Why Do Cats Urinate on Your Clothes & Bed?

by Jae Allen, Demand Media
    Cats witness patterns of human behavior.

    Cats witness patterns of human behavior.

    Cats spend significant time grooming and licking themselves clean, so it's frustrating when they aren't equally clean and careful about urinating in the proper place. There are many reasons why your cat might urinate on your bedding or clothes -- figuring out why your cat does this is the first step towards prevention.

    Confusion

    If a cat is not securely trained to use a litter box, she may be confused about where she ought to urinate. Kittens may simply be looking for an accessible, comfortable place to urinate, without understanding that you'd rather they use the litter box than your bedspread. A laundry basket of clean or dirty clothes can look a lot like a litter box to a well-trained cat -- if your cat thinks that she can urinate in any container that's shaped like a litter box, your laundry basket might be in danger of being used as a cat toilet.

    Health Problems

    If your cat has a health problem such as a urinary tract infection, her toilet habits may become haphazard. A cat with a UTI may need to urinate frequently and without the usual sense of anticipation. If she gets caught short while she's on your bed or in your wardrobe, your bedding or clothes might be in for a soaking.

    Communication

    Cats can't speak English, but they can find other ways to let you know how they're feeling. If a cat is angry or upset with you, peeing on your clothes or bed is one way they can let you know. Older cats, in particular, can become distressed when domestic changes occur. If you've added another pet or baby to the family, or recently moved house, your cat may be expressing her displeasure or uncertainty about these changes. She knows that urinating on your possessions is a surefire way to get your attention.

    Marking Territory

    Cats are territorial animals and commonly mark their territory with urine. This behavior is particularly common among young male cats who want to demonstrate their ownership of a particular territory. If you have multiple young male cats in the house, they may be competing for "ownership" of your bedroom, your possessions or even your affection and attention. A territorial marking contest can end up with your bed or clothes thoroughly "tagged" with cat urine.

    Behavioral Management

    Patient, consistent litter training is the first step in making sure your cat knows where to go. Provide a clean, attractive litter box for your cat in an area of the house where she has easy access and a degree of privacy. Scoop out the used litter on a daily basis, so your cat doesn't have to tread through her own mess to use the litter box. If you see your cat in action peeing outside the litter box, tell her a clear "no" and take her to the litter box immediately. Be as consistent as you can in your domestic schedule, and make time to hang out and be affectionate with your cat. Particularly if she feels neglected due to the recent introduction of new pets or children in the home, it's important your cat knows you still have time and affection for her. Keep your bedroom and wardrobe tidy, as cats may dislike a messy environment. Put away clean laundry and close the wardrobe door so your cat doesn't have access to your clean clothes. Clean up cat urine as soon as you find it, so your bed or clothes don't start to smell like a cat urinal. Once any fabric is impregnated with the smell of cat urine, your cat may think of that fabric as her personal toilet.

    About the Author

    Jae Allen has been a writer since 1999, with articles published in "The Hub," "Innocent Words" and "Rhythm." She has worked as a medical writer, paralegal, veterinary assistant, stage manager, session musician, ghostwriter and university professor. Allen specializes in travel, health/fitness, animals and other topics.

    Photo Credits

    • Katzen Tagtraum image by life_artist from Fotolia.com