Why does our cat pee on our clothes, and how can I stop her?
May 12, 2004 11:05 AM   Subscribe

CatPeeFilter: Why does our cat pee on our clothes, and how can I stop her? (more inside)

We have three cats, one seven years old, one two years old, and one just a year old. We think it’s the youngest with the problem because whenever there are clothes on the floor or in a basket, she paws at them and hides in them and rolls around in them. Plus I’ve never had the joy of picking up a cat pee-soaked t-shirt off the floor until about six months after we got the little twerp. All three cats get along famously; they play and sleep and eat and snuggle together and show no sign of anger towards each other. We have two litter boxes which we unfailingly clean twice a day. All three cats were given clean bills of health at their last check up, which was a little under a year ago, and besides, the only place this peeing happens is on wadded up clothing. And only clothes on the floor or in a laundry basket. And never towels. Her aim just seems way to specific to be health related.

Obviously, we have stopped leaving piles of laundry around, and we have the luxury of a spare bedroom where we can keep laundry in its various phases, but we’re moving in a couple months and may not have a cat-free room where we can hide things.

She’s a weird ass cat in general, so I tend to think there’s nothing to do about it, but ask.mefi seems to do well with cat pee related questions so I figured, what the hell.
posted by jennyb to Pets & Animals (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Ours do that too - our only solution is to not leave any clothing or absorbent material on the floor. One of the cats will pee on anything left on the floor, regardless of the state of their litter box.

Then again, another one of my cats likes to wallow in dirty clothing - we think its because it smells like us ("his people"), and he likes the smell.

There's nothing as disturbing as having to yell, "KITTY, QUIT WALLOWING IN MY UNDERWEAR!"
posted by mrbill at 11:17 AM on May 12, 2004 [1 favorite]

I have a cat that cannot be allowed around boxes of paper -- say, shipping boxes I've just unpacked, or a box of recycled newspapers, or sometimes even an empty box with hardly anything in it. These somehow say "litterbox" to her little pea brain, and away she goes. She's always been that way. I'm guessing that piles of clothes just feel "right" to your cat, litterbox-wise. Either that or there's something in your detergent that makes her so happy she loses control.

Since you've ruled out the health problem, keeping kitten away from the clothes is all you can do. Suggestions: 1) Get a clothes basket or laundry bin that has a good lid for when you've got clothes in transit. 2) Put baskets of clothes in the closet until you're ready to deal with them. 3) Rejoice in the fact that this will ultimately make you a bit more organized. :)
posted by JanetLand at 11:20 AM on May 12, 2004

Did Francie do it again? or is this from the last time.
posted by corpse at 11:23 AM on May 12, 2004

My cat, in his older age (about 16/17 now) has begun peeing on jackets that are hung over the backs of chairs. We no longer hang coats and jackets on the backs of chairs.
posted by crazy finger at 11:24 AM on May 12, 2004

Response by poster: corpse: I picked up a cardigan this morning that had fallen down beside my desk, unbeknownst to me, and yes, she had done it again.

corpse here leaves clothes all over the bedroom floor and, unless he's really impervious to moisture and the smell of cat pee and hasn't noticed, she's never peed on those clothes. She seems to only take aim at clothes left on the floor of the common rooms or clothes in laundry baskets.

Oh my god I've got it! My mother is channeling her spirit into the cat and using the only tools at her disposal to keep us neat from states and states away. Figures.
posted by jennyb at 11:36 AM on May 12, 2004

Maybe they like you, and are marking you (your clothes smell like you) as theirs. Fondness mixed with territoriality instincts. My first cat once peed on my pillow, which I discovered the hard way. I didn't blame him, though.
posted by Shane at 12:08 PM on May 12, 2004

shane: when my wife was just my girlfriend, and had moved in, she had to go on a short trip leaving her cat behind with me.

I woke up to find the cat, sitting on my chest, peeing on me. She marked "her" territory, and we got along fine ever since.
posted by mrbill at 12:17 PM on May 12, 2004

Response by poster: All right, well, if we can't fix this one, how do we stop the middle child from splashing all the water out of their water bowl every day?
posted by jennyb at 12:31 PM on May 12, 2004

Mr. Bill - "There's nothing as disturbing as having to yell, 'KITTY, QUIT WALLOWING IN MY UNDERWEAR!'"

Oh yeah? What about MY daily opportunity to yell, "DOGGIE! COME BACK INSIDE WITH MY UNDERWEAR!"

That always amuses the neighbors. Sometimes I don't find my panties again until the lawnguy leaves their shreds folded semi-neatly at the back door.
posted by pomegranate at 12:35 PM on May 12, 2004 [1 favorite]

We had the same problem and ended up seeing an animal behaviorist about it. Basically, she told us not to yell at the cat -- it'll only make things worse. Her advice -- that we didn't end up following -- was to start by confining the cat to a small space where she feels comfortable. Then, from there, expand the space... the theory was that the peeing was anxiety-related.

In our case, what made a big difference was picking up one of the littermaid electric catboxes. While it's kinda silly having an electric cat box, it actually worked wonders. (Well, that and not leaving any clothes around.) While she still gets us when we're not paying attention, she no longer goes out of her way to pee on stuff.
posted by ph00dz at 1:16 PM on May 12, 2004

My cat started doing that when I moved back home from school for a couple of months the year before she died (she was about 21 by then). Only my clothes, towels in the bathroom and laundry baskets in other parts of the house were never touched. She seemed to get the idea after I basically threw her out of my room a few times when I'd catch her. (gently, but firmly)

I'ts funny, I had totally forgotten that she'd do that until about 3 days ago when I remembered it one morning, and now this post. Odd.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:12 PM on May 12, 2004

One of the things my animal behaviorist recommended was this miracle substance known as Anti-Icky-Poo. It has enzymes that destroy the odors from the bacteria in the urine. Even if you wash the clothes and can't smell cat pee yourself anymore, the cat can still smell it and is encouraged to pee on the item again.
posted by gokart4xmas at 6:03 PM on May 12, 2004

I would advice you to invest in a Ford Ka.
posted by FidelDonson at 3:53 AM on May 13, 2004

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