Have you noticed some weird behavior lately with your cat playing in the litter box? Don’t worry, in most cases, the explanation for this is completely normal. There are a number of reasons why your cat might be playing in the litter box and it mostly boils down to the playful nature of cats.
Playing in the litter box is not inherently bad, but if your cat ends up playing in their own waste, this is not good. It can also cause litter to get kicked and tracked all around your home, so having to constantly clean this up is no fun either.
- Cats may play in the litter box due to boredom, the novelty of the litter, or a natural digging instinct; ensure adequate stimulation to prevent this behavior.
- Medical issues or anxiety can cause excessive litter box play, so a veterinary check-up is recommended if the behavior seems unusual or persistent.
- Interventions such as introducing more litter boxes, changing the type of litter, or increasing playtime with new toys may reduce unwanted litter box play.
Why Do Cats Play in the Litter Box?
Your cat is a kitten
Kittens are still learning about the world. Everything is novel to them and everything to them is something new to explore and play with. This holds especially true to the litter box since they are spending time inside of it anyways to use the bathroom. The feeling of the litter on their paws is a different stimulation that they like to experience.
Something is up medically
If your cat is spending too much time in the litter box, this could point to a medical issue. If your cat seems irritated and not quite right when inside the litter box, it is best to get your cat assessed by a veterinarian. There are a handful of issues that could be going on, so it is best to get a professional to give your cat the care they need.
The litter is too deep
When there is an excessive amount of cat litter in the litter box, this might entice your cat to dig and have fun inside the litter box then if the litter is only a couple of inches deep. Digging is in the DNA of cats, it is something all cats do, and it is inherently satisfying for them.
There are multiple cats in the house
If you are noticing that one of your cats is constantly seen in one of the litter boxes, they might be doing this to mark their territory and claim it as theirs. Cats can feel like a specific litter box is theirs and want to defend and guard it as their own. They do this by spending time in it to keep an eye on it.
Your cat doesn’t have enough other stimulation
If your cat isn’t getting stimulation from other sources, they might start to get creative and use anything at their disposal to have fun. Cats that are very high energy or do not have other toys might use the litter box as a toy.
Anxiety can also cause cats to exhibit unusual behavior such as spending too much time in the litter box and playing in it. This could be a coping mechanism. Does your cat seem to be acting weird as of lately? Have major changes occurred in your cat’s life that is stressing them out? If anxiety is the cause for this, it is advisable to talk to a vet to see what they think the proper solution is. For tips on successfully bringing your cat to the vet office, this is our article on that.
How Do I Stop My Cat from Playing in the Litter Box?
In some cases, playing in the litter box is completely normal and it should not be cause of concern. But, if it is getting over the top and you are worried that something is up with your cat or that they might get sick from being around their own waste, it is worth trying to stop the behavior. Also, constant play in the litter box can result in a mess around the litter box and litter getting stuck to your cat which is a pain to clean. With this, reducing play in the litter box can help alleviate the amount of cleanup you have to do.
Bring your cat to the vet
If the issue is due to stress, or a medical condition, a veterinarian’s intervention can quickly solve the problem and more importantly, it will get your cat the help that they need.
Move the litter box
The location of the litter box can greatly affect the behavior of your cat. When the litter box is in a location that is associated with play time or where all the action in the home is taking place, this can encourage your cat to play. Moving it somewhere quieter can stop them from playing.
Introduce more litter boxes
When the cause of your cat spending so much time in a litter box is the result of a cat feeling the need to protect their territory from other cats in the house, getting more litter boxes can help relax your cat.
Use another litter
Some cat litters are more naturally satisfying to dig in then others. The texture of clay litter may be more fun for a cat than something like wood pellet cat litter. You can experiment with other cat litters to see if one causes less playing than another.
Play with your cat and get them new toys
This might be the easiest one to solve. Sometimes cat are just simply not getting enough of their energy out from other things in their life, so they resort to playing in the litter box.
Get your cat some new toys and dedicate some time every day to playing with them.
Why does my cat lay in the litter box?
Cats might like to lay in their litter box because of the feeling of the litter on their body and paws.
The feeling of cat litter is more natural than any other surface in your house, so it is appealing to the natural instincts of your cat.
Is it normal for cats to play in their litter box?
According to Purina, yes, playing in the litter box is normal in most situations. Sometimes, it can be caused by something that needs to be looked at like if your cat has something wrong medically. Usually, this behavior is just due to your cat looking to have fun.
Carol is a veterinary technician and has 15 plus years of experience working in the veterinary medicine field. In her free time, she likes to write about pets.