How To: Stop Your Cat From Peeing on the Carpet

Pet post ahead.

I just went through the ordeal of getting a cat to cease urinating on my carpet. The question comes up often in the Pets subreddit, so I thought I’d share my method (which seems to be working, about a week after my solution!).

See also: How to get your cat to stop scratching all the things!

So when someone asks “How do I get my cat to stop peeing on my carpet?” this is what I will now tell them.

I *just* went through this. I know how frustrating it can be! Like, bring-you-to-tears frustrating.

It’s a lengthy guide, but hopefully it has everything you need to know in it. BTW be prepared to shell out some dough to solve this problem. Bonus: you only have to solve it once, and then you and your cat are sitting pretty.

If you are having this problem, stop and do this before you read onwards: Take your cat to the vet. Tell them what’s going on and make sure it’s not a medical issue. $30 exam can save you a world of trouble and bring peace of mind.

And as I said, the solution to this problem is not cheap. I’ve just spent about a hundred bucks on everything I needed to do this. But you know what? It’s part of having a cat. If only every major problem in my life could be solved with a hundred bucks. Man. So you’ve been warned.


FOR ME, it was a combination of two things happening:

1) the cat smells the pee in the carpet and instinctually wants to keep peeing there. You can’t fight instinct, but you can learn to work with it.

2) the cat had problems using the litter box.

For #1, here’s what I did (and it’s only been a week, but it seems to be working, ie no cat pee on the carpet since!). You have to get the cat pee out of the carpet. And not just like, “oh it’s much better” like you have to make it your muffin lovin’ mission in life to make sure that carpet it cleaner than when it came of the factory production line.

To do this:

Step one is make sure there are good litter box options FIRST before you do anything to the carpet. If you start messing with the carpet and there’s no where for the cat to go, guess what buddy you’re just going to have another patch of carpet with pee on it to deal with.

The Happy-Feline-Making Litter Box Equation: # of Cats + 1 = # of Litter Boxes Needed. For me, this means 3 litter boxes (2 cats). I live in a small apartment and having three litter boxes is a drag.  What makes it worth it?  That I have two happy kitties who PEE IN THEM and not on my floor haha.

Make sure the boxes are not near each other. Make sure to clean them every day. (My litter box life changed when I got a Litter Locker so I cannot recommend them highly enough!)

Take all the litter out of the boxes, WASH THEM, dry them, and put fresh, new litter in them. Just start from scratch basically.  If your litter box is old, you may need to replace it.

My three litter boxes are different designs, so the kitties have some options.

So now that there are several clean litter boxes to choose from, let’s get down to the business of that patch of carpet. It’s going to take some time, so hunker down and know that you are an amazing pet owner for even attempting to solve this extremely difficult problem. Bask in the knowledge that your hard work will pay off and your cat might even understand how dedicated you are to trying to make a good environment for it to thrive in.

I know, a cat- appreciating you? Seems farfetched, but it’s happening to me right now so I know it can happen toooo yooooouuuu!!!

Let’s get to it.

There’s no way around this: you’re going to get your hands dirty and it’s going to smell bad. Get over it son, because you are awesome and your life is about to get better.

You have a carpet cleaner, right? Get one. Best $50 you can spend when you have pets that make messes (the same cat has stomach issues and pukes randomly).

Get the pet stain and oder remover solution that goes with said carpet cleaner.

1) Saturate the carpet with the as-directed diluted solution, and use the carpet cleaner to suck it up. Do this several, several times. Like fill that tank up with that gross looking water (and flush it down the toilet!) as many times as you can stand. Around the whole area. Go big or go home. Put on a podcast and just sit there cleaning.

2) Wait for it to dry. Put a fan blowing over the area to help deter the cat from going there. Put a towel over it, or some tin foil. You do not want any cats going on the area until you have become Master of Carpet Cleaning.

3) Once it’s dry, put some carpet cleaning powder on there. Use a bristly brush to work it in there. I used the whole damn bottle of the powder, one half, then the other.

As per instructions, wait for it to do it’s thing, then vacuum it up. (I did this twice. HG don’t mess around.)

Now for the important part, the part which will make or break this whole shebang.

4) Get an enzymatic cleaner. They have simple instructions on the bottle, but let me tell you, none of them worked until I did all that other junk I just told you. Use it as per directions, which for me meant emptying half the bottle onto the carpet. Let it sit and do its work. (This takes a whole morning. Bask in the knowledge of how awesome you are for trying to fix this. Bask in it while you wait.) Then use the carpet cleaner to suck it up. Then I emptied the other half the bottle on the carpet and let it *dry* as per directions. This took a few days (again with the towels/tin foil and a fan on it!).

Vacuum the whole area.

There’s still a residue of that powder cleaner/deodorizer on mine, and I think I’d recommend putting a little sprinkling of something like that on the whole area.

You should now have 1) a patch of carpet that is much cleaner than any other in your house and 2) zero urine smell there.

Now: watch your cat.

If your cat is “looking for a place to pee” clean the litter box in front of your cat. Show them that it’s clean.

*Do not put your cat in the litter box!* This causes stress, and associates the litter box with being stressed.

When your cat goes near the litter box, give them treats. Make the litter box such a happy area- like entice them there and pet them and give them treats, so it is a safe place. You want them to associate the litter boxes with truly good things so they love being around it.

If your cat shows interest in the pee carpet area: don’t freak out. Just watch them. They’re used to going there right? They’re going to want to smell it a bunch. They need to scope it out.

This is when it will all be decided: can your cat smell any urine there still?

Hopefully not. Hopefully it’s as clean as the day it was made, and now it doesn’t force the cat’s little cat brain to think of it as the place they pee.

Praise your cat when they leave the pee carpet area. Give them treats. If they head to the litter box: leave them alone! Give them some space. When they use the litter box and jump out baby you’re in the clear! Give them so many treats and love and play with them.

You did it.

Keep on associating the litter boxes with good stuff for a while.

Generally play with your cat more.

Build them some cat shelves if you can (you have WALLS, right? Then you have room for cat shelves!). Your cat needs options to feel safe, and high up perches can help accomplish this.

(I had to put my ‘problem’ cat up on the shelves for the first three times, but now she lives on them and loves them and is generally happier).

I also recommend getting Feliway: my problem cat has been much, MUCH better since I got the diffuser.

A bit about how that works: you know how cats rub their faces on your legs, on your furniture, on everything? They’re rubbing the ‘territory’ pheromone on stuff, to mark their home as a safe place.

Feliway is that very pheromone (it’s not specific to an individual cat apparently) and it saturates the air with it. So now your whole house should smell like a safe and wonderful place. It really did wonders for my previously skittish and pretty terrible cat. She’s happy and friendly now.

OK so that covered the bases I think.

To recap:

1) Good, clean litter box options.

2) Clean the heck out of that carpet so no urine remains.

3) Reward the behaviour you want to see.

4) Feliway.

5) Cat shelves.

6) Bask in the knowledge of your awesomeness.

Got it? Good luck. I understand how frustrated you are right now if you are reading this, but know that it is a solvable problem. Good on you for trying. I hope you and you cat are better off after you undertake this task!

*Edit on March 29th 2015*

Full disclosure: my cat relapsed.  Even after all that work, she started peeing on that spot again.  I had to clean the heck out of it and try something in addition to all that.  It seems to be working.  I cleaned with this enzyme cleaner and then used some carpet freshener powder. THEN I got this “SHOO!” deterrent so she wouldn’t want to smell the area at all. I spray that stuff on there every day. Hopefully this will do the trick to keep her from wanting to smell it! I will update if any further problems occur. As I have learned, it may take more than one shot to fix this problem. Good luck!

*Edit on July 16th 2015*

I’ve been in the clear since my last edit. I do occasionally sprinkle a pet odor eliminator powder on the area just to be sure that it’s not something she wants to smell and start the cycle all over again.

Heidi out.

25 Replies to “How To: Stop Your Cat From Peeing on the Carpet”

  1. My male cat uses the litter box and also pees on kitchen floor same spot near door and living room rug and also started peeing on shoes he is 5yrs did this every now and then since he was 5 month old was vet checked several times and nothing wrong i think it is behavior problem . i dont know whay to do my husband tells me to get Reid off him but i love him so much . i have3 liter boxes HELP!!!

    1. I have a cat who is 5 years old. She has suddenly started peeing behind my front door on the hardwood floor. She only does it once a day and every other time she uses the litter box. I have bought stuff to clean the urine up and have had to put puppy pee pads down! HELP!!!!!

      1. Have you taken the cat to a vet? The cat could be trying to tell you that something is wrong. If you get a clean bill of health, I would suggest three things: ensure your cat has two litter boxes and that they are clean. Then you could try using a deterrent in the area that is being peed on. Finally, play with the cat a lot, and make sure to praise it when things are good and you’re seeing the behavior you want to be seeing. Good luck!

  2. I have this problem with my cat and thankfully it’s only in the basement, I’ll be trying your suggestions this week hopefully it will stop.

  3. Thank you for sharing this. I am having a really hard time with my two male cats wanting to pee on our carpets (big male cat hanging around our yard is making them want to mark their territory). I always feel like know one else is having to deal with this to the extreme that I am. Thanks for your ideas and words of encouragement. I very much needed to hear this as I feel like having a good cry now because I just caught one peeing on the new carpeting in my husband’s office. I’ll give your ideas a try (especially little green bissell).

      1. OMG! Thank you for sharing this…I love how you’ve broken everything down. I’ve been battling this for quite a while and I just had the thought of getting an extra box. I have been using various cleaners, oxy and bleach and sucking it up with my carpet cleaner, but they go right back to the same spot and do it some more. I need to do it 10 times insted of 5. I also didn’t realized that the enzyme stuff is a waste if the carpet isn’t cleaner than when the factory made it. I really appreciated that. I also knew about how to keep cats off the stove and counter with foil, but what a great idea to keep them off the pee area while you’re in the process of cleaning it and maybe even after for little while to continue discouraging them until they get the message…!

  4. Our cat Puffy has been driving the entire family crazy with his peeing everywhere.
    We bought de-scenting sprays and special cleaners, which he ignored and re-marked all over the house…some advice? (I refuse neuter my cat.)
    Thank you.

    1. If you refuse to neuter I don’t really have any advice for you, sorry. That’s going to be what he does as long as his drive is telling him to do it. It won’t stop until you neuter him.

  5. Our cat Puffy has been driving the entire family crazy with his spraying everywhere.
    We bought de-scenting sprays and special cleaners, which he ignored and re-marked all over the house…some advice? (I refuse neuter my cat.) Thank you.

  6. Hi! Wanted to offer my two cents on my experience breaking my handsome Mumble’s carpet peeing addiction. My kitty suffered from a gnarly and undiagnosed UTI for at least a year and that’s when his peeing on the carpet started. Even when his UTI was gone, poor thing still had a fear of peeing in the box and this is very common in kitties who are post-UTI– they believe it is going to hurt them still so they won’t go in the box even though they’re healthy! To finally break the madness, I followed Heidi’s system very closely but here are some small tweaks/additions that worked for me.

    1) First thing I did was get a good bill of health from the vet. I confirmed he was UTI-free AND I ordered UroMAXX Urinary Tract, Kidney & Bladder Formula for Cats and Dogs from Amazon and began giving him it daily according to the instructions. Very easy because you just add it to his food. He loves the taste of it and has been totally UTI-free for about six months now which is HUGE with this UTI-prone boy.

    2) If you are in a position to completely replace the carpet and the pad that your cat has been peeing on, just do it. Just bite the bullet and do it. I am a renter and my kitty chose my living room as his pee palace. When I moved in there was hideous and white paint-stained DARK blue carpet in the living room. The first thing I did was buy a huge whole-room rug to cover the whole thing and that’s what Mumby chose. So, in my situation, I bit the bullet and just trashed the rug, and treated the original carpet as “the pad” and followed steps very similar steps as Heidi did. I found both the carpet powder and the enzymatic cleaner were huge. I used the Arm & Hammer with OxyClean powder and the Professional Strength Stain & Odor Eliminator – Enzyme-Powered Pet Odor & Stain Remover for Dogs and Cat Urine by Rocco & Roxie Supply Co. I LOVED both and could tell all traces of urine smell were leaving permanently. I followed the instructions exactly as stated and did 3 treatments of the powder, two of the enzyme powered cleaner, and a full deep clean using the pet formula on my Bissell Commercial grade steam cleaner (the crappy $80 models won’t cut it. Either invest in one of the $350+ models or rent a RugDoctor or similar machine). After I cleaned the ever-loving crap out of the “pad,” and let it dry appropriately, I put a brand new room rug down. It wasn’t cheap, but you know what, it would not have been worth the agony of me doing this multiple day gross urine cleaning fest, investing in all these products and researching all these solutions, just to have him relapse. I took zero chances and am all about JUST REPLACE THE CARPET TOTALLY IF YOU CAN. BITE THE BULLET. IT IS WORTH IT. After I replaced the carpet and totally neutralized the pad I got to work on removing every single “well maybe this is what the problem is…” item from my household.

    2) His ONLY box before was in my utility room which had huge piles of junk stacked up just waiting to fall over on him. It was right next to a loud washer, dryer, and dehumidifier. It was in a room with terribly harsh overhead lighting and no windows. It was in a corner boxed in by walls on two sides and the washer on the other. There was stuff sprinkled in the path to his box that he had to walk around. I decided to leave one box in this space just to be safe. I bought a brand spanking new box and left it in the same spot with his same type of litter he’s used his whole life.

    3) I then ADDED three other litter boxes (that was probably overkill, 2 total would have been fine, 3 would have been safe, and my 4th was overkill, but hey, he hasn’t relapsed, so I don’t regret it) for a total of four boxes in our house. One is, as I said before, in the exact same spot it was before with the exact type of litter and just a brand new fresh pan. The other three are: 1) A totally-different type of box (high sides) with a totally new kind of litter. Placed in a room he has had two accidents in during the last six months. Not a huge risky area but better safe than sorry. 2 and 3) Two brand spanking new pans RIGHT NEXT to the spot he was peeing on in my living room. I figured if he loves that room, let him have it, but have it my way. One pan had his old litter with a “litter attractant” added to it, and the second had a new kind of litter– crystals, which he has opted to use exclusively for #2 now. Note that EVERY SINGLE ROOM that has carpet in it has at least one pan. It’s a pain in the ass, yes, but it’s not even close to being as much a pain in the ass as urine smell and stains is. I highly recommend this– a pan in every single room with carpet.

    4) Kitty’s food and water bowls were also in the aforementioned nasty back utility room where his sole box was before this all went down. I moved them to the kitchen where there are no litter boxes. It is said that kitties don’t like to use the bathroom near their food (makes sense) and this could have been another reason kitty was being stubborn about not using his sole box.

    5) I installed a Sergeant’s Vetscription Calming Diffuser in the living room where he was peeing and where his two brand new litter boxes were

    6) I sprayed the entire carpet LIBERALLY with Nature’s Miracle “No More Spraying” spray and I do this about once every 3 days. I also use an odor eliminating Febreeze spray every day to keep any bathroom smells from festering and encouraging a free for all.

    7) I began giving my kitty a bath once a week. Mumble is long-haired and many times long-haired cats are more prone to UTIs because the urine collects in the hair around their junk, sits and crystalizes, and then affects the urinary tract system. Kitty gets a bath once a week (fun, I know), and gets “Tushy Wipes” once a day.

    8) I started giving extra extra love to him. Brushing him every day. Setting my alarm ten minutes early each morning to cuddle bus him. Avoided going away overnight as much as possible (this obviously won’t always be possible, but for now, I’m trying to stay close and keep him calm), and also PRAISING him when I see him use the box.

    9) I started making dang sure I scoop every morning and night. All boxes.

    10) This is strange, but I get down on my hands and knees and smell the carpet in the living room (where he used to pee) every single morning and night. He watches me do this and looks a little confused, as if he’s surprised I’m taking such an interest in that space. I may be crazy, but I think this is making him realize I am checking to make sure there aren’t any smells going on there. I also have a black light on the way from Amazon so that IF he (god forbid and please pray) goes on the carpet again, I will know RIGHT AWAY and will be able to address it swiftly.

    SO, long story short, my additions to Heidi’s post are FIRST AND FOREMOST: Make sure kitty has a clean bill of health from the vet, be sure his urinary tract is normal, and consider getting him on a preventative urinary tract health treatment. Now: 1) Just throw the carpet away and replace if it’s at all possible 2) Give kitty MULTIPLE BOXES, at least one in every room with carpet, with multiple different types of boxes AND multiple types of litter (be sure to leave at least one as their original litter type), use a “cat litter attractant” in eligible types of litter, and make sure they are in open, warmly-lit, quiet, uncluttered spaces AWAY FROM ALL FOOD DISHES. 3) Use a pheromone stress-reliever diffuser in the room he has been inappropriately peeing in and maybe even elsewhere if you want 4) Continue to sprinkle and vacuum deodorizing carpet powder on the carpet at least once a week, LIBERALLY spray with “Nature’s Miracle No More Spraying” at least once every three days, use deodorizing air freshener sprays to keep any bathroom smells from festering, and let kitty WATCH you checking out the smell on your hands and knees so he or she knows you are “watching them” (black light is good to catch problems early too, but still let kitty watch you smelling the carpet) 5) Scoop twice a day every day no exception 6) Bathe kitty to prevent crystal build up near his junk 7) Praise the baby when you see him use the box and 8) Give him extra extra love and affection. Spend more time with him. Pet him. Relax and pamper him.

    GOOD LUCK! I hope this pays off for you like it did for me!!!

  7. Our cat Puffy has been driving the entire family crazy with his spraying everywhere.
    We bought de-scenting sprays and special cleaners, which he ignored and re-marked all over the house…some advice? (I refuse neuter my cat.)
    Thank you.

    1. If you refuse to neuter your cat, then you refuse to accept the only option available to you. You cannot fight instinct and biology. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. As a last resort, perhaps take the cat to the vet to have them checked out, explain the situation to the vet, and have them make sure that everything’s okay. If the cat is given a clean bill of health, it’s just a cat being a cat and marking its territory. Without altering the animal, this is the animal’s natural state and cannot be changed.

  8. Thanks so much, Heidi. I never comment on blogs ordinarily, but I’ve seriously never found one as useful as this. I’ve been doing so much wrong, like keeping the litters side by side, not washing out the pans, like ever, only scooping the litter once per week, and then vaccuuming the carpet in his litter room which makes him terrified of the whole room for days after. No wonder he began peeing on the carpet by the front door (real awesome when people visit my home btw). Anyway, I have a solid game plan now and I’m pretty confident I can get this problem sorted out. It’s a relief already. I can’t thank you enough for this guide!

  9. My male cat is neutered. He has two litter boxes in two different areas. Feliway did not work. The vet gave me prozac for his behavior, but he hates it and runs from me now so I don’t like to use it. He keeps peeing on our bathroom floor mats. I have washed them many times and as soon as they are back on the floor, he pees on them! He used to also pee in one spot in the kitchen, and now there is a smell there and I can’t get it up. He peed there on the hardwood floors. I bought the urine eliminator stuff that is supposed to do the trick, but it doesn’t. Plus that part of the floor is now ruined. I will have to replace the wood to fix that. But the rugs! Why won’t he leave those rugs alone?!

  10. So, I have had one female cat for a couple of years and then got a male cat about for my son for Christmas….He is very sweet, but after his neuter, he started to pee on the carpets everywhere. I brought him to the VET and he had a UTI. He was put on antibiotics three times to ensure no infection. He was put on a prescription diet. I bought feliway (diffuser and collar). I have 5 litter boxes all different types and some scented litter and some unscented litter. I clean them twice per day! I have cleaned the carpets to extreme with enzyme cleaner and bought all new area rugs. I covered my son’s bedroom with plastic and vinyl mats so that he can still go in the room and sleep with my son. The cat has been closed off from the other carpeted areas…..BUT the bottom line is he still pees on the new carpets! I am beside myself. I have spent over $1500 trying to figure out what is wrong with this cat and so far I have no answers except it is behavior…..I am not sure why he is doing this. He gets dry food, wet food, treats and fresh water every day. If it is stress then I cannot figure out what is stressing him. We have not changed anything in our house. He is the new cat so it is not like a new cat is invading his territory. He and the other cat chase each other once in awhile but the female cat is not so dominant that she bothers him. I have no idea what else to do!

  11. My
    Cat is 3 years old And she is desexed and she always used the litter but since I have a new rug she keeps on peeing on it but yet uses the litter for doing poo
    I have clean my rug with a proper carpet cleaner etc etc

  12. I have replaced the carpet padding, cleaned the carpet and have had no luck. It is only in the family room and playroom it is a problem. Have tried deterrent sprays, videoed the transgression and showed it to the cat, who acted like it knewe it was busted, punished, treated, extra litter boxes, etc. I now think it is a habit. Plan on getting hardwood. Cats have not passed on three hardwood.

  13. Thank you. I hope this works for me. I am going to try it this weekend. If not I must start rehoming atleast the one cat. I have three. Wish me luck. This has been very helpful

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