Why Is My Cat Laying in the Litter Box? Understanding the Reasons and Solutions!

Cats are known for being quite clean. They spend a lot of time grooming themselves and don’t enjoy being dirty (unlike a lot of dogs).

So you might be surprised if you see your cat laying in the litter box, right?

While this is pretty common behavior for cats, you will want to figure out why your cat is doing it so that you can address any issues they are having.

Let’s dig into five reasons why cats lay in litter boxes, plus how you can stop it.

Why Is My Cat Laying in the Litter Box or Hiding in It?

If your cat lays in the litter box or is hiding in it, it could be due to a number of reasons such as it may be suffering from a health issue, being stressed, or feeling threatened or territorial.

Let’s look at the reasons that may help to answer your query about why is my cat laying in the litter box:

Your Cat Could Be Stressed

cat laying in litter box

Litter boxes are usually kept in quiet places that feel secure, plus they have smells that are familiar to your kitty. Your cat likely views their litter box as a safe place, and any amount of stress could cause them to hide out there.

Cats love familiarity, and if you’ve recently moved, they might not know where to be in the new house. Since the litter box feels safe and familiar, they will retreat there.

Mostly pets sleep in their litter boxes when they feel stressed. Other causes could be a new pet in the house, loud noises like fireworks, or other big changes in the household, like a new baby.

I’ll explain further down in this article what to do if you think your cat is feeling stressed.

It Could Be a Health Problem


If your cat is having health problems, they could resort to spending time in their litter box. This is more common in elderly cats.

If your cat doesn’t think they can make it back to the litter box in time to go to the bathroom because of urinary tract infections or other digestive issues, they might choose to stay close.

Look for signs of diarrhea, painful urination, or other health issues. You can also try to notice if your cat is eating or drinking different amounts than normal.

Cats prefer hiding places when they feel in pain or sick. If nothing else has recently changed in your house and they are suddenly spending a lot of time in the litter box, this could be a sign that something is wrong.

If you think something might be wrong, get your cat in to see a veterinarian for a check-up.

Your Cat Is Marking Their Territory

Cats can get very territorial about their litter boxes. Laying in the litter box could be your cat’s way of making sure other cats don’t use it.

If you’ve recently added a new cat to your household, your first cat might feel the need to claim their territory. This especially affects male cats, though it is not uncommon for all cats.

Kitty Could Be Pregnant

cat sleeping in litter box

When cats go into labor, they want to give birth to their kittens in a private, safe space. Especially if you have an enclosed litter box, your cat might see this as the perfect little den for giving birth.

If you know or suspect that your cat is pregnant, you’ll want to provide them with a safe, cozy spot for having her kittens. Something as simple as a box with blankets and newspapers inside makes a nice nest.

Your Cat Thinks It’s Comfy

cats sitting in litter box

Oddly enough, your cat might think that their litter box makes a comfortable sleeping spot. This mostly happens if you change to a new kind of cat litter.

Since the new kitty litter has a different feel to it and different smells, your cat might not immediately associate it with a place to go to the bathroom.

If your new kitten is sleeping in the litter box, it could just be that they were trying to go to the bathroom and got sleepy. No worries. Your kitten is still growing and learning and will grow out of this phase soon.

How Do I Stop My Cat From Sleeping in the Litter Box?

First, if you suspect that your cat may have urinary tract or other health problems happening, be sure to get them in to see the veterinarian as soon as possible.

The following solutions won’t be helpful if there is an underlying medical condition.

Give Your Cat a Better Alternative

why does my cat lay in the litter box

For most of the reasons listed above that your cat may be hanging out in the litter box, an easy-to-try solution is to provide alternative safe spaces for your cat to hang out.

Cats always seek out an enclosed shelter because they feel safer and can rest. You can purchase a cat bed or make a little cat cave out of a cardboard box and a soft blanket.

You can position this new cozy spot right next to the litter box for a while to lure them out of the litter box and help them feel safe being right next to it.

When you move, be sure to create a safe den for your cat to hang out while they adjust to the new home.

I was recently visiting my dad, and the cats at his house have a lot of little dens to hang out in, and they seem to use them all. They constantly seek an enclosed space for napping without feeling like they have to be on guard or worry.

Get Another Litter Box

If you have a newly adopted kitten and think your older cat is acting territorially, be sure you have enough litter boxes for multiple cats.

The rule of thumb is to have one more litter box than you do cats. So if you have two cats, there should be three litter box options in the home.

It can also help to introduce your cat to new animals slowly to help them be less stressed.

why do cats lay in their litter box

Change to a New Litter Slowly

If you see your cat sleeping in the litter box because you’ve recently changed to a different litter, remember that it’s best to change to a new litter slowly.

Start with mixing 25% of the new litter with 75% of the old litter. Then gradually change over to the new kitty litter. This way, your cat will keep considering the litter tray box as their toilet.

In Conclusion

A cat hanging out in their litter box is fairly normal behavior. Common reasons include stress, pregnancy, comfort, territory battles, or a health issue.

Once you figure out why they might be doing it, you can make changes to improve your cat’s environment or get them help for a medical problem.

Also, clean your cat’s dirty litter box regularly to ensure good hygiene and the health of your kitty.

I hope this article has helped you figure out your cat’s new litter box habits so that you can provide what they need.

Christine Lynn
Christine lives in western Colorado with her husband, mother, and two small dogs. Christine grew up with many different big dogs as well as multiple cats. A year after they got married, she and her husband got a cockapoo puppy that stole their hearts (love at first sight is definitely real with dogs!). Years later, they adopted a Chihuahua mix from a local animal shelter. Christine has taken each of her pups through multiple training courses to help with behavior and anxiety. She has cared for her cockapoo through two knee surgeries and many other health concerns. Christine has been writing professionally on a variety of topics for six years. Her work has been featured on many well-known blogs and websites. She especially enjoys the opportunity to share her passion for responsible pet care with the world. Her hobbies include reading, watercolor painting, and hiking (with her dogs, of course!).

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