Is it Felicide or Caticide?
October 21, 2013 11:16 AM   Subscribe

What's to be done about a healthy, happy adult cat who just started peeing on my bed?

Help. Seriously. I'm about to lose my damn mind.

Healthy, happy cat in a household of 4 cats. Plenty of litterboxes, changed often. Nothing has changed over the last two weeks -- not the litter, not the food, not the people or cats in the house, not the weather, really - nothing.

Found a puddle of pee on my bed last week, and wasn't sure who the perpetrator was. Machine washed the down comforter + cover in hot water and used the dryer on high heat. Everything was fine for a few days...and now I just watched the perpetrator do it again, right in front of me, all nonchalant. I said a firm, "No!" and lifted her and put her in the nearest litterbox. She's about a year old, been living in this household happily for six months or so. She is a happy cat. She is loved, by human and by other felines.

What am I to do? I work freelance from home so I'm here a lot during the day, if that makes a difference. HELP.
posted by BlahLaLa to Pets & Animals (38 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What did the vet say?
posted by oceanjesse at 11:17 AM on October 21, 2013 [6 favorites]

Take her to the vet. This could be the first sign of a urinary problem that can be treated.
posted by yellowcandy at 11:18 AM on October 21, 2013 [16 favorites]

I would start with closing the bedroom door.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 11:18 AM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

The standard for amount of litterboxes is amount of cats +1. How many do you have? How often do you clean them? It seems like overkill but I'm at twice a day, in the morning before work and when I get home at night.

I have been having this issue too, and the only solution I'm comfortable with is just keeping the door closed.

A vet visit is a good idea. Ours was fine, she's just a nervous cat adjusting to a new apartment, but bladder/urinary problems are possible.
posted by heavenstobetsy at 11:20 AM on October 21, 2013

Response by poster: Haven't gone to the vet yet. Trying to avoid that if at all possible.
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:20 AM on October 21, 2013

Urinary problems in cats really shouldn't be ignored. Peeing outside the box (and in front of you!) is often a sign of urinary tract infection or similar, which needs to be treated with antibiotics.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:23 AM on October 21, 2013 [16 favorites]

You have no assurance that this is a healthy cat until you take her to the vet. I lost a cat to bladder cancer a few years ago. The first clue would have been the peeing she was doing in random places. I mistakenly attributed the peeing to her being stressed out by repeated moves.

Please, go to the vet.
posted by bilabial at 11:23 AM on October 21, 2013 [5 favorites]

Try washing the bedding again with something like Natures Miracle, to be sure you're getting the smell out.
posted by sweetkid at 11:23 AM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't know why she's doing it, but you might try Feliway. It's the default answer for "cat behavior has changed, help!" questions. It releases cat pheromones, and in the case of my cat, chilled her right on out. It doesn't smell like anything, as a matter of fact you will forget it's there.
posted by royalsong at 11:24 AM on October 21, 2013

But yes also nth a vet visit. Cats have surprisingly delicate little systems and a few days can make a big difference.
posted by sweetkid at 11:24 AM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

(And this doesn't help with health questions, but don't wash cat pee in hot. Your machine doesn't get hot enough to sterilize, but probably does get hot enough to "set" the scent. Your cat continues to smell the pee long after you can't. The scent of cat pee is an invitation for cat pee.)

So. First step, vet visit. Second step, wash only in cold with an enzyme cleaner like Nature's Miracle.
posted by bilabial at 11:25 AM on October 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

What's to be done about a healthy, happy adult cat who just started peeing on my bed?

1. Confirm that your cat is healthy.
2. Take action accordingly.
posted by oceanjesse at 11:26 AM on October 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

OK, we did once have a cat who would routinely pee on the down comforter. Right in front of us! In fact she preferred to do so right in front of us. Several vet visits confirmed she was in good health. We eventually replaced the comforter and never had the problem again--forced to conclude that she just did. not. like. the smell of the down comforter and felt the need to "tag" it.

But honestly it should merit at least a phone call to the vet. There are multiple signs of urinary problems and the vet can run through the list with you.
posted by like_a_friend at 11:26 AM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

When our younger cat started peeing in odd places, it was due to crystals in his urine, which were causing him enough pain that he held it in until he couldn't hold it any more. A vet visit is definitely in order. We had to put him on a special diet for a few weeks, and once it cleared up, we started feeding him a larger proportion of wet food to dry, and found a dry food that seemed to be fine to supplement it. (I'd advise against Blue Buffalo, if you're using it, as that was what eh had problems on, and our vet said she'd been seeing a lot of cats fed on that in with that problem.)

It could also be that something scared or hurt her (a loud noise, another cat getting territorial) when she was using the litterbox and she's developed bad associations with it. Our special snowflake cat above continued eliminating outside the box (in front of the front door!) because he'd associated the box with pain, so we moved a litterbox to the front door, then over the course of a month, slowly moved it back to the laundry room. No problems since. Well, except that he has a mania for stinky sponges so we can't leave damp sponges out or he'll pee on them.
posted by telophase at 11:27 AM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Haven't gone to the vet yet. Trying to avoid that if at all possible.

As other people have said, there's a good chance that it's a medical condition. It might go away on its own, but the best thing to do is get it checked out and treated right away before peeing outside of the litterbox becomes a habit.

Also one of the reasons that a cat might pee on your bed or something else that smells like you is that they associate the litterbox with stress or pain and want to pee in an area that they associate with being calm and safe.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:28 AM on October 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

By the way, based off of this question and your other kitty q, you seem pretty unwilling to deal with your current veterinary provider unless it's the last possible option.

Have you thought about looking for a new provider?
posted by oceanjesse at 11:31 AM on October 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

Haven't gone to the vet yet. Trying to avoid that if at all possible.

This is not intended to be mean to BlahLaLa, because this is a sentiment I have seen posted in a lot of AskMeFi posts (most frequently by cat owners, for some reason that's neither here nor there).

But here's the thing: Having a pet can be expensive. People who can't afford or are unwilling to take their pets to the veterinarian for routine checkups and acute conditions that merit a veterinarian's attention have no business owning pets. They depend on us for everything and part of the moral responsibility of pet ownership is spending this kind of money, even when it's inconvenient and even when it hurts.

This is clearly a case where a visit to the vet is indicated. Do it.
posted by slkinsey at 11:34 AM on October 21, 2013 [24 favorites]

My diabetic cat will pee on the bed when her insulin is losing potency and her blood glucose is not being well controlled. As others have stated, there are various medical conditions that can be causing this.

That said, it is frustrating to clean pee off the bed. I did the waterproof mattress pad thing but even that was far from ideal. I found an effective barrier in these PVC roofing panels.

Not too expensive (compared to a new bed)! I would place two side by side to cover the width of the bed when leaving the bedroom for the day. They are not an inviting surface for the cat but also easy on/off for the human. This is of course a short term solution for the immediate peeing while you get the medical issue sorted out.
posted by thebordella at 11:36 AM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

The only time my beloved cat Caddy would pee anywhere but her litterbox was when a UTI was starting up. She had a chronic problem with them and she needed to let us know asap when they got started. Luckily for us, she peed in the bathtub, but I'm sure she would have resorted to the bed if we didn't pay immediate attention.
posted by janey47 at 11:39 AM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

You really do need to go to the vet. Could be diabetes, could be bladder crystals, could be any number of things that are varying degrees of painful and prone to getting worse without treatment.

Once you've ruled out medical issues, you may be looking at stress or anxiety or some recent bad litterbox experience that's turned her off the box. You could try Feliway, a new box in a new place, or Cat Attract litter.

If none of those things work you might be looking at something like kitty Prozac, so you might want to talk to your vet at that first visit about when/if you should try that route. Maybe you can leave with a prescription to fill if needed, and avoid having to go back for a second visit after trying the other options, since you're vet-avoidant.
posted by Stacey at 11:42 AM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nthing a visit to the vet to check for uninary problems.

Anecdata: When our kitties were wee, we kept the cat box under a wall sink. One day Malcolm started pooping on the tile in the bathroom, not in the litter. We scratched our heads, and tried to think like a cat. Why would he suddenly not like the litterbox? Then we considered that the cats had grown quite a bit. So we put him IN the box and saw that the piping for the sink was in his way. We moved the box and had no more problems.

Cats don't go in the box if the box is uncomfortable. As smart as we like to think they are, if it hurts them to use the box, even if it's their BODY and not the box, they eschew the box.

So if your kitty hurts when she pees, she'll pee outside the box, hoping that will take away the ouchies.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:03 PM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

We have an ornery-ass old cat who will pee on anything soft we leave on the floor. But any time she pees somewhere (besides her litterbox, which she does use) that does not meet that description, she has always had a UTI when I hauled her into the vet. Also, cats are veryvery different from one another, but my personal old cat will not shamelessly pee right in front of me unless she's getting sick.

We are not rich people, but we take her to the vet whenever she starts this errant urination, and I've yet to regret it.
posted by Coatlicue at 12:08 PM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Peeing outside of the litterbox is No. 1 Exhibit for a medical issue. Take the kitty to the doc!
posted by tafetta, darling! at 12:09 PM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, probably needs a test for UTIs. Cats often pee on things that smell like their favorite humans (bedding or dirty laundry is the best!) when peeing is painful.

Sometimes a change from kitten food to adult food can perpetrate bladder issues, and some kinds of "senior diet" cat food can reduce the problem, at least in boy cats (whom I believe are more prone to kidney and bladder issues of some sorts?).

I see you're under a lot of pressure right now; would it be easier if you DROPPED the cat at the vet? My vet would take mine at 8 a.m., collect urine from him during the day, and I could pick him up any time after noon. An "all-day board" didn't cost much more than an office visit, let them get good pee samples, and was MUCH less stressful and time-consuming for me than an office visit.

Your vet will probably also do phone or e-mail consults, if you're starting from the assumption that it's a behavioral issue. Mine would always prefer to talk to me on the phone first instead of going right to "cat-stressing office visit" if I'm not sure if an office visit is necessary.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:10 PM on October 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

For what it's worth, not all vet-avoidance is based on being too broke or just too cheap to responsibly own a pet. I've had pets who adored vet visits and pets who coped with them (but didn't like them), but I currently have a pet who is really traumatized by handling and travel. She can't really be sedated for a vet visit--it can obscure symptoms. So I do usually CALL my vet, and ask whether the vet considers a visit necessary; the vet is always perfectly happy to talk to me. Sometimes cats do alarming things for completely benign reasons!

(Any decent vet would definitely tell the OP to bring her cat in under these circumstances, however. And OP should look into finding another vet if this one is unpleasant or dismissive--I have also had that experience, and it made me very uncertain of my own instincts re: the cat's behavior.)
posted by like_a_friend at 12:14 PM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Okay, I hear you all loud and clear. I have been avoiding the vet for several reasons, mainly associated with all of the OTHER stuff happening in my life right now + Mr. BlahLaLa is on a work trip for two weeks, leaving me feeling really taxed. (See posting history if you care.) I am going to try to find a mobile vet to come here. I know it will cost more but it will probably be worth it.
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:23 PM on October 21, 2013 [5 favorites]

Mr. BlahLaLa is on a work trip for two weeks

Maybe kitty is pissed off about this? I had a cat who used to let me know when she was angry at me by peeing on my bed. It really got the message across effectively.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 12:55 PM on October 21, 2013

If the vet clears the cat, then Feliway for sure, and . .well. My friend's mom has to put plastic covers on her bed because her one cat gets separation anxiety and will poop on the bed while they are gone if they leave for long periods of time (like, vacation). So if this cat is really attached to the spouse, and the spouse is gone, she might be experiencing separation anxiety and trying to make herself feel better by mingling her scent with his/your scent.

Cats don't do things for revenge. I mean, argue with me all you like, but in general, cat behavior is about needs not being met. So you check the physical first, and then go on to the kitty mental needs. My cat needs quiet. He gets very stressed when it's not peaceful at home -- your cat may be very stressed by your spouse's absence.
posted by Medieval Maven at 2:08 PM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Definitely get the cat to the vet.

If the peeing problem continues beyond that, here are a few suggestions:
- Soak any spot the cat's peed on in Nature's Miracle or another enzymatic cleaner. Keep all cats away until it's dry.
- Use Cat Attract litter (cats LOVE this litter)
- Use Litter Attractant with the Cat Attract litter if you're really desperate

Try Feliway or a Sentry collar or some other pheremone calming cat thing too. But I think the litter stuff makes the biggest difference (aside from fixing health issues of course).

Hang in there. Pets always get sick at the worst times!
posted by schroedinger at 4:20 PM on October 21, 2013

Just chiming in to say that another way to protect your bed in the short term is one of those big plastic tarps. Put it on your bed when you wake up in the morning. Much less of a pain in the ass than all that laundry. Our little pee monster is still happy to sleep on top of it or even under it, but it stops the pee from happening.
posted by bleep at 4:21 PM on October 21, 2013

Cat might also avoid the box due to pain from constipation - just something else to consider.

You might want to isolate the cat from other cats (if possible, if she won't be extra stressed by this -- stress is bad, too) to see if she's pooping or using the box at all.

***possible time/stress saving tip *** - There is special plastic pellet litter to help gather cats' urine at home. Basically, you put the pellets in a smallish litter box -- they are a kind of litter, but they don't absorb liquid. Then, keep the cat with that box until she pees in the box with the pellets (obviously, not the same room as your oh-so-attractive bed, but kitty will, again, probably be happier with some kind of company or at least a soft warm bed -- you know your kitty better than anyone, so use your best judgment).

Once kitty uses the box, you can put the liquid into a jar or something and bring it to the vet.

Check with the vet to see if this will actually be helpful -- vets will usually want to do bloodwork to be sure there's nothing wrong, in which case you'd have to take the cat to the office anyway and this won't save you much effort. However, if the vet can tell you on the phone that he/she doesn't feel bloodwork is necessary, then maybe this will be a helpful approach.
posted by amtho at 11:56 PM on October 21, 2013

with all of the OTHER stuff happening in my life right now + Mr. BlahLaLa is on a work trip for two weeks, leaving me feeling really taxed.

If you're feeling stressed, is kitty getting the same amount of attention she's used to? IF she's healthy, you might need to play with her more (this will de-stress you, too, so please don't freak out too much!).

Is it possible she misses Mr. BlahLaLa, too? Did he play with her a lot?

Definitely check health, though.
posted by amtho at 11:59 PM on October 21, 2013

I had a lot of helpful answers on my previous post on this although you probably won't want to see the end, which wasn't a happy one (for us, the cat is OK). But we did take him to the vet first to make sure, and yes, those crystals are great but you have to give the cat no other options and be hanging around with the collecting syringe just in case you get any, anywhere. Urine-Off is great for getting rid of the smell: get a different UV torch, though, not the one that came with it.

Could be because your other half is away - our remaining cat, Morgan, goes into a decline when Mr LB is out or away and perks up when he comes home, however much I do with him to cheer him in the daytime ...

Oh, and look after yourself too. You're at home with them all the time, it can get stressy and overwhelmy - I've been there!

Good luck!
posted by LyzzyBee at 1:48 AM on October 22, 2013

Response by poster: I don't know if anybody is still checking this, but here's what's happening. I took two cats (out of the four) to the vet because I thought the second one might also be peeing. Both checked out totally healthy, labwork negative, urine & stool samples fine.

And now the shit's fallen out of the frying pan, into the fire. Everybody is peeing everywhere, all the time. I'm running around with Nature's Miracle urine destroyer and I literally can't keep up. It's every damn minute with one or the other of them. EVERYBODY IS FREAKING OUT. WTF am I to do?

I'm still not sure what the trigger was for the original problem. Mr. BlahLaLa's absence isn't it -- these cats are mostly bonded to me, and he always works extraordinarily long and irregular hours, so they're not used to him being around. My schedule is unchanged.

I will plug in some Feliway - we've used that in the past when cats were introduced to the household.

posted by BlahLaLa at 8:49 PM on October 24, 2013

I know this sounds a little strange, but they might be picking up on YOUR stress. I had a sick cat a few years ago, and a vet tech friend of mine told me to chill the hell out while he was getting better. It was a VERY different situation from yours, rest-of-my-life-wise especially, but she was right. Just as he was starting to get better, against my instincts I went on a weekend ski trip and had friends watch him while I was away, and he was MUCH better when I got back. I seriously think my stress was giving him stress. Also, my other totally healthy cat had been randomly puking the whole time the other cat was sick, I think because the whole thing was stressing HIM out too.

I know your cats checked out as healthy, but I think given the explosion of peeing and how much stress you're under, I think they might be picking up on your stress.

I know you can't go on a ski trip, but can you try to model calmness for them? Or have anyone come help with their care, instead of you, for only a few days even?

I know this suggestion is a bit strange. But I think animals really pick up on our emotional states.
posted by sweetkid at 4:21 PM on October 26, 2013

Have you tried the Cat Attract litter with the litter attractant? Seriously, do not underestimate their power. My roommate's cat had a peeing problem and I switched one of the three litter boxes out with Cat Attract. The other two boxes were Arm & Hammer Essentials, which my cats had been happily using for ages. But after changing out that one box, not only did the roomie's cat stop peeing elsewhere, but my cats stopped using the other two boxes and would only use the Cat Attract box. I ended up having to switch out the other boxes with Cat Attract simply because they would prefer a stinky, over-used, over-full litter box with Cat Attract in it to a sparkling clean, fresh box with any other type. And whenever litter changing time comes they practically line up to try to be the first to climb into the fresh litter. And that's WITHOUT the extra attractant added.

If you try it I'd still leave a box or two with the normal litter, but seriously, give it a shot.
posted by schroedinger at 10:27 PM on October 26, 2013

Not what you want to hear, but one possibility: The original pee-on-the-bed cat was not the one you saw, but one of the other two that have not been checked by the Vet. The cat you actually saw pee on the bed was possibly attracted to the urine scent (despite washing in hot water, it could still be detectable to the cats) left by the other cat.

If one of the two that have not been checked has a UTI (or other trouble) and has been peeing around the house, the other cats may have started peeing in those places, too? In any case, even if not caused by a medical condition, I suppose that one cat is causing the disruption. I'm sorry this has exploded, it sounds nightmarish.
posted by taz at 5:48 AM on October 27, 2013

Response by poster: So yeah, it was a total nightmare. We spent almost a thousand bucks at the vet figuring out which cat was actually having the pee problem, and instigating the pee frenzy. It's over now. It's so depressing I can't really write more about it, but I appreciate the help.
posted by BlahLaLa at 1:35 PM on November 20, 2013

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