Cat Peeing in the House

  • see also: Cat Peeing Inside Because of New Baby?

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Elderly Incontinent Cat

April 2016

We have a 15 year old spayed female cat who has pretty much forgotten potty training. Does anyone know of methods or a cat whisperer who could help us out? It's becoming a bit much to deal with. We love the ol girl but she just seems to go randomly a lot wherever she is, whether the litter box is clean or not. Ray

You need to take your cat the vet asap. She could be at the end of her life or she could be suffering from a bladder infection. When a housetrained, elderly pet stops using the facilities correctly, it's a sign that something is wrong. Training isn't going to help. You need to figure out if your cat is suffering and then figure out what you're going to do about it. She may have reached the end of her comfortable life, she may just need treatment. But she's not peeing in the house because she's being defiant and needs more training. I'm sorry that you're going through this. In my opinion, this is probably the beginning of the end. Reality bites

Please rule out that your cat has kidney disease first. My cat started peeing outside of her litter box when her disease worsened. Is the cat drinking more water? Does the cat pee more frequently than before? I wish I had known the signs sooner. Good luck. Anonymous

Besides seeing the vet... Lots and lots of litter boxes & make sure she can get in and out of them; small ones exist. That is a tough situation. You may be lucky and it might just be a treatable urinary infection. Simone S

Have your vet check for diabetes or kidney failure. My elderly female cat had both which caused her to pee around the house. In retrospect, I let her suffer too long.

Cat peeing on children's bed

July 2015

We adopted our cat two years ago when she was 13yo, and she has been a lovely cat for our children - she even puts them to bed at night! Though she does stay clear of them during the day (4 and 6yo rambunctious boys). In the last 6 months or so, she has started peeing on their bed. Every day. (Unless we remember to keep the door closed, of course.) She also pees on any fabric that's on the floor - bath mat, duffle bag, bin of laundry (she climbs in to pee), etc. Do female cats mark territory? Is she feeling anxious about them? Is she mad at them? The boys and I were gone for 5 weeks recently and my husband said she didn't pee at all, but as soon as we returned she started peeing again just as much as she did before we left. I see advice from 10+years ago on BPN about feline anti-anxiety medicine. Is there something more recent we should consider? Thanks! Cat Mama

Dear cat peeing - your cat is 16. It's time to put her to sleep. She's had a good life. Let her go. Don't traumatize your kids over it - just do it as a matter of fact - because it is of course, a matter of fact. J nmi M

Hi, It sounds like your cat is acting out (since it stopped while the kids were away), but you should take her to the vet to rule out anything medical (especially considering her age). I have had at least two cats (both female) who did similar stuff and there are things you can do, but keeping the door closed and not leaving stuff on the ground is an important step. Also, you will need to eliminate any traces of her urine (this can be a long process, and you need to use an enzyme cleaner to fully remove the traces of uric acid) otherwise she will re-mark the spot. Read up on enzymes and how to clean urine: If you can't get all the uric acid out, you will need to get new mattresses and cover them with mattress protectors, this one is great (I have it on my bed): Some overall info: It is a tough problem (my current foster cat marks our bed, so we have to keep her out of the room when we are not in it) and one that makes it near impossible for your cat to be re-homed (an older cat who marks is not as appealing as a tiny kitten), so I really appreciate that you are trying to solve this. If you have more questions or want me to put you in touch with some pro cat-ladies, feel free to email me Good luck! Sue

Before you seek any behavioral solutions you should bring your cat to the vet to rule out any urinary tract or bladder stones/infections, diabetes, or other illness. We have had cats who peed because of diabetes and cats who peed because of anxiety, so it's important to know what you are dealing with. After you have ruled out a physical problem, try scooping the cat litter more often. Sometimes cats will pee outside the box if the box is dirty. Consider moving the litter box to somewhere more private. Again, some cats will pee outside if there is too much traffic or noise around the box. There is also a spray (some sort of cat pheromone) that the vet has given us in the past to spray around the box. It calms the cat down and attracts the cat back to the litter box. In the meantime, be sure to wash the kids' bedding really well so there is no more scent of urine that might attract the cat back to the bed. You might have to use an enzymatic cleaner to get it out of both the sheets and the mattress. And yes, be sure to close the door. You have the choice either to close the door to the bedroom, or else lock up the cat when you are not home. Do this till the problem goes away.

Have you had your cat tested for UTI? Often inappropriate peeing is related to that in older cats. Anxiety and stress is also very common in cats - we used generic prozac for kitties for years with one of ours, and now use animal-grade Rescue Remedy (available at health-food stores) during stressful times. Maggie

Our cats must be related! My cat is now about 15. She has never had cat-box issues and never made messes. Just the last few months she has come into my bedroom and peed on the floor. Fortunately I have noticed this and so far no real damage to my floors. I discovered that she could no longer jump the baby gate (to keep the dogs out) to access her litter box. I have since added another box which is accessible and the problem seems to have gone away. But - if I leave ANYTHING on my bedroom floor (clothes, papers) she will pee on them too. It's making me be neater. I think they just get lazy in their old ages. I also suggest you close the doors and keep her out. Thanks for being such a compassionate cat owner. cat owner 

We watch ''My cat from hell'' and Jason Galaxy has addressed that issue. Perhaps if you can get hand-on advice from a cat behaviorist, or watch the show and maybe gain some insight as to what you can do. How are your kids with the cat? Cat is obviously telling you something. liu

You didn't mention taking your cat to the vet - the peeing in the wrong places can be a sign of urinary problems that are very common in cats. Your cat is 15, which is elderly for a feline and that is often when these types of health issues emerge. I think your first action should be to take the cat to the vet. Also, you mention that the cat pees on fabric - this is a bad habit that cats can develop, they seem to find comfort in it. When you have a cat that develops this problem, it's best not to leave anything like this around as a temptation. As for your kids' bed, once a cat has peed on something and there are traces of cat odor on it, they will trigger on that area again - in other words, the cat now views the bed as a place to pee. I suspect the lack of activity in your absence may have been a lack of access to the kids' bed while you were gone. The only way to prevent them from being attracted this way is to remove all traces of urine odor. One method is to purchase products like Nature's Miracle that do this. Honestly, once they trigger on something it is tough - especially with a bed, where it seeps into different places. When we have had this issue with cats in the past, we have often prevented access to the trouble spot and/or been ultra diligent about not leaving clothes lying around and actually gave up area rugs for awhile. Sorry, there are not a lot of easy answers. I love cats, but this is one of those tricky issues. Good luck! cat lover too 

Your cats believe- as mine do- that any marginally unclean clothing or cloth on the floor or the bed is an approved dirty location where peeing is allowed. I'd buy some laundry bins that close and start cleaning these fabric surfaces as often as you can bear. It's a pain, but the cats are acting according to clear cat logic. It's Happened to Me too.

Whenever one of my older cats, and 15 is old, has started to pee or poop in places other than the litter box, there's always been a medical explanation. You say that going out of town with the kids seemed to stop it (though did your husband perhaps miss something?), but still, have you taken the cat for an exam and asked your vet? I have no experience with anti-anxiety meds, but have had positive results with Feliway cat pheromones for different stress-related behaviors. Cat lady

Cat randomly peeing on our clothing

Feb 2015

We need help dealing with/stopping our cat from peeing on things. As a kitten, we never had issues, but about 6 years ago we decided to start living with roommates. 5 years ago, we got a roommate who brought another cat. A few months after that, my husband and I went away on a very long trip. It was about that time that he started peeing in places other than his litter box (ex: large potted plants), and occasionally on any clothes left on the floor.

To be honest, I don't know how tidy his box was kept, and he clearly was dealing with the major changes to his house.

In the years since, he started to randomly pee on things around the house. Never furniture, but a jacket left on a couch is fair game. We try to keep things off the floor and make sure his box is clean, but he has been known to pee on our roommate's clothes as well. It doesn't help that we now have a young child and a dog, when he used to be the only ''baby'' in the house. We try and give him plenty of attention, but he often doesn't want to hang out in the living room with the rest of us because of the dog.

Once something is peed on, it is pretty much ruined. I have to assess the effort/expense of getting it completely pee-free against the cost of just getting a new shirt/pants/towel...

Any advice on getting him to stop, or a cheap/easy way to clean cat pee out of clothes would be greatly appreciated!

Tired Of Ruined Things

please take your cat to a vet. A vet will check for medical issues that could cause this behavior. If it isn't a medical issue there are medications for cats that can help with behavioral issues. Think kitty prozac, for example. our cat had a similar issue, a medical issue was addressed and a few weeks of kitty prozac resolved the remaining behavioral problems associated with peeing. no more peeing outside the box

The Animal Planet TV show ''My Cat from Hell'' is a great resource. I learned a lot about cat behavior and why cats pee on things. You have to analyze what's going on in your house and adjust based on your cat's needs. We watched this series on Netflix, although I think they've since pulled it. Yeah it's a bit sensationalized but under there is a huge amount of discussion of cat behavior. The host is Jackson Galaxy, a cat behaviorist. Try googling his writings, clips of the show, book, etc. and see if you can get something useful.

Separate from that, based on watching the show and the usefulness of customized solutions, if you can afford it I'd pay for a cat behaviorist consult to deal with your peeing problem. We had a cat aggression issue that was just horrible so I really sympathize with you. good luck

Great that you are looking to solve this problem, rather than just giving the cat away. We adopted a ''problem'' cat, but with time and effort, it's all worked out and we've had years of enjoyment.

A peeing issue is usually a territory/anxiety issue. Sounds as if your cat feels abandoned and unsafe. Try to create ''highways'' and ''hideaways'' that are kitty only (inaccessible to the dog). Make it so the kitty can travel and hang out safely in your home with you, in both public and private spaces, even when the dog is there. Think a tall cat condo, and an elevated kitty walkway.

Also, I recommend you check out Jackson Galaxy's website, and watch some of his TV series, ''My Cat From Hell.'' Yes, it's a ''reality'' series and somewhat ginned-up. But almost all the owners have similar issues, and watching can give you some great ideas about how to implement changes in your own home.

That's a start; your vet probably also will have some good recommendations.

As to getting rid of odors, baking soda, borax, and non-scented Febreeze are all good ideas. --Lover of Cats

I assume you've taken your cat to the vet and that there are no physical problems.

Do you know if your cat is just urinating outside the box or spraying (marking)? Sometimes cats don't use the box because it's not clean enough, they don't like the type of litter, or the location. A good location for a cat box is one that's a little out of the way, but from which the cat has a good view of anyone (or animal) approaching. You might try adding another box on the other side of the house so that he has another option.

An anxious cat will spray to mark territory. When he urinates on clothing, is it something the dog or other cat has been lying on? Does it belong to someone the cat doesn't like? Sometimes cats will spray near doors or windows if a neighborhood cat has been around the outside of the house. A cat will continue to pee on things that still have some remnant of pee odor in them--and, as you've noted, it's very hard to get out.

So my suggestions would be keeping the box scrupulously clean, add another box, get a Feliway plug-in cat pheromone diffuser (it's suppose to calm cats), make sure he has a room where the other pets don't go (if possible). If you continue to have problems you could look into putting him on prozac. It's a small dose the of the human medicine and really cheap at Costco. I give it to my kitty in a pill pocket.

As for cleaning, I've been most happy with Fission. I think for laundry, you spray it on the stain, let it dry completely and then launder. I don't know if anything really works 100% though.

Good luck! Wish I didn't know so much about this

Vets are now prescribing mild antidepressants for cats that pee all over. anon

I wanted to post to you having had years of experience with a peeing-all-over cat. She began peeing in the house after we started feeding a feral cat (outdoors). After some time, my cat had blood in her urine and stool. We had her checked out and vet felt it was behavioral. She consulted for behavioral therapy, but no significant change (for years), until I got a homeopathic remedy (STAPHYSAGRIA) from a wholistic vet (Ann Reed). Obviously, I can't prescribe a remedy, just sayin' that it worked for us. I think the cat stopped peeing and stopped having blood in her urine within two treatments (two pellets crushed in food two days in a row). I don't remember which potency we used. Wishing you and your kitty well! lisa

At the end of our rope with senior cat's pee accidents

Oct 2013

Is it possible to find a new home for a senior cat (11-12 years old) who is a house soiler? What are our options?

Our cat is very sweet, beloved by boarders and vets, extremely docile and loving. She just wants to soak up the sun and chase some string. She is indoors only; very nervous outside. She is also sensitive to other cats, environmental changes, certain materials (e.g., rubber) she'll periodically soil soft items around the house. She doesn't have any known medical issues, but we have had to put her on hypoallergenic food. The vet has put her on Prozac. We have our doubts that this will solve the problem.

We've been able to create a tolerable environment for our cat for over a decade (maybe a dozen house soiling incidents). But now we have a toddler and the house soiling is increasing. We are just unable to provide the calm attention that the cat seems to desire (not that it stopped her from house soiling before our child was born). Nor are we willing to live in fear anymore of the next couch/rug/wardrobe/pillow/mattress she will ruin.

We love our cat, but we are at the end of our rope. Several more years of tolerance, living without rugs and pillows, closing off half of our tiny house because of the cat, and now paying for prescriptions . . . not the life we want or can afford. Are there any other ''humane'' options? Cat lover with hope

well, animals do have accidents as they age. No one's going to adopt your cat at 11 or 12 years old. A shelter will euthanize him and a rescue will not take him.

I think your options are: make him an outdoor kitty (I know he won't like it - but he might adjust - nice warm place to sleep, etc.) limit him to a garage (do you have one?) or a room. I know if you don't have space it's very inconvenient. But if you confine him to a room/small space with the catbox, he may go back to using it as he should. I'm so sorry you have to deal with this. I have had many aging cats and they haven't done that. pet owner


Because I'm allergic to anything cat, Hopalong took my husband's two elderly cats when we married - and we continued to support his cats throughout the rest of their lives while they lived happily with a wonderful volunteer. We still make a donation to Hopalong every year to help with situations just like yours!!! Your lovily cat will be fine!!!

Wishing you well with your new baby!!!

I had a cat who also liked to go on soft items. Oy, I definitely understand the frustration. I talked to - they provided a free cat specialist to talk to, the only downside was the wait - about 2 months. I also talked to a cat specialist that my vet recommended.

Both highly recommended very specific cat box rules: No covered cat box, enough cat litter in the box, and only Ever Clean cat litter (not perfumed). (I have no affiliation with that company except that I only buy that cat litter). Scoop the cat box daily (don't use the machine scooping cat boxes that may scare your cat and have her associate the cat box with a loud, scary noise - you want her to associate that place with privacy and safety). You also might need more than one cat box, as some cats prefer two cat boxes or more, if you have a 2 story house or something. As your cat is getting older, think of how far she will need to go to get to a cat box. (Like we humans like extra bathrooms handy).

The cat specialists I've talked to said that this has worked well, even if they offer comforters, etc to cats used to soiling on soft items.

My cat has only had maybe 2 accidents since I started this 10 years ago. Once when his cat box really needed to be scooped, and once when he was stressed out because we'd just moved. He also has a kidney-bladder condition so he's on special food from the vet to prevent that. (more typical with male cats).

I hope this helps. I know this can be incredibly stressful and upsetting. Happy to have the moderator share my email address with you if needed. Kirstin

We have a similar situation... our elderly cat has irritable bowel disease and no longer can fully control his bowel movements. In our case, we are friends with the cat-rescuers who we adopted him from, and they have lent us a large cage (several feet by several feet) that he goes in at night. It has made a big difference!

It sounds terrible, but he actually likes it. There is enough room for a small carrier in there, which he hangs out in, a litter box and water. Our cat-rescuer friends tell us that cats are lair animals, which is why they like it. In our cat's case, when he was a kitten he was in a similar cage, so they also said he may have kitten-hood memories.

We started by letting him go in there on his own, and he really took to it. Now we lock him in there at night and he is fine. By the way, the behavorial soiling you are describing -- our cat had done that before with poop prior to losing control -- and it was a losing battle trying to prevent him from targeting things, other than pulling up every area rug we have and keeping him out of key rooms.

I would also say, try to have parts of your house that you keep the cat out of with closed doors. It is not always easy to do, as it is remembering to close doors and some houses are more conducive to shutting things off than others. However, it is really important to have cat-soiling-free zones in your house. Marie

Cat pee in heating vents

March 2005

After peeing on our couch one too many times, we have banned the cats from the house. They have an enclosed porch where they sleep and eat, and they seem to be doing okay. Recently, our whole house has been smelling like cat pee. We discovered yesterday that it's coming in the house with the heat. Tonight, we discovered that the smell comes through the vents even if the heat is not on. The cats are obviously peeing somewhere in the crawlspace, where the furnace and pipes are, but we have no clue what to do about the smell. This is a very weird situation, and I don't know where to turn for help. I believe that I am responsible for these cats for as long as they live, so ''getting rid'' of them is not an option. Can we all live in harmony...but without the cat pee smell?

Dr. Nicholas Dodman, a pioneer behavioral veterinarian at Tufts University, wrote among other things ''The Cat Who Cried for Help''--you should be able to find it at most bookstores (or for sure online). It's a series of anecdotes about cats he's treated in his practice, which you might want to read if you want some ideas to try on your own (inappropriate urination is featured prominently). He also does remote consulting via his PetFax line for more serious pet behavior problems. Here is his Tufts bio with info on the PetFax line:
--Friend to Berkeley cats and dogs