Cat On The Bed
It can be tragic news to hear that your cat is urinating on your bed where you have been sleeping or on your children’s bed where they have been sleeping. The bed is a very common location for inappropriate urination and is one behavior that owners take notice to first and want fixed the fastest. You can identify which cat has been doing the deed and how to detect every urine spot by clicking here.
Please know that urinating on the bed is often the only way that your cat can tell you that something is wrong and is not an insult toward you or anyone in the household. It is not a way for the cat to spite someone or even an indication that they are angry at any specific person. Urinating on the bed is most commonly a self soothing behavior that is done to help the cat feel more secure where he is at.
Make sure your cat has been neutered before reading the following suggestions as not being fixed is one big reason that a cat is urinating in places other than the litter box. It is vital during each step of this process to make sure all spots urinated on are completely free of cat urine smell as this can invite a cat back to the spot. You must use an enzymatic cleaner to thoroughly clean each spot like Nature’s Miracle.
Rule Out Medical Problems
The first step toward resolving an inappropriate urination problem is ruling out any potential medical causes such as feline idiopathic cystitis or lower urinary tract infections. Straining to urinate, blood in the urine, infrequent or too frequent of visits to the litter box can be early signs that there is a medical problem with your cat. Another common reason for inappropriate urination is diabetes.
Any box that your cat had while he had a urinary tract infection should be dumped and an entire new box setup. Try a new cat litter along with a new color and size of litter box. The idea of this protocol is to give him a box that he has not associated with pain like straining or urinating blood. You may have to manually place the cat in the new box several times so he knows that it does exist and it is not the same box that it once was.
The other medical problem to consider is dental pain which can cause stress and inappropriate urination because they are not feeling well. Urination as a result of limb pain can be due to arthritis or a botched declaw because they can associate their feet pain with the box or litter. Declawing is becoming a bigger problem every year as more cats are being found with bone fragment abnormalities which often result in euthanasia due to the pain. As much as 33% of cats will have some pain related to their declaw throughout their lifetime. Some cats will require surgical correction for chronic issues.
Make Sure You Have A Proper Litter Box Setup
It is good practice to scoop every litter box around two to three times every day to keep them clean and free of excess smell or waste which can deter even the most laid back and accepting cat. It is an innate behavior for the cat to bury their waste to avoid being caught by potential predators or giving away their position to the enemy.
Too dirty of a litter box can become an unsafe location for your cat to go to for making sure their presence is not known because there is not enough clean litter to cover up the waste. Cats often urinate or defecate away from the box to feel comforted elsewhere if the box is not well maintained. Each box will need dumped every 30 days but you can do this sooner if you find that you have a very picky cat when it comes to a clean litterbox. Clean a litterbox with a non scented solution such as dawn dish soap.
It is a great plan to look at the litter box setup subjectively in terms of size and location. There should be one litter box for each cat plus one additional box per floor to help curb any potential accidents or traffic jams. Try to keep each litter box away from isolated corners and away from loud noises to encourage consistent use from all cats.
Each box will need to be at least 1.5 times the size of your longest cat along with being 12 feet from other boxes and 6 feet from your food and water bowls. The reason for this is that cats will not use the litter box near their eating or drinking locations and boxes too close together can look like one big box. The ideal box is not hooded and has unscented litter as scented litter can be overwhelming for a cat. You can read my complete guide on preventing inappropriate urination here.
The Popularity Of The Bed
Most cats decide to use the bed when they urinate or defecate for several reasons. The most popular reason is that they want to intermingle their scent with that of the owner so they feel completely secure. This can be fixed by several methods. Using multiple methods will lead to a greater chance of success when trying to modify this behavior.
- Spray bed with Feliway so the bed smells like him
- Leave something of his on the bed like a cat bed
- Leave food since cats do not urinate near food
- Implement calming music
- Implement pheromone spray twice daily
- Implement Rescue Remedy
- Leave clothing that smells like you on bed
- Provide enrichment like puzzle feeders
- Provide one on one activity 2-3x daily
- Change comforter texture
- Use waterproof sheets temporarily
- Keep door closed during the day
- Scoop 2 to 3 times daily
- Place aluminum foil on bed
You can read more about Feliway by clicking here. Activity can include play therapy with a wand toy for 15 minutes, two times per day. Play time can be held on or around the bed since cats do not typically urinate where they play. Puzzle feeders and other toys like catnip mice and springs can provide novel experiences. Food left out on the bed while you are away can deter cats since cats also do not urinate near food if at all possible. I like to leave 5 toys to 10 toys out and 5 to 10 in a bin that I can swap so that there is always new toys for the cat every few weeks. Toys like a track ball toy and the mystery motion can toy can be left out at all times.
The Feliway spray contains pheromone F3 which helps make your cat comfortable where he usually urinates at or marks. The area smells more like him with this spray so he feels less like he has to make the area smell like him. Spraying the Feliway spray 2 to 3 times per day on the areas he is hitting the most can have a positive impact on the behavior while you determine the underlying reason. Please note that the diffuser and the spray are entirely different and are used for different purposes. Please read my guide on pheromone products here.
Enrichment can include vertical space such as cat towers and hiding spots such as cat tunnels and box forts. Just the presence of a hiding spot can provide security because it gives them an option. Cats that like to get an outside view can be introduced to a window perch and outside bird feeder which is a source of continuous entertainment. I just like to rule out stray cats as a reason that the cat could be urinating as a cat who is territorial can be driven to urinate in inappropriate places. This kind of problem can often be fixed by installing Gila window film because the answer is to obscure your cat from making out the full figure of other cats while still allowing light to come in.
The second reason is that the bed is higher off the ground than most litter boxes which provides your cat an advantage of being one level higher than potential predators. Cats in multiple cat households depend on vertical territory to feel secure since they are able to scout out their territory and observe other cats from afar before engaging. An elevated box on a shelf might work wonders for fixing this problem along with cat towers for fulfilling the need for being up high.
The third reason is that the bed has four corners and is soft which might sound elementary but is important remember this if your current boxes are hooded or if your cat has joint pain. The reason hooded boxes are bad is because the cat is unable to view his territory while urinating which does not provide him with the security that he needs to feel safe. Cats that are declawed or have limb pain will benefit greatly from low sided litter boxes with softer cat litter like yesterday’s news, puppy pads, or non-clumping cat litter.
The final possibility is that your cat is urinating on the person’s side of the bed that he is having troubles bonding with or there has been an unexpected change in the household. This can be fixed by that person bonding more with that cat by playing, giving treats or canned food, and building positive associations.
An unexpected change can be anything from a change in routine like the litter box placement to a renovation of the house by a contractor. Even a new cat or dog can throw your cat out of whack. Something as simple as moving a couch from one area to the next can be enough to throw a cat into a fit.
If you cat is not getting along with other cats then you can consider reintroducing your cats so they get along better and are not constantly fighting which can be a source of continual stress. Always ensure the territory is large enough for both cats to thrive as cats usually are at odds over territory if they are fighting. Make sure you have enough resources for each cat to avoid conflict such as one bowl per cat and one box per cat plus one. Have enough sleeping locations to avoid fighting over them and enough toys to share.