My Cat Wets the Bed

CatChannel behavior expert Marilyn Krieger, CCBC, offers advice on dealing with a cat's inappropriate elimination.

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Q: I am hoping you can help me with the behavior of my 16-year-old male seal point Lynx cat, Siam. I am desperate because I love this cat, but he is really causing a strain in my household. I have two children — a 6-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl. Siam is the only cat in the house.

In the past three weeks, Siam has peed and pooped on my son’s bed a total of seven times. We now have to close the door to his room, and if someone leaves it open by mistake Siam does his business in there on the bed.

His litter pan is clean, and he is physically able to get to it freely. The type of litter has not changed. Siam is very athletic. He has to make his way into my son’s room (where he usually does not sleep or lounge), jump up on a tall bed, do his business and then leave.  It seems very deliberate to me.

I give him lots of attention. He sleeps with me in my bed at night. My son gives him attention, and he purrs when my son pets him.
It’s not the comforter because I have rotated two comforters on my son’s bed, but it doesn’t seem to matter.

A: Before determining whether this is a behavior problem, take Siam to your veterinarian for a complete geriatric/medical check-up. It is very important to rule out any possible medical conditions that may be causing your kitty not to use his litterbox.

After Siam has been given a clean bill of health, then his inappropriate elimination can be viewed as a behavior challenge. There are many possible factors that can contribute to this unpleasant behavior. One trigger is inadequately cleaning up the area where he keeps urinating and defecating. Improper cleanup usually results in a cat continuing to repeatedly target the same spot.

Regular detergent and washing won’t eliminate odors completely to a cat’s sensitive nose. Soaking the area with a good enzyme cleaner before washing the comforter should eliminate the odor to Siam’s nose. There are different enzyme cleaners on the market, and some are not as effective as others at eliminating odors.

If the urine has soaked through into the mattress or pillow, you probably will have to replace them. There are plastic coverings for mattresses and pillows that protect them from being ruined from cat and little people “accidents.”

A short list of other possible triggers that could be causing this unpleasant behavior are changes in the household, missed cat box cleanings, something startled the cat when he was using the litterbox, a visit from another cat, schedule changes, changing box locations, bringing a new pet into the household, covering a previously uncovered litterbox or uncovering a previously covered box, medical issues, new furniture, moving existing furniture around, tenseness and stress, as well as others.

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Reader Comments

CatChannelEditor    Irvine, CA

7/27/2012 8:05:05 AM

Gina -- This is a good question for our forum, where you can see answers from other cat owners on and ask more questions. Check them out here: LINK

Gina    Tucson, AZ

7/26/2012 5:14:07 PM

Could you please suggest brands of enzyme cleaners that eliminate cat's pee smell from fabrics??

Thanks!

Cathy    Hubbard, OH

4/27/2009 6:27:39 AM

Good advice. I have found in the past, that usually the cat is sick when they do this. I had one, especially at the above cat's age, that was going into kidney failure.

brie    iowa city, IA

2/25/2008 4:05:05 PM

very helpful! thanks

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