Most cat owners have had their cat pee outside their litterbox at least once, you’re not alone! But, it can be incredibly confusing when your cat decides to do their business on a strange object. Plastic bags might not be an obvious bathroom choice to us, but clearly, cats think they are great! So, why do cats pee on plastic?
Cats pee on plastic because it’s relatively soft and comfortable while going to the bathroom. Plastic may also be appealing because thin plastic can be moved to ‘bury’ urine or feces.The smell of plastic may be appealing to cats and a factor in them urinating there.
Like many behaviors that are preferential instead of instinctual, there isn’t any 100% definitive answer. Cats pee on plastic because it works for them, but the exact reasons still aren’t clear. But, there is good news. Your cat peeing on plastic isn’t inevitable, and there are plenty of things you can do to discourage that behavior.
5 Reasons Cats Pee On Plastic
It’s not always clear why cats pee on items such as plastic, but here are a few common reasons why.
Your Cat Likes the Texture of Plastic
One of the most common reasons for a cat to pee on plastic is just because they like the texture. This is why cats that like to play with grocery bags or cuddle with grocery bags might be more likely to pee on plastic. Some types of plastic are just soft, comfortable, and engaging for your cat.
We don’t know why cats sometimes show their appreciation for plastic by peeing on it, but it does seem to be a common reaction.
It’s Softer Than Your Litter
Another reason many cats start to pee on plastic and other surfaces is that they don’t like using their litterbox. Some cats dislike the feeling of cat litter, clay pellets, or other litter solutions on their paws.
This isn’t a universal reason; not all cats are picky about their litter substrate. But, cats that dislike their litter substrate are more likely to look for plastic and other things to pee on.
Your Cat’s Litterbox Isn’t Clean Enough
Cats may also avoid their litterbox and find a plastic bathroom if their litterbox isn’t clean enough. If your cat only seems to pee on plastic when their litterbox is full, they might be telling you that they need their litterbox cleaned more often.
It’s also worth noting that cats can get territorial about their litterboxes. If you have a multi-cat home and one cat isn’t using any of the available litterboxes, your cats might need another litterbox or two.
Your Cat Might Have A UTI
This might seem like a strange reason to pee on plastic, but your cat is more likely to pee on plastic if they have a UTI. That’s partially because they need to pee more often and can’t always make it to the litterbox, but they might also pee on plastic preferentially.
You should pay attention to your cat if they seem to be peeing on plastic more often than usual. Frequent peeing, showing signs of discomfort while peeing, or trying to pee and failing can all be signs that your cat has a UTI.
Even if your cat doesn’t have any other UTI symptoms, it’s still essential to take them to the vet if the behavior persists. UTIs are serious medical issues for cats and can lead to kidney failure if they aren’t treated.
Your Cat Might Be Marking Territory
The last reason is prevalent in cats. Plastic is a common target for marking behavior in male and female cats, before and after your cat is spayed or neutered. This kind of marking and territorial behavior is most common if you have a multi-cat home or if your cat is stressed.
Is It Normal For Cats To Pee On Plastic?
It is normal for cats to pee on plastic.
While peeing on plastic is a normal behavior in cats, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a concerning behavior. That’s because plastic can be a cute toy, bed, or bathroom location. Simultaneously, any change in bathroom behavior from your cat is a potential cause for worry.
Of course, some cats like to pee on plastic. If you have one of those cats, it’s best to keep plastic away from them and make sure grocery bags and other possible pee-targets are out of reach or in the garbage.
Why Do Cats Pee On Plastic Bags
Cats pee on plastic bags because it is an appealing target for regular bathroom use as well as territorial marking. Your average plastic bag is soft, can be moved or folded to hide bath time activity, and many cats enjoy playing with or cuddling them.
Since plastic bags are popular for your cats, they are also a good target for marking since your cats may compete over that territory.
The exact reason your cat is peeing on plastic bags is probably a combination of the reasons we’ve listed. It’s also likely that availability is a significant factor. Your cat’s access to plastic bags will also influence whether they develop a habit of peeing on plastic bags.
Why Does My Cat Pee On Garbage Bags
Garbage bags are similar enough to plastic bags that all the same reasons apply to clean garbage bags. But, there is one additional factor for garbage bags that have been used, scent.
The scent of a garbage bag full of garbage might tell your cat that this is an alright place to pee. They might even be relying on instincts that tell them that your garbage is waste, not food. Thinking of garbage as waste is ultimately a good thing for your cat’s health.
However, it can also lead to many stinky messes if you don’t keep your garbage bags contained and out of your cat’s way. Consider investing in garbage cans with lids to prevent your cat from getting into things they shouldn’t and to keep the smell contained.
Do Cats Pee On Things Out Of Spite
Cats do not pee on things out of spite. Cats don’t intentionally pee on things to upset their owners, or because they are mad at you, so they don’t pee on things out of spite.
Sometimes, when it looks like your cat is peeing out of spite, what they’re doing is expressing a stress reaction.
What looks like spite and revenge peeing is your cat saying that they are scared or upset. Getting mad at your cat can make those feelings worse and make the peeing behavior worse.
Do Cats Pee On Things For Attention
Cats do not pee on things for attention.
Your cat might be peeing on things that smell like you as an expression of separation anxiety or because you’ve recently been a source of stress, but that’s not them trying to get your attention.
Peeing can be an attempt to make you smell like them, so they feel closer to you, or an attempt to mask your scent so that your cat feels less stressed.
More attention can sometimes be a cure for a cat with separation anxiety, but you’ll need to address the underlying cause of their separation anxiety more often.
How To Clean Cat Urine From Plastic
Fortunately, most plastic is relatively simple to clean and doesn’t take a lot of time. Plastic grocery bags can be harder to clean because the plastic is slightly more porous, so small particles in your cat’s urine can penetrate the plastic.
We recommend just tossing the plastic for grocery bags and other thin porous plastic after it’s been peed on. Even a thorough clean will still leave ammonia particles and other scents in the plastic that can encourage your cat to pee again.
For other kinds of plastic, dish soap is an excellent deodorizer and cleaner. You can also buy more effective enzyme cleaners formulated explicitly for either cat or dog urine. Those are the best option if your cat is peeing in the same place over and over again.
How Do You Stop A Cat From Peeing On Things
You can do a few things to stop a cat from peeing on things outside of the litterbox. The simplest is to get a few more litterboxes and place them throughout your house, so your cat always has easy access. It would help if you also tried to keep your litterboxes a little cleaner, so space is more sanitary.
Some scents, like orange or peppermint, can also discourage cats from particular objects. A little peppermint or orange oil is safe to use on most soft surfaces and will help keep your cat’s bathroom activities in their litterbox.
Alternatively, if your cat is peeing in a specific place or room, you can add toys and other enrichment to make that room more engaging. If your cat likes spending time in a given space, they are much less likely to pee in the same area.
Things To Consider
Sometimes even small changes in your environment can stress your cat and make them pee or mark in unexpected places. Even something as simple as you being gone for longer than usual can stress your cat and make them act out.
Especially if you have a cat that seems to pee when they have separation anxiety, it’s essential to try and keep things as consistent as possible for them. Easy access to clean litterboxes is a good start, but establishing other norms and routines can help keep their stress low and accidents to a minimum.
Remember that some cats will pee without any real reasons for it, and it may not be possible to discourage them entirely. Careful management of your cat’s environment can help minimize the damage from accidents, but it may not be entirely avoidable.