened with Lulu.

Other reasons include:

  • The box isn’t kept clean enough
  • The litter box is covered, which magnifies odor inside the box
  • The litter is scented, which some cats do not like
  • The box is placed where there is a lot of foot traffic or loud noise
  • The box is too small
  • There are not enough boxes for all the cats in the home
  • The cat doesn’t like the litter. Try some different litters to find the right one.

Lulu is currently up for adoption on the Dutchess County SPCA website. If you would like to donate or see other adoptable animals, you can also visit the shelter’s website.