Why Is My Cat Peeing in the House?

Stephanie Dube Dwilson

If your cat is suddenly peeing in the house, it can be extremely frustrating. It's especially true if your kitty previously used the litter box just fine, but his habits have recently changed for no apparent reason. If your cat's urinating on the carpet or other parts of your home, what can you do to stop it? First, look for triggers that might be causing the behavior. You may be surprised to learn that even a small change can stress out your cat.

Check for Health Issues

If your cat previously used the litter box with no problems and all of a sudden is peeing everywhere in your house, then you want to visit your veterinarian to rule out any health issues. Cats typically either spray vertically onto walls or furniture or horizontally on the carpet or random objects on the ground. Horizontal spraying is more likely to be a sign of health issues, but vertical spraying may also be an issue. Either way, you want to get your cat checked out by a vet . Also, a cat that isn't spayed or neutered is more likely to spray inappropriately.

Litter Preferences Can Trigger Inappropriate Peeing

Several issues can trigger inappropriate peeing around the house. If the litter box is dirty or not cleaned frequently, your cat might prefer to pee on the floor in front of the box instead. If you have more than one cat, they might not like to share the litter box. A good rule of thumb is to have at least one litter box in the home per cat, plus one extra.1

But the issue can even be more subtle. If your cat used to be an outdoor cat, he might be accustomed to the feel of soil when peeing, and the litter you provide just feels wrong. Or perhaps he has long fur, and some litter particles got stuck in the fur between his paws, and now he doesn't want to step in the box anymore. It's a good idea to try different types of litter to see if your choosy cat has a preference. Try clumping and non-clumping, fragrant and scentless, crystal, pellets, clay, and even sand or soil.

Consider the type of litter box or the location as well. If the sides of the box are higher than your cat is comfortable stepping over, he might avoid the box. If it's in an area where many people walk or near a noisy appliance, he might not feel comfortable. Test different sizes and shapes of boxes, some with covers and some without. Put them near where your cat is spraying and make sure you have them on every floor or both ends of your home.

Insecurity and Stress Can Lead to Pee Issues

Feelings of insecurity and stress can also lead to your cat peeing in random parts of the house rather than in her litter box. Maybe you adopted a new dog or cat, and now she feels insecure. If your cat is fighting a lot with another cat, you may need to reintroduce them before the tension goes away.

The problem might even be as simple as a feral cat wandering outside at night, making your cat nervous. Whatever the situation, your cat may be marking her territory so she feels more secure. This type of insecurity might even lead your cat to pee in unusual areas, like on your bed or your clothes.

Or perhaps you're leaving for work more frequently than you used to, or you're having guests over more often. Even rearranging your furniture or doing something as simple as getting a new refrigerator might throw off your cat's sense of well-being. Cats don't like change, but they also can't speak out and voice what bothers them. That's why cats tend to act out instead. They don't do this because they're mad; they just need to relieve some pent-up frustration.

Sometimes the issues are even more challenging to identify. Maybe a loud noise happened outside while your cat was using the litter box. Perhaps she once had a health issue that interfered with her using the box. Now she associates that with the box itself and avoids it at all costs. This is another reason why testing different types of boxes and locations can be helpful. If she associates the litter box with something negative, a change of scenery can help break that association.

Thoroughly Clean Old Litter Accidents

Another key element to reducing spraying incidents in your home is to clean any old accidents thoroughly. If your cat peed on the carpet and it wasn't completely cleaned, he'll be drawn back to the smell over and over. If you're renting a home and the people before you had cats, even the smell from those cats' old accidents might lead your cat to want to mark on top of the old scent.

Make sure you use a cleaner specially designed for cat pee. An enzyme-based cleaner is best because it helps break down the uric acid in cat pee that smells so strong and entices your cat to come back over and over again.2

Comfort Zone Products Can Help

If stress is triggering your cat to pee in your house, then Comfort Zone products can help reduce the effects of stress and curb unwanted behavior. These products address your cat's e-meow-tional health by signaling—in your cat's language—that everything's okay.

Once a day, spray the Comfort Zone Cat Spray & Scratch Control Spray directly on the areas where your cat sprayed. For best results, use the spray in conjunction with the Comfort Zone Calming Diffuser, which mimics a cat's natural calming pheromones. If you have more than one cat, use the Comfort Zone Multi-Cat Diffuser in the rooms where your cats spend the most time. You may opt to put a Comfort Zone Calming Collar on your cat, so the calming signals follow him wherever he goes.

Find Ways to Build Your Cat's Confidence

A confident cat is less likely to be so overcome by stress that she feels the need to spray. So make your home a happy and fun place for both you and your cat. Set up cat trees, cat condos, and window perches, so your cat has lots of tall places to escape to. Cats feel more confident when they're high off the ground.

Engage your cat's mind with new activities. Play bonding games like "chase the feather wand" or clicker training every day. Take your cat on safe outdoor adventures together. Help her get used to a harness and leash, then walk outside together to enjoy some time in the grass and watch the birds fly by. Giving your cat fun activities can build her confidence and, perhaps, cut down on her need to pee outside the box.

Reducing litter accidents isn't always an overnight solution. Sometimes it takes a lot of love and patience as you seek out the triggers. But over time, you can help your cat feel more secure and confident, leading to fewer accidents and a happier home.

1. The Humane Society of the United States. "Preventing Litter Box Problems." HumaneSociety.org, https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/preventing-litter-box-problems.

2. McCarthy, Carol. "How to Clean Cat Urine." PetMD, 4 January 2017, https://www.petmd.com/cat/care/how-clean-cat-urine.