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Some people prefer dogs, others have a soft spot for cats and then there are those who love both animals equally.
If you share your home with both cats and dogs, then you know that this “unlikely” friendship is more than possible, but it can come with its own set of struggles.
Usually, dogs need more attention when it comes to toilet training, so it can be quite surprising and frustrating to find out that your feline companion has peed outside of the litter box especially if it happened to be your dog’s bed.
So, why does my cat pee on the dog bed?
Your cat might be urinating on the dog bed because of an underlying medical issue like a urinary tract infection. They could also be marking their territory because they’re in heat or because of stress caused by a sudden change in their environment.
Let’s take a closer look at the reasons below and figure out the various ways you can stop this behavior!
Why Does My Cat Pee On The Dog Bed?
Hygiene is really important to most cats, so your feline companion should have a good reason why they are using your dog’s bed as a litter box, so let’s explore each one separately.
Reason 1: Health Problems
When our cat’s behavior suddenly changes, especially when it’s litter box-related, the first thing you need to rule out is any medical issues.
There are several conditions that can cause inappropriate elimination and urinary tract infections (UTIs) are usually the most common.
According to Malcolm Weir, DVM, “a UTI occurs when bacteria travel up the urethra and into the bladder. Urine in the bladder is supposed to be sterile, but once bacteria find their way to the bladder, the bacteria can grow and reproduce, causing the UTI.”
The reason why your cat chose to pee on your dog’s bed could have been accidental or not as intentional as you may imagine. Under different circumstances, they could’ve chosen to pee on your bed, or on the bathroom rug, among other places.
Aside from UTIs, kidney stones, diabetes and bladder inflammation can cause frequent painful urination and litter box avoidance.
If your cat is experiencing pain during urination, then they might choose to pee on your dog’s bed to get your attention. That’s why finding your feline companion suddenly or consistently urinating on the dog bed should be enough to take your kitty for a vet check-up.
If you’ve already taken your kitty to the vet and they’ve been treated for a UTI or other litter box-related condition, but this behavior persists then it’s possible that your cat has developed a negative association with their litter box.
In this case, you’ll need to change their perception and create a positive or at least a neutral association by re-training them.
Reason 2: Stress and Anxiety
Once you’ve ruled out any medical issues then it’s time to look at your cat’s emotional wellbeing, since inappropriate elimination can also be linked to stress and anxiety.
It’s really important to understand what is causing this stress, and according to PDSA it can “affect your cat’s quality of life and even cause medical problems, like stress cystitis painful and potentially dangerous problem for cats.”
Each cat can experience stress for different reasons, but more often than not, it’s caused by changes in their environment.
If you’ve recently adopted your dog, then this is definitely a major change that can make your cat misbehave, and peeing on your dog’s bed can be one of the signs that they’re not dealing with this change all too well.
Perhaps your cat and dog have been living in peaceful harmony from day one, and this behavior just doesn’t seem to make sense. In this case, your cat might have an issue with you more than with their fellow dog companion.
In this case, it could be a sign of separation anxiety. I know this condition has been mostly associated with dogs, but recent research has shown that cats have attachment styles seen in human infants and other animals like dogs.
Possible signs that can point at separation anxiety in your cat are:
- Urinating or defecating outside of the litter box
- Excessive vocalization
- Destructive behavior
- Excessive grooming
- Seeking constant attention from their owner
Since cats are much more independent in their day-to-day life, it’s easy to limit the time you spend with them when you have a dog around that usually craves human attention, especially if it’s a puppy that requires lots of training.
It’s also possible that you and your dog aren’t responsible for your cat’s stress, maybe it’s a completely different event that’s causing them to pee on the dog bed.
Moving houses can be just as stressful, as well as a change in their diet, or perhaps you’ve adopted another cat or a member of your family has moved out or passed away.
If you’ve been working overtime and you only have time to take your pooch out for a walk then your cat might be feeling neglected.
“An anxious cat might pee elsewhere as a way to relieve their anxiety because the smell of their own urine makes them feel safer,” Dr. Cathy Lund explains.
But even as you begin to work on eliminating the stressors that may be causing this behavior you should first take your kitty to the vet.
Cats that experience stress can get sick. So, your cat might have been feeling unwell for a while now, and peeing on the dog bed is the result of bladder inflammation or another medical issue..
Reason 3: Jealousy
Urinating on the dog bed could be a sign of jealousy in cats.
While this might be more of human emotion, this doesn’t mean our feline companions don’t feel threatened by other people and animals, especially if they think that they are the reason you’ve been spending less time with them.
If you’ve recently adopted your dog, then it’s only natural that you’ll devote a large chunk of your time taking them out on walks, training them, and playing with them. But before that, your cat most likely enjoyed the perks of having all of your attention directed at them.
You were not going out for hour-long walks and instead, your cat had your lap at their disposal at all times and they could easily get you to play with them.
If all those little day-to-day activities have changed then it’s easy for your kitty to blame the dog with whom they have to share their home and their owner. I’m sure plenty of new parents has dealt with cat jealousy towards the newborn baby.
You might also notice aggressive behaviors like hissing, scratching, and biting, and your cat might even come between you and the dog.
This sudden change could also happen even after your cat and dog have been companions for years. Perhaps your kitty has been noticing that they don’t get as much love and affection from you lately and the only way they can get your attention is by peeing on the dog bed.
Let’s not forget that you could be reinforcing this behavior if every time your cat urinates on the dog bed, they get more attention even if it’s negative.
Reason 4: They’re In Heat
We’ve mostly discussed why a cat would pee on the dog bed if you’ve recently adopted your doggy, but what if it’s the other way around and your newly adopted cat has been using the dog bed as a litter box.
Well, your kitty could be marking the dog bed because they haven’t been spayed or neutered. Debra Horwitz, DVM, explains that “spraying is the deposition of small amounts of urine on vertical surfaces.”
As your cat is maturing their urge to spray will only grow and you may notice them doing it on other objects around the house, like the sink or next to windows.
Horwitz also adds that “although much less common, some cats will also mark their territory by leaving small amounts of urine, or occasionally stool, on horizontal surfaces.”
If this is the case then your kitty is ready to be spayed or neutered which not only will benefit your home, but also their mental and physical wellbeing. By postponing the procedure, your cat might end up marking the same areas even after being spayed/neutered and it can form into a habit that will be difficult to stop.
If your cat isn’t already spayed or neutered, then perhaps it’s time to get it done. PetSmart Charities has a directory with thousands of spay and neuter clinics across the globe. These clinics are either completely free or low cost so there’s really no reason not to get your kitty spayed or neutered.
Reason 5: Territorial Behavior
Just like dogs, cats also mark their territories with urine, and if the dog bed is positioned in a room or a corner that your cat considered to be their own then you might find it covered in pee.
ASPCA points out that “they might do it to preempt a problem by leaving a message that this place is theirs, or they might do it to comfort themselves with their own familiar scent.”
So, in order to reestablish their scent and feel more secure in their own home, they might resolve to urine marking.
If you have more than one cat then this behavior might have more to do with the other cat than the dog. Perhaps the arrival of a new dog has changed the dynamic between the two cats and they’re both peeing on the dog bed to establish their own scent on this new object.
Research has also shown that “male cats and cats from multi-cat households are more likely to exhibit urine marking behavior than females and cats from single-cat households.”
The scent of neighborhood cats that tend to spray or simply walk by your house can also trigger your cat to spray near your doors and windows and if your dog’s bed is in their way then they might end up peeing on top of it instead.
Removing the possible stressors, working on reintroducing your cats or your cat to your dog can help relieve their stress and curb their marking behavior.
Adding more cat trees, hiding spots, and shelves around the house can also help expand your cat’s territory.
Then, having elevated areas where your dog can’t reach means that your kitty can escape them and even avoid stepping a paw on the floor when they don’t want to be bothered.
This can greatly improve their cat and dog relationship, and maybe one day you’ll find your kitty kneading your little pooch on the same dog bed they used to pee on.
Reason 6: Litter Box Issues
Finally, the source of your cat’s inappropriate elimination might have to do with their litter box.
Most cats are clean animals, and they don’t even need to be litter box trained, but if your kitty suddenly prefers the dog bed then you might need to investigate their toilet conditions.
Studies have shown that a good and positive litter box environment improves the well-being of a cat.
There are a few ways to prevent litter box problems like:
- Having the right number of boxes per cat. The RSPCA recommends that there should be one litter box per cat, plus one more.
- You also need to make sure that you clean the litter box regularly. Since I have two cats, I try to scoop the litter in the morning and before I go to bed.
- Since cats come in different shapes and sizes you need to find the right litter box size for your own kitty.
- It’s also possible that the type of litter you’ve been using is too harsh on their paws or smells funny.
- Privacy is also very important. The litter box needs to be placed in a quiet room or area, where your dog can’t follow them.
If the dog bed is on their way to the litter box and they realize that the box is never as clean as they want it to be then they’ll start using the dog bed instead.
Regular cleaning is a useful habit to have because you can detect any sudden changes like soft stools, intense and unusual smells if they pee too little or too much.
Basically, a cat needs more than one litter box, with clean preferably unscented litter in an area where they can have some privacy, otherwise, they might start looking for other places to do it!
How To Stop My Cat Fron Peeing In The Dog Bed?
Recognizing the reason why your cat is peeing on the dog bed is the first thing you need to do, so you can take the necessary steps to stop this behavior.
Let’s take a look at your options one by one.
Step 1: Take Your Cat To The Vet
Any sudden changes in your cat’s behavior can be alarming, especially when these changes are litter box related.
Peeing outside of the litter box goes against the feline instinct of burying their eliminations, that’s why you need to take your kitty for a veterinary checkup.
Your cat could be suffering from a UTI or something more serious. According to Ilana Reisner, DVM a study of urine marking cats showed that “38% were found to have a urogenital medical condition and/or crystalluria.”
Even if your cat is peeing on the dog bed because they’re stressed out, your vet will run tests to see if there’s also a possible health issue that’s causing their litter box aversion.
They can also give you advice on how to solve this issue even if it’s behavioral, or they can redirect you to a professional cat behaviorist.
Step 2: Use Positive Reinforcement
Your cat might stop peeing on the dog bed, once they start receiving their medication, but if this is a behavioral issue, or your cat is peeing on the dog bed even after being treated then you’ll need to find a different approach.
I do want to make it clear that you shouldn’t punish, or shout at your kitty, for peeing outside of their litter box. Spraying them with water is also a bad idea, not only will you not get them to stop, but you will most likely aggravate the situation.
Every cat needs their own approach to training, but it should always be based on positive reinforcement training.
As stated by the Journal of Veterinary Behavior, “positive reinforcement training with cats is a useful tool for improving the human-animal bond, treating behavior problems, and teaching novel tasks.”
You can start by changing their association to the dog bed, by using treats, playing with them, and petting them right next to the dog bed. You can also place the litter box where you keep the dog bed until your kitty starts using the litter box.
Finally, you could consider talking to a behaviorist and even taking a professional class to help you retrain your kitty to use the litter box.
Step 3: Improve Their Environment
If your kitty is peeing on the dog bed because they want you to notice them, or because they’re not happy with their day-to-day life then a good place to start is to look at your cat’s environment and check if your home is actually cat friendly.
The experts suggest that “simple enhancements to improve the quality of cat’s living quarters via enrichment such as hiding areas may yield many beneficial effects.”
Cats love elevated places and hiding spots where they know that no one can get to them or find them. This can be especially helpful when they share their territory with a large family, other cats, and a dog that can sniff them out.
You can start by getting a cat tree with various levels or adding a few shelves on the wall that go all the way up to the ceiling where your cat can watch over their territory without being bothered.
Since I have two cats I tend to leave one of my closets open so one of them can curl up under my clothes. I’ve also cleared up a shelf in my bookcase and added a basket with a cozy blanket where my other cat can hide.
Make sure your cat also enjoys their food, that they have plenty of fresh water and that your dog isn’t actually stealing it.
Even if you turn your house into the perfect cat heaven, your cat might still pee on the dog bed, if they feel neglected by you. So, remember to spend some alone time with them by leaving your dog outside of the room, pet and talk to them throughout the day, and don’t forget to include lots of cuddles!
Step 4: Add More Litter Boxes
Sometimes the litter box itself can be the source of the problem.
As I’ve already mentioned, you have to have the right number of boxes, (one litter box per cat, plus one more). And if you have more than one cat then you’ll need three litter boxes, preferably spread throughout the house.
Don’t forget that you need to clean your cat’s litter regularly. The scientific journal recommends that the litter should be scooped once a day.
If your dog tends to follow your cat around, or they have access to their litter box then I’d suggest you place the litter box in an area where the dog can’t get to it, perhaps an elevated location that your cat has easy access to.
Cats need to feel safe when they’re going to the toilet, and if your dog is making them feel unsafe then they’ll choose to eliminate elsewhere which in your case just happens to be the dog’s bed.
If your cat is associating the litter box with something negative then you should replace it with a different one, and you could go for an automatic litter box that can also block your dog from accessing it.
Changing the litter brand completely could also help change your cat’s mind about their litter box. According to Cornell Feline Health Center, “most cats prefer unscented, finer-textured litter about one to two inches deep.”
I’d actually suggest getting a litter that changes color when it detects abnormalities in your cat’s urine. This way you can prevent any medical complications and treat your kitty before they can start eliminating elsewhere.
Step 5: Clean The Dog Bed Thoroughly
Even if your kitty is healthy they might still use the dog bed as a litter box. Cats tend to return to the place they’ve already peed on, especially if they can still smell the urine scent on that object.
To stop your cat from marking the dog bed all over again it’s important to act fast and clean the dog bed thoroughly.
You can wash the dog bed in the washing machine, but because there’s still a possibility that the smell of urine will remain, I’d suggest using specialized odor eliminators, like enzyme-based cleaning products that are safe for pets and humans alike.
You can either buy them online or make your own with vinegar but avoid ammonia-based products that can attract your kitty instead.
Step 6: Replace The Dog Bed Completely
If your cat continues to use the dog bed as a litter box even after it’s been properly washed, then replace the dog bed with a new one and place it in a different spot.
Look for a dog bed made of a different material because the smell and texture of certain products like plastic bags for example can actually attract cats.
It’s also possible that your kitty is confusing their litter box with the dog bed because they have the shape, size, or color, so, try to go for something completely different.
Step 7: Block Their Access To The Dog Bed
I know this won’t be an option for all dog and cat owners, but you could try to create a physical separation between your kitty and the dog bed.
You can also place the litter box where the dog bed used to be, or put the dog bed and the litter box at opposite ends of your home.
Step 8: Consider Using Cat Pheromones
Cats use scent to communicate with the world around them. They do it through the release of pheromones from the scent glands that are located in their cheeks, paw pads, forehead, and rectum.
That’s why artificial pheromones can have a calming effect on your stressed kitty if they don’t feel safe around the dog.
Cat pheromones can achieve this incredible result because they contain a synthetic copy of one of the feline facial pheromones that cats use to communicate happiness, comfort, and safety.
According to Dr. Tynes, DVM, “each type of pheromone sends a specific comforting message to the pet, such as ‘you are safe here’ or ‘you belong here.”
So, if you think that your cat is peeing on the dog bed because they’re stressed and you’ve tried everything you could to help them then you could also try the Feliway Classic Cat Calming Pheromone that’s available on Amazon.
How To Get Cat Pee Out Of The Dog Bed?
If you don’t want to get rid of the dog bed altogether, then you’ll need to make sure that the cat urine smell is completely removed, otherwise, your furry friend will return to the scene of the crime.
You can use an enzymatic cleaner that can break up a urine stain through a chemical reaction, and most importantly they can break down the acid in your cat’s urine and neutralize the bacteria.
A really great option is the Rocco & Roxie enzymatic cleaner that you can find on Amazon by clicking here.
It can be used on every surface, including clothing and my favorite part is that you can spray it on the dog bed, leave it for 10 minutes, and then put it in the washer, or you can use 1-2 cups in a pre-soak cycle!
If you don’t have an enzymatic cleaner at hand then you can soak the dog bed in vinegar instead. the folks at PetMD state that vinegar is “an acid that neutralizes the alkaline salts that form in dried urine stains.”
Remember to dilute the vinegar with 50% water before applying it to the dog bed!
Cats are often described as chaotic and unpredictable, but if you look closer you can always find a reason that explains even the strangest behavior.
If you found your kitty peeing on the dog bed then they could be jealous of the dog, they might be simply marking their territory or they’re seeking your attention because something is wrong.
Either way litter box issues should never go unnoticed or untreated, especially if you want to have a happy kitty and a happy dog that doesn’t end up sleeping on cat urine.
Let us know how you stopped your kitty from peeing on the dog bed and if your furry companions are enjoying a peaceful truce at last!