Why Is My Cat Hiding In The Litter Box? This is How to Solve It

By Davis Wilkins •  Updated: 05/22/23 •  9 min read
Kitten in bowl

“Recently, whenever I get home, I find Stacey my kitten laying in the litter box. She has developed this weird behavior that I can’t explain and I’m worried that something might be wrong. 

Why is my cat just sitting in the litter box?” She asked

That was a brief conversation I had with my distressed neighbor about her cat Stacey.

Cats are amiable and active in almost all stages of their life cycle. If you notice that your cat is sitting in the litter box for prolonged periods, things could be perfectly fine or could be a sign of an underlying issue.

These issues have the potential of affecting your cat’s health and thus shouldn’t be ignored.

Back to the convo, I was having with my neighbor.

I was about to do my laundry, but I spared a few minutes to offer her insightful information on what could be ailing her cat and how to fix her cat’s issue once and for all.

Read on to see what I shared with her.

Why Is My Cat Laying in The Litter Box?

1.             Urinary Tract Infections:

Urinary tract infections are caused by bacterial infections of the bladder and may cause pain when a cat urinates. In cats whose urine is too acidic, calcium crystals could form in the kidneys or bladder.

These crystals irritate bladder cells and can cause an infection. As a result, your cats sit in their litter boxes due to the pain they experience while peeing.

Feline Interstitial Cystitis (FIC) is a neurological condition that makes cats urinate more frequently. This is a ‘health-related emergency” and can result in renal or heart failure after it has been left without treatment.

Ensure you visit your veterinarian for an appropriate diagnosis and treatment regimen.

2.             Other Medical Causes:

Multiple intestinal ailments such as intestinal parasitosis and intestinal colon fungi can cause diarrhea. An examination by a veterinarian can determine the cause of the cat’s ailment.

 Elderly cats may have difficulty slipping from the litter box to the other side since they experience pain.

 Choose a smaller litter box with the lower sides that your cat is comfortable to walk around in. Set it in a place easy for her to access, and possibly next to her favorite places to nap.

 Always check with your veterinarian before changing the lifestyle and activity of your cat.

3.             Cat Sleeping In Litter Box after Surgery:

Cats can be very uneasy post-operation. They have trouble controlling themselves and become restless. As a result, they may begin to sleep in their used litter trays.

The good news is that this habit should stop during your cat’s healing phase. Move your cat to a cleaner house to sleep and put a cat bed underneath and food, so that your cat feels safe and cozy.

 If you notice your cats twitching or yawning for a long time, you should call in their veterinarian.

4.             Anxiety:

If you adopt a cat, it could be very hard to put him outside as he’s still confused about the new environment. Eventually, the pet should begin exploring his new home after a few days, but she will continue to spend time inside the box. For this reason, give her a separate box.

5.             Dysuria:

A cat lying in the litter boxes often does that because she is not able to urinate properly.

Dysuria produces painful urination bloody urine and unproductive urine. There are several causes of this condition such as a urinary tract infection, the presence of cysts, and tumors in the bladder.

 All of these conditions can cause her fatigue, weakness, or nausea resulting in her laying down in the cat box. She could simply be too tired to move.

6.             Multiple cats in the home:

Why is my cat just sitting in the litter box? The reason might simply be that you have a multi-cat house.

The rule of thumb is; there should be one litter box per cat, plus one.

In a multi-cat house, having multiple boxes in different rooms is important to avoid bullying. Some bully cats may want to mark their territory and keep other cats from accessing the litter box.

The bully cats will hide in the litter box and prevent other cats from using it.

7.        Stressful situations:

Cats can undergo stress due to the addition of another animal to the house. A newly introduced cat might be triggered to get a spot in the litter box to use it as theirs. They may even stay in the box when a cat or dog threatens them.

A few pumps of synthetic pheromones (Feliway Diffuser) can help your cat relax by decreasing the desire to hide.

 If you’ve got a canine, place your cat’s litterbox in an accessible place to keep her company and free from distraction.

Please consult your veterinarian when evaluating the use of antispasmodic medication.

Cat gasping for air

How Can I Get My Cat to Stop Lying in The Litter Box?

There are several reasons why your cats may lay in the litter box. However, here is what you can do to stop your cat from sleeping in the litter box.

·              Consult a Veterinary Officer:

Why is my sick cat lying in the litter box? Urinary tract infections and medical conditions affect the health of your kitty to the point of sleeping in the litter box all the time.

These health problems should be addressed promptly. Contact your vet and let them examine, diagnose and treat your kitty accordingly.

·              Stress management:

Try to reduce or eliminate the factors upsetting your cat’s temperament. Loud noises, playful children, or energetic kittens can be a common cause of stress. If stress is caused through a change in routine, allow it to take its time.

If your kitty is hiding in the litter box after a move, retain the same bedding that your kitty was using without washing them. This makes sure that the scent remains on it and your cat can identify a familiar smell in the new house and she will be calmer.

Consider having a Feliway diffuser that helps lower your cat’s stress. It mimics your cat’s pheromones that relax her making her calm and happy. It’s however not a drug hence safe for your kitty.

 If you have an older cat, give him a quiet place where he can hide or rest for the duration of this transition and settling.

·              Provide a better sleeping area:

If your kitty is sitting in a litter box doing nothing, get your cat a comfortable cat bed where she can rest.

This will avoid having the litter box as the most comfortable place for her to lay in.

Throw in some fluffy blankets and keep it clean while at it and you are good to go.

·              Provide multiple litter boxes:

Have a litter box for each cat, plus one.

If you have a multi-cat household, this is a rule of thumb.

This ensures that each cat has access to a litter box without fighting for limited space.

Place the cat litter boxes in different rooms and different floors, to ensure that each cat remains comfortable when relieving herself.

This is an effective way to stop your cat from bullying your other cat.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Here are some frequently asked questions about cats and their litter box habits:

Why Is My Cat Sleeping Next to His Litter Box?

Your cat might be sleeping next to its litter box because he wants to access the litter box fast. If your cat has the urge to use the litter box frequently due to stomach upsets or frequent urination, he will likely hang around the litter box.

Why Is My Senior Cat Laying in The Litter Box?

As we all get older, we tend to develop a new habit, and so do our lovely felines. If your senior cat is always sleeping in the litter box, there could be several reasons why:

Your cats have some underlying medical conditions and will not stray away from the box. This could be amnesia or any other chronic disease. Always consult your local vet for a proper diagnosis.

Your aging cat’s eyesight could be failing or she has dementia. Consult your local vet for diagnosis.

A senior cat may sleep in a litter box all day long if she has been toppled from the throne by younger and more dominant cats. This will occur if you have multiple cats in the household.

Why is my sick cat sleeping in the litter box?

Your sick cat may be too weak to keep frequenting the litter box to relieve herself. In addition, bladder infections can result in painful urination. This can force your sick cat to sleep in the litter box to avoid movement which can cause discomfort.

Contact your veterinary officer as soon as you notice this issue.

What are the signs of a dying cat?


Your cat may be spending too much time in the litter box due to the various factors I’ve outlined above.

From medical conditions to stress to anxiety and having multiple cats in the house. All these factors contribute to why your cat is hiding in the litter box.

Calling your veterinarian to diagnose if your cat has an underlying medical condition should be your first step. This will ensure you do not delay over an issue that can turn fatal over time.

Remember Stacey? Why was the cat sleeping in the litter box all day?

Hint: They just moved houses.

Davis Wilkins

Davis Wilkins is a dedicated cat lover, with three cats under his care. He grew up in a cat-loving family, nurturing these feline friends. As a result, he purposed to share his cat knowledge with the universe. Wilkins has been writing professionally for over four years, specializing in feline care with a keen interest in litter box care and handling. He hopes to help other feline lovers achieve their pet care goals.