Why Did My Cat Poop On My Bed? A Veterinarian Explains

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Finding a pile of cat poop on your bed when you’re ready to hit the hay at the end of a long day is a bit of a nasty shock! Most cat owners love to share their beds with their feline family members, but we don’t love it when they use it as a toilet. You’re probably reading this article because this is a situation you’re familiar with, and you’re worried about why your cat has done this.

Quick Overview

01

Cats can poop on the bed because they are stressed, unwell, or don’t like something about their litter box.

02

Always speak to your vet to make sure you aren’t missing any health problems.

03

Litter box maintenance, a stress-free environment, and consistent routines will reduce the chances of your cat pooping on the bed.

There can be a huge range of reasons why your cat is soiling on your bed, and you’ll want to get to the bottom of this behavior. So, let’s explore some of these problems to help you identify the cause of your cats’ stinky behavior.

Reasons Why Cats Poop On The Bed

Pooping outside the litter box is a sign that something is amiss.

Cats can be introduced to the litter box at 3 weeks old, so they learn where to poop pretty quickly. Our feline family members are also extremely clean and known to be the easiest domestic pet to potty train. Cats also often prefer to poop outside if they have access to a garden.

So when your cat is pooping outside the litter box, it’s usually a sign that something isn’t right, and there are lots of possible reasons for this.

1. They Don’t Like Their Litter Box

Cats might stop using the litter box if it isn’t kept clean enough, or if they don’t like the litter.

All cat owners will know how fussy our feline family members can be when it comes to the litter box. They are very particular. A common reason your cat refuses to use the litter box is that they simply don’t like the texture or style of the cat litter in there.

The style of your cat’s litter box may not suit their preferences either. Cats are very private, and many prefer a lid and door so they can do their business in peace. The location of the litter box in your home can be a problem too. If it’s in a noisy spot, or difficult to access they might be less likely to use it.

A dirty litter box is another common reason your cat might defecate elsewhere. A dirty protest can be your cats’ way of letting you know that their litter box needs cleaning out. You should clean out the poop as soon as you know there’s one in there and change the litter daily. Cats don’t like to toilet in places they have already used several times.

Also Read: How To Litter Train A Kitten In 3 Simple Steps?

2. Not Enough Litter Boxes

More litter boxes is always a good idea in multi-cat households.

If you share your home with more than one cat, you’ll need to have enough litter boxes for everyone. Cats are very territorial and private when it comes to their toileting habits, so they often don’t like to share litter boxes, or might even refuse to share them. As a rule, you should have one litter tray per cat plus one. That might sound like a lot, but your cats will thank you!

Also Read: How Many Litter Boxes Should You Have Per Cat?

3. Illness

Suddenly pooping outside the litter box is often the first sign of a medical issue.

Pooping on the bed can also be a sign that your cat has a medical issue. They might not be able to reach the litter box or the garden fast enough, or need to go more often than usual for some reason. Gastrointestinal problems are usually the cause of this behavior if it’s down to poor health, but a few other health issues can also cause changes to your cat’s toileting habits.

If you notice diarrhea, worms in the feces, blood in the feces, straining to pass feces, constipation, or any other changes to your cat’s toileting habits, get them checked over by your usual veterinarian. Your vet will examine your cat and may run some tests to find out the cause and start the most appropriate treatment.

Also Read: How Often Should You Change Cat Litter?

4. Stress

Cats are prone to stress when their routine is interrupted, and this can lead to pooping outside the box.

Stress can cause changes to your cat’s toileting habits, especially when it comes to where they poop and pee. They are highly sensitive animals and don’t like changes to their routine or environment. Some common stressors that can cause your cat to poop outside the box might be:

Also Read: 5 Visual Signs Of A Stressed Cat And How To Help

5. Changes In The Environment

Be mindful of switching things up in your cat’s life, making changes gradually so you don’t upset your cat.

Cats like routine and consistency, so any change in their environment can cause stress that leads to changes in their toileting habits. Cats might poop on the bed because they are frightened or not sure where else to go in these situations. Common changes that can cause your cat to poop on the bed might be:

  • Change in litter box location
  • Different litter
  • A new kitten/cat or a new dog
  • People moving in or
  • Building work
  • New surroundings such as a new home

Also Read: How To Introduce A New Kitten To An Older Cat

What To Do If Your Cat Is Pooping On The Bed

Finding cat poop on your bed a nasty surprise, but it’s also really worrying for cat owners. And it’s a habit you’ll want to get to the bottom of and solve as quickly as possible.

1. Find Out The Cause

A full health check is important to rule out a medical cause for your cat pooping on your bed.

Look out for other signs of illness such as vomiting, changes to your cat’s appetite or activity levels, or changes to their behavior. If your cat is showing signs of being unwell, get them checked by the vet. The vet might need to perform some tests such as blood tests, poop samples, or imaging to find out what’s going on.

You should also look for other behavioral changes that might point toward a problem with stress or anxiety. Your vet can also help and advise you on other aspects of cat behavior.

Also Read: Top 10 Things Your Vet Wishes You Knew 

2. Eliminate Possible Triggers/Stressors

How Many Litter Boxes Should You Have Per Cat-compressed

Take a close look at your household setup and routine to eliminate anything that could be stressing your cat.

If you think you know what is causing your cat to poop outside their litter box, you can make a few changes at home to help them feel more relaxed.

Keep their routine and environment as consistent as possible when it comes to feeding, make sure there are enough litter boxes for all the cats in the house, keep up to date with worming treatments, and make sure your cat has plenty of safe quiet spaces in the house to hide and rest.

Also Read: Hookworms In Cats: Symptoms, Diagnosis, And Treatment

3. Litter Box Maintenance

Scoop out the litter box at least once a day, and completely clean it once a week.

Keeping the litter box clean and fresh for your cat will make it more enticing for them to use. If you know what type of litter your cat prefers, try to always use that one. Clean out any poop as soon as you know they’re in there and change the litter at least once a day. Keep the litter box in the same place, and make sure it’s somewhere quiet and private.

Also Read: The 8 Best Automatic Self Cleaning Litter Boxes

4. Create A Calm Environment At Home

Indoor-only cats might enjoy time outdoors in a cat-safe place like an enclosed catio.

We can’t completely avoid all stresses such as visitors or occasional loud noises but keeping the environment at home as calm and relaxing as possible will help reduce your cat’s stress.

You can use pheromone sprays and plug-in diffusers such as Feliway to help relax your cat, especially in your bedroom and where they sleep. You can also use calming supplements. Make sure your cat has a safe and quiet space to hide and rest and try to keep their routine as consistent as possible.

Also Read: Understanding Multi-Cat Households

5. Never Punish Your Cat

Punishment will not resolve the behavior and could even make it worse.

It’s very important that you don’t punish your cat for pooping on the bed. Raised voices and stern words can stress your cat out even more and make them more likely to repeat the behavior.

Also Read: 8 Reasons You Should Never Punish Your Cat

Final Thoughts

Stress, illness, and an inadequate litter box setup are the most common reasons a cat might poop on your bed.

It can be really worrying and even infuriating if your cat poops on your bed. Many cat owners have experienced this nasty surprise at some point! The most common reasons for this behavior are related to stress, illness, and the litter box. You must never punish your cat for their behavior, but you will need to get to the bottom of the problem.

Litter box maintenance, maintaining a stress-free environment, and keeping your cat’s routine consistent will help. It’s also important to get your cat checked over by the vet to make sure that there aren’t any health problems causing this behavior.

Also Read: 11 Best Cat Litter Boxes In 2023 – We Tried Them All

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my cat suddenly pooping on my bed?

Cats poop outside the litter box when they are stressed by something in their environment, when they are unwell, or when they don’t like their litter or litter box.

What to do about a cat that poops on the bed?

Get a checkup at the vet to rule out any medical conditions. Keep your cat's environment calm and consistent, and make sure their litter tray is always clean and in a safe, private place.

How do you discipline a cat for pooping outside the litter box?

You should never punish your cat for pooping outside the litter box, as this can increase stress and could lead to them repeating the behavior.

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About Dr. Joanna Woodnutt, MRCVS

Dr. Joanna Woodnutt (MRCVS) is a small animal veterinarian and writer who is passionate about helping owners to learn more about their pets in order to improve animal welfare. She loves to write and wants to empower owners to make the best decisions for their pets by giving them all the information they need. In her spare time, she takes consultations on the small island of Guernsey.

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2 thoughts on “Why Did My Cat Poop On My Bed? A Veterinarian Explains

    1. small mallory photoMallory Crusta

      Hey Bon, thanks for asking. Generally, yes, but the other factor to consider is that your cat may be struggling with a urinary health issue like a UTI or crystals, which sometimes leads them to urinate outside of the box. If your cat is showing any other symptoms (excessive genital licking, blood in the urine, repeated trips to the box), then I would consider this as a potential cause. You can learn more in our article on why cats pee outside of the litter box and how to help.

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