For many cat parents, there’s nothing better than curling up in bed at the end of a long day with a purring kitty beside them. So few things could be more distressing than an unwelcome surprise beneath the sheets, and finding your cat pooping on the bed.
If you cat is abandoning their litter box for your bed, it can, of course, be a huge problem —and a confusing one at that. Especially if your cat seems to be a happy, healthy feline, this behavior can cause you to wonder what the heck could be causing this unpleasant issue.
Such was the case with a couple who previously called me, in need of my cat behavioral services. They sent me photos and videos of two very happy Ragdoll siblings, playing and grooming each other contentedly. But, suddenly, one of them defecated in their bed! It wasn’t an everyday occurrence, but it was happening enough to cause stress in the household. After meeting the family and the cats in person, and asking a lot of probing questions, I began to understand what was going on and solve the problem.
If your household is suffering the same smelly issue, here are some possible reasons why your cat is pooping on the bed, as well as what you can do about it.
Why Did My Cat Poop on My Bed?
If you’re wondering, “Why did my cat poop on my bed?”, in my opinion, only a few things motivate the usually fastidiously clean feline to defecate on their human’s bed.
While defecating outside the litter box is not as common as a cat urinating outside their litter box, it is not unheard of and both problems usually have similar reasons behind the behavior. Knowing what is triggering this behavior in your cat is the key to correcting their conduct.
As some illnesses can lead to a cat pooping on the bed, a clean bill of health from your veterinarian is the very first step on the road to behavior correction
Diseases such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), cancer or even intestinal parasites can lead a cat to find a new place to defecate. Often the pain associated with these illnesses cause cats to associate the litter box with pain, so they avoid going there. Also, in my anecdotal experience with multi-cat households, I believe when a cat is sick, they will instinctively eliminate elsewhere to keep the illness away from the other members of their cat colony. Although, it is important to note that all cats in a multi-cat household have their own litter box to do their business.
2. Routine and Environmental Changes
This is a tricky one to detect. Cats are very sensitive to environmental changes, and sometimes act out their unhappiness in some very odd and unpleasant ways.
In questioning the family I previously mentioned, it was discovered that their cat inappropriately defecates outside the litter box usually after one of their pet parents returns from a business trip. This cat was letting them know that their absence was keenly felt and not at all appreciated!
3. Stress or Insecurity
This differentiates slightly from routine and environmental changes, although the issues can often go hand-in-hand.
Again, referring to the aforementioned family, I also learned that their cats had only recently joined in their household, arriving just two months before from a reputable breeder. While their pet parents didn’t think this was significant information, I sure did! The stress and insecurity these cats were already feeling—due to presumed separation anxiety from their mother and siblings, and anxiety over their new home—was further fueled when one of their new human parents was away on business.
4. Litter Box Issues
Cats can be quite finicky about the specifics of their litter and litter box, so often it takes some trial and error before finding exactly what appeals to your cat. Here’s are some litter components that all pet parents should keep in mind:
Type of Cat Litter
The type of litter you buy can be a huge issue for your cat. Soft, sandy litter is usually preferred over big chunky pieces that can have sharp edges, which may hurt tender toes. My favorite is Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal Lightweight Multi-Cat Litter. Not only is it soft on paws and low on tracking, but it’s also lightweight so it’s easier to carry and scoop.
Type of Cat Litter Box
Some cats can use a hooded or top-entry litter box without issue, while others prefer the open space of a non-lidded box or pan. You should also choose a box that is appropriate for the size of your cat. A kitten or smaller breed of cat may do well with a small litter box, but larger cats, such as Ragdolls or Maine Coons, will need much more room to maneuver. If you notice your cat’s rear end hanging over the side of the litter box when they’re standing inside, you’ll need to upgrade the size of the box.
Litter Box Placement
Where you keep your cat’s litter box can be almost as important as the box and litter itself. Placing the litter box or boxes in highly trafficked areas of your home that offer no privacy will almost guarantee a problem. A quiet corner that is easily accessible to your cat, with no obstacles preventing easy access or escape, is your best bet for box placement.
Cleanliness of Litter
Perhaps the most significant of all, litter boxes must be scooped and cleaned daily. As the owner of a cat sitting company, I have seen countless people who do not even own a scooper! Letting the waste build up for days before dumping everything at the end of the week does not make for a clean litter box. Think of it this way: How do you feel when you use an outhouse? Enough said.
Solutions for a Cat Pooping on the Bed
Now that you have hopefully pinpointed your cat’s specific problem, the next step is not only to correct the problem, but also break your cat’s habit of eliminating on your bed (or other inappropriate places).
Here are some simple steps pet parents can take to keep their cats from pooping on the bed.
Visit Your Veterinarian
If your cat is pooping on the bed, your first step in addressing the issue is contacting your veterinarian. They may request that you bring the offending feline in for an exam or tests. Your vet will be able to determine whether there are any underlying medical issues that could potentially be behind your cat’s behavior, as well as provide any necessary medical intervention.
Make the Necessary Litter Box Adjustments
If you and your vet have determined that your cat is healthy and the problem is litter box related, make whatever changes are necessary.
If you’ve suddenly switched to a hooded litter box, consider removing the lid or switching back to a pan. Consider Nature’s Miracle Just For Cats Advanced High Sided Cat Litter Box . The extra tall walls are designed to keep scattered litter at bay without a lid.
If you determine the litter box to be too small for your feline, purchase a larger model like Nature’s Miracle Just For Cats Advanced Hooded Corner Cat Litter Box.
If it’s a cleanliness issue, ensure that you’re scooping the litter box daily. Choose a sturdy scooper that’s designed to dig—not just sift—through litter without bending or breaking. Try DurAnimals DuraScoop Original Cat Litter Scoop.
Make all the essential changes to create a litter box your cat will find appealing.
If determine your cat’s litter box avoidances to be stress related, pinpoint the sources of said stress. If you’re spending more time away from home, your cat may need more one-on-one time with you. Try increasing your play and bonding time.
The addition of a cat tree can also help offset stress, giving your cat an elevated, private space to escape and relax. Look for one with cubby and lounging spaces like the Frisco 72-Inch Cat Tree. If you’re low on space, the more petite Frisco 48-Inch Heavy Duty Cat Tree is also a great option.
If your cat has recently joined your family, they may just need more time to settle in and adjust to their new environment. Be patient!
Make Your Bed an Unappealing Place to Poop
If your cat is pooping on your bed or another inappropriate location, make that place an unpleasant spot for them to do their business. On the bed, you can use scents such as peppermint or orange, or even a bit of Vicks VapoRub, as a deterrent. Just ensure that nothing can be consumed or licked by your cat. If scents don’t help, try a deterrent spray, like PetSafe SSSCAT Deterrent Cat Spray. It produces a harmless, odorless and stainless mist that’ll have your cat avoiding the area at all costs.
Whenever you see your cat defecating in their litter box, shower on the praise and perhaps provide them with a yummy treat, too. Your kitty will get the message that they have done something to please you, and that they get rewarded for doing their business in their litter box.
Follow these simple steps and it won’t be long before you and your cat can once again snuggle together in the bed—without finding any unpleasant surprises under the covers!