When cats wee on your furniture, bed or in the bath, there’s a very good reason. They’re trying to tell you something. Punishment won’t stop their behaviour; it’ll only make it worse. But understanding why cats wee in inappropriate places can help you change this unpleasant habit.
One of the first things to figure out is whether this is a cat that is ‘marking’ its territory, or what is known as ‘inappropriate toileting’.
When urine marking, the cat stands with its tail raised and sprays urine back against an object. Often the tail quivers as a small amount of urine is sprayed and no digging or covering happens. The cat will typically spray against openings (door and windows through which other cats may have come) areas of the home where there’s been conflict with other pets, or places where the scent of a particular person or animal lingers (luggage, laptop bag, handbag, jacket).
Urine marking is normal in cats that have not been neutered or spayed yet among those that have been sterilised, up to 10% of neutered males and 5% of spayed females will still spray. This is usually a territorial issue, and anxiety associated with conflict with other pets or environmental stressors. Multi-cat households are often the source of anxiety-induced urine marking and, in fact, the incidence of marking increases as the number of cats in a home increases.
Cats with inappropriate toileting behaviour will typically dig before weeing or defecating on a horizontal surface and cover afterwards. When this happens outside of a litter box (like on your bed or even in your bath) it is often related to litter box hygiene, positioning or the kind of litter used or to a health issue.
Reasons why cats wee in the house
- Your cat may be suffering from a medical condition like bladder stones or cystitis (these cause severe inflammation and an urge to urinate whenever and wherever they are) or kidney disease https://www.ebervet.com/kidney-disease-cats/. Your first stop should be your veterinarian to rule out medical causes.
- There’s a new baby in the house. Human, dog or another cat, a new baby is a major shift in the home. Cats thrive in an environment that is predictable and controllable. Changes in a cat’s household, even those that seem minor and insignificant to us, can trigger house soiling behaviour.
- You’ve moved house or your job is taking you away from home for long periods of time. Routine is essential to a cat’s comfort; any break from that can cause stress and anxiety.
- Your litter box is a problem. First check the location: a busy passage or alongside a noisy appliance like a dishwasher is disturbing your cat’s toilet time. Move the box to a quieter location.
- You have more than one cat. Then you need more than one litter box. Some cats prefer to have their own litter box and won’t share. Multiple litter boxes is especially good for kittens, as, like children, their control over their elimination is not fully developed. They need multiple, easily accessible litter boxes to help prevent accidents.
- Your cat isn’t comfortable with her litter box or her litter. If the box has a lid it may restrict her movement, or its too high and hurts her arthritic bones getting in and out of it. Some cats object to the litter itself, so experimenting with different types is a good idea when you first take your cat home.
- The litter is dirty. Cats are fastidious about hygiene. Ensure their toilet is cleared of faeces and wet litter every day and is odour free.
How to stop cats weeing in the house
- Make the litter box an attractive place to pee: clean litter that’s fine-grained and clumps easily is usually most suitable and change it regularly.
- Now make your bed unattractive: try covering the bed in plastic (a shower curtain is a good idea) to make it non-absorbent and uncomfortable for your cat.
- Most importantly, be patient. Remember that punishing your cat will only make the cat more fearful and anxious and therefore more likely to continue the habit.
Cats weeing in the house is the most common reason cats are dumped at welfare shelters yet this habit can be broken. All it takes is love, and the patience to work out why your cat is doing it.