Help, My Cat Is Sleeping in the Litter Box!


cat sleeping in litter box

Cats are strange and mysterious creatures. This is something that just about everyone is well aware of. Depending on your cat and its attitude, it may show off its fickle and confusing behavior in a number of different ways. 

A cat may enjoy playing with a certain toy on some days, and on other days, it may seem to have absolutely no interest in the toy. For other cats, a cat may show interest in a person and interact with that person throughout the day. On the next day, the cat may be cold, aloof, or even hostile toward the person it was previously being attentive toward. These are just a few of the examples of how cats can have strange and seemingly inexplicable behavior patterns. 

With that being said, some of the most bizarre things that your cat does are actually quite easy to explain. 

In fact, when a cat has strange behavior or is doing something for a reason you cannot comprehend, there’s a chance that it may mean that your cat is trying to communicate something to you. 

Since cats can’t speak and they communicate with each other (and to people) primarily through body language and actions, it is up to you as the cat owner to try and pay attention to what strange behaviors your cat may have taken up and what they mean. 

One behavior that may even be amusing is when you find your cat sleeping inside its litter box. When cats sleep in their litter box, this should be an immediate signal that something isn’t quite right with your kitty. (But at least they aren’t EATING the litter!) 

Cats are known for being notoriously clean animals, cleaning themselves for hours upon hours a day. If you find your cat sleeping in a litter box, then it is going directly against its natural behavior which is a cause for concern. 

There are a few reasons why your cat could be sleeping in the litter box...

Ruling Out the Medical Problems

Sick Cat?
Photo by Mantas August on Unsplash

As with any problem involving pets, it is crucial to rule out the possibility of a medical issue. Your cat cannot physically tell you if it feels pain in a particular area or not. 

Because cats are a mixture of both predator and prey, they instinctively hide any pain or discomfort they feel, even if they trust you. For this reason, it’s very important to pay close attention to the way your cat is behaving.

Cats are creatures of habit and are often nature’s equivalent of a clean freak. If your kitty has been properly litter-box trained for years and associates the litter box with the area where feces and urine go, it is not going to want to purposefully spend time there. 

Likewise, if a cat is having kidney or bladder problems and is not able to make it to the litter box in time, it is going to become anxious. It may begin to fear not being able to make it to the litter box after waking up, causing it to begin sleeping inside the litter box. After all, when the cat is sleeping inside the litter box, there is no “danger” of its droppings being in the wrong place. 

When all is said and done, when your cat sleeps in the litter box, it could be because it is having kidney or bladder problems. 

While this will not be a cure-all, there are a few things that you can check to try and determine if this is the problem: 

Incontinence

A cat who is having kidney and/or bladder problems may also present with signs of incontinence, pain when urinating, and pain in that general area. Incontinence can be seen by inappropriate spots of urination, with those spots being more akin to a dribbling line than a puddle. 

Incontinence will also be visible on the fur of the cat’s hind legs, often having a yellowish tinge (if the fur is light), being wet, and smelling of urine. Pain when urination can be heard if your cat meows when in the litter box in an uncharacteristic fashion, often a loud and sudden meow. 

Likewise, if there is pain in the general area, your cat may become aggressive if you try to pet its hind side, and it may exhibit other signs of pain. 

If your cat has any of these symptoms and also sleeps inside the litter box, it may be worth considering a trip to the vet to rule out any medical problems. 

Consider Relationships with Other Cats

two cats
Photo by Gena Okami on Unsplash

In a multi-cat household, it is far more likely that your cat will decide to start sleeping in the litter box. 

With all the above descriptions of a cat, you can also add “territorial” to that list. Because of this territorial nature, cats may begin trying to claim their own territory in a household with other cats. This can also happen with cats that have been littermates, although it is less likely than when you introduce an unrelated cat into the pet family. 

One of the ways that cats express their dominance over an area is blocking off places where a cat would seemingly mark its territory. 

For multi-cat households, the litter box is a major place where cats mark their territory, as their droppings leave strong smells. If a dominant cat decides that it wants to “own” a litter box, it may choose to sleep inside of it to dissuade other cats from using it

Chances are that if the reasons why your cat is sleeping inside a litter box is because of a territorial dispute, there will be other signs of the dispute around the house. 

Cats who fight over territory are not really quiet about it. 

These signs can include possessive behavior, blocking the other cat from food or water, and increased aggression from the dominant cat as it tries to protect its perceived territory. 

The best way that you can work on discouraging this behavior is to ensure that you have a space for your cats to relieve themselves without fear of having their territory claimed. 

The rule of thumb for multi-cat households is to have one litter box per cat, plus an extra litter box because cats are strange creatures and it is better to be safe than sorry.

Editorial Team

When we aren't scooping up droppings to ensure a luxurious litter box experience for our fur babies, we are writing all sorts of stuff about cats for your enjoyment and knowledge.

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