Why Is My Cat Peeing on Clothes? & How To Stop It

One of the most irritating things that can happen to a cat owner is to realise that your cat has taken a pee on your clothes.

There are three main reasons why this may happen: medical problems, behavioural issues or simply (and the most common reason) their litter tray is dirty so they’ve chosen somewhere else to go.

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If you have a male cat, then this most likely keeps happening because they have matured sexually and they keep marking their territory. It’s common to see that happen, although you shouldn’t rule out other potential issues with your cat!

Why Does My Cat Pee on Clothes?

It’s not uncommon for cats to pee in laundry baskets or on a pile of clothes, especially male cats. And this is even more so apparent when they are surrounded by other cats. We call this behaviour spraying

When male cats mature sexually, they will want to establish authority. They do that by marking the territory around them with urine. Ultimately, it’s their way of telling who’s the boss in your home. It might happen with or without other cats being present, but it’s more likely if there are other cats.

However, you should always check for medical problems first. While spraying is a relatively common occurrence for male cats, female cats might have other reasons for it. It might be due to stress or anxiety, especially for younger cats. 

There’s always a possibility that your four-legged friend is suffering from a disease or condition that causes them to pee outside the litter box. You should definitely let your vet check your cat first before you assume it’s just due to marking territories or other behavioural issues

What are the Medical Issues Which May Cause Your Cat To Urinate on Clothes?

There’s a number of cat conditions and illnesses that cause the cat to spray outside the litter box. It might be an indicator of health problems that warrant a prompt visit to your vet. Here are some common medical conditions that cause your cat to pee outside the litter box and on your clothes.

Urinary Tract Disorder

Urinary tract disorders in cats are a common occurrence, and you will likely see changes in their urinating patterns. You’ll notice they will start to urinate outside the litter box, sometimes on your clothes. These disorders can occur at any age and with both sexes.

Urinary tract infections (UTI) are also possible, and there are various indicators that your cat is suffering from such a problem:

  • Peeing on your clothes, but always outside the litter box.
  • Straining to urinate and peeing small amounts.
  • Frequent urination.
  • Crying when urinating, blood in the urine.
  • Constant licking of the genital area.

If you notice any of these additional signs, then it might be time to pay a visit to your vet.

Kidney Disease

Especially elderly cats are susceptible to chronic kidney diseases and kidney failure. But kidney problems might also be due to other medical problems – FeLV (Feline leukemia) is a potential cause of kidney problems, and you MUST act quickly if you notice the following symptoms:

  • Urinating outside the litter box.
  • Inability to urinate, excessive straining.
  • General worsening of the cat’s health, weight loss.
  • Unwillingness to eat, drink.
  • Anemia.

Those are all signs of FeLV. Although this is quite rare (only 3% of cats in single-cat households are affected), you should still be mindful of this problem. We’re not trying to scare you, you should just be mindful if you notice other health indicators in addition to them peeing on your clothes.

Diabetes

Feline diabetes is a potential health issue that might cause your cat to urinate on your clothes. It’s estimated that 0.5% – 2% of the entire cat population suffers from chronic diabetes.

Increased urination is a sign of diabetes, as is peeing outside the litter box. The treatment in such cases is insulin therapy.

Behavioural Causes of Cat Urinating on Clothes

As we’ve noted, it’s most likely that your cat is peeing on your clothes due to behavioural causes. In any case, you do want to make sure it’s not due to a medical condition or disease.

If you notice no other changes in your cat’s health condition, then it’s most likely due to behavioural changes. Mature males will commonly mark their territory by urinating, and it’s the most common reason that your cat may urinate on clothes

However, there are also some other external factors that might be causing this unusual behaviour. Here are the most common ones (in addition to marking their territory).

Excessive Stress

When your cat is stressed, it will indulge in some very strange and unusual behaviours. One of them is urinating outside the litter box and on your clothes, bed, couch, or carpets. 

Cats can get easily intimidated, especially if you have invited guests over and your cat doesn’t know them. You might know that we sometimes say someone is a “scaredy-cat” – well, this is the exact reason why we say that!

A part of their defence mechanism is to do unusual things to “protect” themselves, such as urinating outside the litter box.

An Unclean or Hard-to-Reach Litter Box

If your cat keeps peeing on clothes and blankets, then it might be something wrong with your litter box itself.

A cat will prefer not to use a litter box that’s not clean and tidy. However, if you have an indoor cat only, then it might be hard for the cat to find places to pee.

The first place they will think of? That’s right, your clothes, blankets, carpets, laundry basket and other soft materials around your home.

Another possible issue with the litter box might be that it is inaccessible or hard to reach. While this problem is primarily evident for elderly cats, you’ll also notice some younger cats struggle to reach their litter box. This is especially true if the litter box is in a high position.

Another Cat Preventing the Usage of the Litter Box

Yes, this does happen quite commonly. If you have several cats, then there will be some authority between them. And the cats that have the authority might scare away and prevent other cats from using their litter box.

In such cases, the intimidated cat will have nowhere to pee! So it will have no option than to find a spot around your home to do their thing. Most likely, it will be somewhere comfortable and soft (your clothes).

How To Stop Your Cat from Peeing on Your Clothes?

So now that you’ve (hopefully) determined the problem behind the peeing, you will want to prevent it from happening in the future.

  • If it’s a medical condition, then you will need to address the underlying health problem first. If you notice other indicators of a disease (that we mentioned above), then it might be worth to visit your vet as soon as possible. Your vet will then determine how to proceed from there.
  • If you don’t notice other problems co-occurring with the peeing on your clothes, then it might be worth to address other potential issues. The first thing you’ll want to do is to neuter your cat if you have a male cat, of course. This will prevent them from engaging in territorial and mating behaviours such as peeing on clothes for marking their territory.
  • It might be worth checking on your litter and how it is set up. If you have two or several cats, buy several litter boxes – ideally, one for every cat. Then, also make sure every litter box is completely clean, and importantly, large enough for your cat. The litter box should also be easily accessible.
  • Eliminate the stress your cat endures. This includes contact with other pets, especially dogs or larger cats. Make sure your cat isn’t subject to constant stress – while this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invite guests over, at least give your cat some breathing space when you do.
  • If all else fails, consider contacting a behavioural specialist for pets that will help you determine the treatment for your cat.

Cleaning Your Clothes that Were Peed On

Another thing that you might want to know is how to remove the pee from your clothes?

After all, it is an unpleasant smell that you will want to remove straight away.

A quick washing in the washing machine might not be enough. What to do?

  1. Soak up the stain first and try to remove as much pee as possible.
  2. Put some white vinegar on top of the pee stain – it’s a great way to remove the stench. Then, pour some baking soda over the vinegar and scrub.
  3. Some foam should start to form as you scrub. After you are done with scrubbing, wash away the foam and dry the clothes. Hopefully, they will be stench-free by now. 

Read our article on how to get rid of cat pee smell for an in-depth guide to removing the stink.

The Bottom Line

Your cat urinating on your clothes is caused by a variety of different issues. Most commonly, it is how male cats will mark the territory they consider to be theirs. 

However, it’s always worth checking your cat for potential health issues. In some cases, some simple adjustments to your cat’s lifestyle might do the trick.

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