Cat pees in bed while we're in it
November 7, 2014 9:20 AM   Subscribe

10 y/o female cat. She's urinated on the bed twice before, but never when we were in it. Now it's happened with us IN THE BED twice in the course of three days. What the hell do we do, and what the hell does this mean?

1. When we weren't in the bed, it was clearly stress and territorial behavior. But when we're in it?? Any ideas what's going on here?
2. And she regularly sleeps with us? She pees in the bed she sleeps in? We thought they didn't do this. We're at a loss.
3. She's banned from the bedroom for a week per some online advice. We'll refill the cat calming hormone. What else?
4. Has anyone tried prozac for cats?
5. Any other advice?
posted by namesarehard to Pets & Animals (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you tried taking her to the vet to see if she might have a urinary tract infection? That is the first thing I would do.
posted by Librarypt at 9:25 AM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Yes. She did initially. She does not anymore. Good question.
posted by namesarehard at 9:26 AM on November 7, 2014

Have you made sure she doesn't have an infection or some other urinary tract problem? It's not at all a foregone conclusion that cats peeing where they aren't supposed to pee is a territorial issue. My cat peed in bed with us once because he was trying to sleep with what our vet said was a "raging urinary tract infection", and he couldn't hold it in.

Take her to the vet if you haven't.
posted by something something at 9:26 AM on November 7, 2014

Oh, seeing your update - my kitty's UTIs were a symptom of an overall urinary tract problem (persistent crystals) that requires special food. It wouldn't hurt to get another urinalysis.
posted by something something at 9:27 AM on November 7, 2014

She might be trying to tell you something. Have you changed her food or is her litterbox dirtier than usual or something? My cat did this when I changed her food and it made her sick.
posted by sockermom at 9:36 AM on November 7, 2014

She may have urinary incontinence. If it's not a behavioral bitchy passive-aggressive cat thing, then another trip to the vet is in order. They can prescribe meds that will help.
posted by ATX Peanut at 9:36 AM on November 7, 2014

Response by poster: When it was a UTI, she peed everywhere and had very distinctive behavior of crouching. Last time we took her in, they said it was gone, and now she just seems to jump on the bed specifically to do it. I'm not opposed to another urinalysis, but let's move on to other suggestions, assuming this isn't it.
posted by namesarehard at 9:37 AM on November 7, 2014

2. And she regularly sleeps with us? She pees in the bed she sleeps in? We thought they didn't do this. We're at a loss.

It could be because it hurts her to urinate, and she thinks "It hurts to pee when I go in the litter box, I'm in pain, I'm going to pee on the bed with my people where I feel warm and safe." This is one of the numerous causes of inappropriate cat peeing.
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:39 AM on November 7, 2014 [5 favorites]

I had a cat with similar, shall we say, "outside the box" thinking. Although it wasn't in the bed, he was definitely going for places where humans were. Very I'm-sending-you-a-message kind of behavior.

Turned out that he had crystals in his urine which was probably causing him pain. This, for some reason, made him want to do it in front of us.

So at least in our case it was definitely a medical rather than psychological issue. But the test for this problem was different than the culture for a UTI. You might want to just mention it to your vet and see if a broader range of tests on a urine sample is worth doing.

(The other suggestion we got from the vet was to set up a litter box near the place where the outside-the-box peeing was occurring, in case the cat for some reason was protesting something related to the location of the box. That's worth a try at least. Having a box in your bedroom isn't the best, but it beats cat pee in the bed. And if that works, you can gradually move it to a compromise location somewhere.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:45 AM on November 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Is it possible that the mattress and/or sheets still smell like cat pee to her? It may not be strong enough for you to smell, but it could be that she's picking up on it and that's leading to the continued behavior. I'm not sure what the solution for that would be other than replacing the mattress, though. Maybe try flipping the mattress over or putting one of those plastic covers over it?

My other inclination would be to get another litter box (but leave the old one as well). Cats are weird, so maybe after the UTI or something she decided she doesn't like her old litterbox. This seems like a very easy, low cost thing to test out, at the very least.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:45 AM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Does "doesn't any" more mean the vet says the infection is gone? Or that you finished her Meds and she's mostly behaving normally?

UTIs can be persistent and also may have be related to another issue.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 9:59 AM on November 7, 2014 [4 favorites]

Has anything changed around the house lately? Something that might be stressing her out?

The one time my old cat did this (and peed directly ON me while I was in the bed sleeping) was when we were dog sitting for a couple days, and he wanted to show he was NOT happy with the new intruder.

I think the fact that she peed on the bed while you were in it is significant, and points to her not being happy about something, rather than medical issues. (Though of course have her checked again.)
posted by catatethebird at 10:28 AM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Definitely take her back to the vet for a more complete checkup for crystals, etc. This behavior is a classic indicator of painful urination -- she's seeking you out for comfort and trying to escape the pain by peeing somewhere she feels is safe.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:41 AM on November 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

My friend's cat has been on Prozac for years after a persistent peeing problem, and it has made him much mellower and stopped the peeing (either entirely or for the most part -- I don't remember which). So there's one data point in favor of Prozac if other solutions aren't working.
posted by cider at 11:06 AM on November 7, 2014

Definitely get her checked out at the vet, but on the chance it's not the UTI flaring up again, I want to say that we've had excellent results with Prozac and a peeing cat. When our Bernard first came to live with us, he was an anxiety pee-er and Prozac sorted him out very quickly.
posted by roosterboy at 11:07 AM on November 7, 2014

Has she been checked for diabetes?
posted by brujita at 11:11 AM on November 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

My extremely nervous cat was peeing in all kinds of extremely unnerving places, often right in front of me. It turned out that she was simply stressed by the other cats and was feeling unsafe in the litterbox. We now practice a policy of separation of meowers to reduce the number of cats in any one place at any given time. I also have to make sure that Super Nervy has somewhere safe to pee. That means either letting her outside or taking her to the litterbox in the bathroom, shutting the door against the other beasties, putting her on the box, and waiting with her while she whatevers. I'm proactive about this: see the cat, take the cat to pee.

Good luck. This is a wretched thing to deal with.
posted by firstdrop at 11:48 AM on November 7, 2014

I'm going to nth taking her back to the vet--one of my geriatric cat's (increasing number of...) issues, which manifested similarly, wasn't caught until something like the fourth vet trip.

It may also be, as previous posters suggested, that the bed still has a scent that you may not be able to detect. You might try washing everything multiple times and dousing the relevant portion of the mattress with everybody's favorite, Nature's Miracle.
posted by thomas j wise at 11:55 AM on November 7, 2014

I had a cat who was on Prozac. If your vet has ruled out any possible physical ailments, as mind had, you might have some good luck with it. I did. Boo was nervous and shy by nature, but once he started on Prozac he was much more calm and it solved the litter box problems too.
posted by stennieville at 10:37 PM on November 7, 2014

I'm so sorry you're dealing with this. It must be really hard. We had a cat do this when I was little, and I'm pretty sure we totally mishandled the situation.

It sounds like you're a good cat "parent," but this is the kind of thing that can drive you to the end of your rope. Just keep in mind that the cat isn't doing it to punish you or to get back at you. They literally don't have the brain parts to have these kinds of feelings. Punishing the cat is completely ineffective and may make things worse.

Be warned that solving this problem will take some time, probably longer than you think. It's going to test your patience, but you can't give in to anger or frustration. It can be really difficult, but you can do it.

While you're ruling out medical problems, consider this: cats prefer to pee in something they can cover up. Think about her current litter box. Is it dirty? (You should be cleaning it once or twice a day, and cleaning it completely with soap and water every couple of weeks). Is it in a scary place (like next to a washing machine or some other noisy appliance? Is it too small or cramped (try removing the lid)?

I agree with others here who suggested temporarily putting an additional litter box in your bedroom. Consider laying strips of foil over your duvet cover, which will dissuade your kitty from jumping up there. Of course, if at all possible, don't let her sleep in your room. She will learn that the bed isn't a fun place to be (because of the foil) and that her nice, clean litter box is a much better place to relieve herself. When she starts using the box again, systematically move it further from your bedroom to another place in the house.
posted by joebakes at 5:43 PM on November 8, 2014

My cat did this, regularly peeing on the bed, though she only peed on me once. I got her a full health check up and no problems. Throughout, she was also peeing and pooping in her litter, but evening she'd use my bed. It was driving me up the wall and I was honestly scared I'd have to give her up. (I live in a studio with no bedroom door to close).

I ended up covering my bed with a tarp all day at the same time as I added a litter box in my bedroom, and doing a two or three day 'reset'--shutting the cat in the bathroom (where her litter is and my only closable room) for every second of the day that I wasn't able to give her my full (stalking) attention. I felt guilty but I was desperate.

Something worked. I don't know what it was. I removed the bedroom litter box after a few weeks. I still use the tarp though because I'm afraid to test her. She thinks it's a game though and likes to jump around on it when I'm putting it on or taking it off. It's really cute.

I am so relieved I found a way to keep my cat I don't even mind how dumb the whole thing feels.

I guess my next step would have been to try kitty Prozac. (Feliway did nothing)

Good luck!!
posted by Salamandrous at 9:33 AM on November 13, 2014

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