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It is very normal for some cats to sleep in the litter box when they are kittens. But one thing about cats that we should all know is that if an adult cat tends to spend too much time in his litter box, something is not right and he needs urgent care to solve the problem.

If you notice your cat spending a lot of time in the litter box and even sleeping in or near it on a regular basis, you need to observe his behaviour in order to identify the specific problem and solve it straight away. Let’s look at the most common reasons why we cats sleep in our litter boxes and the best course of action.

Kidney disease

The main reason why adult cats sleep in the litter box is kidney disease. This can be the result of a urinary infection, or crystal formation in the urine that prevents the cat from urinating properly, or because of a type of intestinal discomfort, which makes the cat feel insecure when he is far from his litter box.

Cats that suffer from some form of dementia can also display this abnormal behaviour, but these are normally very severe cases that are easily identified through other more obvious symptoms.

Newly adopted cats

A cat that is new to the home after having been in a shelter is accustomed to sleeping in or near the litter box, especially if the cat was kept in a small cage at the shelter. The small size of the litter box can sometimes feel quite cosy and so we feel more secure there until we feel more at home in our new surroundings.

To make a cat feel more comfortable, give him his own space, like a box where he can find refuge.

Multiple cats in the home

When there are multiple cats in the home and there are not enough litter boxes for all of them, they are likely to fight over who gets to use them. Some more dominant cats may mark our territory by sleeping in the litter box. However, cats who are being harassed by other cats may also need to sleep there in order to be able to use the litter box before the other cats prevent them from using it.

To solve this problem, you just need to put more litter boxes in the home. According to experts, there needs to be one litter box per cat and an extra litter box if the cats do not get along.

Stress or fear

Just like cats that are new to the home and are not yet comfortable in their new space, when a cat is stressed or afraid due to a major change in his surroundings, he may display abnormal behaviour by sleeping in his litter box.

According to ethologists’ information on cats, the most frequent stressful situations we house cats face are the arrival of another pet, a baby or a visit from a stranger. To make your cats feel safe, provide them with a place where they can take refuge and spend their private moments.

Cats in labour

When female cats are going to give birth and do not have a proper place to do so, they tend to take refuge in the litter box, as it is their most private and secluded space. If your cat is about to give birth, look up some relevant information on cats and provide her a space that is more suitable than her litter box so she feels safe.

Cat sleeping in a cat litter


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29 Responses

  1. Thank you for sharing this. Actually, the right leg of my cat is in sprain and he finds comfort in sleeping in the litter box.. I took him out and wrapped him w towel and put a pillow on his head so he can get a comfor in sleeping and it works!

  2. My cat is nearly 21 years old, and it is very clear that she has some sort of dementia.
    Very recently she has started sleeping in her litter box, even though her bed is only feet away.
    Why is she doing this? Should I be concerned?
    She is also deaf, lacks in sense of smell and possibly sight. Could these be factors?

  3. A little concerned my cat walks back and forth to her litter box she just started doing it. The only thing different is I changed her food. And it seems that’s when it started..very concerned
    She’s eating though. She plays and runs around

  4. My semi older cat has fiv and just today he started getting in the litter box and just lays there. Im scared for him and do not know whats going on. Please help!
    Thank you

  5. Is there any way to tell if your cat has kidney disease or crystals in her urine without seeing a vet. I don t have a lot of money fight now for vet bills my cat have been sleeping in her litter box since I changed to a different brand of litter. She seems fine she is about14. My vet thought she may have diabetes cause she drinks a lot of water & she is very tiny only 7 lbs. she used to be 12 lbs on average when she was younger. I would appreciate any idea’s you Have on how I can tell if there is kidney issues. I don t want her to keep sleeping in litter box&’getting all smelly. Poor girl I m worried about her

  6. Hi
    My cat has just recently started sleeping in the light litter box.
    We have several kitty lighter boxes one for reach cat that I keep regularly, daily clean. No new pets or strange people,
    It just started about 3 weeks ago. He hates getting a bath so this had become. Big problem. The option of rehomeing is NOT an option.
    I’ve read all the comments and non apply to our situations.
    What’s my next step?
    I heard a mention of kidney disease witch kinda freaked me out!
    Going to the vet can be extremely costly and very stressful for him(he absolutely HATES going too the vet)
    I don’t want to over bath him (another thing he hates equally as much as the vet)


  7. We just moved from one apartment to my aunt’s house which I got one room my cat is designated to her own room we’ve been here since the 30th of September I come in today and she’s laying in letterboxd even though the majority of it I’ve been cleaned out prior to work going in the Box urinated then and it’s still in there I tried laying here on the bed with me and she gets up and goes to the Box and lays down but she’s also gotten fleas from my cousin’s dog which the house I assume now has fleas in it and I don’t know if that’s due to let either

    1. Your cat is probably very stressed due to all the changes you have been going through. Be patient! cuddle your pet and spend more time with him/her, you will see a slow return to normal behavior.

  8. My poor cat was attacked by our one dog. Someone unknowingly let the dog into where the cat stays.
    He got hurt and was hiding in secluded areas in the house.
    When I finally got him out, he started sleeping in his litter box.
    He now is spending more time out. And staying near me or on a blanket on the couch.
    He appears to be staying less out of his litter box. I’m sure it’s the trauma from the attack that has spending time in the box

  9. My cat is pregnant and started sleeping in the litter box again. I am worried that it’s not a clean place for her. Is this normal? She is not due for about a month. What should I do. She has a place to have the kittens.

    1. Your cat must be stressed, that is why she is having this strange behavior. When she is due she will probably return to her normal sleeping place, if not, please consult with a veterinarian. We advice you keep the litter as clean as you can to create a cleaner environment.

    1. Sometimes kittens have unusual behaviors when they feel stressed out or nervous. With time they will stop this, if not, consult your veterinarian to see if there is something else bothering your furry fellow.

  10. Could it be because of some sort of house infestation and she feels like the bedbugs or the mites or the critters are not in her litter?

    1. It could be, try to check for any sort of parasites in your cat’s bed or toys. If that’s the case, get rid of everything that is infested and proceed to inspect your pet’s skin and hair to see if he/she is also infected.

  11. My 8 yr old female cat won’t stop licking and cleaning herself. It is constant all day and night. Then this morning I found her sleeping in her litter box. I am worried.

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