Hepper is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Why Is Your Cat Peeing in the Laundry Basket? 9 Possible Reasons

Samantha Reed

By Samantha Reed

a maine coon cat in a laundry basket

Cat ownership is a mix of being enchanted by the absolutely adorable things our feline friends do and shocked by the absolutely infuriating ones. Of course the adorable things make everything else worthwhile, but some of the annoying ones can cause real problems. One of he biggest issues cat owners may face is when cats pee outside their litter box in the most inconvenient places—like, say, in a laundry basket.

Cat urine is notoriously smelly and hard to clean up; you likely want to get your cat peeing in the proper place again STAT. Read along for some reasons why your cat might be peeing in the laundry basket, and how to lure them back to the litter box life.

hepper single cat paw divider

The 9 Common Reasons Why  Your Cat Is Peeing in the Laundry Basket

1. Their Litter Box Smells Bad

Just like humans, no one wants to use a bathroom that is stinky, even if it’s their own fault! If your cat’s waste is particularly smelly, this could cause them to seek out other fresher places to use the bathroom, and your laundry basket could be a top contender. Be sure to scoop the litter box multiple times a day and experiment with different types of litters to find one that blocks the most odor. You can also try odor-neutralizing litter additives like baking soda.

smelly cat litter box
Image Credit: catinsyrup, Shutterstock

2. They Don’t Like the Texture of Their Litter

There is a lot of variety when it comes to kitty litter these days. You may have chosen one based on environmental controls, tight clumping, or odor control. Your cat, however, may have a different opinion of your choice, as they’re the ones who have to dig around in it. Try litters with different textures until you find one that keeps kitty content doing their most private business in the appropriate place.

3. You Don’t Have Enough Litter Boxes

Especially if you have multiple cats, one little box is likely not enough. Some cats are territorial about these things; others just like to have options. Finding at least two spots in your house to place a litter box can make your cat(s) more likely to use at least one of them.

several litter boxes for many cats in a household
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

4. The Litter Box Isn’t Clean Enough

Scooping isn’t enough when it comes to litterbox cleanliness. Once a week, the litterbox should be fully emptied out and scrubbed with a mild soap or a vinegar solution to disinfect and remove crusty clumps of litter stuck to the sides. Do not use bleach or other harsh chemicals, as they could cause your cat discomfort and potential harm.

Our favorite enzyme cleaner is the Hepper Advanced Bio-Enzyme Pet Stain & Odor Eliminator Spray. It's our product, and we love it so much, we just have to share. It permanently removes the very worst smells and stains (yes, everything you can imagine!), and we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee! 

Hepper Advanced Bio-Enzyme Pet Stain & Odor Eliminator Spray
  • ADVANCED ENZYMATIC CLEANER - Penetrates the most stubborn smells and stains at the deepest molecular...
  • FOR ANY MESS, ON ANY SURFACE - This pet odor eliminator cleans your carpets, floors, furniture,...

5. The Little Box Isn’t in the Right Position

Cats are nothing if not picky, and they may simply not like where the litter box is. Either that, or it might not allow them to relieve themselves comfortably. Try a different spot in your house or invest in a larger or differently shaped box.

cat litter box on a wooden floor
Image Credit: Grzegorz Petrykowski, Shutterstock

6. They’re Sick

Urinating and defecating outside of the litter box is sometimes an indicator that your cat isn’t feeling well or is developing a serious illness. Cats have a high tolerance for pain, and it can be hard to tell from their behavior if something is wrong. A sudden change in eating or bathroom habits, like urinating in the laundry basket, can indicate that a visit to the vet is in order.

7. They’re Stressed

Just like us, cats sometimes have physical responses to stress. This could be because of a move, a new baby, a new pet, or a change in their human’s routine. Try to spend some extra time with your cat to let them know that they’re safe, secure, and loved. If they continue to seem stressed, contact your vet for some ideas and support.

angry domestic cat growling
Image Credit: pixbull, Shutterstock

8. They’re Marking Their Territory

Unneutered male cats are notorious for marking their territory with a very strong smelling spray from a gland at the base of their tails. This is different from urine. Some cats, however, may start marking their territory with urine if they feel stressed; this could include choosing unusual places like your laundry basket.

9. Another Cat is Getting in the Way

Multiple cats in the same household often establish a hierarchy based on dominance and submission or different personality types. One of your cats may decide that the litter box is theirs and is scaring your other cats away from it. If you notice this kind of behavior, it is likely time to invest in multiple litter boxes until the social dynamics improve.



So you asked your cat extra nicely to please stop peeing in your laundry basket, but they’re just ignoring you? You’re certainly not alone! There are many reasons why your cat might be choosing to pee outside their litter box. Luckily, most of them can be remedied with some time and patience. We hope this list gave you some ideas as to why your cat has turned into a urine rogue, as well as some practical guidelines for getting them to stop.

Featured Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

Related Articles

Further Reading

Vet Articles

Latest Vet Answers

The latest veterinarians' answers to questions from our database