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Why Do Cats Pee When Scared? 4 Reasons for This Behavior

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on January 5, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

brown cat peeing

Why Do Cats Pee When Scared? 4 Reasons for This Behavior

If you’re a cat owner, chances are that you don’t see your cat pee anywhere but the litter box. Sometimes, though, you may notice that cat urine is on the floor or the couch, and your cat is nowhere to be found. What happened?

There could be many reasons that this happened, but one is that your cat got scared by something. Cats can and do pee when they’re scared. The way to get this under control and avoid having to clean up frequent messes is to understand why it’s happening.

In this article, we look at common reasons that cats pee when they’re scared and what you can do to calm them.


Rule Out Medical Conditions First

If your cat is urinating outside of the litter box, it’s best to rule out medical conditions first. While the peeing may be in response to fear, you’ll want to eliminate any potential health issues before you start trying to figure out what’s scaring them.

Sometimes, cats pee in strange places to get your attention and alert you to possible issues, like urinary tract infections or painful crystals in the urine.

Once your vet clears your cat of any health problems, you can treat the issue as behavioral.

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The 4 Reasons Why Cats Pee When Scared

If you think that your cat is peeing when they’re scared, knowing why they’re doing it can help you keep it from happening in the future. Dealing with a scared cat takes patience and understanding. You may not be able to stop them from peeing when they’re scared every time, but you can at least be prepared for it.

1.  They Can’t Help It

When cats are startled, they can pee involuntarily. This usually results in just a small puddle beneath the cat and is not a full release of the bladder. This happens more often when the cat is easily scared to begin with and already stressed about something.

Sudden, loud noises can trigger this loss of bladder control. Age can also factor into this. If your cat is a kitten or an elderly senior, their bladder control is weaker. A scared, elderly cat is more likely to pee than a scared, adult cat. However, it can occur in cats of all ages.

cat pee on carpet
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

2. They’re Marking Territory

A scared cat will sometimes pee as a way to mark their territory. This peeing isn’t done immediately like involuntary peeing usually is. This is more controlled, and the cat decides to do it when they are frightened for long periods.

This type of scared peeing occurs mostly when you bring another cat into the home or move into a new house. This change can scare your cat for a long time before they start to calm down as they get used to their surroundings. The anxiety will cause your cat to mark their territory in an attempt to claim it and soothe their overwhelm.

Cats feel safe in places that smell like they do. Cat pee contains pheromones that cats can distinguish from others. Marking is a way to get their surroundings to smell like they do to bring them comfort.

3. They’re Trying to Avoid a Fight

In a confrontation with another cat, even one that they live with, a scared cat will pee as a way to show submission and avoid a fight. While some fighting between cats is considered normal, peeing is a sign that the fight has gone too far.

If this occurs regularly, it’s possible that your cats did not have enough time to get to know one another in the initial introduction phase. You can try to separate them and reintroduce them for a few weeks to help them get used to one another again. It will give your scared cat time more time to learn that the other cat is not a threat.

cats fighting
Image Credit: Samarskiy, Shutterstock

4. They’re Not Spayed or Neutered

Unaltered cats are more likely to pee in inappropriate places. If they’re also scared, the problem can quickly escalate. Not being fixed won’t be the only reason that your cat urinates outside of the litter box, but it can exacerbate the issue.

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Calming a Scared Cat

If you know that you have an easily scared cat, the most important thing to do is remain calm around them. If you’re upset, this can upset them even more. They can sense your energy, so staying relaxed will help them feel that way too.

In cases where you can know beforehand that something will scare your cat—like fireworks, thunderstorms, or company coming over—contain your cat in a quiet area where they can stay calm. A bathroom or spare bedroom will work. Give your cat a litter box, food, water, and a comfortable place to sleep. Let them hang out until the commotion is over and they can decompress. You can also give them an article of your clothing that smells like you or their favorite blanket to keep them calm. Even if they do pee, it’ll be in an area that you expect and you can easily clean it up.

Don’t force them to come out before they’re ready. Once the scary event has passed, open the door and let your cat venture out when they feel safe enough to do so.

man playing cat outdoor
Image Credit: Karpova, Shutterstock

If Nothing Works

If your cat is constantly stressed, scared, and peeing in inappropriate places, it’s a sign that something is upsetting to them in their environment. If you can’t figure out what that might be, speak to your vet about options. Maybe your cat needs medication to help control their bladder or to help calm them so they don’t pee out of fear.

Consider your cat’s background. If you haven’t had them from kittenhood, they could’ve had a life that was filled with neglect or abuse. It can take cats several months or even over a year to fully adjust to a new life. Give them time to feel safe. It can take a while for traumatized cats to trust again.

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Final Thoughts

When scared cats pee out of fear, it’s a sign of how stressed they are. Once you rule out medical issues that may be causing the urinating, you can work on helping your cat overcome their fear and stress. Cats need time to adjust to changes, and some may take longer than others. We hope that you’ve learned a few ways to help your scared cat stop peeing out of fear and feel more comfortable in your home.

Featured Image Credit: nanniezwawa, Shutterstock

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