Bridget is a long-time cat owner, cat sitter, and cat lover with years of feline research and hands-on experience.
Inappropriate Urination Means There's a Problem
Cats typically want to urinate in their litter boxes! Naturally, a cat wants to bury its excrement so that predators cannot find it (or them). It's instinctual and it makes the cat feel safe.
If a cat urinates inappropriately, especially in its owner's bed, there has to be a problem. The main culprits usually involve:
- Medical conditions such as urinary tract infection (UTI) or kidney infection
- Stress or anxiety
- Problems with the litter box itself
Schedule a Check Up With a Veterinarian
The first issue to consider if a cat has begun to urinate inappropriately and/or on the bed is the possibility of illness or injury. Cats usually want to use their litter boxes and feel most comfortable using them, so it is not a good sign if a cat stops using theirs.
A complete check-up with a veterinarian is the best first step. Oftentimes a cat with a urinary tract infection (UTI) or kidney infection will urinate while sleeping, and our beds are a common place for cats to sleep.
Elderly cats may have difficulty getting in and out of the litter box and may need some adjustments to help with this.
Medical issues can be complicated, so it is best to check for these first in order to be sure that the problem is not a physical one.
Stress or Anxiety Can Cause a Cat to Urinate Inappropriately
Another one of the main reasons that a cat may be urinating inappropriately (and in your bed) is stress.
Have you recently introduced a new cat or kitten? Cats are territorial by nature, so if a new cat has recently been introduced to the home, the original cat (or even the new cat) may be marking its territory which includes your bed (since it is filled with your scent).
Moving to a new home, changes in the household or the people living in it, or even rearrangement of furniture may stress a sensitive cat so much that they end up urinating in your bed where they feel safe and comfortable.
Did you recently take on a new job or activity which means less time at home? A cat may be stressed due to the lack of attention or time with you as well. A lonely, sad cat may be anxious and exhibiting this behaviorally.
Consider any recent changes that may be upsetting your cat and if possible, keep things consistent. If changes must occur, spend extra time comforting your cat, providing toys and safe spaces, or try Feliway plug-ins. Many cat owners have had luck with Feliway, which releases a synthetic hormone that calms cats and relieves their anxiety.
There May Be Problems With the Litter Box
Another reason that a cat may be urinating outside of the litter box is a problem with the box itself.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself.
Have you recently changed litter? Is it too strongly scented for your cat? Have you tried changing the litter to see if the problem resolves itself? If you have a kitten, can it climb into the box or is it too high? Is the litter box in a place that is quiet and feels safe for your cat?
Cats prefer their litter box to stay in the same place all the time, and for the same litter to be used (once you find one that works well). They must feel safe using the litter box, away from loud noises, footsteps, and other animals that may bother them. If you imagine your own need for time alone and privacy when using the restroom, it makes sense! Cats are at their most vulnerable when using the litter box and if they do not feel comfortable there, they may look for the next safest place, which could very well be your bed!
Practice Compassion Toward Your Cat
Do not try to punish your cat for peeing on the bed! Your cat most likely does not want to do this, and is feeling sick or uncomfortable in some way. The best reaction to this problem is to seek out a cause, and then to work toward a solution. As smelly and messy as it is to find cat urine on the bed (or anywhere outside the litter box), remember to provide love and support to your cat, and remember that they are not doing this to spite you!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Framinpl on January 06, 2019:
My 8 month old kitten started peeing on my bed, but still using cat box. I don't think she has a urinary infection because the vet had already treated her with two different antibiotics. She had a ear nose virus, and got diarrhea. I do have a cat that gets cistics, and she wont eat that food. So I got https://www.amazon.com/Pet-Wellbeing-Kidney-Suppor... for that cat so I could make sure she got what she needed and that worked great. So I'm gonna start giving to kitten to see if that helps.
Capless on August 19, 2018:
This happened the first night after we took her home from the shelter! Everything was set up in the bathroom but her first pee happened about 3AM! I figured it was just a new environment thing and not a big deal, so no reprimands. Since then she's been using the litter box.
Emily0115 on August 01, 2018:
Our cat Puffy has been driving the entire family crazy with his spraying everywhere. We bought de-scenting sprays and special cleaners, which he ignored and re-marked all over the house...some advice? (I refuse neuter my cat.) Thank you.
Sarah on July 13, 2018:
My cat seems to pee in the bed when I won’t get up to feed him! Could this be the real reason? Also my cat and next doors cat who used to live together spray in my house are they marking territory or letting each other know they have visited
Cathy H. on August 23, 2017:
Please remember that cat's can have infected or clogged anal sacs causing them to urinate inappropriately. I am experiencing that now and it's easy to fix once the vet shows you how to express the glands.
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on May 07, 2017:
I admire your concern and compassion for the cat even when it offends. You're right though about maintaining love and support for the animal.
Bridget F (author) from USA on May 06, 2017:
Aw! I'm so happy that they had you to take care of them! Of course they would do that without a litter box in there!
FlourishAnyway from USA on May 05, 2017:
I once adopted out a pair of brother kittens and they were returned 8 months later because one of them had peed on the master bed. It turned out that they had been locked in the room with no litter box. The kittens stayed with me another year until I found the perfect family for them together (there was no sign of inappropriate urination and they were really good boys). The first family was going through a divorce and I'm sure there was a lot of stress and miscommunication in the house (Henderson the locked door).