Why is My Cat Sleeping In Her Litter Box?

Your kitty is sleeping in the litter box all of a sudden and you don’t know why. What happened, what’s going on? You’re asking yourself why is my cat sleeping in her litter box and how do I fix it!?  The good news is there’s usually a pretty straight forward reason for why your cat is sleeping in the litter box.

The better news is there are several good ways for you to be able to combat this type of behavior.  Let’s take a look at the most common causes and then we’ll dig into how to help fix the root cause.

Why is My Cat Sleeping In Her Litter Box

moving to a new houseSleeping in the litter box is a very common behavior for cats that are under a lot of stress. This stress can be caused by a lot of things, but the most common reasons for this type of stress are:

  1. You’ve recently moved your cat to a new and unfamiliar space
  2. You’ve introduced another pet (cat or dog) into your resident cat’s space
  3. You’ve introduced another human into your cat’s space
  4. Your cat has a sickness of some sort
  5. Your cat is pregnant and doesn’t have a spot to give birth

Now while this behavior probably seems disgusting to you as a human and you probably haven’t seen your cat spend so much time in the litter box since they were a kitten (those kittens certainly love play in there!), it is a perfectly logical behavior for your cat.

So why does the litter box strike your cat as a good place to sleep?  There are a couple of theories behind this behavior, but the most commonly accepted theories are:

  • kittens on the wayCats mark their territory with urine and the litter box smells like their urine so they consider it to be their own territory and thus safe.
  • Your cat might be reinforcing their ownership of the territory (in the case of a new cat being introduced) by not only peeing in a space, but also physically occupying the space as well.
  • The litter box is very similar to other places your cat likes to sleep in that it is small and limits approaches so your cat can see who is coming and going. This makes your cat feel safer when in a new environment.
  • If your cat is pregnant and doesn’t have a place to give birth (a box with warm fluffy towels that is enclosed and away from all the busy places in the house) she might determine the litter box as the next best place because it meets most of the criteria.

How Do I Stop My Cat From Sleeping In Her Litter Box

There are several remedies available to help you combat this behavior, but they’ll have different results depending on the problem that is driving the behavior. If you’re in a new space your cat should gradually adjust over time and stop sleeping in the litter box as they get more familiar with the space.  That being said you probably don’t want them sleeping in there if you can avoid it…

While I’ll leave it to you to determine which one you want to try, I did my best to categorize them into logical groupings:

  • New Place / Environment Remedies:
    • Provide another litter box (identical if at all possible) right beside the one your cat is sleeping in, but instead of filling it with litter go for warm blankets or your cat’s favorite bed.  Even a towel with your cat’s scent on it (or even your own scent) might help entice them out of the litter box. If a towel or bedding doesn’t work give shredded paper a shot as well.
    • Place a Feliway Diffuser in the room your cat is spending the most time in to help them relax and feel more comfortable in the new space. You can read more about Feliway here if desired, but the general idea is it is a synthetic pheromone that helps calm cats in stressful situations.
  • New Pet / Human Introduction:
    • Ensure you have a sufficient number of litter boxes in the house, especially if the new pet introduced is a cat. This is a common problem when you have a cat going outside the litter box as well. It is generally recommended that you have at least 1 litter box for each cat and if you have room add an extra one. This ensures there’s plenty of room and privacy in the boxes.
    • Make sure your cat has their own safe space in the case of a dog being introduced, perhaps put up a baby gate to provide safe room just for your cat.
    • Be sure the litter box is in an out of the way location away from the normal foot traffic in the house.
  • Medical:
    • If there haven’t been any other major changes in the household recently and this behavior persists more than a few days you should get your cat to the vet ASAP to ensure there aren’t any medical issues causing your cat to sleep in the litter box.
  • Pregnancy:
    • This one is probably pretty obvious because you’ll know if you have a female cat that hasn’t been spayed and likely know if she is pregnant too. The easiest solution here is to provide an alternative space that is safe, enclosed, warm, and out of the way for your pregnant cat.

Wrapping It Up

When you’re wondering why is my cat sleeping in her litter box you should definitely dig into the root cause and figure out what is going on. If you’ve already gone through the motions of ensuring there isn’t a medical reasons then consider what other changes have gone on recently in your household.

While small changes may not seem like much to you as a human, they can often be incredibly impactful to your sensitive little fluff ball and she’s likely hiding in the litter box because she thinks of it as a safe spot.

If you have any other thoughts on how to keep your cat from sleeping in the litter box then please leave a comment below or send me an email at Craig@StuffCatsWant.com so I can update this article.

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12 thoughts on “Why is My Cat Sleeping In Her Litter Box?

  • July 14, 2017 at 12:16 am

    What great insight into something I’ve never thought to investigate. My girlfriend loves her cats and one does this and I always just look at it and wonder “what are you dooooooing in there?”

    Your posts makes perfect sense. You definitely love your cats!

    • July 14, 2017 at 12:28 am

      Haha! Thanks Eric. Yeah, cats are a riot in this way. You’d never think of it until you know quite a bit about the silly little fur balls!

  • July 14, 2017 at 12:33 am

    Cats are very sensitive about their environment. My friend was cat sitting a friend’s cat in her home and the poor cat was miserable. She stayed under the bed for the 3 months she was there. Poor thing. Ferrets also like to sleep and play in litter boxes–but for different reasons!

    • July 14, 2017 at 4:34 am

      Ha! No kidding? Why do they like to sleep and play in them?

  • July 14, 2017 at 1:00 am

    I wondered why my cat was doing that! I have 3 cats and I got them all at the same time, but once we moved, one of the cats started doing weird stuff like that. Now I know! Thank you for this information!!

    • July 14, 2017 at 4:36 am

      Glad it is helpful and I hope you are able to solve the problem soon! Let me know if you run into any issues!

  • July 14, 2017 at 6:48 am

    This is really helpful information so i have bookmarked this post for future reference.

  • July 14, 2017 at 6:23 pm

    This is such a great article- I even sent it to some friends that have cats because your website is full of such wonderful information…..After reading this post I guess it makes a lot of sense for a cat to want to stick to familiar territory if stressed/scared/uncomfortable…. needing that element of familiarity….really nice to see all the remedies that you provided too 🙂

    • July 15, 2017 at 3:19 am

      Glad you found it helpful. Thank you for reading! 🙂

  • July 14, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    Great information on a perplexing subject. There’s always a reason our pets do strange things like this and best to get to the root problem before it morphs into something more. I find that emotional stress is a big player in pets odd behavior. Really love your blog!

    • July 15, 2017 at 3:17 am

      Thanks for stopping by and I definitely second your notion that stress seems to be a huge player for animals just as much as humans!


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