A year or so after we adopted her from the local animal shelter, Sandy developed a nasty habit – She started peeing on our bath mat. She had been a reasonably well behaved cat up until this point so this really caught us off guard. The first time it happened, we wrote it off as an accident and simply gave the stinky bath mat a good washing. When she proceeded to pee on it again though, we were really quite disappointed as we knew a habit was developing.
“Why was she doing this?” She’d used her litter box consistently and without issue up until this point. “What on earth is wrong with her!?”
The worst part about a problem like this is you understand that your cat just doesn’t know any better. You’re not mad at her but just really upset by the whole situation. My wife and I literally lost sleep worrying about what our beloved little furball was up to while we were lying in bed.
Naturally the first thing we did when we realized that this wasn’t an isolated incident was hit the good old Interweb. We determined that the first thing we had to do was ensure this wasn’t a medical issue. Apparently some cats with urinary tract infections (UTI) express the fact that they’re in pain by peeing in odd places. While we didn’t think Sandy was ill, we did the responsible thing and took her to the vet. She tested negative for UTI so that was good. We then proceeded to try three different things to to discourage this behaviour – and proceeded to bat 0 for 3…
Check on and adjust the litter balance as required
The first thing we wanted to do was ensure Sandy was OK with the litter situation. For whatever reason, she was finding the mat more desirable to pee on than her litter. If we could find a way to make peeing in her litter box more pleasant, maybe she’d leave our poor bath mat alone.
We swapped out her old litter box for a new larger one. Her existing box was probably a touch too small and we read that larger is better. We topped up the spiffy new litter box with fresh stuff and set it back it’s place. Sandy prefers World’s Best Cat Litter and has for some time. We definitely didn’t think it was an issue with the litter itself.
Sandy continued to poo in her litter box but ended up peeing on our mat again. Ugh.
“Urine Off” type product to discourage peeing
In order to make it clear to Sandy that the bath mat is off limits, we had to find a way to eliminate the scent of urine from it. Cats will naturally pee where they’ve peed before so completely eliminating the smell is critical if you want the behaviour to cease. To this end, we sought out one of these enzyme-based cleaning products that claim to kill all traces of urine from soiled articles. The one we settled on was Urine-Off Cat and Kitten Fomula
We proceeded to treat our icky bathmat as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Unforunately the cat came back… and peed on it again! We deduced from this that the cat actually liked peeing on our bath mat – whether it smelt like her pee or not.
Change the type of mat
Quite a few sources dealing with this issue cited latex backed mats as the culprit. Sure enough, the bath mat we had was of this variety. This pleased us! We thought the problem was solved and headed off to the IKEA to grab a more cat-friendly mat to place outside our shower. We settled on one of those hotel style bath mats that could easily be confused for a towel.
Before placing the new one down, we used the Urine Off stuff on the bathroom floor just to ensure all the cat pee molecules were eliminated. We set the mat down and went about our day, figuring that we had solved the problem for good.
Wrong. Sandy soiled the new mat as well.
Strike 3! We’re out of ideas!
After the three ideas above failed to produce any change in Sandy’s behaviour, we didn’t know what to do next. For a while we were simply making a concerted effort to hang our bath mat over the lip of the tub when we weren’t around. This was effective but kind of a pain in the butt… While at work, both my wife and I would worry about whether or not we remembered to get the mat off the bathroom floor.
So after living like this for a couple months, we finally stumbled upon a proper solution. While browsing the Bed And Bath section on Amazon.com one day, my wife saw this Bamboo Bath Mat from CreativeWare. While it looks more like something you’d see adjacent to an outdoor shower, it actually really works inside. It also gave my wife a chance to redecorate. We picked up some matching bamboo articles and decorations – think waste bins, shelving and even a toilet brush holder!. All the bamboo makes our bathroom looks like a Spa in Bali!
And it doesn’t smell like cat urine anymore either!
Does your cat pee on bath mats or anything else? Let us know if you’ve got any tips!