Cat Sleeping in Litter Box? Here’s Why

Cats sleep in some pretty strange places but if your kitty is sleeping in the litter box, there might be cause for concern. At the very least, a cat sleeping in a litter box means that there are environmental issues that need to be addressed. The good news is that solving the problem and convincing your cat to find a better place to catch those Z’s can be fairly simple.

Cat in litter box

Why is my cat sleeping in the litter box?

There are quite a few reasons why cats choose to sleep in their litter boxes. Let’s take a closer look.

It could be a health problem

Sometimes, sleeping in the litter box is a sign that your cat might be suffering from a painful issue that’s causing frequent urination. Needing to use the litter box far more often than normal could lead to a habit of sleeping inside – even though it’s not the cleanest place to nap.

Bladder infections, kidney stones, crystals, and urinary tract infections are painful and can even be fatal in some cases. Have a visit with your vet to rule out health problems as your kitty’s reason for choosing to sleep in the litter box.

They’re feeling territorial

If you have multiple cats and not enough litter boxes (there should be at least one per cat plus one or two extra), then your cat might guard the litter box by sleeping in it. This prevents the other cats from using the restroom while placing the cat in a position of dominance over their housemates. If you think this is the case, you’ll want to add more litter boxes. This should put a quick end to this territorial behavior and give the rest of your kitties some much-needed relief.

Protecting what’s theirs might be behind the habit of sleeping in the litter box even if your cat is the only pet in the house. When it’s kitten season and cats outside might be loudly mating and marking their territory, your cat might feel the need to express territorial behavior by sleeping in the litter box – after all, cats mark with their urine and the familiar scent of their box helps them feel more secure.

They may be having kittens

If you have a pregnant queen, she may indicate that she’s going into labor by choosing to sleep in the litter box. Cats need a private, secluded place to have kittens; give your kitty an alternative right away if you think this might be what’s happening.

They need to feel safe

Cats instinctively seek safety and security – even in the comfort of their own homes. If you’ve ever been to a crowded animal shelter, or even if you’ve seen cats up for adoption in pet stores, you might have noticed that some cats sleep in their litter boxes even though clean blankets are available.

Just like cats love enclosed, small spaces that provide a sense of security as cats feel safe from perceived threats, litter boxes are familiar places where some cats feel like they can finally relax and “let go.”

Even though your home is not an animal shelter and your cat may have lived there for a long time, they might still seek solace by sleeping in the litter box. Here are a few considerations to help you solve this mystery:

  • Have you brought in a new pet?
  • Is there a new baby in the home?
  • Do you have a new roommate?
  • Are there houseguests staying with you?
  • Are there loud noises coming from an area inside or outside your home?
  • Are you remodeling?

Cats love familiarity and quiet, enclosed spaces – and if they feel that their litter box is the only safe refuge, they might very well opt to sleep in it instead of resting out in the open.

How do I stop my cat from sleeping in the litter box?

Once you’ve ruled out illness, it’s time to present your cat with some better – and far cleaner options!

Start by digging deep into your cat’s psychology. If they don’t have a quiet, secure place to nap – and perhaps a perch high up on a shelf or in a window – providing some enrichment in these areas will work wonders and get your cat to stop sleeping in the litter box.

Give your cat a better alternative - A Cat Cave

Pet parents who invest in a cat cave find that cats need no convincing to give it a try – even when they’re stressed and hiding in the litterbox.

Placing a cat cave near the litter box where your cat will still be able to see and smell their old hideaway can be an easy way to convince your pet to swap hiding places and get back on the road toward normalcy.

Cat eating in his cat cave
 Feltcave Amazon

Feltcave cat caves are gorgeously snuggly retreats where your cat can get away to sleep in privacy. Kitties love feeling warm and cozy, they also feel safer as there’s only one way in, and being fully surrounded helps them feel protected from outside threats.

After your cat has made the transition away from the litter box and into her cat cave, you can put the bed in a more appropriate place, perhaps even up on a shelf if cat towers and window perches aren’t quite your style.

Read more: Find out how our cat caves are made!

Final thoughts

It’s no fun for you or your cat if sleeping in the litter box has become an issue. But once you’ve ruled out a medical problem, it can be fairly simple to solve the issue and restore your pet’s mental health by providing enough litter boxes for all the cats in the house and making sure that your kitty has at least one comfy, safe place to call their own.

Frequently asked questions related to cat sleeping in litter box

Why is my cat laying in her litter box? Cat hiding in litter box?

If you have a cat hiding in the litter box or your cat lays in litter box this could indicate that they are dealing with a health issue, feeling stressed or feeling territorial. If you have other cats in the household or neighboring cats, your cat may be laying or sitting in a litter box to keep others from using it. Equally, your cat may just be after a bit of privacy, wanting to feel safe and comfortable because they are feeling threatened or overwhelmed. Laying in the litter box and not moving could also indicate something more serious such as urinary tract pain, diarrhea, or other issues that mean she doesn’t want to leave the toilet.

As we mentioned earlier, take your cat to the vet to rule out any health issues, invest in a more sanitary sleeping spot, like a cat cave, and try to rule out any territorial behavior or bullying if you live in a multi-cat household.

How to stop my cat from bullying my other cat?

A recent study reported that 27% of cats who come into shelters for behavioral reasons were relinquished due to aggression. Feline aggression and “bullying” is clearly a big problem - and it’s one that needs to be recognized and understood in order to be sorted out.

If your cat is bullying your other cat, don’t worry, there are things you can do. Firstly, get your cat neutered or spayed; this will calm their sexual frustration and the aggression that goes hand in hand. Secondly, as we mentioned above, it’s so important that your cats have their own basic necessities. For example, each cat in your household needs their own litter box, ideally plus one extra, plus their own food bowl, and their own cat bed or cat cave. If they are forced to share a resource like a litter box or a food bowl, they will end up fighting over it.

If your cats have their own resources and are still attacking or picking on each other, it may be down to an environmental factor. Have you changed your cat’s routine recently? If so, try adding more territorial space between your cats things - their cat beds, feeding stations etc. If this doesn’t work, you may wish to contact a veterinary behaviorist.

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