Why Does My Cat Keep on Knocking Over The Litter Box? According To Vets

By Davis Wilkins •  Updated: 05/07/22 •  9 min read
playful cats

“Oh, man… I don’t even know where to start. But yes, my cat keeps knocking over the litter box and this has been happening for months. I’ve tried everything, but it just keeps happening. What’s up with that? Can you offer me some advice?”

This is exactly what one of my friends told me out of frustration.

Have you ever wondered exactly why your cat keeps tipping over the litter box? I have.

No matter how hard you try, your cat just won’t stop knocking over the litter box.

 You’ve tried just about everything, from putting it next to the couch so that he could ambush it (I won’t ask you why you thought that this would work), to using a tighter lid, and even buying different types of litter.

Nothing has worked for long though and you’ve surrendered to a life of kitty accidents in the house now and then.

What a stinky situation…

Luckily I found an easy way to fix this problem and avoid having to wait in line at the grocery store for a new one.

Why Your Cat Keeps on Knocking Over the Litter Box

1.     Poor Litter Box Management:

It’s your duty as a cat parent to manage your feline’s litter boxes correctly for him to feel comfortable.

If your cat hates how the boxes feel on his body, he will probably mess up outside the litter box.

These are some of the management issues that happen to people that make many cats spill litter outside the box onto the litter mat.

2.     Litter Preference:

Your cat is susceptible to the environment thanks to its sharp sense of smell and touch.

They may influence your cat’s reaction to the kind of kitty litter you use in their boxes.

She can dislike the scent or feeling of a different litter such as silica gel crystals if she’s not accustomed to it.

3.     Location Preference:

Where you locate your cat’s litter box in the house will influence your cat’s behavior towards the box.

If the location is excellent, your cat is likely to hang a lot in these floor areas.

 Don’t be surprised to see your cat staying in the litter box for long; It’s a sign that maybe it’s her new safe bed space.

When the placement isn’t ideal for the cat, prepare to clean the litter that they throw on the floor.

4.     Size of the Litter Box:

Having an extra-large cat use a small litter box size is an issue.

For your cat to turn around inside the box freely, you need to have a bigger box with high sides that accommodates the cat’s body.

If you fail to do so, it can lead to accidents around the area and reasons for litter spreading everywhere in the house.

5.     Negative Memories from Past Experiences:

Memories do haunt your feline, especially if they are harmful memories.

If your cat was upset by something while using the litter box, she might panic every time she returns to the litter box. 

Remember to have her checked by a veterinarian to ensure she’s healthy.

How do you Prevent Your Cat from Knocking over the Litter Box?

Even though cat spilling litter is a major setback, you can do something to solve this.

1.    Clean the Litter Box Thoroughly:

Cats love their litter box clean, keeping it that way will significantly reduce the spreading of litter. You should find a cleaning routine that you can keep up with.

Avoid touching the poop using your hands as you do the dirty work for obvious reasons.

Make sure that you scoop the cat waste completely of the litter box at least once a day.

If your litter box absorbs odor, you should try steel litter boxes since they don’t absorb the scent, and they last longer.

Litter scoop inside the box

2.    Use a Litter That Your Cats Prefer:

Giving your cat various types of litter that they hate contributes to their unhappiness. If your cats hate the litter, they will keep on messing it up.

The perfect way to resolve this problem is by experimenting and seeing the type of litter your cats prefer.

If you have information that your cat has experience with a particular litter, stick to that menu.

It would be best if you tried soft litter with small partials since most cats enjoy them and the feel on their paws.

It’s common for most cat owners to see their cats rolling in the litter box, usually because of the litter’s texture. Other felines turn this into a bed.

Trying litter with different textures can be the solution to solve the problem in most cats.

3.    Make A Few Changes to the Litter Box:

When you keep on changing the litter box and its contents, your cats will feel uncomfortable.

You should give them time to adjust after making any changes…..to make it work.

 Before they get comfortable in their business, it’s common for them to spread more litter around the edge.

 It would assist if you made gradual changes to the litter box to make your cats adjust fast.

4.    Get A Litter Box That Fits Your Cat:

Having a litter box that is too small or too large will make your cats uncomfortable.

Lack of comfort makes your felines conduct their business quickly, spreading the litter outside the box.

You can solve the problem by simply getting the right sized litter box, with high sides to avoid spillage.

The litter box should allow your cat to move inside it freely.

Upgrading to a litter box with tall walls and high sides can also help prevent your cat from flinging the litter over the edge.

5.    Avoid Punishing Your Cat:

Punishing your cats for making a mess with the litter box won’t help at all.

When you discipline your cat instead of correcting the problem, it will associate the litter box with punishment.

 This leads to a bad relationship between you and your cats and even your veterinarian might not help.

The next thing you’ll see is one cat staring at the litter box with fear instead of using it to eliminate it.

Your cats always have a reason why they keep on knocking over the litter box. Taking your time and observing your cat can give you clues and ways to resolve the problem.

Make sure that you play with your cats enough, and they will find the litter box as their least favorite playing area.

How do I stop my cat from spreading the litter box?

Why do cats mess outside their litter box?


So the fact is, your cat simply doesn’t think that he’s doing anything wrong.

These problems can be difficult to solve, but if your cat is litter box trained and the box itself is up to snuff, you might be surprised at how easy it is to manage this problem.

If you’re still having issues even after trying out everything listed above, make it a point to contact your veterinarian for some customized advice.

 They may be able to prescribe you something that will help your kitty with their litter box mishaps.

They may even want to examine your cat firsthand to make sure that they don’t have a more serious issue at hand.

Cats can be sensitive little beasts and they will often react badly when they are not feeling 100% content.

Be patient, implement the strategies outlined and enjoy living with your kitty!

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.