Why cats sometimes sleep in their litter box

As a human, it’s hard to imagine why a cat might want to sleep in the same place they go to the bathroom. However, some cats still sleep in the litter box. While this may be normal kitten behavior, it can be a sign of a deeper problem when adults do it. If you notice your cat sleeping in or next to the litter box, it’s important to determine why so you can help them. Here are some of the most common reasons cats sleep in their litter trays.

Kittens are still learning


Boonlert Saikrajang / Shutterstock For kittens, sleeping in the litter box is not unusual. They are still learning things and learning the ways of the world from their mother and you. Kittens will usually learn to use the litter box from an older cat in the house, but it’s not intuitive for some people. They might be digging around, playing in the trash, or just getting sleepy and needing a nap.

Just passed

Some cats take a while to get used to their new surroundings. If you’ve just adopted a cat from a shelter, they may be used to sleeping in a small space near or in their litter box. The enclosed space of the box can make them feel more comfortable and secure, especially during the stressful time of moving to a new home. To help your cat feel more comfortable sleeping outside of the litter box, give them a small space to sleep. It could be a cardboard box, a covered cat bed, or a cradle with a blanket.

Territorial problem in the house of many cats

Cats are territorial creatures that love to have their own space to explore, rest and do business. In a home with many cats, this can cause some stress. Cats can compete to see who can use the litter box. Some dominant cats may choose to mark their territory by sleeping in boxes. Alternatively, a cat that is harassed by other cats can also sleep in the box so they can use it before the other cats try to stop them. This problem can be easily solved – buy an extra box of litter. As a general rule for households with multiple cats, you should have one litter box for each cat and an extra box. This will prevent any territorial conflicts and ensure that they always have a litter box available when they need it.

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Fear or stress

Striped cat sitting in a trash canSharaf Maksumov / Shutterstock.com Just like us, cats get stressed sometimes. Any significant change in their environment can cause cats to feel stressed and scared. They may be worried about moving to a new home, a stranger visiting, a new pet living in their home, or any number of other situations. When cats are uncomfortable and stressed, they may start exhibiting strange behaviors, such as sleeping in their litter box. To make cats feel safe again, give them a separate area to rest and hide. Over time, they will learn to feel comfortable in their new environment and return to their normal selves.


One of the most common reasons cats sleep in their litter box is due to medical issues. Cats with kidney disease, urinary tract infections, constipation, or other digestive issues can sleep in their litter box when they’re not feeling well. If the cat is having a hard time going to the bathroom or they think they might not make it in time, they may decide it’s best to stay nearby. Some cats with advanced dementia may also sleep in their litter box. If you suspect your cat is sick, take them to the vet for an accurate diagnosis. Your veterinarian will be able to ease their pain and deal with their digestive issues. Once their health condition is resolved, they should avoid sleeping in the litter box again.


Is your cat pregnant? Usually, when female cats are about to give birth and have no place to live, they will seek shelter in their litter box. If your cat is pregnant, do some research so you can create the right space for them to give birth, where they and their babies can feel safe. Whether they have health problems, are stressed, or are marking their territory, you can take steps to help them get out of the box and into a more suitable sleeping place. For further assistance, check with your veterinarian. Editor’s Suggestions

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