Stop Cat peeing on the couch
If you’re a cat person, rest assured that you’re in good company. The world of literature is full of cat people, from Emily Bronte to Mark Twain to Ernest Hemingway. World literature is full of famous felines as well. English literature gives us the Cheshire Cat in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.
Cats are great companions, from Hermione’s cat Crookshanks in the Harry Potter series to Claudine’s Franchette in Colette’s Claudine novels. Mikhail Bulgakov offers a trickster take on cats with the demon Behemoth in The Master and Margarita. There’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot, the inspiration for – what else? – the musical Cats. And who could forget Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat?
All of those famous literary felines are quite distinctive in the way in which they express themselves. Your cat probably is, too. That said, there are some ways in which you wish they wouldn’t “express themselves.” Case in point – peeing on the furniture. You know they don’t mean to cause grief, but nevertheless, peeing on the furniture is a pet peeve of pet owners.
Frustrating isn’t it
It can be especially frustrating in the case of cats because, well, they have a litter box for that. Presumably, your cat knows it’s a no-no to pee on your couch or bed. They know they’re supposed to use their litter box instead.
But even so, sometimes cats just decide to pee on your furniture anyway. Why? Are they doing it to taunt you a la the Cheshire Cat or Bulgakov’s Behemoth? Are they playing “games” with you like the Cat in the Hat? T.S. Eliot calls his Macavity “a Mystery Cat” – but this is a mystery even beyond that!
So, let’s unravel that mystery once and for all with this look at how to stop a cat from peeing on the couch.
The Stress Test
Surely you can relate. Sure, you (hopefully) don’t pee everywhere when stressed, but you know how troubling anxiety can be. That’s part of why we love cats, after all – they’re loveable fuzzy sources of stress relief. There is something truly cathartic about the bond between cats and their owners.
No matter who you are or what kind of day you might be having, your cat is there to cuddle and comfort you. Sure, cats have a bit of a reputation for having an independent streak, especially compared to dogs. That said, their independence makes it all the more rewarding when they choose to curl up beside you.
That soothing relationship goes both ways. Your cat likes to feel as safe and relaxed as you. When they don’t feel that way, they can act out. Thus, the first step to tackling your cat’s peeing problem is to determine the cause of their stress and eliminate it.
Causes of Stress
You can relate to the idea of your cat being stressed. As stated, the ability to empathize and alleviate stress is at the core of the cat-and-owner bond. Even so, chances are your cat isn’t stressed out by the prospect of paying taxes or a hard day at work. Cats and humans both experience stress, but the cause of that stress is different. Some of the most common stressors for cats include the following:
- Household changes: David Bowie sang about “Cat People,” but it’s “Changes” which can perturb your cat. Cats are creatures of habit. When something’s off, they can often sense it immediately. Even more stressful can be the arrival of another cat. The sight, as well as the scent of a new rival, can bother your cat. The scent is one way by which cats mark their territory. If they smell another cat’s scent, they might feel “Under Pressure” and start marking their territory – by peeing on furniture.
- Dirty litter box: Cats are notorious clean freaks. (Well, as “clean” as you can be licking yourself and peeing on furniture.) If their litter box is dirty, it can cause stress – and cause them to “do their business” elsewhere.
- Strange animals outside: You probably don’t like the idea of home intruders, and neither does your cat. If they hear strange animals, it can stress them out, causing them to urinate.
- Loud sounds: The same holds true for loud sounds. Sure, you know that the sound of cars or construction work outside, while potentially annoying, isn’t dangerous. Your cat doesn’t know that, however. To them, these loud, strange sounds mean danger. Any cat owner can tell you that the Fourth of July is no holiday for cats! The loud crack of fireworks can seriously stress your cat out – and cause them to express that stress by peeing.
Peeing in High Places
All of those aforementioned issues are potential causes of stress in cats. Even so, the question remains – why are they peeing on your couch, bed, or other furnishings? One reason, as alluded to above, is the issue of territoriality. If there is another cat in the house, especially a new arrival, your old cat may well try to assert their dominance.
This is one reason why they might opt to pee on your couch, bed, or other furnishings. Height equals dominance. Humorous as it is, peeing on a higher place than their rival can be your cat’s way of showing off. Have you gotten a new cat, and are your old one “targeting” couch cushions and the top of your bedding? There’s a decent chance that this is at least a partial reason why.
However, it isn’t the only potential reason. Whereas height can sometimes equate to dominance, it can likewise mean security. If your cat is feeling threatened, therefore, it might seek the shelter of high-up places – and mark the territory as theirs whilst there.
We all have our silly creature comforts, and we all get competitive sometimes. Who among us hasn’t binge-watched comfort shows, binge-watched comfort TV, or furiously fought our sworn rivals for video game supremacy? Your cat might find that downright silly but may “compete” with other cats or relieve stress by relieving themselves.
Potential Medical Problems
Then again, maybe the cause of your cat’s peeing on couches and bedding is less humorous and more medically problematic. Peeing indiscriminately might be a sign that they can’t control their bladder, which is obviously a huge problem. Even more problematic is the possibility that your cat might be peeing everywhere as a sign of a greater medical condition.
Urinary tracts can be one of the chief culprits in this regard. Other common culprits can include arthritis and diabetes. You will, therefore, want to make sure to rule these out. That said, obviously peeing everywhere alone isn’t a sign of arthritis, diabetes, or urinary tract infections, so don’t panic.
You will want to make sure to check your cat for other symptoms of those conditions. If they don’t apply, you shouldn’t worry. That said, if some signs do match, or your cat won’t stop peeing, you will want to visit the vet.
Ways to Lessen Stress
Now that we know what causes it, let’s get into how to stop a cat from peeing on the couch. The first step to take is to see if you can remove the cause of your cat’s stress. If you can address the stressor, chances are good that you’ll be able to stop your cat from peeing indiscriminately.
That being said, just as there are different reasons for stress, there is no cure-all to address all cat stressors. As such, you will want to work diligently to try and match the cause of the treatment. Figuring out how to stop a cat from peeing on the couch or furniture means piecing these puzzle pieces together.
To begin with, let’s address instances where your pet might be peeing due to a lack of security.
As stated, cats correlate height with security. If your cat is feeling stressed for reasons relating to height issues, providing them with high places can be helpful. Cat trees and perches can be a great solution here. They provide your cat with a high place to which they can retreat and feel safe.
Moreover, while you don’t want them to pee outside their litter box, better on their cat tree than your furniture. Place a separate mini litter box in or near their cat tree, and they should be good to go.
Change Things Gradually
We’ve already touched upon the fact that change can play a huge role in causing or alleviating your cat’s stressors. That’s what can make it so difficult, however – change can be both the cause and solution to cat stress. This paradox regarding cats and change (a “Cat-22,” if you will) can make solving the problem seems almost impossible.
However, that simply isn’t the case. There are plenty of ways to alleviate stress caused by change, and plenty of ways to use change as a cure. Whether the change is the problem or solution, however, you’ll want to address the problem gradually. Changing things quickly or radically will only cause your cat to feel even more stressed.
Say, for example, that you are planning on changing brands of cat food. If that sounds like a minor thing, imagine eating the same thing day after day. Even if you might be bored by eating the same thing day after day, your digestive system is used to it.
Stick to a routine
An abrupt change in your cat’s food or eating routine, therefore, can throw your cat’s system off, causing them distress. To avoid this, you’ll want to implement that change gradually. Don’t just change from one brand to another overnight. Gradually introduce the new brand and wean your cat off the old one. A treat or two to help them through the change wouldn’t be amiss, either.
The same holds true when it comes to introducing a new cat into the home. Introduce a new cat out of nowhere, and your cat might freak out – and “preemptively pee” to assert his or her dominance. Instead, introduce the new cat gradually. Here again, treats can be helpful. Giving your cat treats when the new cat is around can help condition them to respond to the newcomer positively.
Your Cat’s Litter Box
Another key when it comes to figuring out how to stop a cat from peeing on the couch. Their litter box. As we have already touched upon, cats can be put off by a dirty litter box. As such, if theirs is a mess, they might well be inclined to “leave a mess” elsewhere. It is therefore in the best interest of both of you to make sure that your cat’s litter box is clean.
Even so, there’s more to it than just that. Chances are good that you have already cleaned your cat’s litter box. After all, it’s not as though you enjoy the smell of a used, unclean litter box. That being said, your cat’s sense of smell is more sensitive than yours.
What smells fine for you might still be odious and thus seem unclean to them. Moreover, the “texture” of the litter box can feel off. Even if it’s technically “clean,” you wouldn’t want to use a toilet that’s too wet, sticky, rough, or otherwise “off.” As a result, if your cat is going to the bathroom everywhere but their bathroom, an off-feeling litter box may be the culprit.
Be sure to scoop out your cat’s litter box several times a day. Moreover, you will want to make sure that the litter box is fully cleaned out – half measures won’t cut it here. You will also want to replace its contents with new litter at least once a week.
Cat Loneliness and Separation Anxiety
Loneliness is one of the most common yet troubling aspects of the human condition. We all feel lonely from time to time and feel a need to express that loneliness. Writers and artists from Vincent van Gogh to Virginia Woolf struggled with and used their loneliness to express themselves.
Just like us, cats can have relationship issues. We’re social creatures, and so are cats. If your cat is feeling particularly lonely, they may “express” that loneliness. Instead of creating a beautiful painting or penning a novel, however, their “expression” of loneliness is a bit, well, “messier.”
Thus, one approach to the question of how to stop a cat from peeing on the couch is increased attention. That may seem a bit counterintuitive at first. We tend to associate increased attention with positive behavior. If your cat is acting up, shouldn’t you “punish” rather than “encourage” them?
Put aside the moral and philosophical ramifications of “punishment” vs. “rewards” for a moment. What we care about here are results. If “punishing” your cat just leads to them peeing more, who’s really losing in that situation? Your cat, yourself, and your couch, carpeting, and whatever else your frustrated feline chooses to pee on. Giving your cat more positive attention can address their loneliness and, thus, their peeing problem.
The cause of their loneliness is important. If they’re suffering separation anxiety from you, playing with them more can be a big help. In addition, just as a rival cat’s scent can be off-putting, your scent can help them feel more at ease. If you have to leave for an extended period of time, leave them some towels or clothes with your scent on them. The presence of your scent can help alleviate their anxiety and help them feel like you’re still there.
Addressing Noise Problems
We already talked about the fact that loud noises can be a problem for cats. They hear the noise, they don’t understand what it is or what’s going on, and they panic. The simplest fix for issues such as these, of course, is to eliminate the noise completely. If you are having construction work done, for example, you can probably rest assured that the peeing is temporary.
It’s a hassle, but as soon as the construction work and noise stops, the peeing probably will as well. But what if your cat reacts to something more permanent, such as a TV, piano, stereo, or other “permanent” noisemakers? You have two options here – move the cat or move the noisemaker.
Which is more convenient or effective will naturally depend upon your particular situation. You don’t want to bend your life to your cat, but you don’t want them peeing up a storm, either. Finding the right setup might take a bit of trial and error, so be patient.
In fact, patience is a key element to any approach to the question of excessive cat peeing. In tackling the question of how to stop a cat from peeing on the couch, you’re essentially problem-solving. As stated above, that means working out a puzzle, which in turn takes trial, error, and patience on your part. You might not get it right the first time. The same holds true for your cat. If the peeing persists despite all your best efforts, visit a vet and get their opinion.
Remember – cats being literary creatures, patience is a virtue among readers and cat owners alike. This is just one chapter in your story together – don’t be discouraged. Turn the page, and see what tomorrow brings.
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