Cat Peed On Couch – Why?

grey cat relaxing on orange sofa

Has your cat peed on the couch suddenly or in front of you? Why have they done that? The most likely reason for their inappropriate urination is that they either have a medical issue, a territorial issue, anxiety, or litter box problems.

Lets check it out in more detail and see if you can identify the most likely reason why your cat is peeing on the sofa! Read on to learn more…

Are They Doing It In Front Of You?

First things first let’s look at the pattern of behavior. Is your cat urinating on the couch right in front of you? 

This kind of “in your face” behavior can be very annoying and frustrating for the cat guardian – but don’t take it too personally! Your cat has limited means of communication with you and this might be the best way to say directly to you “I have a problem and need help!”

If your cat is making it making things obvious so there can be no question it is them and not another cat in the home and they are doing it whilst you watch on they most likely have a medical issue that needs addressing or are under such extreme duress that they need your immediate action.

If they simply have a sneaky pee at some point whilst you are not there then you are probably looking at a non-medical issue.

Is It a Regular Or A One-Off Event?

Is this problem ongoing or has it just happened once? Ongoing could mean it is a marking or territorial issue or an unresolved litter box issue. On-off is far more likely to be a medical issue or sudden onset type of problem.

Likely Reasons For Inappropriate Urination?

Having looked at the pattern for clues to the reason for the unusual peeing behavior let’s look at the actual likely causes irrespective of how often or not the issue happens of whether your cat pees inappropriately in front of you.

Check out these main issues:

Two cats facing off over a sofa
This is mine!

Territorial Marking 

Your cat could be territorially marking the couch as belonging to them. 

This can happen when new cats are brought into the home if your home gets invaded by a neighborhood cat coming through a cat flap or open door or even if your cat sees an intruder animal through a window. 

If your yard has other animals crossing and your cat knows this, they may feel insecure in their territory and go marking everything. This can happen with male and female cats, neutered or spayed or not. 

Anxiety/stress

If your cat is stressed or anxious they may try to reduce stress by marking away to increase the sensation of security to offset their internal stress. Is your cat stressed? 

Any change in routine can stress your cat – even small events like relocating a piece of furniture can be enough to knock your cat off balance! Consider whether you or your household has changed their living patterns or shift patterns, introduced new pets into the equation or introduced new family members or household members.

Even the smallest and seemingly insignificant changes can knock your cat off-kilter! Cats are incredibly routine orientated!

lynx point himalayan kitten with blue eyes lying on an armchair

Medical Issues

Most one-off type events or moments when the cat pees on furniture in front of you or even when you are not there are down to medical issues. Some of the key issues leading to this behavior include UTIs, bladder stones, kidney function issues, arthritis and mobility issues, and dementia.

Uti issues are reasonably common in cats. They are painful – producing a burning sensation when passing water. Your cat may be issuing a request for help. Taking the attitude I am in pain and I want you to see it so you can do something to help me! 

Bladder stone issues are very similar but are slightly easier to spot. Male cats predominantly suffer from bladder stone issues and traces of pee will often be tinged with blood which can help you identify the nature of the problem.

Kidney issues are common in older cats and can lead to excess urination as damaged or failing kidneys work harder and produce more urine as they struggle to remove toxins from the blood. Your cat could be getting caught short by simple overproduction of urine and not have time to make it to the litter box.

Older cats with worn joints, suffering from the onset of arthritis may have issues getting to the box – moving quickly enough and just end up getting caught out. Is your cat potentially getting to that age?

Likewise, dementia can often affect older cats. A cat with dementia will simply forget to go, will be confused as to where to go, or just be plan lost and confused – sometimes only momentarily or for a short period of time before returning to normal.

an overhead view of a grey cat in litterbox

Litter box issues 

Assuming your cat is in the fullness of health and is not suffering from territorial or anxiety issues what else could give rise to inappropriate urination issues?

Litter box problems tend to be the main culprit! Maybe you got the wrong litter and your cat does not like the sensation underfoot or consider it natural. 

Perhaps the location of the tray is incorrect and your cat feels vulnerable using the tray? 

Have you got enough trays?  One tray for one cat is not enough. Generally, it is considered that one tray per cat PLUS one additional is the minimum to avoid most potential issues. So, one cat needs two trays, two cats need three trays, etc. This ensures your cat can always reach a tray, at least one tray is likely to be suitably placed and territorial issues won’t arise.

How often do you change the litter? Some cats are not unduly concerned with litter tray cleanliness but some cats are absolute sticklers for a clean tray. Even if you change the litter after use if you have not also washed the tray they may take umbrage and refuse to use the tray and seek other areas to pee in.

young cat lying on cat tree hammock

How To Stop Your Cat Peeing On Furniture

So, given you now know the main causes, what can you do to stop your cate peeing on the sofa? 

Here is a quick checklist to go through to knock the problem on the head :

  1. Visit a vet and resolve medical issues. Get your cat checked out and given the all-clear irrespective of their age! A UTI is quick and cheap to resolve and the problem pee issues can be quickly solved. If your cat has bigger health problems then these can be addressed and lifestyle and litter box solutions can be found.
  2. Address litter box issues. Get a fresh start with new litter that is gentle on the feet, boxes in multiple locations around the home, and consider where you are positioning them – make sure they are in a quiet spot with escape routes available in enough numbers so they are always available and don’t create territory tensions in multi-cat homes.
  3. Temporarily put a litter box near the accident spot to see if that alleviates the problem – especially if your cat has dementia, kidney issues, or joint issues. If the problem is a caught-off guard issue then this tactic can help. But even for territorial issues, this tactic can help as most cats just can’t resist digging, scratching, and marking in the litter.
  4. Clean the sofa. If your cat is marking due to territorial issues then they are communicating by spray. They are using the sofa as a community noticeboard and leaving post-its saying “this is mine” and then reinforcing the note later. If the noticeboard is wiped clean of their notes then they may give up marking the area as they are unable to convey their desired message.
  5. Reduce anxiety and stress by providing more or larger territory like a cat tree or extra elevated positions so your cat can claim some other item of furniture rather than the couch. In a multiple cat household, this tactic can effectively calm a situation down and reduce issues where everyone feels the territory available is so small that constant ownership disputes have to take place. Additionally, use a pheromone such as Feliway to reduce anxiety if you have identified a change of routine or circumstance as a potential problem for your cat.