If you ever notice that your cat likes to lay in the litter box, please pay attention. This behavior isn’t normally cute… or just weird.
Everything our cats do tells us something about them. Maybe it’s something about their personality. More often it’s about their instincts.
Sure – all cat’s instincts inform their personalities, but to best love our cats we really need to understand feline instincts. A cat laying in their litter box, sleeping in their litter box, or even just going in and out of their litter box frequently needs to be a red flag for us.
Let’s look at three reasons your cat may be laying in the litter box.
- A Health Issue. Unfortunately, it’s common for cats that don’t feel well to ‘hang out’ in the box. A cat’s litter is a valuable resource – much like their food and water. It should be a safe space for them – and as such, when a cat doesn’t feel well, they tend to hide. In a safe space. The very first thing you should do if you notice your cat laying in the litter box is take them to the vet. Immediately, if possible. Because cats instinctively hide their pain, it’s possible we’ve missed hints along the way that something is wrong. When it comes to a urinary tract issue, this could mean they are blocking. And this is a life or death emergency.
- Stress. Because a cat’s litter area is a valuable resource and safe space, it’s common for cats to seek sanctuary there if they are stressed. Maybe there’s been a change in their environment. A new person, pet or ‘dynamic’ cat make a cat feel insecure in their larger territory. Be sure to provide plenty of other safe spaces for them around your home. Boxes, perches, beds in areas that are as easily accessible and low traffic as the coveted box.
- Resource Guarding. Especially in multi-cat households, cats may guard a resource if they feel it is limited. This is why it’s recommended to always have one more litter box than you have cats. This way, everyone knows they have this resource available to them when it’s needed.
And finally, it’s important for us to understand why litter is such a valuable resource for cats (if you don’t already). Cats are both prey and predators. While they may be ferocious hunters, they still feel vulnerable when it’s bathroom time (doesn’t everyone?). This is why the litter box should always be in a place that is comfortable for them. Not us. And not all cats like enclosed boxes. If you have a cat that doesn’t love using their litter, you need to evaluate the situation.