Why Does My Cat Stare At The Litter Box?

Why Does My Cat Stare At The Litter Box?

Have you ever seen your cat sitting outside her litter box and staring at it intently? If this freaked you out, you are not alone. Some cat owners say that they have witnessed their cat staring at the litter box on several occasions. In this article, let us explore what was on your cat’s mind as she sat staring at her litter.

Why does my cat stare at the litter box?

Your cat may be staring at the litter box because it is dirty. 

Kitty may be hesitant to go inside and use the litter box because she knows it is dirty. This may be why she is just staring at it. Her sense of smell is 14 times stronger than a human’s, so nothing escapes her nose.  

To resolve this, here are some things you can do:

  • Always sift the litter daily if you are using wood or pine pellet litter. 
  • Scoop and dispose of poop and litter clumps immediately.
  • Always fully replace clay litter once a week. 
  • Wood pellets should be fully replaced once a month, or more often if necessary. 
  • Make it a habit to clean the litter box with a mild detergent and warm water at least every two weeks.

If you already cleaned the litter box but the staring episodes persist, it could be that the litter box itself is bugging her. Plastic litter boxes absorb and retain odor even after being cleaned, so they should be replaced at least twice a year. 

Your cat may have a medical or health problem. 

Cats are hesitant to use the litter box if they feel that something is wrong with them. They tend to stare at it if they are in pain or having a hard time eliminating their waste. The pain and discomfort they experience while using the litter box could be due to bladder stones, urinary tract infection, constipation or feline interstitial cystitis. 

If you suspect that your cat has medical concerns, closely monitor the frequency, amount and texture of your cat’s poop and urine. Watch out for unusual behavior such as straining, or going back and forth from the litter box repeatedly. Contact your vet if you notice other odd behavior alongside the staring. 

Your cat is guarding her territory. 

If you have two or more cats at home, this could be a likely scenario. Cats tend to keep an eye on their so-called territory, and the litter box is considered part of that. Resource-guarding often occurs in multi-cat homes, especially if there is a new cat. 

To resolve this, each cat should have its own litter box, plus there should be another extra one. Put them in different places in the house and, if you have two or more floors, place at least one on each floor. 

It could be due to the location of her litter box. 

Cats tend to be very private when it comes to their personal business, so they are particular about the setup of the litter box as well as any small changes. If her litter box is in a noisy part of your home, she may be less likely to use it, instead only staring at it. The same applies if you have moved the box to another spot. Consider moving it back or trying a new area. Ideally, you should place the litter box in an open and accessible area rather than an enclosed space, to provide escape routes for your cat.  

Your cat may also behave strangely if you have switched to a new litter or litter box and your cat does not approve of it. Make the transition slow if you want your cat’s approval. 

It is just part of a cat’s normal behavior. 

If you have already ruled out the earlier scenarios but you still notice your cat staring at the litter box, do not get too worried. Staring is part of a cat’s normal behavior. They tend to stare if something is interesting, or if there is something they cannot figure out. Felines are inquisitive by nature and any slight movement or unidentified sound could pique their curiosity, which they will manifest by staring. 


Cats are curious animals, and also very particular when it comes to their business. They may stare at their litter box if they detect dirt or unpleasant odors in it. They may also do this if they have a medical problem, to guard their territory, or if they disapprove of the location of their litter box.

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