Help! My Cat Is Sleeping In The Litter Box! What Should I Do?

Of all the nasty things your precious feline friend could do, one of the worst possible scenarios ever has to be… sleeping in the litter box!

If you’re reading this, chances are your own cat has already done it. And trust me when I tell you this, I do understand your frustration, disgust and horror. The good news is that your cat isn’t some repulsive freak that’s gone mad. The bad news is that apart from being unsightly and unhygienic, this type of behavior is troublesome on many levels.

Sleeping in the litter box isn’t rare for cats of all breeds – and ages for that matter. Instead of thinking “ew” you should be thinking about the possible causes because sometimes they may indicate a bigger issue.

Why is my cat sleeping in the litter box?

If your feline pet has started sleeping or hiding in the litter box out of the blue, one or more of the following factors may be influencing its disgusting behavior.

Fighting for territory

Kitties are notorious for their territorial ways. If you’re residing in a multi-cat household and the feline furballs aren’t exactly friendly with each other, it’s possible for one of them to start sleeping in the litter box. As the ASPCA points out, providing multiple litter boxes is of essential necessity for multi-cat owners.

Just scent-marking isn’t enough for some cats – sometimes they’ll want to physically guard their territory. Even if there are no other animals in your home, your kitty may decide to sleep or hide inside the litter box as a way to claim it when it feels invaded by the unfamiliar scent of house guests or furniture items.

New home

If you’ve recently moved into a new home with your feline friend, there’s a chance it’s still not used to its new surroundings. Don’t worry – it’s normal for cats to overreact when they switch homes. Just give your furball some time to adjust.


Stress can be a powerful driving force even for the laziest, most tolerant and amiable cats on the globe. As Pam Johnson-Bennett, cat behaviorist, explains on her website, familiar scents are soothing to all cats. If your own furball has been suffering from stress lately, it may opt for burying itself in its own scent – because that’s exactly how its litter box smells. You may find it hard to believe, but a stressed out kitty can find the gross litter tray quite comforting simply because it has already scent-marked it.

Urinary tract problems

Unlike the previous two possible causes, sleeping in the litter box could also be triggered by a physical health complication.

Bladder stones, lower urinary tract disease and other health problems can make your cat start hiding in the litter box. Such complications usually go hand in hand with the lack of normal urination. If you’ve spotted changes in your pet’s urinating and defecating habits along with a tendency of spending too much time inside the litter box, you should definitely call your vet.

What to do if your cat is sleeping in the litter box?

Start by trying to overcome your disgust. The more you think about the yucky factor, the more you’ll be prone to start yelling at the cat. This will not only stress it out, but it may even drive it to some destructive behavior out of revenge. Instead, try fixing the problem with the following solutions.

Change the litter

Don’t yell or punish your kitty for sleeping or hiding in the litter box. Change the cat litter you’re using and see if that will help the furball. If your home is already filled with familiar scents, the feline will turn towards them for comfort. Keep in mind that it’s possible for this solution to backfire and to make the cat unwilling to use the new litter.

Try to make your home as calming as possible

Even if you haven’t recently changed homes, try to make the kitty’s surroundings as soothing as possible. Be mindful of new furniture items, noisy neighbors, frequent house guests and basically all types of possibly upsetting sights, scents and noises.

Encourage other, more desirable sleeping and hiding places

Make the litter box a less appealing hiding or sleeping spot by encouraging your pet to use its cat bed. Opt for catnip spray of calming pheromone sprays – both options are popular over-the-counter solutions.

Call the doc

Even if you can’t see any visible signs that your pet has urinating or defecating problems, this type of behavior is still problematic. It shows lack of discipline and it’s extremely unhygienic for you, your cat and everyone else in your household.

If you can’t discourage the cat from its disgusting habit in the upcoming couple of days, call your vet and explain the situation. Should the cat indeed be suffering from an undiagnosed health complication, scheduling a check-up and finding the problem on time can save and prolong your pet’s life.

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Emily Parker

Emily Parker is the Content Manager at Catological. She's passionate about helping cat parents love their cats better by providing the best information and recommendations about everything you'll need to know about your cat, from kitten to senior years. She believes natural, biologically-appropriate products are best...why wouldn't you provide the best for a member of your family?!

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