Why is My Cat Sleeping In the Litter Box?

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Most days, your cat’s favorite perch is by the window that overlooks the street, but lately, you’ve been finding them curled up next to where they do their business. Why would a cat choose to sleep in its litter box? 

Most of the time, the reason is rooted in a urinary health issue. However, your cat may be sick, pregnant, territorial, or stressed. 

Discovering what’s caused this change and how to prevent it in the future is simpler than you might think. Read on to get your cat back on track! 

Four Reasons Why My Cat Is Sleeping In the Litter Box

Cat Sleeping In the Litter Box

Your cat might be sick.  

Cats often position themselves next to or in their litter box when they’re experiencing some kind of incontinence or obstructive issue

If they’ve recently started this behavior, it may be a symptom. Cats are susceptible to a variety of urinary problems, including: 

  • Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
  • Urethral Obstruction
  • PH Imbalance

Your cat may have a UTI if they appear to be experiencing trouble urinating, are urinating less frequently or in smaller amounts than usual, are passing discolored or bloody urine, or have started urinating around the house.

Another common urinary problem is urethral obstruction. If a mineral buildup or kidney stone is obstructing your cat’s urethra, they may be unable to urinate, leaving them completely unable to pee.

If your cat appears to have an obstruction, you should contact a vet immediately, as this is a medical emergency. 

Cats have a delicate pH balance, and if their levels are too high or too low, crystals can form in their urine. These crystals can bind themselves to other minerals or stones and create obstructions, so it’s best to get them looked at right away. 

If any of these symptoms sound familiar, a quick check-up at the veterinarian’s office is probably the way to go. 

The vet will often use ultrasounds, x-rays, and urine tests before ultimately prescribing antibiotics. Cats may require a urethral flush and follow-up care in more severe issues, but this isn’t especially common. 

Your cat might be pregnant

If your female cat isn’t spayed, she might be pregnant! Like most mothers, cats prefer a safe, private space to bring their babies into the world. 

When they go into labor, queens do their best to find a safe, private space. If they don’t have that space readily available, they’ll start looking for the next best thing and end up in their litter box. 

To solve the problem, give your cat a designated birthing space. Find a medium-sized box, fill it with comfort items, place food and water nearby, and tuck it away in a quiet area that has minimal foot traffic. 

After the kittens are born, she should resume normal urinary habits. If she continues to sleep near or in the litter box, check-in with the vet to make sure nothing else is amiss. 

Your cat may be guarding the litter box.

Cats are a lot like toddlers; they’re territorial by nature, and they don’t care much for sharing. When they’ve decided that a space is theirs, like their litter box, they tend to guard it. 

If you have more than one cat lounging around, it’s possible that one of them has declared their litter box theirs and started a territory dispute in your litter station

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One of the ways cats claim ownership of their box is by blocking the other cats’ ability to enter by sleeping in it.

This can quickly lead to your other cats using the rest of your house as a bathroom, so it’s best to get this handled right away. 

Fortunately, this is as simple as placing multiple litter boxes in the home, at opposite ends, or on separate floors. This should alleviate the issue and keep every kitty happy and healthy. 

She might be just be a little anxious. 

Cats are sensitive, and nobody would call them the world’s most adaptable creature. When their environment changes, cats often cling to things that they are familiar with or hold their scent. 

Significant changes or stressors could push your cat straight into the litter box! If there haven’t been any significant changes lately, your environment might just be a bit of a sensory overload

In particularly loud or busy homes, cats are known to seek out solitary spaces for a bit of peace and quiet. Anxiety and stress leave them looking for small, dark, controllable spaces. 

To lure your cat out of their box and back into the world at large, simply create an area they don’t want to hide from! This could be a cat tree, climbing shelf, or even a pile of blankets in the back of the closet. 


How to Prevent UTI’s in Cats

how to prevent cats from getting uti

Make sure your cat is getting enough water. 

Low water intake is one of the leading causes of UTIs in cats, so it’s the first thing you’ll want to address if you’ve noticed your cat developing them more frequently. 

There should be multiple wide-brimmed water bowls around your home that are kept clean and filled with fresh water to provide your cat with ample opportunity to stop for a drink

If they don’t seem interested, consider a water fountain. Cats are stimulated by flowing water and will be much more excited to stop for a drink when there’s something catching their eye! 

Reevaluate your cat’s diet. 

A cat’s natural diet greatly differs from our store-bought, nose-friendly dry food, and that’s not always a good thing. Without the proper nutrients, cats are especially susceptible to UTIs. 

Consider mixing some wet food with your daily feedings to increase water and protein intake.

Before you go overboard and completely overhaul their current diet, make sure to talk to your vet and see what they’d recommend for UTI prevention. 

Keep the litter box clean. 

A dirty litter box doesn’t just smell awful; it can also be dangerous for your cat! Unhygienic environments promote infection and can lead to more serious issues. 

Ensure you’re cleaning the litter box a minimum of two times a day, and replace the litter once a week. In a multi-cat home, make sure you have one litter box per cat to keep their litter clean and manageable.

Minimize opportunities for stress and anxiety. 

Stress and anxiety are closely linked to feline urinary health. To prevent stress-related UTIs in your cat, be mindful of their daily routine and environment. 

Avoid major changes where possible, and provide an enriching, engaging environment for your cat.

There are several ways to do this, but the simplest and most affordable options are providing safe, comfortable perches and supplying adequate movement toys and food puzzles. 

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

What to do if my cat is sleeping in the litter box

Move the litter box. 

It’s very possible that you’ve accidentally placed the litter box in your cat’s favorite nap corner. Fortunately, that’s an easy problem to solve! 

Try relocating the box to another dark, quiet area of the house like the bathroom or laundry room; any spot will do as long as the environment is right and it’s far away from their food. 

Make sure it’s easily accessible, and they know where you’ve placed it to prevent accidents around the house. 

If you find your cat stretched out in the spot the box once occupied, you’ve found your reason and solved your problem! 

Leave the litter box in its new spot and place a fluffy pet bed where it used to be. However, if they follow the box to their new home, it’s maybe time to try something else.  

Create a comfortable environment. 

Cats are independent and need a space that’s exclusively theirs. They seek out quiet spaces and love to stake their claim on sunny windowsills and elevated perches, but a litter box will do in a pinch. 

If your house is loud or busy, this becomes especially important to keep your cat comfortable and stress-free.

An enclosed kennel or an elevated perch is a great place to start, but you’ll want a more enriching space than that. Look for soft blankets, scratch mats or posts, and interesting movement-based toys for their special spot. 

Remove stressors like noise and foot traffic from the equation, and take a quick trip to your local pet store. You’ll have a happy cat in no time! 

Work with a vet. 

If you’ve seen any signs of change in your cat’s urinary habits, or you’ve tried everything you can think of, and the litter box is still being used as a bed, it’s probably time to talk to your vet. 

Sleeping in or around the litter box is usually a sign of a urinary health issue. Your cat may be experiencing a UTI or obstruction, but you can’t know for sure without a checkup. 

A urinalysis is quick, painless, and the most common diagnostic procedure your vet will start with.

From there, they’ll be able to tell you what the issue is or which tests need to be performed to get a more conclusive answer. 

More often than not, your cat will need a short round of antibiotics and a change in its diet, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.


Conclusion 

Cats are creatures of habit and comfort, so it’s odd to find them curled up near their litter box. Sometimes this is normal, especially in new kittens, but it’s usually a sign that something is amiss. 

Whether it’s health issues or stress levels, it’s crucial to identify the cause and make adjustments that ensure your cat is happy and healthy for years to come. 

Fixing the problem can be as simple as laying a comfortable blanket in a sunny spot or swapping your water dish out with a fun fountain. 

However, if there are changes in your cat’s overall health, it’s best to have them examined as soon as possible. When in doubt, take your cat to the vet!