10 Reasons Why Your Cat Is Peeing on the Bed and How To Stop It

Hannah Hart, DVM
By Hannah Hart, DVM on May 14, 2024
brown and white tabby cat standing on a bed with his tail up in the air

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It’s easy to get frustrated with your cat when you find that he’s urinated on your bed. The extra laundry is a nuisance, and now you are worried that it might happen again. Maybe you’re even concerned that your cat is upset with you and peed on your bed out of spite.

Luckily, cats do not pee outside the litter box—including on beds—out of anger or to punish you. Rather, urinating on a bed instead of in the litter box is often the result of either a medical condition or stress and anxiety.

These issues can be addressed with the help of your veterinarian—and a little bit of patience.

Why Is My Cat Peeing on the Bed?

1. Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are common reasons why cats may pee on the bed. Many things can stress out your cat, including:

  • Moving to a new home

  • The loss or addition of a four-legged or two-legged family member

  • Construction in the home

Cats may choose to pee on a horizontal surface, such as a bed, when they feel stressed because the smell of the pheromones in their urine is comforting to them.

2. Urinary Stones and Crystals

Stones and crystals in the urinary tract can cause cats to urinate on the bed because the stones and crystals can irritate the lining of the bladder, leading to frequent urges to urinate.

Cats may not be able to make it to the litter box in time when they feel this urgent need to pee. They may also associate the litter box with discomfort, so they may avoid it in favor of a more comfortable place, like a bed.

3. Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary tract infections can similarly irritate the lining of the bladder, leading to frequent, urgent urination. The discomfort of a urinary tract infection may cause cats to seek out other surfaces like a soft bed to pee on, rather than the rough litter of a litter box and the negative association they may form with it when ill.

4. Bladder Tumor

Although rare, cats can be at risk for developing bladder cancer. Because cancer often involves inflammation, the lining of the bladder may be irritated by the tumor, leading to frequent urges to urinate.

Cats may choose a bed to pee on for both the convenience and comfort, as bladder cancer can be painful.

5. Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence in cats (the inability to hold their urine) leads to urine flowing freely onto whatever surface a cat is resting on, which may include your bed.

Urinary incontinence can itself be caused by many things, such as nerve damage, blockages in the urethra, infection with feline leukemia virus, or malformation of the urethra or the ureters (tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder).

Urinating on a bed instead of in the litter box is often the result of either a medical condition or stress and anxiety.

6. Kidney Disease

Kidney disease can make your cat urinate more because diseased kidneys are not able to properly concentrate urine and conserve water the way healthy kidneys can. As a result, your cat may feel a more frequent urge to urinate and not be able to reach the litter box in time, meaning that he may pee on your bed.

7. Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus causes increased production of urine because the body gets rid of excess blood sugar through the kidneys, drawing more water along with it to produce higher volumes of urine. As such, diabetic cats need to pee more often and may use the bed to urinate if it’s urgent.

8. Arthritis

Arthritis in older cats is a painful condition that may make using a regular litter box too uncomfortable. If your older cat is resting on your bed and needs to urinate, he may choose to urinate where he is instead of getting off the bed and going to the litter box if it is far away.

9. Cognitive Dysfunction

Cognitive dysfunction (a decline in mental function) typically occurs in cats over the age of 10 years can also cause affected senior cats to pee on the bed. Cognitive dysfunction can cause a cat to forget where his litter box is, causing him to pee on the next available surface (which, in some cases, may be your bed).

10. Litter Box Aversion

Many cats have clear preferences on their litter box location and size, as well as type of litter.

If your cat’s litter box is too close to his food and water bowls, in a noisy area or close to noisy appliances, too small, or has the wrong type of litter, he may not want to use the litter box and may instead choose to pee on the bed.

Beds can be attractive alternatives to litter boxes because the sheets are cleaned every time there is an accident and the bedroom is a relatively open and quiet area.  

How To Stop Your Cat From Peeing on the Bed

Stopping your cat from peeing on your bed will involve addressing the root cause of the behavior.

Cats that are struggling with anxiety and stress may benefit from the use of antianxiety products such as Purina® Pro Plan® Calming Care probiotic powder, Feliway® Classic calming pheromone diffusers, or products containing L-theanine (such as Nutramax® Solliquin®,) or alpha-casozepine (such as Zylkene®).

You may also consider discussing antianxiety medications like clomipramine and fluoxetine with your cat’s veterinarian.

For cats that are peeing on the bed due to medical causes, work with your veterinarian to address the inappropriate urination through a combination of diet and medications.

For cats with litter box aversion, follow these guidelines to avoid common litter box mistakes:

  • Make sure you have at least one litter box per cat plus one, so cats can urinate and defecate in separate boxes if desired. For example, you should have three litter boxes if you have two cats.

  • Change the location of the litter boxes to see if your cat begins using them in their new area.

  • Test out different types of litter (such as clay, wood, or corn).

  • Remove the covers on the litter boxes, if applicable.

  • Use bigger litter boxes.

  • Provide litter boxes with lower sides for arthritic cats, as needed.

If possible, make the bed an unattractive place for your cat to urinate. This can be as simple as closing the bedroom door to make the bed inaccessible.

Also, spray any areas your cat pees on with an enzymatic cleaning product like Nature’s Miracle® before laundering the bed linens. This will help remove any residual urine odor from the material, so your cat might be less likely to recognize the bed as a familiar elimination spot in the future.

Hannah Hart, DVM


Hannah Hart, DVM


Dr. Hart graduated from veterinary school in 2017 and began her career with USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service as a public health...

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