8 min read

Why Does My Cat Pee On My Bed?

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Rest assured: You are not alone.

Believe me. Even the writer of the article you are reading right now has had the experience of climbing into bed, totally exhausted, only to lie in some kind of puddle of ... wet.

It was Fyodor. I just knew it was Fyodor.

Jay Schweig

Fyodor, who had somehow survived his first nine months alive on the gritty and busy streets of Manhattan, was about 2 years old, and he'd just gone through a lot of changes. My boyfriend and I had just moved in together a few days before, and I had brought my own cat, Brioche, into the equation.

His whole home was a different apartment, with different smells, different windowsills and different views. Add to that another feline. Plus, he's had a history of sensitive urinary tract issues. Extra spoonfuls of wet food and extra treats couldn't change the fact that Fyodor, already a little excitable and nervous, had just gone through a huge change.

Sarah V. Schweig

And I was still sore from the move and now I was covered in cat urine at midnight.

As my boyfriend and I stripped the bed and sprayed every kind of cleaner we had onto the mattress, we became curious about the cause. As we loaded the soiled sheets into a laundry bag to take to the cleaners, we, you know, wondered, WHY DID MY CAT PEE ON MY BED????? OH, DEAR GOD, WHY???????

Sadly, the reason many cats are surrendered to shelters is because of problems like inappropriate litter box use, and these very often solvable problems are a real threat to some cats' homes.

But how can inappropriate cat behavior be solved and prevented? I spoke to an expert who suggested keeping three key ideas in mind.

"Cats have three essential needs: safety, security and stimulation," K.C. Theisen, director of pet care issues for the Humane Society of the United States, 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."

Sarah V. Schweig

"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."

Roberto Palomba

"The good news," Thiesen said, "is once you attend to these needs, unwanted behaviors often go away."

There are things you can do to stop your cat from peeing outside the box.

  • Make sure the litter box is clean, so the cat is inclined to go in there. Scoop it twice a day and give it a big clean every 10 days or so.
  • If your cat is peeing on the bed or couch, cover it with something plastic, like a shower curtain, until the behavior is resolved.
  • Figure out the kind of litter your cat prefers. Generally, cats like clumping litter that's unscented.
  • If your cat is peeing consistently in one area, put his toys and food there to discourage it. He doesn't want to soil his own treasured stuff.
  • If anxiety is the issue driving the misbehavior, follow Thiesen's advice: Give your peeing-freely cat a lot of extra attention to make him feel safe, while also making sure he has some space of his own. Even in our small New York City apartment, Fyodor cleverly found a spot on top of the kitchen cabinets where he could unwind.
  • If your cat and a new feline roommate are getting used to one another, try feeding them treats and letting them play together - toys like feather-on-a-stick are great - so that they can have positive experiences, side-by-side.

As for Fyodor? Now, he's adjusting splendidly with his new best friend.

Sarah V. Schweig

A year later, there haven't been any more peeing-outside-the-box incidents.

Roberto Palomba

For more help understanding - and solving - your cat's peeing problems, click here or here. And if peeing outside the box is a recurring problem, it could be a medical issue, so definitely book an appointment and see a vet.

And read about other cat mysteries here and here.

If you're ready to add a loving and furry family member to your home - and believe me, it really is worth it, pee and all - check out Adopt-a-Pet.