Two years ago, I made one of the best decisions of my life and brought home my sweet cat, Agnes. It might be hard to believe, but I stand by that statement even though she starting using my bed as her litter box.
I quickly Googled and discovered that Agnes' new bad habit could be due to a medical issue like a urinary tract infection, crystals in her urine, or even arthritis, so I brought her in for a check-up right away. But my vet confirmed it was a behavioral problem — and I soon had to admit that it was my fault.
Our feline friends might start mistaking a bed, couch, or other areas of the house for their litter box for many reasons. For instance, if you have more than one cat, it might be a space issue and you'll need to add another litter box. For us, I had recently replaced Agnes’ open litter box with one that had a dome over it. I was trying to limit the amount of litter she kicked outside the box when she finished her business, but she was clearly not a fan of that change and didn't mind letting me know. That slight mess from stray litter was nothing compared to regularly finding puddles in my sheets (thankfully she continued using the litter box for #2).
I couldn’t afford to keep making trips to the laundromat or replacing the sheets (and that smell!), so I was pretty desperate to find a solution. Here are the steps I took that finally got my cat to stop peeing on my bed:
Step One: Clean, Clean, Clean
Any time my cat peed on the bed, I made sure to clean the sheets and mattress as quickly as possible with an enzymatic cleaner. When you clean cat pee from cloth, you want to avoid using anything with ammonia. Cat urine actually has ammonia in it, so it might only tempt them to return to the same spot again. I used Nature's Miracle Urine Destroyer Stain and Residue Eliminator ($14.78, Amazon) and it completely erased the smell. This was lucky for me and made it less tempting for her to return to my bed to do her business.
Step Two: Block Bad Behavior
I invested in a large tarp ($6.19, Amazon) and every morning, I would strip the sheets from my bed and replace them with the tarp. I probably could have just covered them, but I didn't want there to be any opportunity for her to slip under and stain the sheets somehow.
My vet said I could also use a couple shower curtains or strips of aluminum foil. Cats aren’t fans of any of these textures, so most of them will steer clear of the covered area. This might lead to them simply picking another area of the house to pee on, but that luckily wasn’t the case for Agnes.
I was able to simply put the tarp over my sheets and, once things seemed to return to normal, not bother with it all. This step was the most helpful by far — she redirected herself to the litter box immediately. It's just a matter of being consistent for as long as it takes to make the habit really stick.
Step Three: Soothe Anxieties
The whole thing seemed to stem from an anxiety issue for Agnes (common with shelter cats like her), so I also invested in a calming pheromone diffuser. I installed one Comfort Zone Cat Calming Diffuser ($23.43, Amazon) by my bed and one by her litter box. It really did seem to help calm her nerves!
I also changed her litter box back to one like her original open box. I'm jealous of other cats who are totally fine with having a roof over their potty, but that's clearly not the case for my girl. I went with Nature's Miracle High-Sided Litter Box ($19.99, Amazon).
It took a few weeks for Agnes to fully un-learn the behavior and not pee on the bed without the tarps, but with the power of those items combined (plus a lot of patience on both our sides), she finally stopped. I still kept covering my bed for a couple months to make sure she really learned the lesson. Now, we've gone two full years without the need of a tarp and without me discovering any annoying cat urine on my sheets!
Every cat is different, but the most important thing for me seemed to be blocking Agnes from the option entirely, until she got over the habit. I definitely recommend starting with a tarp or some other sort of coverage.
It might take some trial and error, but here’s hoping these tricks can help your cat remember where they’re supposed to go again.
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