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Why Do Cats Lay In Their Litter Box? Oh! That’s Why!

Why Do Cats Lay In Their Litter Box? Oh! That’s Why!

Owning cats come with a lot of joy, as they are funny and cute little animals.

They are known to do a few strange things that make you scratch your head and question their methods.

They enjoy hiding in small places and in corners around your home.

One thing that cats and kittens do is lay in their litter box, even if they are not using it.

There are several reasons as to why do cats lay in their litter box and what it means.


Why Do Cats Lay In Their Litter Box?

For most cats, this answer is related to stress and anxiety, both of which can prompt a cat to take refuge in a place that smells like them. If your cat is not stressed or anxious, then the answer lies with one of a few medical conditions like urinary, digestive, and joint problems.


Anxiety and Stress

One of the most common reasons that cats lay in their litter box is due to anxiety over a situation.

This is common among recently adopted cats that are new to your home and may not be comfortable yet.

The litter box carries their smell and gives these cats a sense of comfort.

Until they warm up to their new home and start to develop a new level of comfort, they may retreat to the litter box from time to time.

A great way to break this habit, place another box next to the litter box and include a blanket and toy.

Your cat will start to recognize this space as its own and stop laying in the litter box.

Sometimes the cat that you have had for years may begin lying in their litter box. This means that there’s a level of stress in their environment.

Oftentimes, cats will do this when a new cat, dog, or other pet is introduced into your home.

If you have multiple cats, you want to make sure there is at least one litter box per cat so that they can have their own space to reduce the stress.

When a new cat comes into the house, the cat may begin guarding the box and claiming it as their territory, enacting their stress.


Urinary Conditions

Unfortunately, some cats are prone to urinary conditions, to the point where they need a specific diet and lifestyle for their comfort.

If your cat has started using the litter box more frequently and begun lying in it, it may be related to urinary conditions.

Other signs include frequent urination and soft cries when they try to use it.

If you see them attempting to urinate and nothing comes out, they may continue to lay in the litter box, so they can be there when it finally comes.

Dysuria is a condition where you will find urine in the blood due to crystals in their bladder making them think they need to urinate.

These conditions require the attention of a veterinarian right away.


Tummy Troubles

If your cat has had chronic diarrhea or showing signs that their stomach is not happy, they may lie in the litter box so that they can go exactly when they feel the urge.

Sometimes a diet change can significantly upset the cat’s stomach, forcing it to go through severe pain and keep them close to the litter box.

Again, a veterinarian service is critical for these situations.



Older cats go through the same aches and pains that we experience, including arthritis.

For your older pets, the litter box you have may be difficult to get in and out of, forcing them to spend more time inside the litter box instead of leaving and coming back later.

If your cat has arthritis, you should consider getting a smaller litter box with smaller sides that is easier for your cat to step into and out of instead of jumping in and out.


Frequently Asked Questions About Why Cats Lay In Their Litter Box


What Is The Biggest Difference Between A Medical Reason and Stress or Anxiety Causing My Cat To Lay In Their Litter Box?

If you have had your cat for a while, and you have not had a change in environment, then the reason is more likely related to an underlying medical condition. Stress and anxiety in cats only surface when there is a change by bringing that cat into a new home or introducing new animals to the home.


How Do I Keep My Cat From Litter Guarding Its Litter Box And The New One For The New Cat?

The best way to minimize stress and litter box guarding is to introduce a third litter box that is not associated with either cat. This reduces the need to guard and claim territory while allowing all the cats to use the litter box when needed.


It Is Time To Investigate Your Cat’s Litter Box Habits

If you have noticed that your cat is suddenly laying in the litter box more than before, you should start investigating their habits and when they are laying down.

By nature, cats feel safe in small spaces so a litter box is either quickly becoming their safe space in your home, or they are having some health issues that need to be addressed.

If you think anxiety or stress is the culprit to the new habit, then introduce other safe places to help your cat seek refuge. If not, schedule a vet appointment.