Why cats pee on beds, and how to get them to stop

Most cats love curling up on their humans’ beds, but sometimes they can develop the habit of peeing there instead. Understanding the reasons behind this behavior can help you discipline your cat and save your bedding, too. Below are some of the most common causes behind this behavior, as well as steps you can take to help break your cat of this habit.

Stress and anxiety

Stress and anxiety can play a major role in a cat’s behavior and inappropriate urination. A sudden behavior change like peeing on the bed might indicate that your cat is feeling insecure. A cat who is stressed might urinate just on your bed, or he might urinate in other areas outside the litter box, too.

Many different things can cause stress, including a sudden change in your or your cat’s routine, spats with another cat in the home, or even recent changes in your cat’s diet. Your cat may even be picking up on signals that you yourself are stressed, such as if you’re sleeping more than normal.

Try to think back to when the peeing first started and see if you can identify changes or stressors that started around then. You may need to make some changes to your household or find ways to help your cat better cope with stress. Your vet might prescribe a medication to help your cat adjust.

Grey cat sleeping on a bed with a white comforter

He or she isn’t fixed

A cat who isn’t spayed or neutered may spray and mark furniture, walls, and carpets. They’re more likely to mark surfaces than pets who are fixed.

In this case, the solution is easy — call your vet and make an appointment to get your pet spayed or neutered.

Litter box issues

Sometimes, cats who pee on beds are doing so because they’re unhappy with their litter box situation. Cats are highly particular, and they might protest the litter box’s location, the type of box, and even the type of litter. A cat may want an additional litter box — some cats like to pee in one and poop in another. In multi-cat households, it’s always better to have one more litter box than you have cats. Position matters, too — having at least one litter box on every floor is best.

Identifying your cat’s litter box preferences will take some experimentation. If you’ve recently changed something about the box, like buying a new box or using a new litter, try changing back to the original setup to see if that solves the issue. Adding another litter box is always a good solution, and try positioning the litter box in different areas to find the arrangement that your cat prefers.

You can even add two litter boxes of different types side by side, giving your cat the chance to show you his preference. This strategy can work with different types of cat litter, too.

Grey cat sitting next to a litter box
New Africa / ShutterStock

His home has undergone a big change

Big changes in the home, like the addition of a new pet or baby, or a recent move, can prompt your cat to pee on a bed or other inappropriate surface. In these cases, your cat may be trying to mark his territory by adding his scent to your bed.

You may need to get creative to solve this issue. Your cat may benefit from being kept in one room so that he feels more secure, or you might want to keep the new pet separated to help your cat gradually adjust. Some cats will stop this peeing behavior naturally once they’re feeling more confident about the recent change.

Additional steps to stop your cat from peeing on the bed

Answering the question “Why does my cat pee on my bed?” is just the first step. In addition to addressing the specific issue that’s causing your cat to pee on the bed, you’ll need to take some steps to help your kitty “reset.” Start by thoroughly cleaning your bedding so that it no longer smells like pee. Next, you may need to cover the bed with something unattractive, like a plastic tarp or shower curtain. Your cat won’t like the texture, and the cover can help protect your bed while your cat learns that it isn’t a litter box.

You may have some success in teaching your cat that the bed is a fun place rather than a place to pee. Give your cat treats or play with him on the bed. You may want to shut your bedroom door while you work to retrain your cat.

Finally, be patient. Teaching your cat to stop using your bed as a litter box can be a long-term process. If you run into trouble meanwhile, your vet may be able to connect you with a reputable cat behaviorist who can help.

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