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My Cat Keeps Peeing on My Clothes

 
By Laura García Ortiz, Veterinarian specialized in feline medicine. September 12, 2021
My Cat Keeps Peeing on My Clothes

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Our cats are very hygienic animals which make great effort to ensure their grooming needs are met. While it is difficult to teach them tricks, it is relatively easy to train them to use a litter tray. This is because they want to ensure their waste does not cause their environment to be unhygienic, just as much as we don't. For this reason, it can be strange for our cat to urinate outside their litter box. The exception for this is kittens which have yet to be litter trained. Since peeing on laundry or other unsuitable places in the home can infer a health problem, it is vital we find out why my cat keeps peeing on clothes. AnimalWised discovered the possible causes and solutions to this problem.

You may also be interested in: Why Does My Cat Keep Peeing on My Bed?

Feline marking behavior

In order to find out why cats urinate on laundry, we need to understand the purpose of this action is not always to eliminate waste. Marking territory is important for cats in the wild as it allows them to feel secure in their environment. By eliminating small amounts of urine, they alert cats and other animals in their area of their presence.

We need to distinguish inappropriate urination from marking behavior. We can do this by looking at the position they adopt. When a cat is peeing, they bend down and eliminate as much as they need to. When marking, the cat usually maintains an upright position, tenses their tail and eliminates a small spray of urine. They do so in strategic places such as on the carpet, in a cupboard, along windows or on the couch.

Female cats in heat spray more than they would otherwise. This is because they want to attract a male for mating purposes. Spraying deposits pheromones which the males can sense.

Marking behavior can also be purely territorial. This is especially the case if we see the cat scratching various areas as they mark. There may be certain circumstances which precipitate this behavior, including when a new cat enters the home.

My Cat Keeps Peeing on My Clothes - Feline marking behavior

Why does my cat pee on clothes?

As stated in the introduction, cats are known for their hygiene. However, it is still possible for them to have an accident from time to time. This is especially the case when litter training young cats. There are also both health issues and emotional problems which can result in the cat peeing on laundry or other inappropriate places.

It is important we determine why our cat is peeing on clothes. Instead of getting angry or scolding them, we need to find out the reasons behind the behavior. Often we find the reason behind these behaviors is related to our care. It doesn't mean we are intentionally being neglectful, but we may need to adjust how we look after them to improve their situation. If the problem is medical, we will need to take them to a veterinarian.

Practically speaking, it is possible there is a problem with their litter box. If we place their litter box somewhere busy, the cat may not feel comfortable urinating there. If we know the litter box is placed somewhere appropriate, the reason why your cat pees on your clothes could be one of the following:

Disease

Inappropriate urination can be a symptom of certain diseases. These can be due to irritation, inflammation, infections or other painful pathologies. Many of these affect the urinary tract, but not all do:

  • Infectious cystitis.
  • Feline idiopathic cystitis
  • Urinary stones
  • Mucous plugs in the urethra
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Senile dementia

Urinary incontinence is a symptom of these diseases and not a disease in itself. We need to look at our concurrent symptoms as they will help the veterinarian with their diagnosis. You may see the cat have blood in their urine, they might be in pain, meow more than usual or even decrease their activity levels. We should also note if they have changes in their mood, as well as their water and food intake.

Poor litter box hygiene

Cats need their litter box to be properly sanitized. If guardians do not properly clean and maintain the litter box, the cat may think it is too dirty to use. In these cases, they will urinate elsewhere. Stress can develop if they are unable to use their litter box, compounding the situation further.

Litter box problems

Cleanliness is not the only concern over a cat's litter box. Access is also very important. This is not the same for all cats. Some will want to have their litter box covered, others will prefer it to be open. The amount of cats in a home will affect their litter box use. Ideally we should have enough litter boxes for each cat, plus one more. If we don't, the cat might pee or poop outside their litter box.

If we use the wrong type of litter our cat may not want to pee in the litter box. Finding out the best litter for an individual cat may be a trial and error process. Asses the location and other factors related to the cat¡s litter box.

Stress

Domestic felines are susceptible to stress. Even minor changes in their routine can result in behavioral problems. We can see this especially when we move the cat to a new home or have new members of the family enter our current home. Dietary changes and changing their accessories can result in stress, in turn leading them to pee on our clothes.

Stress has certain consequences for the health of the cat. It can result in immunosuppression, making them more vulnerable to disease. We might also see them become restless, skittish or even aggressive. They can also begin various stereotypies such as excessively biting themselves.

Introducing a new individual into the home

The arrival of a new family member is a common reason why cats pee on clothes or other places they shouldn't. This is both related to stress resulting from the presence of a cat they consider a rival, as well as from marking to assert the area as their territory.

In addition to the cat urinating on places such as clothing, they can show aggressive behaviors towards the new feline. Preventing this from happening requires ethological and environmental management. This means introducing them in the correct way, ensuring they have individual toys, providing enough space and supporting their individual needs. We can also use pheromones to help associate each other positively.

My Cat Keeps Peeing on My Clothes - Why does my cat pee on clothes?

How to stop my cat peeing on my clothes

For pathological problems, we will need to take our cat to the veterinarian. In these cases, providing the vet with any information we can regarding their symptoms will help to achieve the correct diagnosis. They may need to take a blood sample or perform other clinical tests.

Often emotional problems can manifest physically. This is the case with idiopathic cystitis, something often brought on by stress. To reduce stress, we need to improve their lives. This includes the aforementioned environmental enrichment, but also requires us to help them along emotionally. In general, the main measures we need to take to prevent our cat from urinating in places they shouldn't include:

  • Neutering both male and female cats can prevent spraying in the home. Female cats won't go into heat and male cats will be less territorial due to hormonal changes brought on by neutering.
  • Respect your cat's personal space and their need for quiet. Their habits are part of their innate behaviors and we need to facilitate them in a healthy way, otherwise they may urinate on our clothes as protest.
  • Don't punish or scold the cat. This is known as negative reinforcement which doesn't solve the problem and often exacerbates it. For example, they may start pooping on the bed.
  • Ensure you clean the litter box regularly and to a high standard. Change its location if we think this may be causing the problem.
  • Ensure that the business of the home doesn't disturb their routine or cause them any undue harm.
  • Use synthetic feline pheromones or catnip to inspire feelings of tranqulity and calm.
  • If the problem persists, see a specialist in feline ethology.
My Cat Keeps Peeing on My Clothes - How to stop my cat peeing on my clothes

other ways to stop cats peeing on clothes

To prevent your cat from urinating on your clothes, you can use some home remedies, These include:

  • Disinfection with hygiene products free of ammonia and bleach. Enzymatic cleaners are recommended. It is important that clothing or urination sites are sprayed with these products in order to disinfect them and eliminate the odor. Ammonia can actually encourage the cat to pee in certain areas because this can be found in cat urine.
  • Hide your clothes or prevent your cat from having any access to them.
  • Use of pheromones in household diffusers or sprayed directly on clothes to dispel residual odors and comfort the feline.
  • Use of positive reinforcement, i.e. rewarding desired behavior. This includes giving them treats, affection or even using positive language.

Keep in mind that if your cat has started to urinate on your clothes, they are trying to tell you something. If we avoid the problem or ignore it, we will only end up letting it continue and making it worse. For this reason, if you have noticed your cat has begun to urinate in inappropriate places, go to a veterinary clinic to find out the cause and how to fix it.

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to My Cat Keeps Peeing on My Clothes, we recommend you visit our Other health problems category.

Bibliography
  • Álvarez, R. (2020). Feline ethology, basic guide on cat behavior . Amazing Books, SL
  • Atencia, S. (2020). Urology in felines II, diseases of the lower urinary tract of the cat. Improve International.

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