Cat peeing on bed - what am I forgetting?
September 8, 2017 9:32 PM   Subscribe

The new cat has started peeing on the bed. I've gone through a number of old questions - but want to make sure I'm not missing anything. We've recently decided that the little feral cat (cranky cat pic) we've been keeping inside as he dealt with dental issues should be a regular part of the household.

The two other cats were rescued from the same colony, and the dogs have been remarkably chill (or just resigned). The new cat has been in the house for about eight months now, but only in the last month or so let out of his room. Because one of the dogs is bad at grabbing kitty snacks, we'd been blocking the door to the cat room with a raised baby gate, but last weekend decided to try an top entry litter box. Which was a mistake. Yesterday we put the top on the box for the first time, and last night the new cat peed on the bed. (We know it was him - I was right there.) Cleaned it up, blotted, soaked with Nature's Miracle, washed everything.... and tonight he's done it again. I'm pretty sure its not crystals, because he'd been using his box just fine for months. For tomorrow's shopping, I'm getting Cat Attract, Feliway, and possibly a new litterbox. I can cover the bed with a tarp while we're getting everything sorted, but I hate taking away the comfy place from the other cats. What else can I do to help redirect his bathroom habits back to his box? There haven't been any cat fights, or dog issues, and he has lots of places to retreat and hide. There are two litter boxes available, cleaned frequently. And unfortunately, the way the house is set up, we can't close off the bedroom. Sorry this is so long, just trying to answer questions that may come up. He's a good boy, we just need to sort this out.
posted by korej to Pets & Animals (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The new cat has been in the house for about eight months now, but only in the last month or so let out of his room. Because one of the dogs is bad at grabbing kitty snacks, we'd been blocking the door to the cat room with a raised baby gate, but last weekend decided to try an top entry litter box.

Sounds like a lot of change in a short time for a feral cat. We have a bunch of them in our neighborhood, and they are terrified of anything that moves. Is he stressed out over the dogs? You said he's been in the room pretty exclusively. They may be chill, but the cat may be weary of them. Maybe put the gate and the old box back for a while and see if that works? If so... you know what the stressor is - either the top loading box or the dogs.

I'd wager that he's stressed about the scent of the dogs in his ... personal area. He might be marking your bed as his territory because he's threatened by the dogs being in his space.

I asked this question a few months ago. In our case, it was our being away from home, constipation, and frequent trips to the vet that freaked our Little Miss out. The thing is... the behavior continued, even after all the triggers were gone. Poor Miss was, like, traumatized. No cuddling, no playing, no sleeping with us. Lots of claws, dirty looks, and... poop on the bed. Good times. The strategy that worked for us was deciding on a couple of things and trying each thing, one at a time, until we sussed out what worked.

The first thing we did was institute a house rule that under no circumstances was the bedroom door to be open, unless were walking in and out. In the absence of that, the tarp is a good idea - cats don't like the feeling of that material on their feet. It's not a permanent solution, but might work to redirect him. IMHO, changing the environment is important or it becomes a bad habit. We wanted to (gently) break of her of that.

I'm confused about the boxes - he has two places to go, and they're both top loading?

The third thing that worked was Prozac. It's $17 for a two-month supply and she gets 1/4 of a pill a day. Our vet recommended it because our cat is just.... stressed. All the time. Regardless of travel, bathroom habits/health, or vet visits. And she's the only pet we have, with no kids in the house. Anyway, the vet told us to wait the full six weeks to give it a chance, and we were very skeptical that it would work at all. But - at the five week mark - she actually snuggled(!) with me on the bed and slept with me all night.

She was cuddly and playful again, and has been ever since. No more incidents, and at the time we put her on it, she had consistently pooped on our bed three times. I have no doubt that the Prozac was instrumental in getting her back on track.

Good luck! It's a challenge but you have a good attitude. Your kitties are lucky to have you!

Edited because I missed the part about you having two boxes at first.
posted by onecircleaday at 10:17 PM on September 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

Seconding prozac, which I've recommended in past posts on this subject. It really is a magic pill for behavioral peeing issues, and does not need to be given long term. Six months usually does the trick. Starting one of my guys on the transdermal prozac as soon as it arrives from Wedgewood Pharmacy to address his random peeing in my bed, which just cropped up out of nowhere. (Vet check shows no medical cause.) Feliway diffusers worked for about a week, but as often happens, Feliway is effective until it isn't anymore. Sometimes it lasts a couple of months, sometimes it only solves the problem for a couple of weeks.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 12:33 AM on September 9, 2017

Bed-peeing happened a few months after we adopted our new cat. He did it two nights and one afternoon in a row, much to our horror. Literally nothing about his or our lives had changed, and he has always had a sort of cushy indoor life and a mellow dude.

So we called the vet and they had us bring in a fecal sample "just in case" and we boarded him for the afternoon so they could get a urine sample. Urine sample was totally clean, general inspection/palpation of bodily parts was good, vet approved of our three boxes for two cats, etc etc. A few days later the results of the fecal sample came back, and it turns out he had Giardia. Our vet was kind of perplexed, but apparently it can happen that cats will feel discomfort in one part and do something really bad in another way to express that. I hadn't noticed any diarrhea or other GI issues with him and we'd had him for months already, so it was a surprise.

But it turns out that Giardia is one of many cat parisites that can chill for months with no symptoms and then they occur. All we had to do was mix a powder into his food for about two weeks (during which he actually suffered symptoms, yuck) and wipe his butt if it got yucky with an unscented baby wipe, and he and the rest of our household has been Giardia free ever since, and no bed peeing at all.

So anyway that story is to illustrate my suggestion that you get your kitty's business thoroughly checked by a vet. Fecal samples don't require a visit, no crate trauma, etc. Urine samples are a different matter but you can do one at a time. Many parasites and other nasties don't cause symptoms right away.

I agree though that this is a lot of change for a feral cat. It may be that you can build his confidence being out in the house by rearranging some cat furniture so things that he loves in his room are out in the rest of the house, making sure he has plenty of ways to walk up high above where the dogs can get to him, and spending play/hunting time in new parts of the house. You might also find an additional litter box to be a good idea, at least one per cat is a good way to lower inter-cat conflict.
posted by Mizu at 4:18 AM on September 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Many thanks. I didn't know that about the giardia - or the Prozac! I'll get a call into our vet right away. For clarification: We'd had one extra large litter box for the original two cats, not top loading, that I built an odd cardbox box blocker for. When we got the new cat, we had a regular hooded box in his room, and that's the one I "upgraded" to a top opening box. And we'll keep the dogs out of his room for a few more months while he settles in. Thanks again!
posted by korej at 7:59 AM on September 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Aw, what a cutie!

So my experience is that there can be a couple of things going on.

Your cat could be trying to establish that they're part of the household and mingle their smell with yours. This would be kind of sweet except that they're doing it by peeing on your bed. Feliway, cat attract, they seem to dislike the top entry litter boxes so maybe stop with those, and get a mattress protector.

Your cat could be freaking out because things have changed so much. Kitty anti-depressants help a lot - they helped one of my cats stop peeing on stuff, now he gets meds every night and doesn't pee on my couch anymore.

Your cat could have a physical health condition, and those can come on whenever. From your description that wouldn't be my first guess, but if kitty doesn't calm down soon it's worth checking out. Urinary tract issues can come on at any time, and ditto bowel issues. Checking in with your vet about what's likely going on is a good idea anyway and it's how you get the anti-depressants.

Good luck!
posted by bile and syntax at 9:12 AM on September 9, 2017

I'm pretty sure its not crystals, because he'd been using his box just fine for months.

Test anyhow for crystals. As someone who had two cats with crystals, I can tell you that peeing on the bed was a giveaway every time that the crystals were starting to cause my boys pain. If your cat has crystals, it doesn't necessarily mean he has problems all the time. All it takes is for the cat to drink a little bit less and it will start to build up. My cat would go years unmedicated before a flare would happen.
posted by frumiousb at 9:15 AM on September 9, 2017

I had a cat once that began peeing in my chair - and on my pillow. I started to leave the bedroom door closed, and tried all sorts of things with the chair. No luck. Consulted the vet, other owners, etc - turns out, the cat just liked me and wanted me to know by peeing on my stuff. I eventually had to give the cat away to a friend, who reports that the cat has never peed on anything of his.
posted by bradth27 at 10:14 AM on September 9, 2017

My cat peed on my bed a few times a few months ago. I thought it was territorial issues -- the neighbor's cat hangs out by the patio door and taunted my cats. She didn't have any other signs of a UTI, so I put a couple Feliway diffusers in the house.

(This story doesn't have a happy ending, so stop reading now if you want.)

It turned out there was a tumor between her bladder and colon, and in hindsight that's probably why she was peeing in inappropriate places. We didn't find it until it was too late.

So, please get him checked out by the vet, just to make sure it's nothing serious? And then count your blessings when it's not, because it's probably isn't, but you don't want to end up kicking yourself like I have.
posted by mudpuppie at 11:02 AM on September 9, 2017

Response by poster: Oh, mudpuppie, I'm so sorry about your kitty! We have an appointment scheduled to get him checked out, just to be sure of everything.
posted by korej at 6:46 PM on September 9, 2017

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