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Why Is My Cat Sleeping in the Litter Box? 7 Reasons & What to Do About It

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By Nicole Cosgrove

cat in a litter box_Shutterstock_Lilia Solonari

The litter box is an important part of your cat’s life, as well as yours. Your cat will spend a lot of time in and around the litter, but this doesn’t mean that you want him laying, sleeping, or playing in the kitty toilet. There is no denying that some cats act oddly, but this isn’t always the reason for a cat sleeping in the litter box.

Below are seven possible reasons why your cat has taken to sleeping in the litter.

Top 7 Reasons Cats Sleep in Their Litter Boxes

1. Pregnancy

a pregnant cat lying on wooden table
Image Credit: Boy67, Shutterstock

Your cat will want a safe and private place to give birth. Ideally, you will have provided a comfortable box bedecked with cushions and covers, but if you fail to do this, your pregnant cat may choose to sleep in the litter tray because it is a confined space that is easier for her to manage. It could also be the case that your pregnant cat needs to visit the litter box more often and cannot be bothered walking to and from the tray all the time.

Try moving the nesting box closer to the litter box and ensure that you have a nesting box several weeks in advance of the due date.

2. Illness

siamese cat sitting in a litter box_Shutterstock_Axel Bueckert
Image Credit: Axel Bueckert, Shutterstock

Urinary tract infections and other illnesses can cause your cat to sleep in the litter tray. With a UTI, your cat will feel a constant need to pee. They will visit the tray, nothing will come out, and they will walk away again, only to feel the need again straight away. In your cat’s head, if it needs to pee all the time, it might as well just lay and sleep in the litter tray because it is easier and more convenient than keep walking away.

If your cat is obviously in discomfort or showing any other signs of possible illness, visit a vet and have him checked out. Left unchecked, minor urinary problems can become serious issues with big complications.

3. Still Learning

kittens in litter box
Image Credit: Albina Tiplyashina, Shutterstock

Kittens are renowned for charging around for 10 minutes before falling asleep halfway across the room. If they happen to be charging around near or in the cat litter, there is a chance that they simply fell asleep because they were too tired to get out of the litter tray.

Another reason for a kitten to fall asleep in the litter tray is because he is still getting used to using the tray. He may not really understand what he’s doing and may choose to fall asleep in the litter tray as a means of being sure. This kind of uncertain behavior is fairly common of all kittens as they learn, but especially those that were separated from their moms at too young an age.

4. Habit

a red tabby cat uses a DIY litter box
Image Credit: RJ22, Shutterstock

If you have adopted a cat or kitten, especially from a shelter where it lived in a restricted space, your cat may have been forced to sleep in its litter tray before moving to your home. In this case, it is just a matter of habit that causes him to fall asleep in the litter tray. Give him time, ensure that he has a bed somewhere close to his tray, and he may eventually choose to sleep in there instead.

5. Adjustment Anxiety

cat litter box top entry_Shutterstock_Nils Jacobi
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

Cats can be very anxious creatures. This is especially true of cats that have moved house or that have had a new cat introduced to their existing home.

If your cat is struggling to come to terms with a major upheaval in its life, it may choose to sleep in the litter tray. The litter tray may be the only recognizable item or smell in new surroundings, or it may simply be where your cat feels safe.

6. Safety

cat inside a hooded litter box
Image Credit: Zoran Photographer, Shutterstock

Safety is important to your cat, and in most cases, a cat will only use a litter tray when it feels safe, often choosing to hide behind furniture or in other remote locations if it doesn’t feel safe in the tray.

If your cat considers the litter box to be its safe space, then it may head in there when it feels scared or anxious. Look for the cause of this fear to help your cat settle in and sleep somewhere else.

7. Guarding

tabby cat in a litter box
Image Credit: Davynia, Shutterstock

If you have recently introduced a new cat, dog, or even a new baby to the house, the cat may feel intimidated or like the new addition is encroaching on its territory. In this case, it could be guarding the litter box to prevent the new family member from using what the cat deems to be its litter tray.

If the new addition to the house is a cat, ensure you have enough litter trays and that they are well spaced around the house. Otherwise, it may simply be a case of waiting for your cat to accept the new addition or, at the very least, accept that they do not want to use the litter tray.

Why Is My Cat Sleeping in The Litter Box?

Cats do have some strange habits, but most times, they like to sleep somewhere comfortable, so if they are sleeping in the litter tray, there is probably a good cause or a decent reason. This could be an illness, or it could be an emotional problem. Consider changes that have occurred in your cat’s life and consider the seven reasons above to find out why your cat has adopted this strange habit.

Featured Image Credit: Lilia Solonari, Shutterstock

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