Help! My Cat Won't Stop Peeing On My Bed
Plus, how to get your clean bed back 🐱
It can happen to the best cat parents in the world, but even that fact won’t make you feel any better about your cat peeing on your bed.
It’s already annoying when your cat pees outside his litter box, but it feels like a personal attack when you jump onto your bed to find yourself on top of a wet spot.
The Dodo spoke to Dr. Meghan Carlton, a veterinarian at DoveLewis emergency animal hospital in Portland, Oregon, K.C. Theisen, a former director of pet care issues for the Humane Society of the United States, and Dr. Michelle Burch, a veterinarian working with Paramount Pet Health, to help you find out why your cat’s peeing on your bed — and how to get him to stop.
Why is my cat peeing on my bed?
There are several reasons why cats might pee the bed (or anywhere outside their litter box). Sometimes cats will pee the bed because of an underlying medical condition, which can occasionally be serious. But in many cases, cats pee the bed because their needs aren’t being met.
"Cats have three essential needs: safety, security and stimulation," Theisen told The Dodo. "Safety is that they are not threatened or harassed and have easy access to fresh food, clean water and shelter. Security means they can get away from people or things they don't like, can get to elevated hiding places and have a routine they can count on in the home. Stimulation reflects a cat’s need to be a predator and chase and ‘hunt’ toys in the home. A cat who cannot express their natural behaviors or is bored may act out inappropriately.”
"The good news is once you attend to these needs, unwanted behaviors often go away,” Theisen added.
What this means is that if you’re able to pinpoint the need that isn’t being met for your cat, you’ll be able to make the change that can help your cat feel like himself again.
The first thing you’ll want to do if your cat’s suddenly peeing on your bed is rule out any medical issues by checking in with your vet.
Common medical reasons your cat could be peeing on your bed include:
- Kidney disease
- Urinary tract infection
“If at any point your cat is straining to urinate, acting sick or painful when urinating, or posturing to urinate and not passing urine, then this could signal an emergency urinary blockage, and you should contact your vet immediately,” Dr. Carlton told The Dodo.
If, however, you’ve been able to rule out medical issues like urinary tract infections or diabetes, it’s time to start trying to get to the bottom of why your cat’s displaying this odd behavior.
Change in routine
Cats are creatures of comfort, and if their routine suddenly changes, this can result in inappropriate elimination (aka your cat using the bathroom outside his litter box).
If you recently moved, welcomed a new baby, brought a new dog or cat into the house, or changed your own schedule, it’s likely that he just needs to adjust to the new situation. Cats need structure and predictability in order to feel safe and secure.
If your cat isn’t being stimulated, this could be the reason why he’s acting out by peeing on the bed.
He hasn’t been neutered (or spayed, for the ladies)
“Intact cats (especially males) are more likely to mark/spray urine,” Dr. Carlton said.
So if your cat hasn’t been neutered or spayed, it’s time to set up an appointment with your vet to get it done. (Fixing your cat also has health benefits, so it’s definitely worth the vet trip.)
He doesn’t like the litter box’s location
Like people, cats prefer peace and quiet when using the litter box. If his litter box is in a noisy or highly trafficked area, he might get fed up after a while. You’ll also want to avoid putting his litter box by a loud washing machine or appliances that turn on at random times — like a furnace.
Keep in mind that he’ll also want an area that has enough light for him to see what he’s doing, as well as enough space to escape if he gets interrupted by another pet.
He needs another litter box
Believe it or not, some cats like to use one litter box to pee and a different one to poop. If you have a multi-cat household, some cats don’t like to share their litter box at all. “I recommend using the ‘number of cats plus one’ rule,” Dr. Burch told The Dodo. “For example, if you have three cats in the household, you should have four litter boxes in your home.”
One cat? Two litter boxes.
Two cats? Three litter boxes.
And so on.
And if you have multiple floor levels in your house, place a litter box on each level. “Cats may not want to walk up or down stairs to use the litter box when the urge hits them,” Dr. Burch said. “Older cats may also experience pain while navigating stairs and become reluctant to use one on another floor.”
He doesn’t like the type of litter box or litter
Check to make sure that your cat's litter box doesn’t trap odors (some that have tops do), and that it doesn’t constrict his movement. Many cats get frustrated if they have to use the toilet while their body presses against the sides of a litter box that’s too small.
Some cats are also extra picky when it comes to their cat litter, and if it isn’t soft enough for them, they’ll find another place to go.
Keep in mind that while you should never declaw your cat, it’s always possible that you adopted one who was declawed in his previous situation, and, for him, rough litter is going to be painful on his paws.
How to stop your cat from peeing on bed
The first thing you’ll need to stop your cat from peeing on your bed or other areas outside of their litter box? Patience. This will take time, but as long as you follow these steps, your cat will be using his litter box like a pro.
Make sure your cat’s being exercised. Cats with anxiety need to make sure that their exercise needs are being met daily. According to Dr. Burch, cats who are bored or have too much energy develop anxiety and stress more often than pets who meet their daily exercise needs.
“I recommend exercising your cat for a minimum of one hour [every day] to help prevent anxiety,” Dr. Burch said. “Exercise options can include chasing a lure, wand toys, cat wheel or creating an indoor agility course.”
Make sure you have the right litter box and litter. You’ll want your cat to see his litter box as the most beautiful place in your home. Make sure it’s filled with litter he likes and is located in a quiet area.
To help find the perfect litter, you can put two different types next to each other to see which one he goes for.
Keep the litter box clean. “A litter box should be cleaned once or twice a day as cats may not urinate or defecate in a dirty container,” Dr. Burch said.
Thoroughly clean your bedding. Unsurprisingly, your cat will pee where he smells pee, so make sure you throw your bedding in the washing machine every time your cat uses the bathroom there.
Make the places he’s having accidents unattractive. Until he gets accustomed to using his litter box, make your bed an uncomfortable place to urinate. You can put something non-absorbent on it when you aren’t sleeping, like a shower curtain.
Change the meaning of your bed. If your cat’s confusing your bed with his bathroom, start to make him see your bed differently. You can begin by playing with him on it and giving him treats there so that he begins to associate it with playtime and food.
Try calming products. If no underlying medical reason is found to be the cause of the inappropriate urination, calming products are great to help reduce your cat’s overall anxiety.
A cat calming product Dr. Burch recommends is Bach Remedy Rescue, an anxiety and stress reliever that won our Paw of Approval. “Rescue Remedy Pet is a blend of five flowers in an alcohol-free formula,” Dr. Burch said. “It has been shown to reduce stress in cats before veterinary visits, fireworks, thunderstorms or guests in the household.”
Be patient. Some cats take up to a month to consistently use their litter box.
How to get cat pee out of your bed
When dealing with a cat who’s peed on your bed, it’s important to get the stain up as quickly as possible. Here’s how to do it.
Step 1: First, blot the area your cat urinated with a towel to remove excess urine. “I do not recommend rubbing the area as this can spread the urine to a larger area,” Dr. Burch said.
Step 2: Spray the area with a mixture of vinegar and water. “Since odors tend to be alkaline, the vinegar being acidic will neutralize the smell,” Dr. Burch said.
Step 3: Allow the vinegar mixture to sit for five to ten minutes, then blot with a towel to remove excessive moisture.
Step 4: Use an enzymatic cleaner. “Then I recommend spraying the area with an enzymatic cleaner to help break down the urine molecules to help remove the smell, especially to your pet's senses,” Dr. Burch said.
While your cat peeing on your bed is definitely a nuisance, with just a little patience and the above steps, you’ll soon have a dry bed and happy cat once again!