The only thing worse than the smell of cat pee is rolling on it in the middle of the night! Believe it or not, peeing on the bed is a very common cat behavior problem. There are literally thousands of cat parents Googling this problem!
Thankfully, my cat, Olivia, hasn’t had a hard core problem with peeing on the bed. But she has definitely gone through spurts of peeing on random things, like my expensive bath mat!
When this started happening, I got serious about learning everything I could about why cats pee in various places around the house. I even talked to my good friend and veterinarian, Dr. Liz Bales, to get her take on it. I wanted to help fellow pet parents finally solve the frustrating mystery of the cat’s peeing indoors.
Ready to dive into some pee talk? Let’s do it!
Why Your Cat Is Peeing on the Bed – 5 Tinkle Types
There is no one-reason-fits-all explanation for why your cat is peeing on the bed. And we all know our cats are super unique, each exhibiting their own quirks and oddities that both baffle us and make us love them. That said, there are some commonalities among cats who pee on the bed.
Here are some of the most common reasons why your cat is using your bed as a litter box.
1. She Has a Health Issue
Any time your cat is peeing outside the litter box, there’s a chance a medical issue is involved. Urinary tract infections, kidney disease, and bladder infections are some of the most common causes of bad litter box behavior. These conditions can cause your cat to urinate frequently and your bed may serve as a comfortable spot to do so!
2. She’s Not Happy with Her Litter Box Situation
There are many reasons why your cat may be avoiding her litter box. Cats are very persnickety and their particularity extends to the size and location of her litter box and the type of cat litter in the box. More on how to fix that in just a moment!
3. She Has Anxiety
Cats can experience anxiety and they often express it in ways you may not expect. While you might find a dog clinging to its parent, shaking or panting, a cat may exhibit brazen or bad behavior, such as peeing outside the litter box.
New people and living situations can easily stress a cat out and cause her to urinate on your bed or other places around the house. According to Catster, the bed, or other elevated areas like a sofa, may make her feel safe since she can see all around her when she’s in a vulnerable position while peeing.
Here are some other signs of cat anxiety.
4. She Smells Cat Pee
One reason it’s so difficult to get your cat to stop peeing on the bed is that the odor is so strong! Even if you can’t smell it, the bacteria from cat pee is detectable to their little noses and smelling pee is a signal that your bed is an acceptable pee spot.
More on cat pee smell here.
5. She’s Marking Her Territory
Have you identified the reason why your cat is peeing on your bed? Remember, it very well could be several reasons! Now let’s work to solve your cat pee problems for good.
How to Stop Your Cat from Peeing on the Bed
1. Visit Your Veterinarian
First and foremost, rule out medical conditions, like urinary tract infections, or kidney disease. I know it seems like an expensive way to curb your cat’s peeing, but if there is a medical issue you’ll want to address it right away before it progresses.
I always recommend pet insurance for this very reason. You never want to make the choice between sacrificing your pet’s health care for the sake of finances. I have literally saved tens of thousands of dollars by purchasing pet insurance. Here’s the pet insurance I use.
2. Make Her Litter Box More Enticing
There are many reasons why your cat hates her litter box. First and foremost, your cat wants a clean box. This means daily or twice daily scooping.
Next, you need to make sure she likes the litter itself. I’ve long been a fan of World’s Best Cat Litter™. It’s a natural and sustainable litter that comes in many formulas to suit even the pickiest of cats. For cats who are avoiding the litter box, I recommend the Attraction Action formula. It contains a plant-based additive that’s designed to attract your cat to the litter.
Pour enough litter in the box to cover the whole thing at a depth of 1.5-2 inches. You want it soft, but not so your kitty’s paws sink in deeply.
Once you’ve found the purr-fect litter, you’ll need the perfect box to go with it. There are many self-cleaning litter boxes on the market right now and those can be a lifesaver for you. However, not all cats love the design. Most cats prefer a non-hooded box. Something simple and inexpensive like this litter box will do the job just fine. It’s what I use for my Olivia.
Now, the key is getting the right size and the right number of boxes. The ideal size for your cat can be calculated by measuring from the tip of her nose to the end of her tail and then adding fifty percent.
As far as the number of litter boxes, always provide one for each cat in your household, plus one. So if you have two cats, you’ll want one box for each, plus one extra. If you have one cat, two boxes will suffice.
Ok, you’ve appeased your cat with the right box, the right litter, the right number of boxes, and a clean as clean can be area to do business in. Next, let’s talk location!
Most cats prefer privacy in an easy-to-reach, well-lit location. Think of the corner of a bathroom, rather than a closet.
Many cat peeing issues can be solved by using these rules of thumb.
3. Alleviate Her Anxiety
Cats can develop anxiety over a variety of issues, but commonly their fears can stem from sudden changes. They are most definitely creatures of habit, so bringing in a new family member, fur or human, can trigger fear that results in behavioral issues like peeing on the bed.
There are many other reasons for cats to experience anxiety and I outline them in this post.
More importantly, what can you do to help calm your kitty?
When Olivia is stressed, I plug in her calming Feliway Diffuser. The scent mimics a mother’s natural nursing pheromones, which helps to put cats at ease.
It’s also important to rule out medical reasons for your cat’s anxiety, so be sure to have a conversation with your veterinarian sooner rather than later.
4. Get the Cat Pee Smell Out!
Cat pee smells because it has bacteria in it that will only come out with the proper cleanser, meaning the cleanser must contain natural enzymes that destroy the bacteria.
If there is cat pee present in your home from previous cats, either yours or previous tenants/owners, your cat can easily sniff it out, even if it’s not obvious to you!
Additionally, if she pees in your bed and the bed or bed linens are not washed properly, you can almost be certain she’ll return to the scene of the crime to commit the dirty deed over and over again.
We’ll talk about how to deep clean in just a bit, but for now, let’s start with identifying pee spots. You can do that with a black light, such as this one. Use it to identify urine spots around your house so you can clean them properly.
5. Get to the Bottom of the Territory Marking
It’s common for cats to mark or spray when they feel threatened or when their space feels invaded. Are you adding a new little human to your family? Your cat may be rebelling by marking. Anecdotally, cats can detect hormone changes in women so your cat may be able to tell if you’re expecting before you can!
If this is the case, be sure to give your cat lots of extra affection and reassure her that she’s still a valued member of the family.
The Best Way to Clean Cat Pee Out of Your Bed
If your cat peed on the bed while it was covered in cushions and blankets, you’ll need to strip the entire bed and put everything in the wash. But remember, not just any detergent will do! You must use an enzyme cleaner and odor destroyer for it to fully remove the bacteria that causes the smell that attracts your cat.
There are almost endless products on the market to do this and believe me, I’ve tried almost every single one! One of my favorites for cat pee is Angry Orange. There’s a reason it has almost 10,000 reviews!
Start by spraying the enzyme cleaner directly on the spot your cat peed (color test first). Then put the linens in the wash in hot water. If you have a steam washer, set the cycle to steam. You can use your regular detergent as well.
When the cycle finishes, be sure to give the linens a good “sniff test.” If you smell any residual odors, run another cycle using OxiClean or Borax (test fabrics and make sure your washer can handle these products). After the second cycle, dry normally.
Now for your mattress! Hopefully, you have a mattress pad that prevents leaks, but in case you don’t, you’ll want to thoroughly clean your mattress as well. Using the Angry Orange Enzyme Cleaner, soak the affected area and agitate it well with a clean cloth.
Lay a second dry, clean cloth over the area and put something heavy, like a large book, on top. Leave it for 3-4 hours. Upon returning, spray the area once more, lightly this time, and agitate it while soaking up the solution. Lightly mist the area with Angry Orange Odor Eliminator and let it dry.
If you have the popular Little Green Machine from BISSELL®, you can use that to finish off the area.
The ultimate goal is to eliminate any odor and bacteria that might give your cat reason to think your bed is her new pee spot.
Understanding your cat’s mysterious peeing habits, including why she pees where you sleep, is all part of being a good cat parent. The more we know about why our cats behave as they do can help us decode their personalities and quirks and unlock the door to an amazing bond that you and your cat will never forget.