Your cat suddenly started peeing on your laundry or in your laundry basket? Or the cat even pees only on the laundry of a particular person? Cat urine smells strongly of ammonia, and it can be challenging to remove the foul odor. It may even make the clothes completely unwearable. If a cat pees on the laundry, it may be for medical or behavioral reasons.
Cats often mark their territory with urine to claim it. Marking behavior is common when a cat shares its territory with other cats. A cat that pees on the laundry might be seeking its owner’s attention because it is jealous of another animal. Once a cat is sexually mature, at 5-6 months of age, it might spray its clothes with urine to attract mates. Health problems such as urinary tract infections, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, bladder stones, and cystitis can also cause a cat to urinate on clothing. Anxiety, stress, and fear can also cause a sudden loss of bladder control.
You should also ensure your cat likes his litter box and can reach it without discomfort.
If you have an older cat with limited mobility, she may prefer a litter box with lower sides.
In any case, you should determine the cause of the cat urinating on the laundry and fix it with special training or medical treatment.
Why Does My Cat Pee On the Laundry?
When cats urinate on human clothing, it can be for various reasons. The most common reasons are:
- Territory marking.
- Problems with the cat’s litter box
- Need for attention
Marking the Territory
The most common explanation for territory marking is that the cat is insecure:
- She is insecure and marks her territory to feel safe.
- The cat wants to express dominance over you.
- She is in heat and is trying to attract a mate.
- She is afraid and wants to mark a familiar, safe place.
Cats may feel insecure when new pets or strangers are in the house. In this case, your cat may try to mark out a territory for herself. This may include a pile of laundry, bedding, or your shoes.
Soothe this uncertainty with a reliable routine and personal attention. This will reassure your cat that another pet will not replace her.
Dominance is typical in unneutered cats, especially male cats who want to show they are the alpha dog.
Neutering the cat solves many of these problems. Neutered males, in particular, are much calmer than their unneutered counterparts.
Cats in heat will do anything to attract a mate, including constantly urinating and spraying urine.
If your cat is whining and begging to be let outside, she is probably in heat. A cat in heat has strong-smelling urine, sending a message to potential mates in the area.
Stress becomes a problem when a cat lives in constant worry and anxiety. By urinating on clothing, your cat is creating a safe place. She will urinate on the clothes again and again in the future.
Problems With the Litter Box
Urinary tract infections are most common in older female cats. If your cat is in pain when she pees, she may associate the pain with using the litter box.
Your cat will then go elsewhere to defecate, such as in a soft and warm pile of laundry. Your cat may also not like its litter box.
Here are reasons why a cat may refuse to use a litter box:
- You have replaced your cat’s litter with an unfamiliar or scented brand.
- There is too much litter in the litter box.
- The litter box is too small or uncomfortable.
- You have not cleaned the litter box for too long.
- The litter box is in a noisy or busy area.
- Another pet has used the litter box.
A cat that refuses its litter box will still need to do its business, and apartment cats have limited options.
So, your cat will look for a comfortable and familiar place to pee. The smell of your clothes is ideal and can be very enticing.
Your cat may urinate on your clothes for comfort, as he loves soft things. Also, your clothes will smell like them.
By urinating on the clothes, your cat will feel even more comfortable.
It may not always seem like it, but your cat is trying to bond with you.
Cats often use smells to communicate, and your cat sees you as another cat. The act of urinating is a message to you.
However, you need to discourage your cat from this behavior.
But do not punish your cat because he will not understand it. Just restrict access and train your cat to use his litter box.
If your cat is incontinent, accidents involving your laundry are almost inevitable.
Your cat may not make it to the litter box in time, thinking that peeing on your clothes is better than soiling the floor.
Some cats are even born incontinent. However, most cases of incontinence in cats develop with age.
Common reasons for a cat to become incontinent include:
- Urinary tract infections
- Nerve damage to the bladder area
- Trauma to the bladder
- Overactive bladder
- Cognitive disorders
- Side effects of medications or anesthesia
- Kidney failure
- Ingestion of toxins
It is a myth that cats are indifferent to their owners. Your cat wants to feel important to you.
If you do not take care of your cat or play with him, he will show you that something is wrong by specific actions.
Your cat knows that clothes are important to you because they watch you get dressed every day. They also spend hours washing, folding, and ironing your clothes.
So, if your cat thinks he’s being ignored, he may pee on your laundry. Your cat will leave a distinctive scent to remind you that she is still there.
Your cat may even be willing to accept a scolding for its behavior since it considers any attention suitable.
That’s why you may even hear frequent complaints about a cat peeing on clothing in front of its owner.
Address this by taking care of your cat’s needs daily. Your cat will relax when he knows that food, petting, and playtime are coming at a specific time.
What Should I Do if My Cat Pees On My Laundry?
You will probably be very upset if you find cat urine on your clothes. But punishing a cat for peeing on your clothes will not fix this unwanted behavior problem.
There are good reasons for this:
- If she has health problems, she can’t avoid having such accidents.
- Punishment will increase her anxiety if the cat is already stressed or scared.
- If the cat seeks attention, it will get it through pawing and punishment.
Also, the cat will not associate the punishment with her offense. She does not know she is being punished for peeing on your laundry.
Therefore, your cat will not understand why it is being punished.
If you see that your cat has peed on your clothes, say a firm “No” to distract the cat. Then pick your cat up and put him in the litter box.
This will establish a link between urination and the litter box. If you find cat urine on your clothes after the incident, pretend nothing happened.
How to Keep a Cat from Peeing On Your Clothes
First, find out why your cat is peeing on clothes. You need to know if the behavior is a training or medical problem.
If possible, provide your cat with its own room where there are no clothes. Fill it with everything your cat needs. This includes, in particular:
- Wet and dry food
- Cat trees and toys for entertainment
- Clean litter box
Keep the cat in this space for some time. Visit your cat, play with it, and maintain the cat’s routine.
Check if the cat uses the litter box generally in this constellation.
How to Remove Cat Urine from Clothing
Cats are always attracted to areas that smell familiar. This means that your cat is more likely to urinate on your clothes in the future.
Even if you have washed your clothes, traces of the odor will remain.
Do not rely on detergents to eliminate the smell of cat urine. Not only will the odor linger, but it may transfer to other clothing.
Cat urine can also leave yellow stains on laundry.
Follow these steps to remove the smell of cat urine:
- First, rinse the stain with cold water.
- Blot the stain dry. Do not scrub, however, as this will drive the stain deeper into the fabric.
- Make a vinegar mixture with one part cleaning vinegar and three parts water.
- Pour the vinegar mixture onto the clothing and let it sit for a few minutes.
- Cover the affected area with baking soda to mask the odor.
- Wash the clothes in cold water without detergent.
- Allow the clothing to air dry.
If peeing on the laundry is a behavior problem, you will still need to do training with your cat.
However, it is less likely that your cat will urinate on the clothes if they smell unfamiliar.
Neutering can also reduce urination on the laundry.
Suppose your cat is peeing on the clothes due to a medical problem such as a urinary tract infection, bladder stones, or hyperthyroidism. In that case, this will need to be addressed by a veterinarian.