Why Do Cats Sleep in Their Litter Box

Why Do Cats Sleep in Their Litter Box? (6 Reasons for This Strange Behavior)

Why do cats sleep in their litter box? Cats are clean animals, so it’s always surprising, and a bit gross when they suddenly start sleeping or hanging out in their litter box.

One of the more curious and surprising behaviors I’ve experienced from my cats over the years was when one of my cats started sleeping in her litter box.

She started doing this just after I moved house. She wasn’t sleeping in there all the time, and often when I’d call her to eat she’d come out just fine, but it was strange behavior to say the least.

Yingers (that’s her name), is particular about keeping herself well groomed, is a social cat, and although this behavior would be out of the norm for any cat to start doing – it really took me by surprise from her.

To cut a long story short I had her checked out for illness by my local vet first. She was given the all-clear.

It turned out to be a stress-related reaction to moving home. The reason I didn’t assume this at first even though she started sleeping in her box at the time of the move was that we’d moved house before without any problems.

This behavior intrigued me, so I discussed it in detail with my vet, and also on kitty forums and with other owners who have also experienced situations with their cats sleeping in their litter boxes.

If you’re dealing with a similar issue at the moment hopefully I can help you get to the root of the problem with some of the reasons I’ve heard as to why cats can start sleeping in their litter boxes.

Why Do Cats Sleep in Their Litter Box?

Why is my cat laying in the litter box

Under Lying Health Issue

As with any strange cat behaviors that suddenly start, you should get them checked out by a professional for any health issues before going down any other routes.

Cats commonly start making noise before using their litter box, peeing outside of it, or sleeping in it without using it if they are dealing with an infection causing them discomfort when using their box.

Always act on the advice of your vet first if they can provide any solutions. They will be able to provide care tailored to your cat and their own specific behaviors and needs.

Anxiety or Stress

As I mentioned above, stress or anxiety was the reason why my cat started sleeping in her litter box due to moving house and being stressed about her new surroundings.

She started going in there less over time and I made every effort to make her more comfortable in our new home by providing toys, other places to hide and chill out, and of course plenty of fussing and attention.

Lack of Places to Hideout

Cats need places they can feel secure and call their own. For the most part, cats like to feel secure and protected while they sleep.

Which is why they choose to sleep on pillows, in cardboard boxes, pieces of furniture like pods, cat trees, and so on. Anywhere they can see or hear someone approaching without being blindsided.

If you live in an open-plan apartment with literally no places for your cat to hide out when they need that feeling of security, they might have to use their litter box.

The easy solution to this problem is to provide cat-friendly hideouts for them to curl up in and sleep safe and snug.

Multi-Cat Household Dynamics

Multi-Cat Household Dynamics

Litter box usage can get complicated in multi-cat households. Cat litter brands are always pushing multi-cat formulas and an all-in-one solution, but the reality is you might need a different litter per cat.

You certainly should always have at least one litter box per cat. You’ll find each cat prefers to claim a box as their own.

If you don’t have enough boxes, or if you have a cat that’s particularly defensive about claiming some territory they might sleep in their box to keep the other cats out of it.

Pregnant Cat?

I spoke with one cat owner who said his female cat started sleeping in her litter box towards the end of her pregnancy as her chosen place for a quiet spot to have her litter.

Obviously, the litter box is one of the worst places for a cat to give birth. Even a clean box with dust-free litter has some potentially serious health implications for newborns.

He solved the problem by cleaning out the box and replacing the litter with soft bedding when his cat was away eating. She took to it just fine and had a healthy litter a few days later in there.

Age-Related Reasons

If your elderly cat has started sleeping in the litter box this may be due to a decline in their cognitive dysfunction. It’s estimated that around 80% of cats that are 16 years or older will experience cognitive dysfunction.

This means they will experience issues with their memories, seemingly suffer from confusion, meow at night for no reason, not sleep as well, and do things that are out of character like sleeping in their box.


Did your cat start sleeping in their litter box before? Did you get to the bottom of why and correct this behavior?

What was it causing them to do this? I always enjoy hearing other peoples experiences and stories, just drop me a comment below. Thanks.

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