Why Cats Lay In Their Litter Boxes? Answers Here

our cat sitting in the litter box

Have you ever found your cat lounging in the litter box and wondered, “Why on earth are they doing that?”

You’re not alone.

our pet sitting in the litter box
Our pet finding comfort in the litter box

This peculiar behaviour has puzzled many cat owners, including me. But don’t worry, we’re here today to help you understand what your furry friend is going through.

Common Reasons Why Cats Lay or Sleep in Their Litter Box

We discovered several reasons why a cat might start laying or sleeping in the litter box:

  • Stress and Anxiety: Cats may find comfort in the litter box when they are feeling stressed or anxious. The familiarity of the litterbox smell and the enclosed space can provide them with a sense of security during this time
  • Medical Conditions: Certain medical condition, especially those that are related to urinary or digestive system, can cause your furry friend to stay very close to the litter box for long periods
  • Territorial Behavior: Cats are known to be territorial creatures. If they feel their territory is being threatened, they might try to mark the litter box as their own
  • Pregnancy: Pregnant cats can choose to rest in their litter box as they are seeking comfort and a quiet place
  • Boredom: If a cat is not mentally or physically stimulated, they might start to act strange, like staying in their litter box
  • Changes in the litter: If you have recently changed the litter type you use, your cat might be taking some time to adjust to it.

Signs of Stress in Cats

Cats can often retreat to small and enclosed spaces when they are feeling anxious or insecure. This behaviour can be traced back to their wild ancestors, who would seek out hidden spots to rest from predators.

Your cat might feel that her litter box is a safe haven where they can hide from any threats. This is even more true if the litter box has a cover, which provides an enclosed space for her to retreat to.

The Impact of Changes in Litter

If you recently changed the type of litter you use, your cat might be confused. They might see the new litter as a new toy or a new bed to sleep on which is encouraging them to spend more time in the litter box. This doesn’t need any action as they will adjust to the new litter when the time comes for them to use it.

Territorial and Pregnancy: Preparing for Birth

If your cat is pregnant, they may look at the enclosed space of the litter box as an ideal spot for giving birth. You will have to provide a safe and comfortable space for your cat during this hard times to help and alleviate this behaviour

looking for the right spot to lay in the box
Looking for the right spot to lay in the box

If you have recently moved, introduced a new pet into the family or made some significant changes to your home, you furry friend might feel stressed about it. In this case she may start to spend more time in the litter box as a way to cope with the changes.

Try to add more safe spaces like some cat trees or beds which will help them feel more secure.

Medical Conditions That Can Cause This Behavior

If your furry friend is spending a lot of time in their litter box, it could also be a sign of some health problems. Conditions such as urinary tract infections, or kidney disease, can cause discomfort and make them stay close to their litter box.

Post-Surgery Behavior: Sitting in The Litter Box After Surgery

Just like humans, cats can behave a bit different after having a surgery. One of these behaviors might make them to sit in the litter box. This can be due to a few reasons that we know about:

  • Pain or Discomfort: After surgery, cats may feel pain or discomfort in some areas, that’s why they might seek comfort in their litter box. Due to the litter box being familiar to them and often a secure place, this will give them a sense of safety and comfort
  • Stress and Anxiety: The stress of having a surgery and the recovery process can lead to behavioral changes in for your furry friend. Sitting in the litter box can be a way for them to cope with the stress that they have following a surgery.
  • Potential health issues: If your cat continues to sit in the litter box for a long time after the surgery, it can be a sign of some other health issues, such as infections. If this is the case you should consult with a vet.

Cats are known to be masters at hiding their discomfort, so it’s very important to pay very close attention to their behaviour. If you cat is also very frequently using the litter box on top of laying in it, and showing any signs of distress, it’s time for a quick visit to the vet.

Older cats may suffer from arthritis, which can make it very painful for them to move around. The litter box can provide a comfortable space where they don’t need to move much around. If your cat is older and spending a considerable amount of time in the litter box, arthritis could be a possible reason.

Issues with the Litter Box Itself

Sometimes, the problem doesn’t lay with the cat, but with the litter box itself. It may be to dirty, too small, or placed in an area that your cat doesn’t feel secure enough. As they are very clean animals they can feel overwhelmed.

Try to move the litter box to a quieter, or a more secluded area to see if this changes their behavior.

What to Do If Your Cat Is Laying in Its Litter Box

If you notice that your furry friend is laying in their litter box, observe their behavior closely for a while and look for any signs of stress, illness or discomfort. If she has any signs of medical issues such as changes in appetite or any unusual bathroom habits, you should contact your vet immediately.

this is the spot he chose to lay
This is the spot he chose to lay after we cleaned the litter box

If it’s a problem caused by stress or anxiety, try to remember what changed in your home recently and could have caused this behaviour. Anything from a new pet to changes in the daily routine that you have. You can then try to revert these changes if possible or try to comfort your cat by using some calming treats and positive reinforcement.

If the issue comes from boredom, try to introduce new toys or activities in your cat’s routine. Interactive toys, climbing trees and extra playtime can help to keep your cat entertained and engaged.

When it comes to litter changes, you should always try to introduce new types of litter gradually, by mixing it with the old litter over time. If your cat seems to dislike the new type of litter, you may need to switch back to the old type.


Understanding why your cat is laying in the litter box is crucial for their health and well-being. Whether this is caused by stress or changes in the environment, it’s important to address these issues as soon as they start.

Did you cat every lay in it’s litter box?

Let us know!

Indre K Williams

Indre K Williams

Indre K Williams (DVM) graduated from the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine in 2015, she brings a wealth of knowledge and a genuine passion for animals to their writing. With years of experience working closely with pets and their owners, she has developed a deep understanding of their needs and behaviour.

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