Cat Sleeping in Litter Box: Reasons To Know

(Last Updated On: June 11, 2021)

Cats are great companions and while they can be quirky, playful and weird doing crazy stuff some of their behaviors are explainable. For example, cats love sleeping in litter boxes. It’s not unusual to find your cat napping or playing around the litter but this often raises lots of questions.

Studies show that a cat’s trip to the litter box is based on up to 39 distinct behaviors. In some cases, cats spend way more time in the box while not peeing or pooping. They might either be stretching, sniffing, pawing at the sides, burying, tail wagging, positioning, or relatively rare paw shaking.

Let’s, therefore, take a look at these unusual box behaviors to understand why it’s important to know your cat’s potty patterns and behavior matters such as a cat sleeping in the litter box.

Why’s My Cat Sleeping in the Litter Box?

Many owners are often left wondering why their cats behave strangely. While it’s normal for cats to be obsessed with being clean, sometimes it’s confusing when you notice your pet prefers the litter box as a place for napping.

One of the most common stages is where they tend to sleep in the litter box is as a kitten. But, if your feline is an adult and they spend a lot of time either in the box, sleeping or near the box, there might be an underlying issue.

Below are some common reasons that might cause this behavior.

Health-Related Issues

One of the indications that your feline isn’t feeling well is them spending too much time in the litter box. Similar to when humans are sick and end up confined, cats also experience the same. If it is having a hard time to get to the litter box or having a hard time easing themselves, they might feel that staying in the box is a good solution.

Urinary health issues might develop into kidney disease if left untreated making the condition worse. Urinary issues like a urinary infection or crystal formation can cause discomfort when your feline wants to pee making them afraid of getting out of the box.

For male cats, especially elderly male cats, sleeping in the box might be a sign of lower tract disease. If your pet takes a lot of time squatting in the box but not urinating, it might be a warning symptom. With lower tract disease, you need to respond fast by taking your feline to the vet immediately because this health issue is deadly and should therefore be handled in 48 hours.

Other abnormal behaviors like a lack of appetite, an increase of thirst, or fewer social interactions might be the sign of illness. The best way is to get in touch with your vet to erase any doubts.


Cats are shy, love their own space and can be skeptical about everything. They love their environments and don’t embrace change easily. Their way of dealing with stressful situations is a bit weird since they normally feel threatened when things are different from the norm.

If it happens to lie, crouch, or sit in the litter box, it might be that they feel anxious or nervous.

Territorial dominance

If you happen to have more than one cat, you might notice them fighting. The fight might result in one of the cats sleeping in the litter box.

More dominant cats might mark their territory leaving the timid ones feeling harassed and out of place. This often forces the timid cats to end up sleeping in the box to give the dominant ones more space. The best solution is to provide your cats with sizable and enough boxes or at least each with their box.

Maine Coon Litter Box

Newly adopted cats, especially those used to staying in cages like those from an animal shelter find it hard to adapt to new environments. A cage is small in size and since they are used to small spaces a new environment is tough to live in. At first, they will hide inside to avoid external threats but with effort and proper care gradually adapt after a few days.

Stressful Situations

A small litter box can also make your cat feel uncomfortable and unsafe so always check the size. Get a bigger litter box. Closed boxes and spaces make cats feel more secure and protected. Being enclosed, a little box offers privacy and also smells familiar.

Any change in your home no matter how small such as the introduction of a new baby, renovation or a sleepover from someone new might cause pressure and anxiety on your feline friend. Also, adopting a new pet can make your it anxious and uncomfortable.

The introduction of a new cat might force it to sleep in the litter box to display some form of dominance. This is to show the new cat that the box belongs to them and that other cats should not walk near or even enter the box.

To make your pet more comfortable in such situations, provide him with a cozy place to enable him to get over the insecure feeling. If he does not want to switch to the new box, move it to a different location and leave the new box right next to it.


Most female cats would prefer being alone, especially when they are pregnant and one of the most common places is in the litter box. They mostly take refuge inside since it’s more private and secluded.  

Female cats that are pregnant need a safe and private place before and after giving birth to their children. While a small litter box might be a great option for them, it’s not hygienic, especially for the little one. You need to establish a proper place for your feline in labor by letting her choose a toilet that is quite safe and familiar to her.

A safe and secure one placed within a quiet environment provides your female cat with enough privacy. But, you will need to help her get used to their new place by cleaning and preparing the area for the weeks to come. Also, don’t neglect your cat and give it a lot of care and attention during the pregnancy period.

You can research more about relevant information on cats and the best space suitable than her litter box. If you are not sure how to take care of it, ask a vet for more information.

Why you should take note of your cat’s litter patterns

The amount of time your feline spends in the litter box is an important thing to note. Cats usually suffer from urinary tract issues and sometimes it can even result in death. If you notice that your cat is avoiding spending time in the box and this might be a reminder that your cat is not comfortable with its environment. It can be a result of several things like pain or discomfort.

If they spend too much time in the box this might be an indication that your cat is straining to ease themselves due to urinary tract issues. Pay attention to these changes, especially if you notice a shift from the normal. This will help you determine if you should pay a visit to your veterinarian or not.

Issues like cat eating litter


Is it normal for cats to play in their litter box?

Yes, it’s kind of normal for cats to play in it. While this might seem like a weird behavior, cats are strange and curious animals. They enjoy playing and digging around inside before finding the right place for their waste.

Provide your cat with non-litter box options or other better quality boxes for sleeping, sitting, and playing. But, being playful does not mean that your cat should sleep in the box. If you feel that your cat’s odd behavior is getting out of hand, call your vet.

Why does my cat sleep in the litter box most of the time?

If your cat is always active and playful and sleeping in a box might be a sign of health issues. Check their daily activities for indications of any deviations to know whether it is a mental or physical problem.

Stress and health issues like urinary problems such as lower tract infection and urinary tract infection can be a contributing factor to changes in behavior. Get professional help from a vet.

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

Yes, you can. Once you notice signs that your cat might be having problems, you have to find a way to solve the problem. Mental issues like stress can be addressed by paying more attention to your cat and finding ways to destress your cat. Issues related to health problems are a bit complex requiring the help of a professional veterinarian.

While it might not make sense cats need a little space and privacy but there are levels of privacy that are a bit wanting. Whether your cat is sleeping in the litter box because they need some privacy, are suffering from health problems or just want to distress, you must find out the problem.

The first and most important thing is to care and notice any changes in your cat’s behavior to point out the problem. This will help you to narrow down the next possible solution.

cat in a litter box

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