Cat peeing on our couch, what could be the problem? See details.
September 7, 2012 7:52 AM   Subscribe

How can I stop my cat from peeing on my couch?

I have had my cat for about 9 years now. He was my baby for a long time. When my husband and I moved in together about 7 years ago, the cat started peeing on my husband's side of the bed. At that point, the cat wasn't allowed in our bedroom anymore and still isn't to this day.

We never had another problem from him until we got a puppy about 4 years ago. He started peeing on our couch, and this continued for a few months and then stopped.

Then last year, we had our first child. After our LO was a few weeks old, the cat started peeing on the couch AGAIN! This, again, lasted only a few weeks but my husband was at his breaking point and kept threatening to give the cat away. We started locking him in our garage at night and anytime we weren't home to watch him like a hawk.

Now, randomly, he started peeing on our couch AGAIN! The ONLY thing that is new is that our LO started walking about 2 weeks ago. I don't know why this would anger my cat, but I can't think of anything else that would cause him to do this.

We live in an apartment now and no longer have a garage to lock him in. Last night, my husband was sitting on the couch and the cat peed RIGHT NEXT TO HIM.

I have tried every kind of repellent imagineable. I have cleaned and scrubbed the couch, tried paying extra attention to the cat, feeding him and making sure he has water constantly.. I just don't know what could be wrong.

Any suggestions both for possible causes or solutions would be amazing.
posted by AbsolutelyHonest to Pets & Animals (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you taken him to the vet to make sure there isn't something physically wrong with him? Some cats can have chronic urinary tract infection issues.
posted by something something at 7:54 AM on September 7, 2012 [3 favorites]

This is a pretty common reaction to stress/new situations/new people. One of my parents' cats does this; they've been able to mostly handle the problem with a) ample doses of Nature's Miracle applied to affected areas, b) Feliway spray, and c) medication.
posted by thomas j wise at 7:55 AM on September 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

(Embarrassingly, I had to look up "LO" on google... LITTLE ONE! Got it.)

This sounds like a stressed out cat, and even from your description the peeing jags don't appear to be random. Every instance came after a big change in the cat's life, and generally cats aren't really big fans of change. For example, your baby being more mobile, and moving in a very different way, could be extremely stressful for a cat.

Some cats are more anxious than others, and some cats don't deal well with little kids. As thomas j wise suggested, there are things you can do to help ease that anxiety. But you might just have to find a new home for your cat if this continues to be an issue. :(
posted by Narrative Priorities at 7:58 AM on September 7, 2012

We had a cat that would pee in our laundry hamper if and only if he had a urinary problem. He was prone to them as an orange male, and we quickly learned to get him to the vet every time it happened.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:06 AM on September 7, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you all. I hadn't thought that there may be something physically wrong with him since the instances seem to be a pattern!
posted by AbsolutelyHonest at 8:38 AM on September 7, 2012

Please do take him to the vet! Our male cat has a tendency to get crystals in his urine, which makes it hurt when he pees, and we know that it's happening again when he starts peeing in places other than the litterbox, because he's holding it as long as possible and just letting go when he can't hold it any longer. Stress aggravates the flare-ups, and they tend to happen at predictable times (like when we moved).
posted by telophase at 8:42 AM on September 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

In the interim while you are investigating this at the vet, when you are not sitting on a part of a cushion, it has to be blocked off. It's going to look ugly but it will protect the couch. My couches are covered in boxes and empty plastic litter containers while we are not sitting on them to protect them because everyone with four legs and a tail feels that the best place in the whole house to vomit on is the defenseless couch cushion. Also between your walking kiddo and the cat, I would cover the couches in something waterproof anyway, because it will make all accidents easier to clean up.
posted by crankylex at 9:20 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Try setting a bowl out with sod of his food at the pee location(s). This helped us with a similar situation.

Also, having used every pet accident cleaner known to man, Anti-icky Poo is far and away the most effective at completely eliminating scent from these sites.

Good luck at the vet!
posted by tigerjade at 9:35 AM on September 7, 2012

This sounds a lot like territorial marking (spraying.) You don't mention if your cat is fixed. Unaltered cats do tend to be more prone to this, but fixed cats can do it as well. Is it possible your cat is seeing or smelling other cats outside or nearby? Limiting the sight or smell of other cats could help if that is happening. Some cats as mentioned will mark if stressed or due to environment changes. Feliway or a good phermone product might help as well. I keep my cats litter super clean as well.
posted by heatherly at 9:38 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

"Child learning to walk" is definitely a new stressor, since that's often the point at which the child changes from passive competition to direct threat -- might trip on you, chase you, grab you, etc., in a way that's harder to avoid. Many pets are stressed by this; it's often the time at which, say, dogs start to bite. So I'd say this is consistent with his previous behavior when stressed or irritated, and it will probably pass on a similar time course.

You might try getting something like a tall cat tree or other perch where the cat can retreat when not wanting contact with the toddler (at least until the latter is old enough to learn gentle behavior). Meantime, I guess I'd be glad it was just the one piece of furniture, and I'd focus my efforts on the smell-away end of things.

Good luck!
posted by acm at 9:40 AM on September 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

Seconding acm: since your toddler just started toddling, your cat's stress might be alleviated by creating a space (other than the couch) where he can feel safely out of range, yet still part of the family gathering.

Not that I can really answer properly, as your post contains no photos of said cat.
posted by feral_goldfish at 9:43 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I had a similar problem with my cat. After checking his health, feeding him in the place he was peeing in, using feliway and anything else I had heard about, I tried the medication. It stopped and hasn't recommenced in the year post-medication. I wish I'd tried it sooner.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 9:55 AM on September 7, 2012

Seconding Nature's Miracle and Feliway. Install the Feliway plug-ins, don't just use the spray bottle. Put a plugin near the couch, and any other part of the house where the cat spends a lot of time. For the first week or so, spritz the couch itself with Feliway as well. This is all similar to what we experienced with a 7 year old cat, out of the blue, after he started seeing and smelling other cats outside in our yard (he's an indoor cat himself).
posted by beagle at 9:56 AM on September 7, 2012

thomas j wise and Trivia Newton John: what medication?
posted by beagle at 9:59 AM on September 7, 2012

Our cat had a UTI, was treated (twice) and upon further examination, had nothing wrong with his urine, but was still peeing.

What helps is:

- Special dry food for urinary tract problems (we use Purina One, not too expensive at big chain stores);
- Wet food with NO tuna! Chicken only, and the kind with gravy, for extra moisture. Vet said tuna is a known irritant with cats with bladder problems, we avoid salmon too;
- Keeping the litter box clean, as he is one who sometimes perches on the edge and pees in the same corner every time. If that corner is full, he starts to piddle on the floor;
- Bach flower remedy was recommended by the vet: in times of stress, a little squirt on their lips. We've used it say, when moving and crating the cats and it really did help, one howl and quiet after that for a two hour car ride.

If the food/litter box situation regime is followed, he's pretty much okay. Any deviation and he gets nervous and leaves puddles in odd places. We also can't leave say, plastic bags on the floor or he will anoint those. I was emptying bathroom and office can trash into a grocery bag and placed it on the floor next to the kitchen garbage can and he peed on it. Some cats will pee on anything plastic, or anything left on the floor in and odd place.

He really can't help it and the food change has made a world of difference.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 10:06 AM on September 7, 2012

Hey beagle, my little dude took clomicalm for a while. I came back in to say don't skip straight to the medication step obviously, but I wish I hadn't resisted it.

His behaviour started with peeing on the couch when outside men had been around (even though I lived with men), but once he was in the habit it was kind of hard to stop. Then he'd be cool.... then it would start all over again without any apparent trigger. He'd started crapping too. He'd do it right next to a food bowl I'd put on there, he'd pee while looking you in the eye. I moved and he started peeing on my male housemate's bed and belongings. I kept thinking it was silly to resort to medication but the pee party caused me so much stress and grief.... we're back to being bff now.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 10:36 AM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Take kitty to the vet, obviously, and please don't be afraid of or stigmatized by the thought of putting your cat on medication. My cat did the peeing on the couch thing for a while, and stopped almost immediately after going on Clomicalm. We did try Feliway first but it had no effect.
posted by Gortuk at 12:23 PM on September 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

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