There’s nothing worse. You sit down to relax after a hard day’s work and you catch a whiff of something. Has someone taken their shoes off? Is there something on your clothing or is it a scent on the wind? No, unfortunately, your beloved moggy has taken a pee on the couch and probably has been doing for a while.

OK, no panic. It’s not ideal but it’s solvable and there’s almost a reason your cat has decided to use your favourite seat or sitting area as a toilet. Let’s look at possible causes and solutions so everyone can get back to normal and the household is happy again.

Litter box issue?

If your cat has stopped using its litter box, it could be a result of stress or something simpler – maybe you’re not cleaning it out often enough? It could also be a medical condition that needs investigation by your vet.

Why not try a new litter box? Failing that, try cleaning the box out more regularly, add more litter boxes, and do things to discourage your cat from urinating outside of the box. Despite the habits puss has started, they are fastidiously clean and do not like a smelly, stale or dirty toilet. Plus if your cat is long-haired, a trim around the toilet areas might help as they may feel the box and long fur don’t mix well.

Keep reading to learn more about how to keep your cat from urinating where it shouldn’t.  It might be an idea to try and play with the cat near the box to associate more pleasant thoughts. The easiest solution is a quick clean once a day with unscented soap or even baking soda and a change of litter once a week – at the very least, this should be your first port of call. Needless to say, remove poop as and when it lands!

You could also try a self-cleaning cat litter box – yep, they exist!

Safety in numbers?

The number of cats you have could be playing a big part in whether the cat pee issue is solved. If you have two, three or more cats, you’ll need your litter boxes to be at least one more that there are cats. If you’ve two cats, have three boxes – if you’ve three cats, get four boxes and so on. It could be that you have two cats and just one box – if that’s the case, it will be a major factor in the sofa/rug or furniture issues you’re having. Spread them around the house, too (the boxes, not the cats!). Keep it in a decent space as cats like to know they can make a hasty exit if need be – be that from humans, dogs or whatever.

Hard habit to break

Think logically – where does your cat like to pee? Make sure if they have a familiar spot where they’ve used the box successfully in the past to place the box in that area. Is your cat getting on in years? If so, choose a low-sided litter tray for easy access.

Litter Box

Litter ye not

Have you changed your cat litter recently? There’s a possibility your cat doesn’t like the new stuff, whether that is because of the smell or the texture – or perhaps there’s just too much of the stuff. Keep it shallow, fine grain or experiment with different types until you get some success. Large clay clumps are not the most appealing prospect and they’re hard to clean and smell! Size can also be an issue if the box is too deep or too small – a few days’ experimentation will reap rewards.

Stress issues

Cats get stressed – it’s a fact. A new dog, cat, noisy kids or even just an environment that’s rarely peaceful can make cats behave differently and end with them seeking new toilet habits as a result. Quiet is good, so a busy thoroughfare is not ideal – find somewhere that is relatively quiet instead. A Feliway diffuser may help, too with the scents released often a source of comfort for cats.

Health problems

Could there be an underlying health issue? If your cat is not herself and acting unusually, a trip to the vet is required. Urinary tract infections are common and may cause cats to pee in places they wouldn’t normally. Cats are smart cookies and even when the infection has been cured, they may link the litter tray with the discomfort they felt and seek alternative arrangements.


Another major pee problem is when a cat sprays to mark their territory. This can be another major issue and a source of embarrassment if they select furniture, curtains or even bags and clothing – even though it’s little more than a splash. Though more common in unneutered males, unsprayed females can also spray – and even spayed cats can mark territory, though this is usually only if there are other cats in the house. Placing a favoured litter box to the marked area could help with a slow relocation procedure over a week or so back to the original position. Lighting can help, too – your puss prefers darker areas to mark as a rule. Another good idea is to change the surface near the marked area with something that’s doesn’t feel that nice on the paws – use your imagination and so long as it is a discouragement tactic (sandpaper, plastic sheet, double-sided tape), it won’t do any harm. Cleaning quickly with non -ammonia based agents will also help.

Other options

Is your cat confined to the house for long periods? A cat door could help give it options to pee alfresco.  Also, never punish your cat for peeing somewhere other than the tray and never rub their noses in it – literally – as they will only become more stressed. And if they do return to normal habits, don’t make a fuss – cats don’t do rewards or vocal encouragement. A tasty treat would probably go down well every now and then, though!

Try one, some or all of the above and fingers crossed, normal service should be resumed.

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