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Is Your Cat Peeing on the Couch or Bed? Here’s 5 Vet-Reviewed Reasons Why

Ever think, "Why is my cat peeing on the bed?" (Or couch or somewhere similar?) Here's how to identify the reasons behind a cat peeing on the bed.

Written by: Catster Editorial Team

Last Updated on February 16, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

An orange tabby cat sleeping on a bed.

Is Your Cat Peeing on the Couch or Bed? Here’s 5 Vet-Reviewed Reasons Why


Dr. Maja Platisa Photo


Dr. Maja Platisa

DVM MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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There is a place and a function for everything. While litter boxes function as feline restrooms, sofas and beds are supposed to be for relaxing, sleeping, and (if we’re lucky) cuddling cats. We expect to find cat urine in the litter boxes, not where we unwind and nap. But what about a cat peeing on the bed or couch?

A cat peeing on the bed or couch isn’t purposely being naughty, nor are they seeking revenge. Cats urinating in the wrong places should never be punished — there are legitimate reasons for this problem, and some of them will require prompt veterinary attention.

A cat peeing on the bed sends a message to everyone in the household that there’s a problem that needs immediate attention. So if you’ve ever wondered, “Why is my cat peeing on the bed?” or, “Why is my cat peeing on the couch?” We’ve found a few reasons and ways to help you alleviate the issues!

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The 5 Main Reasons Why Your Cat Pees on the Couch or Bed

1. A Sign of a Medical Problem

Whenever your cat exhibits a change in their behavior, have them examined as soon as possible by a veterinarian. There are no exceptions to this rule, and this includes a cat peeing on the bed.

Many serious medical problems can cause cats to avoid using litter boxes. A short list includes lower urinary tract disease or FLUTD, diabetes, kidney disease, and arthritis, as well as a host of other painful and serious conditions.

These conditions either cause the cat to strain when passing urine and to try and pee more frequently, which is a genuine veterinary emergency, while systemic illness may increase a cat’s thirst, causing them to need to urinate more often. Pain from achy joints may cause them to be reluctant when entering the litter box, so they opt for an easier and more comfortable location.

If your cat is straining to urinate, in and out of the litter box, passing small amounts or no urine at all, or having urine that is bloody, all while meowing and being clearly in pain and distressed, all of these signs warrant an emergency vet appointment. Lower urinary tract disease can occur for many reasons, but most of them may lead to a painful and life threatening urinary blockage.

male veterinarian doctor with stethoscope holding cute fluffy cat
Image Credit: Yana Vasileva, Shutterstock

2. Urinating in High Places Feels Safe for Your Cat

What do sofas, beds, chairs, and counters have in common? They have surfaces that are higher than the floor and have good views. The elevation is perfect for kitties to identify and escape potential threats and stressors. Survival is a priority — it’s instinctual, cats naturally don’t want to be ambushed.

Sometimes, your cat peeing on the bed or the couch is telling you that these places feel safer than their litter box. It’s harder for other animals to corner and trap cats on elevated areas because the perpetrators are easily seen.

3. A Cat Peeing on a Couch or Bed Indicates Issues With the Box

Sometimes, a cat peeing on the bed or couch is the cat parent’s fault. The cats just don’t feel safe using their litter boxes. From the feline point of view, the locations and types of boxes can be setups for other animals to corner and possibly trap them, particularly if located in a busy area of the home, making the cat feel vulnerable.

Depending on the stressors, people can help their kitties feel more secure as well as stop or prevent unwelcome behaviors like a cat peeing on the bed or couch by making a few simple changes to the litter boxes. Cats need choices — if one litter box doesn’t feel right, there needs to be others located throughout the home.

The litter box rule is one per cat and one for the household. If you have three cats, then your special felines need four litter boxes. The locations will make the difference between usage and avoidance. Place them in areas with good views where it would be challenging for other household animals to trap them. Avoid places such as closets, cabinets, and small rooms. Make sure it’s the least busy area of the home so your cat can have their privacy when using the litter box.

The box itself makes a difference as well. Litter boxes can be fully open or come covered with a lid and even a door. Some kitties will love this level of privacy, while others will feel trapped and ambushed in covered litter boxes and will avoid using them. Other faux pas that can cause cats to avoid their boxes include providing them with litter boxes that are too small and not cleaning the litter boxes regularly.

4. Inappropriate Urination Might Signal Behavioral Issues

Mild as well as serious disputes with the other resident animals can cause issues like a cat peeing on the bed, couch, or other inappropriate places. Cat fights often occur over status, territory and resources, and can occur when other animals are introduced too quickly into the household. Dogs can be a source of stress as well — some are serious threats, others chase or play too rough. The end result is often the same — a cat peeing on the bed, couch or other areas with good views that they can quickly vacate.

The situation needs to be evaluated — new cats should be separated and reintroduced gradually to the other resident animals. Most likely you will have to add more vertical territory — cat trees, shelves and other tall pieces of furniture that the cats can use.

One way kitties show their status is by where they sit in relation to each other. These high places are also refuges from dogs and other threats. They should be at least five feet high. In addition to vertical territory, add scratching posts and horizontal scratchers. One way cats mark their territory is by scratching.

Also, make sure to note the difference between urinating on the bed or sofa and spraying behavior. Urinating means the cat is posturing with their tail positioned low and is peeing on a horizontal surface, such as the bed. Spraying is done standing with a tall erect tail and often some tail quivering, when the cat passes a small amount of pheromone rich urine on nearby vertical surfaces, such as walls.

Both males and females can spray, although this is more common in intact males and is a way to communicate with other cats, mark territory, and resolve disputes, and it is often provoked by stress and frustration regarding the cat’s physical and/or social environment.

5. Your Cat Might Be Stressed or Anxious

Not all kitties are socially solitary — they often form close attachments with people and other animals. Sensitive kitties can become anxious when their favorite person is away from them for an extended period of time. These cats might respond to the absence by peeing on the bed or the couch, hiding more, and refusing food.

Although separation anxiety can be heartbreaking, there are steps you can take that will help your cat feel more secure when left alone. These include enlisting someone the cat already knows to either stay with your cat or visit at least twice a day. During their visits, they should interact with them, doing activities the cat enjoys, such as play and maybe grooming. Your scent can help your kitty feel like she hasn’t been abandoned.

Before leaving, place small towels and other articles of clothing that have your scent on them in sealable plastic bags — one for each day you’ll be away. Your cat sitter needs to put one new scented item out every day for your cat.

However, besides separation anxiety, your cat may become anxious due to new people around the house, a new baby or a pet, sudden noise, new furniture, and others. They can also become frustrated if they are not getting enough physical activity and mental stimulation, so make sure their environment is calm and enriched at all times.

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How to Effectively Clean Up Cat Messes, Odors & Stains 

The first part of cat mess prevention is ensuring you are taking the time to properly clean any accidents -  and that starts with investing in the right products! Of course, you'll want to opt for something safe first and foremost, to protect your feline's health, but secondly, you'll need a solution powerful enough to lift the toughest, stinkiest, most set-in stains. After careful consideration, we fell in love with one product and highly recommend it to all pet owners! 

Our Favorite Enzyme Cleaner 

Hepper Advanced Bio-Enzyme Pet Stain & Odor Eliminator Spray
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There are several reasons we can't get enough of the Hepper Advanced Bio-Enzyme Pet Stain & Odor Eliminator Spray.  It permanently removes the very worst smells and stains, it can be used on a multitude of surfaces and its neutral scented, meaning no odor masking! It comes in a generous 32-oz bottle and comes with 100% satisfaction guarantee. Learn more about this holy grail of a cleaner here!

At Catster, we’ve admired Hepper for many years, and decided to take a controlling ownership interest so that we could benefit from the outstanding products of this cool cat company!

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With a cat peeing on the bed or other similar surfaces, the cat is sending a clear message that there is a potentially serious problem. Although frustrating, never punish the cat for the behavior. Instead, consult with a vet who will identify the reasons for the behavior and address them. If there is no underlying medical cause and you can’t resolve the problem, then get help from a qualified expert certified in behavior.

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Featured Image Credit: Photography Rommel Canlas, Shutterstock.

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