Owner cleaning cat urine.

One day you notice a damp stain on your couch, or a pile of clothes that smells like cat pee, and you feel equally frustrated and fearful that something is wrong. If your cat is suddenly peeing outside of the litter box, it’s a clear signal that there is a problem. Also called “inappropriate urination,” it’s important to find the reason it’s happening or the problem is likely to continue.

Find the Cause

The best way to stop your cat from peeing on clothes and other spots in the house is to figure out the reason it’s happening, whether it’s a medical problem, behavioral, or possibly even both. The first step is a visit to the vet to get checked out for medical issues, especially if there are other symptoms such as increased thirst. Many common medical causes can be identified with a urinalysis, blood tests, and an X-Ray or ultrasound. Your veterinarian will check for conditions that can cause bladder problems including:

  • diabetes
  • kidney disease
  • urinary tract infection
  • hyperthyroidism
  • arthritis
  • anxiety

Urinating in the house can be a behavioral issue when a cat is reacting to a stressful situation. Changes in routine, conflicts between other pets in the home, or even something as simple as a new type of litter could be the source of the problem. Cats communicate using scent, so it’s possible your cat peed on the bed to mark his territory or is looking for extra attention from you.

Solving the Problem

First, thoroughly clean spots on carpet and furniture with enzymatic cleaners. Clothing can be washed with vinegar and baking soda to remove smells and stains. If a medical cause is found, be sure to follow your vet’s treatment plan. Pick up clothing off the floor and limit your cat’s access to certain rooms until the problem has resolved.

As irritating as it is to scrub urine-soaked clothing or furniture, it’s important not to punish your pet. Instead, work on retraining your cat to use the litter box:

  • Put litter boxes in a quiet place away from food and water bowls
  • Buy a litter box for every floor in the house
  • Scoop the box daily and wash it completely once a week
  • Do not offer treats as rewards

If your cat is peeing outside of the litter box and you’re not sure why, call us at 703-920-5300 to schedule an exam or talk through any concerns. Our veterinary staff at Arlington Animal Hospital are here to get your pet back on the path to wellness.