You were caught surprised seeing your cat emerge from his litter box, halfway between sleepiness and wakefulness. Over the next few days, you notice this is not an isolated incident. Sleeping inside the litter box has become a new habit for your pet.
How do I stop my cat from sleeping in the litter box?
Sleeping inside the litter box is a symptom of a larger problem. Unfortunately, there is not one reason that you can attribute this behavior to. You will need to observe the other symptoms and behaviors that your cat exhibits before you can stop him from sleeping in his litter box.
1. You have just moved into a new home.
Cats find great comfort in the familiar. This is why people must establish routines, from designating meal times to cleaning the litter box regularly. Even the slightest change can upset a cat, putting him under stress. Now just imagine the stress of moving between homes. Then compound that by a few times. That is what exactly your cat feels when he arrives in your new residence.
When cats are stressed, they will exhibit a few behaviors that may seem odd to people. This includes sleeping inside the litter box.
Upon moving into your new home, your cat will face numerous changes, not only his environment but perhaps even the routine has become accustomed to. With the flurry of activity inside your home, from opening boxes to organizing your stuff, your cat may feel left out and unsettled.
In his attempt to find some semblance of familiarity, he might confine himself in the last thing that is most comforting to him during this time: his litter box.
Although your schedule may be tight during your first few weeks in your new home, you should set aside time to comfort your pet. Usually, cats stop sleeping inside their litter boxes when they become familiar with their new homes.
2. Your cat is sick.
Some diseases can prompt behavioral changes in felines. For example, cats suffering from kidney and bladder issues like the formation of urine crystals and urinary tract infection can prompt them to go back and forth inside the litter box.
If your cat is suffering from either, he might be spending more time inside his litter box because he feels that he needs to use it more. Some cats stay almost exclusively inside the box attempting to urinate when their urethras are blocked.
Another sign that your cat might be dealing with a UTI or crystal formation is crying or yowling.
The moment you notice both symptoms, go to the vet immediately. The presence of urinary stones is fatal for cats. Without prompt medical attention, your cat can die.
Diabetes can also cause frequent drinking and urination in cats. The condition is quite prevalent in older cats. Unknown to you, your pet might be spending an inordinate time inside his litter box because he has diabetes.
In both instances, the best way to deal with your pet sleeping inside the litter box is to consult a vet. With prompt medical attention, your cat’s habit of sleeping inside the litter box will be solved.
3. You have a pregnant cat.
Do you have an intact queen? Is it possible that she has come in contact with a male cat inside or outside your home?
Your cat may not be exactly sleeping inside the litter box. Instead, she might be pregnant and preparing to give birth. Before giving birth, female cats try to find a safe place both for themselves and their kittens.
To a certain extent, giving birth inside the litter box might seem sensible to your pet. For one, litter boxes are often located in a quiet and secluded area in a home. Second, if the litter box is covered, your queen might feel comfortable giving birth there because she thinks that she will be protected from prying eyes.
However, the litter box is not the safest nor the best place to give birth. Used litter can contain a host of harmful organisms that can threaten the lives of the young cats.
If your vet confirms that your pet is indeed pregnant, the best way to stop her from giving birth inside the litter box is to prepare a clean cardboard box lined with an old towel or blanket.
4. Your cat is afraid.
When your cat is afraid, he might withdraw into a safe place. In this instance, that safe place might be his litter box.
The remedy to this issue is finding the underlying cause of your cat’s fear. That can be a difficult task to perform. And your only recourse is to try to look at the things that have changed or happened inside your home.
Perhaps there is ongoing construction in your vicinity and your cat is scared of the sound of heavy machinery. Or maybe a houseguest brought his dog. Or perhaps your cat was startled when a plate slipped off your hand.
If you want to coax your cat to stop staying inside his litter box, you need to offer him an alternative. For example, you can place his cat bed beside the litter box. Soon after, he will transfer to his bed. Just be patient with your cat and give him time to get his bearings back.
5. One of your cats is bullying the other.
If you own two or more cats, one of them is probably bullying the other.
Dominance is not inherently bad, as long as your pets behave properly. Two cats can co-exist harmoniously inside the same home. However, if you do not pay careful attention to your pets, one of them can get bullied.
The bully cat can attempt to hog all the resources in your home, including the litter box. One of your pets might be sleeping inside the litter box to prevent the other from using it. And conversely, the bullied cat might sleep in the litter box because he thinks that if he leaves the box, he might not get another opportunity to use it.
The easiest way to solve this problem is to follow this rule of thumb: there should be at least one litter box for each cat plus one extra.
6. You adopted your cat from a shelter.
By adopting a cat from a shelter, you are literally and figuratively saving his life. But unlike cats that have been adopted from breeders, cats from shelters may have been traumatized by their past experiences with other humans. As such, it is not unusual for these cats to show odd behaviors like sleeping inside litter boxes. Just imagine dealing with issues with their past owners only to move into a new, unfamiliar home.
In this instance, the adopted cat is sleeping inside the litter box in an attempt to find comfort while sorting things out in his new home. A cat dealing with such issues is usually timid. But with patience and compassion, your new pet will feel more confident. Just give him time to adjust and recognize your good intentions.
Do not hesitate to consult the vet
Sleeping inside the litter box is not some unique quirk. More often than not, this behavior is a symptom of a larger problem at hand. Because this behavior can be attributed to several causes, it is vital to observe the other signs that your cat shows. This will help you narrow down the potential causes. If you are unsure why your cat insists on sleeping inside his litter box, do not hesitate to consult a vet.