The causes of a cat peeing in the bed can include anxiety or stress, medical problems and litter box issues. Urinating in inappropriate places can become a habit, so its important that you identify the cause and treat the problem quickly.
Cats peeing on your pillows and duvets can be very frustrating, and it’s hard not to lose your temper. Perhaps you’ve bought your cat a brand-new cat bed and he decides to thank you by squatting in it and taking a pee. You might even discover that your cat has been peeing in the dog’s bed!
Any of these scenarios can really affect your relationship with your cat. It’s frustrating when you have to keep washing the soiled items over and over again. The last thing most of us need is extra work.
A quick internet search for ‘My cat peed on my bed’ or ‘Cat urinating on bed remedies’ produces all sorts of information. Some of this might be useful, but some of it can actually make things worse.
You might have heard of home remedies such as putting tin foil, citrus peel, or pepper on the soiled area. In my experience, cat simply ignore these and carry on peeing in the same place.
You might even decide to shut the bedroom door or throw away the dog bed. The poor old dog will have to sleep on the floor. However, this may move the behavior to another location, and you’ll upset the dog for nothing. And it doesn’t address the reasons why your cat is doing it in the first place.
Working Out The Cause
If you understand why your cat is peeing on the bed, then you can look for ways to stop it. Then, you can start rebuilding your relationship with your cat.
Is there a medical problem?
Certain conditions like urinary tract infections and kidney disease can cause your cat to need to pee so badly they don’t make it to the litter box in time. Older cats can also have a bladder conditions that mean they leak pee when sleeping, where they used to be totally litter trained. If your cat is showing additional signs of being unwell, or is particularly elderly, then it’s worth having a chat with your vet before making changes to your home setup.
Litter Box Problems
If you find yourself asking, ‘why is my cat peeing on my bed?’ the first place to look is always the litter box. So often, this is the cause of the problem. A few changes to your daily routine, or even just moving it, can make the difference.
Cats have very particular requirements for their indoor toilet arrangements. They are more likely to develop inappropriate elimination behavior if things do not meet their approval. For example, the litter box might be too small or covered with a hood. Or, your cat might see it as too dirty or, believe it or not, too clean.
Maybe you have filled it with a litter they find uncomfortable. Perhaps the cat litter contains a strong-smelling deodorizer. Perhaps it’s shared between several cats or has a plastic liner that he absolutely hates. What if it’s in a noisy or busy area: face it, you like a bit of privacy in the bathroom, so maybe your cat does too!
What if it’s located too close to your cat’s food. Who wants to go to the toilet next to where they eat? As any cat owner will tell you, our feline friends can be very temperamental. If something isn’t right, they’ll let you know!
Stress: Frightened Cats Pee on Beds
It isn’t always easy to tell if a cat is suffering from stress or anxiety, but either can make inappropriate urination more likely. Common causes of stress are the introduction of another cat, or other pets. And moving home.
However, even if stressed, a cat will use their litter box provided some conditions are met. And we’ll talk about those in a moment.
Remember, cats never pee on your stuff to make you mad.
But why did my cat pee on my bed!
As we saw, if your cat thinks that there is something wrong with the litter box, they will seek alternative sites. It’s almost like they have a mental checklist they work through when they want a suitable toilet.
- Is it in the right place? Check
- Do I like the litter? Check
- Is nobody else around? Check
Soft Beds and Cat Pee
What is it about our bed that’s so attractive? How on earth can a clean, freshly made bed suddenly become a toilet? Why do cats pee on beds anyway? We are back to the mind of the cat.
When we are looking for an answer to the question: why do cats pee on beds, or pillows, the answer often lies in the texture. In most cases, beds have a soft and plush yielding surface. This makes them perfect to sleep on, but it also makes them super comfortable underfoot. What a great place to pee! A five star toilet! One other thing about your bed, in the mind of your cat, is that your scent impregnates the bed. For insecure cats, this is wonderfully reassuring and makes them feel safe.
Think about it for a minute – sometimes your cat pees on your bed because they love you. You make them feel safe! That’s the main reason why yelling at them can make it worse! Compare your bed to the tiny, shared litter box, next to a noisy washing machine, with uncomfortable litter. As far as your cat is concerned, it’s a no-brainer! Why not have a luxury pee!
She feel great relief when she can empty her full bladder in such a fantastic place. Pleased with herself, she might just choose the same spot the next time she gets the urge.
Why is My Cat Urinating On its Own Bed?
For humans, peeing on your own bed is very strange. However, it sometimes makes perfect sense to your cat! The reasons why your cat might start peeing on his own bed are the same as those that cause her to pee on your bed. Let’s just run through those again, quickly:
- She feels that the toilet facilities are below par and need some improvement.
- There are other cats around. How can you expect her to pee without any privacy?
- Physical and emotional changes to the environment mean that she is stressed and wants somewhere safe to pee.
My Cat Peed In Her Brand New Bed
What if your well house-trained cat pees on the cat bed you’ve just bought for her. How ungrateful after you went to all that time and effort. But, just think for a moment. Are you sure she even knows it’s a bed?
Perhaps she actually thinks that it is a new toilet. It’s the best toilet ever because it is so soft and comfortable underfoot. How delightful! In our human minds, we know the difference between a litter box and a cat bed! In a cat’s mind, things are different. She can’t read the label, after all!
It’s actually pretty logical when you think about it. Many traditional cat beds are roughly the same size and shape as a litter box. Like litter trays, they may be enclosed or semi-enclosed.
If she pees or poops in it once, and the bed remains in the same place, she will see it as an extension to her existing toilet facilities. In other words, she will continue to use it.
Really, the only way to change that is washing the bed and moving it. We will give you some great advice on getting rid of the smell later.
Cat Peeing On Dog Bed
Why isn’t the dog going in his bed? Why is he standing there looking at it forlornly? Wait a minute, the cat’s peed on it. Why did she do that? Again, let’s look at this from your cat’s perspective. Just like the cat’s own bed and your bed, dog’s cosy blankets are probably a lovely soft texture, and give your cat a comfortable toileting experience.
It’s also much bigger than the litter box, and is located somewhere discreet. Maybe the dog’s bed provides a nice open space where your cat has a 360-degree view so she can see any approaching threats.
From a cat peeing on bed perspective, what’s not to like? She isn’t doing it to annoy the dog, even though it’s tempting to think so!
How to Stop Cat Peeing on Duvet
In theory, your cat can ‘unlearn’ the habit of peeing on the bed. However, don’t forget to look at the reasons we gave above. We’ll look at breaking the cycle in a moment but first let’s make sure that your cat’s toilet facilities are ideal.
Where To Put Your Cat’s Litter Box
When looking for the perfect place, choose somewhere that’s private and away from busy areas and noisy machines. Avoid placing an open litter box next to a window or cat flap, so that your cat doesn’t feel threatened by the presence of other cats.
If you have more than one box, it’s best to resist the temptation to place them side by side, as your cat will simply view them as a single latrine.
Finally, make sure the box is well away from your cat’s food and water. Like humans, cats prefer not to eat food placed next to a toilet!
Litter Box Shape and Size
Ideally, a litter box should be rectangular. It should be one and a half times the length of your cat measured from the tip of his nose to the base of his tail. For most cats, that’s a minimum of 22 x 17 inches (49.5 x 38 cm). If you have a big Maine Coon or other giant breed, you might need something bigger.
This will give him room to move, turn, dig, and choose the perfect spot to eliminate in the box. If he doesn’t have room, he might just look for somewhere else to pee, like your freshly laundered pillows!
Type of Litter Box
An open litter box gives your cat the opportunity to keep an eye on what’s going on around her. This is especially important to her if she lives with other cats.
Think about it. For a cat waiting to ambush someone, where better than waiting outside a hooded litter box, where their victim will be off guard. Covered litterboxes provide the opportunity for fellow cat-mates to ambush the unsuspecting cat when she attempts to get out.
If you prefer a hooded box, you could always try removing the door, allowing your cat to stick her head out and look out for any approaching threats.
Type of Kitty Litter
How do we choose the perfect kitty litter? Don’t forget that your cat’s feet can be delicate, so they might not appreciate some of the cheaper litters that can be very hard and sharp.
Choose a fine, unscented, granular clumping litter. Your cat can rake-around to their heart’s content without feeling any discomfort to his sensitive paw pads.
Avoid using too much or too little litter. A depth of around 3-4cm is usually enough for most cats. You might need a bit more for cats that urinate frequently, or for multi-cat households. It’s a matter of trial and error.
Number of Litter Boxes
Where practical, provide one litter box per cat, plus one in a separate location. Even if you have only one cat, giving him the choice of two trays is a good idea as some cats like to pee and poop in separate places.
If you are house training a cat and you are introducing litter boxes, you should still stick to these criteria.
Cleaning The Litter Box
For a single cat, you should scoop out urine clumps and solids at least a couple of times daily. If you do it more often, that’s even better, especially if you have more than one cat using the same box.
Once you’ve finished scooping, don’t forget to top the litter up to maintain the right depth.
You should use an appropriate litter scoop, because those with large holes make it very difficult to remove all the urine clumps. Instead, try a scoop with holes small enough to ensure that not even the tiniest urine particles ends up back in the box.
Really, you should empty the litter box completely once a week. You can throw old litter away and give the box a good clean with hot water and washing up liquid. It’s best to avoid any strong-smelling detergents or litter freshening products.
Avoid Negativity to Stop Cat Peeing on Bed
If your cat is still wary of the box, even after you have moved it and used good quality litter, perhaps it is because she has built up a negative association. You can do a few things to solve the problem. It’s all about avoiding negativity!
Resist the temptation to force your cat into the litter box when you are trying to encourage them to pee in the right place. No matter how gentle you are, the cat will resist and will associate the litter box with this unpleasant (for her) experience.
Firstly, try removing any plastic liners because cats can easily get their claws caught in them. Most cats absolutely hate this!
One little trick that sometimes works is using synthetic pheromones to help her feel safe and less stressed.
Using Synthetic Pheromones can provide a sense of security and reduce anxiety in cats so having a pheromone diffuser in the area where your cat spends most of his time may promote a sense of well-being and reduce stress-related house soiling.
Pheromones don’t always work, but they are sometimes worth a try.
Breaking the Cycle
The next step is to minimize stress and if possible, deny the cat access to the area that they have been soiling for a few months. Shutting the bedroom door can stop peeing on bed problems if the litter box issues have been resolved.
But what if your cat is urinating on your bed, but it isn’t feasible to exclude him from the bedroom. In this case, you need to break the habit and stop him seeing soft furnishings as a toilet. The easiest way to do this is by making the bed uninhabitable.
One thing I use is to put storage boxes on the bed, containing a few heavy items to give a bit of weight. Books, a duvet, and pillows work just fine.
For cat and dog beds, take them away indefinitely, and don’t replace them until you have the problem under control. That seems a bit unfair for the dog, but having a bed full of cat pee is even more unfair!
While we’re on the subject of cat smells, how do we get rid of cat pee smell? Any residual smell of urine reinforces the idea that your bed is a fantastic toilet.
How to Get Rid of Cat Pee Smell
A well-serviced litter box shouldn’t give off much of a smell. Clean often and thoroughly, and you won’t have to worry.
However, you can’t say the same for other areas where a cat might choose to pee – your bed, the dog’s bed, or anywhere else. Once a cat urinates on a surface, the smell can linger for a long time. Generally, the quicker you act, the better your chances of getting rid of the smell.
One useful tip – avoid using bleach, because this breaks down into ammonia compounds that smell very much like cat urine. This is likely to reinforce the idea that the location is a cat toilet. In other words, the more you clean, the more they pee!
Instead, soak the urine up with a paper towel then use an enzymatic cat urine cleaner on the soiled area.
Kitten Peeing On Bed
So, you have a new fluffball who brings nothing but joy. Apart from, that is, peeing on the pillows or the dog’s bed. Why do they do it? How do you stop it?
The answer usually lies in his rearing when he was small. Specifically, did he have access to a litter box? We need to teach kittens toilet habits and condition them. If he has never seen a litter box, it’s no wonder he doesn’t know how to use one!
For example, he may be used to newspaper on the floor. To him, your brand-new litter box or litter don’t look or feel like a toilet. It’s not his fault – he simply doesn’t know any better, so you will have to teach him.
Just maybe, it’s related to the day you brought him home. Think back to when your bundle of joy first came into your house. Many owners place their new little bundle of fluff in the sanctuary of their bedroom. Face it, it seems to be the perfect place. It’s quiet, so kitten can get away from the kids who just want to play. Your bedroom is warm and comfortable, so surely he should be happy in there.
Understanding Your Kitten
However, look at it from the kitten’s perspective. The little thing has just been taken away from his mother and siblings. He’s been placed in an unfamiliar environment and he’s very anxious and lonely. This may be enough to trigger stress-related pee.
One other cause is forgetting to put a litter box in the room. In all the excitement of adopting a kitten, you put it in the bedroom when it was tired. But, you forgot the litter box! It’s actually very easy to do, even for experienced cat owners! If the surface he pees on happens to be the bed then, in his mind, he will associate that location with elimination.
Fortunately the solutions are the same. Provide a well located litter box (or multiple litter boxes if you have a large home) and keep them well maintained. You may need to restrict your kitten to a small part of the house for a while to get litter box training back underway.
At the same time, restrict your kitten from areas where they have peed inappropriately. You may need to do this for a couple of months or more. Kittens learn fast so with good access to well maintained litter boxes you should soon be back on track.
VIRGINIA LINSENMEYER says
I have a solution from my vet at Timonium Animal Hospital for stopping my cat from urinating on the bed and it is working and easy to do. Once you know that the problem is not medical this is what I did. I have two trays, one with kitty litter for her bowel movements that i just scoop out and the other one with NO kitty litter for urinating. First, I bought four or more bath towels on sale. Then I I folded one of the towels and placed it into the empty tray. I do not wash the urinating tray because i want her to smell it. It does not smell to me but she can smell it . Then i stripped my bed, sprayed it and then when dry I put a plastic cover over the mattress for just in case. Then I made the bed as usual and prayed that it would work. At first she began to walk on the towel and within about two days she began to urinate in the tray. She is now using it and no more urinating on the bed. It is a miracle. I make sure to replace the wet towels with clean ones every other day and wash them in the washing machine alone with regular detergent. Then into the dryer and then into the drawer for storage. My bedroom no longer smells.
Thanks for that solution Virginia – that’s a really interesting idea 🙂
Jules Hamblin says
That’s brilliant! I’m going to try it. My blind kitty will not pee in her box. But on soft stuff. Thanks for the great idea!
Rebecca E Curry says
Thank you so so so very much. This is a GREAT idea. I will try it right away.
My cat is 5 yrs old and with in the past couple months she has been peeing on my bed. I took her to the vet and they put her on an antibiotic but has not worked. They want me to get a urine sample using Lima beans. Not sure how that will work either. Please help I dont have the space to do as Virginia recommends.
Did you figure it out?
Not sure how you don’t have the space- I live in a studio apt with 2 kittens and I could add a second box- which I might – I have 1 in bathroom and I might do a second one in the living room area. I clean the one at minimum 3 times a day (on workdays when I’m not home)- usually more like 8 times a day if home!!!
Melissa Hughes says
What is the solution spray called please?!!!
Jayde Richardson says
I have 2 young male cats, 5 and 4 months old, half brothers. The older of the pair pees in all sorts of places he shouldn’t: in the bathtub, in the shower (our curtain is a little long and he seems to pee on that), in the cat tent/bed (which perhaps looks like a litter box to him) and most recently on the bed! I tuck the curtain up and just removed the tent on the end but I don’t know how to manage the bed thing before it becomes a habit!
He’s never peed on the bed before and it was just as I bought a new feather duvet, fresh sheets and my partner and I were standing right there when he squatted down to do his business!
This only happens sporadically and both boys use the litter box with no problem.
My cat does the exact same thing!
Pamela F says
I rescued a cat from the streets 2 years ago and from the beginning she peed on my bed, the guest room bed, and the couch. But the strange part is she only pees on my bed in the winter months. I’ve been able to control it where she no longer goes on the couch (knock on wood), and I ended up just shutting off the door to the guest bedroom because I couldn’t get her to stop peeing there even though I replaced mattresses and bedding. The difference seems to be when I pull out the comforter for the winter. There’s something about the comforters that’s a free pass to pee, when she’s fine all summer months when I have just a knit blanket. I have 7 litter boxes. I’ve done everything. I can only think to just deny her access into my room because I’m out of ideas.
I am having trouble similarly with two sisters, still young (about 4 mos old now, got them at just six weeks). It’s my comforter on my bed. I was doing so well that I relaxed this last two weeks. No having to wash the bulky comforter for a while. Until today when I came home, let them in the bedroom and wala, pee party on the bed. I’m certain it is the runt of the two as she is super insecure yet. Anyway, I’m reading here a lot about comforters so I’m thinking I’ll switch to a plain uncomfortable bedspread and see if that helps. So dang frustrating.
We adopted the entire litter of kittens from a neighbor.
We think only one kitten pees on beds.
But she will do it with us in it.
She started with my daughter’s bedding and started on mine a few days ago.
She uses the litter box all the time and seems t like it.
She peed in my daughters hand one night and early this morning while I was sleeping she climbed up on my knees and peed through the blanket.
Brooke Fabian says
Sounds like a Urinary Tract Infection.
Kim Bush says
My 2 yr male just peed on my husbands new pillow for the 2 time this week. He has a clean litter box.
We have four grown cats. One male and three females. We just recently added a fifth kitten. He came from the streets. I had him nutered and he seems to be about five months old. One of the cats is peeing on cloth items. The older cats rejecting the kitten or the kitten marking because of stress. The litter box is clean and filled with good litter that does not have a fragrance (I can’t stand those fragrances)
Crystal Sims says
We have 3 adult cats. An 18 year old female and 2 12 year old male litter-mates. The little girl is terrified of the boys so we keep them separate — boys downstairs and her upstairs and we trade places for a few hours every evening.
One of our boys has started pooping and peeing on our bed when we put the boys upstairs. It started after the girl had gotten really sick and had a few accidents so we got a water resistent fluffy bedspread and put cloth pee pads on top of it. We cleaned the soiled bedding with Jackson Galaxy enzymatic cleaner and washed in washing machine.
At first he went on the guest room bed and on our bed. Now it is just our bed. Usually, it’s only after a couple of hours that he does it, when he is persistently crying to come downstairs. I always feed them when I trade them and the other day right after he ate he jumped up on the bed and peed a huge amount right in front of me.
His brother is usually happy to sit on the bed and sometimes doesn’t want to come downstairs. But Jack keeps begging for more food.
I think he gets frustrated/anxious because he’s not getting what he wants and that’s why he is doing it. I just don’t know how to break the cycle.