Why does my cat toilet on my bed?

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Does your cat go to the toilet in unwanted places, including your bed? Behaviourist Jon Bowen shares his advice.

(Q) Why does my cat toilet on my bed??

(A) Behaviourist Jon Bowen says: A lot of people rear kittens in relatively confined spaces with a litter tray, bedding, newspapers, water and a food bowl. As a result, many kittens have learned that it is ok to eliminate on bedding as well as on newspaper and litter. They carry this memory into adulthood, so that at times of stress, or when their preferred toilet is unavailable, they will go to the toilet on a bed or sofa.

For cats that mostly go to the toilet outside, it is quite common for their favourite toilet locations to become inaccessible - for example, if a new cat or dog moves in to a neighbouring house, or a neighbour tries to scare visiting cats away.

Even changes in weather make a difference; in cold or wet weather the ground can be hard to dig. The best way to avoid this is to give your cat an outdoor toilet in his own garden. Just dig a couple of pits that are about the dimensions of a large cat litter tray and at least 30cm deep. Fill with soft playground sand. These toilets should be located in the border behind bushes and plants where your cat can have some privacy.

Cats prefer unscented, mineral-based litter, large high-sided trays and privacy. They also like to use separate toilets for pee and poo. Don't use scented or wood pulp-based litter, and keep the tray where your cat won't be bothered by a lot of activity. Clean poo away as soon as you see it, and when you wash the tray don't use any strongsmelling chemicals.