Cat Sleeping in Litter Box: Reasons To Know

why cats sleep in the litter box
(Last Updated On: November 10, 2022)

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. Cat sitting in litter box doing nothing? Or cat hiding in litter box?

Let’s take a look at these behaviors to understand the reasons why cats sleep in the litter box.

Cat peeing over edge of litter box

Reasons Why 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 when they tend to sleep in the litter box as a kitten. But, if your feline is an adult and they has a frequent habit of spending 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 or Medical Issues

One of the indications that your kitty isn’t feeling well is spending too much time in the litter box. Similar to when humans get sick and prefer to be 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 kitty wants to pee, making them afraid of getting out of the box.

For male cats, especially elderly male cats, napping in the litter box might be a sign of lower tract or bladder disease. If your pet frequently squats in the box but doesn’t urine, it might be a warning symptom. With lower tract disease, you need to respond fast by taking your kitty to the veterinary clinic immediately because this health issue is deadly and should therefore be handled in 48 hours.

Other abnormal behaviors like a lack of appetite, signs of being lethargic, constipation, an increase in thirst, diarrhea, or fewer social interactions might be the sign of illness. The best way is to take your cat to the vet.

Safety and Comfort

Cats are shy, love their own space, and can be skeptical about everything. A cat’s environment is important; they love their cat bed and don’t embrace change easily. Their way of dealing with stressful situations and loud noises 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 box, it might be that they feel anxious or nervous. Some cats may decide to retreat to their comfort zones to feel safe.

Sometimes, it may be because you changed the type of litter and your cats like to lay in it. It’s understandable odd when your kitty doesn’t want to leave the toilet but sometimes, it may be a simple reason like that.

Territorial Dominance

If you happen to have more than one kitten, you might notice them fighting. The fight might result in one of the cats in the house 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.

On the flip side, some cats may try to keep others from using it as a possessive thing!

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 boxClosed 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. Also, adopting a new pet can make it anxious and uncomfortable. There might be a bully amongst the cats at home too!

The introduction of a new cat in the household 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 comfy in such situations, provide it with a safe place to seek shelter and get over its fear. 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 females 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, 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 sleeping spot placed within a quiet environment provides your female cat with enough privacy. But, you will need to help her use the litter box 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.

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

The amount of time your kitten spends in the 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.

Issues like cat eating litter

FAQs: Cat Sleeping in Litter Box

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 weird, 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 options like a cardboard box near the litter box. But being playful does not mean that your cat should sleep in the box. If you feel that your feline’s odd behavior is concerning, call your vet to rule out your doubts.

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

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

Stress and medical 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 or laying in the litter box?

Yes, you can. Once you notice signs that your cat might be having problems, you have to find a solution. 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.

Whether your cat is sleeping in the litter box because they need some privacy, is suffering from health problems, or just wants to destress, you must find out the problem. If it’s an issue with territorial dominance, ensure each cat has its own toy, food bowl, bed etc. Get at least one or two extra litter boxes as well, so there’s no fighting! It’s ideal to have one cat per box. Also, provide a cat perch for your cats to hang out on!

cat in a litter box

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