Bathtubs seem like strange places or a cat to want to hang out. But many cats like to spend their time there, or even in the shower. This may or may not be alarming behavior (check out the potential reasons why your cat is sitting in the bathtub here). But when your cat starts peeing in the bathtub, it’s definitely an issue.
A cat may begin peeing in the bathtub if they’re dealing with a physical or mental issue. Your veterinarian will need to check them out and rule out any issues that require treatment. If your cat has gotten a clean bill of health from your veterinarian, it may be that they’re peeing in the bathtub because they’re unhappy with their litter box situation.
Why the bathtub out of all places to go in the house? Since we can’t ask cats what’s going through their heads, it’s all speculation. But a cat may choose the bathtub because they:
- Like the smooth surface to scratch/paw at
- Like the cool surface and it feels soothing
- Appreciate how clean the bathtub always is
- Are mimicking where their owners go to the washroom
- Are picking up on the ammonia smell in the cleaners you use
This article will explain the potential reasons why your cat is peeing in the bathtub and solutions.
1. Physical issue
The first potential reason to rule out is a physical health issue, especially if your cat has all of a sudden starts peeing in the bathtub. They may be dealing with a urinary tract infection, kidney disease, or some type of a blockage.
Why would they go to the bathtub instead of the litter box? Well, they may have experienced pain while using their litter box, and now they associate that pain with the litter box and want to avoid it. Or, they may need to pee and not have enough time to get to their litter box, especially if it’s on another level of the house, and the bathtub acts as a giant litter box for them.
Take your cat to the veterinarian, and do so immediately if your cat is straining to pee or is exhibiting signs they’re in pain. They’ll be able to assess them for any health issues that may be at the root of them peeing in the bathtub.
2. Mental issue
Cats can deal with stress and anxiety, just like us. Even the smallest change to their environment, such as moving their litter box or changing their litter, changing your furniture, or getting a new roommate, can cause them stress.
However, cats can also have a chemical imbalance that causes strange behaviour. If your cat doesn’t have a health issue, and there’s nothing that’s changed recently that could cause them stress, talk to your veterinarian about mood medication options.
3. Litter box issue
A common reason for a cat peeing outside the litter box is the litter box itself. It may not be kept clean enough, odors may have built up, your cat may not appreciate the new litter you picked up, they may not like the location, style (covered, top-entry), or size of the litter box…the list goes on.
If you’ve recently changed something in and/or around your cat’s litter box, it may be the reason they’re heading to the bathtub. Even if you haven’t changed anything, your cat’s preferences may have simply changed and they’ve decided they won’t put up with a slightly dirty litter box anymore, or that they don’t like their litter.
Cats are creatures of habits so even if they had a health issue and you’ve since resolved it, they may keep going back to the bathtub to pee simply out of habit. If they’ve peed in the bathtub several times, they may associate that spot with going to the washroom, and whenever they’re near the spot, decide to go.
If the smell of cat pee isn’t being completely cleaned away, your cat may be smelling their own scent, which tells them it’s an appropriate spot to urinate. Cat urine smells may be getting stuck in the drain if you have a clog, or your cat may have sprayed on the shower curtain and wall without you realizing.
The smells may not be detectable to you, but if they’re there, your cat will pick up on them.
You may also unknowingly be creating an attraction for your cat to pee in the bathtub if you’re using a cleaner with ammonia in it. Cat urine contains ammonia, so the smell of ammonia can encourage them to pee in an area to add their scent.
How do I stop my cat from peeing in the bathtub?
To stop your cat from peeing in the bathtub, you first must rule out any health issues by having a vet examine them. Once they have a clean bill of health, you can try reducing their stress, changing their litter box situation, and/or removing their scent from the bathtub and adding good pheromones to the space. More details below.
1. Vet checkup
The first thing to do when your cat is exhibiting any type of strange or new behaviour is to contact your veterinarian. Only they can rule out a health issue. And it’s always best to catch health issues early on.
2. Reduce stress
If you believe your cat’s change in behaviour may be caused by a change in their environment, try reducing their stress. If you’ve recently introduced a new pet, baby, or roommate to the home, your cat may be feeling like they don’t get enough attention.
Try increasing the time you spend with your cat, talking to, petting, brushing, or playing with them. Even if you think they already get plenty of attention, in their eyes, there’s no such thing as too much attention from the person they love most.
3. Change litter box variables
You never want to create too much change at once, or it can further stress your cat and cause more issues. Try changing one thing at a time to see if it improves their litter box behavior. You may consider changing:
- How often you scoop and change the litter (here’s the ideal frequency)
- Adding a litter box (this is especially important if you’re testing new litter box locations, different litter, or you have multiple cats)
- Litter box size or style (switch from a covered litter box to an uncovered litter box)
- Type of litter you use (try an unscented)
- Litter box location (here are the best places to put a litter box, as well as placement ideas for small apartments)
You may also consider placing an additional litter box in the bathtub temporarily, to see if they start using it.
Try to make their litter box as attractive to them as possible; a litter attractant may also help.
And use positive reinforcement to encourage them to use their litter box, while not making a big fuss when they pee in the bathtub. If they’re peeing in the bathtub to get your attention, and you react when you notice they’ve done so, they’ll continue using that technique to get your attention because it works. They don’t care if the attention is positive or negative, they just want attention from you.
The more attention you give them when they’re doing something “good”, like going in their litter box, the less they’ll engage in “bad” behaviour to get attention. Talk to them in a loving, excited tone when they use the litter box, give them pets after they’re done, and perhaps even treats.
4. Remove their scent from the bathtub
Although your bathtub is likely quite clean already, try using an enzyme cleaner to remove any trace of cat urine. If your cat smells their scent in the bathtub, they’ll continue to be attracted to the spot and believe it’s an appropriate spot to go.
There are many on the market. I personally use this cleaner to completely remove the smell of cat urine. I know it works because my kittens previously sniffed around a spot one of them had an accident in until I sprayed the enzyme cleaner. They can no longer detect the scent.
How to clean cat urine from bathtub
Your bathtub has a finish on it so water can’t soak into the material, but the drain may have smells lingering in it. Your cat’s urine may be getting trapped under the edge of the drain, or if you have a clog, it may be sitting in your drain.
A simple bathtub cleaner should do the trick for cleaning the tub, as long as it doesn’t contain ammonia.
Make sure you don’t have any clogs in your drain so that cat urine is being fully rinsed away. Also be sure to clean around the drain. If you can see a gap between the drain and the tub, try using a small scrub brush or even a toothbrush (used for household cleaning only) to get some of the cleaner under the drain’s rim and ensure cat urine smells aren’t being trapped there.
You can also use an enzyme cleaner to be sure you’re completely removing all urine smells.
5. Phermone diffuser
Try purchasing a cat pheromone diffuser and plugging it in in the bathroom. The scents are designed to calm your cat and reduce scratching and urine spraying.
How to keep a cat out of a bathtub
Of all places your cat could pee outside the litter box, the bathtub is one of the best options. Although you don’t want to encourage this behaviour, it may be better to leave the option open while you encourage them to use their litter box.
However, if you’re quite certain they won’t go to the washroom someplace else in the house, you could try filling the bathtub up with just enough water to cover the bottom.
Cat peeing on shower curtain
If your cat is peeing directly on the shower curtain, it’s more likely they’re spraying rather than peeing. Spraying is when your cat pees standing up and they pee on vertical surfaces. If the pee is several inches off the ground, they’re spraying.
Both male and female cats can and do spray. They mainly do so to mark their territory, but it can also be to indicate to other cat that they’re ready to mate. If it’s the latter, getting your cat spayed or neutered can help correct the behavior; talk to your veterinarian about it.
When it comes to cat pee in fabrics, like a shower curtain, you must use an enzyme cleaner to fully remove the smell. Simply soaking the curtain in vinegar or running it through the washing machine won’t get rid of the uric acid; only an enzyme cleaner will break that down.
If you don’t get rid of their urine smell completely, your cat will continue to pick up on it, even if you can’t smell it, and it will encourage them to continue peeing in that spot.
It may also help to place a pheromone diffuser in the bathroom or a spray on the shower curtain to help correct the issue.
Cat peed during bath
If your cat peed while you were giving them a bath, it’s most likely because they were stressed or anxious. Cats don’t like water and in most cases are capable of bathing themselves. However, there are some circumstances when a cat is unable to properly clean themselves (e.g. whey they’re kittens or a senior cat who can’t comfortably reach certain areas anymore).
If your cat pees once while being bathed, it’s likely just because they were stressed or scared. Be sure to give them extra attention and playtime to help reduce their stress after a bath.
If the behaviour is accompanied by any other litter box issues (e.g. peeing outside the litter box) or other concerning behaviour, contact your veterinarian.
Cat peed on the bathmat
A cat may pee on a bathmat if they’re dealing with a health issue, or if they’re unhappy with their litter box situation. It may be that their litter box is dirty and the fluffy bathmat feels like an appropriate place for them to go.
When they pee on a bathmat once, they’ll likely continue doing it because their scent remains in the fibers of the mat. You’ll need to use an enzyme cleaner to remove all urine smells, even those only detectable to your cat, so they don’t keep picking up on the smell, which tells them it’s an appropriate place to urinate.
The reasons your cat is peeing in the bathtub also apply to why they’re peeing on a bathmat. Have a read over the reasons and solutions listed above.
You may also find your cat poops in the bathtub. Here’s why and how to stop it.
I hope this article helped you determine why your cat is peeing in the bathtub 🙂