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Why is my Cat Playing in Litter Box? Try These 5 Steps

kid playing

I have two cats, and when I let them out at night, they sometimes go right to the cat litter boxes to play in their poop!

My husband and I have tried to tell them in several ways that this activity is unacceptable but they just don’t seem to care.

Cats love to dig, hide, and play in litter boxes. They like to play with sand and soil as well.

A time you’ll wonder why your cats perform some acts like rolling in the litter?

What is it about sand, soil, and litter that makes them so interesting to these loving and endearing creatures? What purpose do these actions serve?

It’s not like there’s something to be discovered about this deep, dark mystery…or is there?

According to Wikipedia, nearly 70 million domestic cats are kept as pets or in homes and apartments. I even dare say that cats are human’s best friends.

They’re such peculiar creatures and yet we love them all the same.

Kitten playing in the litter box is part of the day-to-day routine for most cats.

There’s a reason why cats play in the litter box! A lot of cat lovers find this behavior quite amusing, while others may think they have lost their minds…

Don’t worry, I’m here to explain.

We’ll look at why cats play in the litter box and what to do about it.

Why Does My Kitten Play in Her Litter Box?

Kittens are naturally drawn to their litter boxes for various reasons, including the fact that it’s warm and dark inside.

They may also enjoy playing with their feces or urine as a form of self-grooming behavior. It’s quite common for kittens to play with their fecal matter, especially if they are eating solid food and are not yet spayed or neutered.

This can teach them where their bathroom is and help them learn how to use it properly when they reach adulthood.

Kittens also tend to engage in what is called “pre-play,” which occurs before they start playing with other cats or humans.

Usually, this involves pouncing on an object and batting it around before picking it up and running off with it. This type of play helps kittens develop coordination skills and hone their hunting instincts.

 A kitten who spends time in its litter box may simply be engaging in this type of activity.

She could also be teething, and chewing on something may be a good way for her to relieve her pain.

Finally, a kitten who plays in its litter box may simply not have yet been trained to use the toilet.

In this case, it is perfectly natural and just another part of the learning process for your young cat. She will eventually grow out of this behavior, but it might be a few weeks or even months before your kitten stops playing in the litter box.

Why Does My Cat Keep Digging in The Litter Box?

Most cats love to dig, so it is not unusual for your kitty to do some excavating in its litter box. “This is a normal cat behavior,” says Dr. Jennifer Conrad, Executive Director of the San Francisco SPCA and expert on animal behavior. “Cats like to cover their waste, which is instinctive.”

It’s not just an instinctive cat behavior— it’s also a sign of happiness.

When your cat is happily digging, you can sometimes see the corners of its mouth turned up in a smiley-like grin.

If your cat is digging in the litter box, it could mean several things. Here’s a guide to help you figure out what’s going on:

  • To find out why your cat keeps digging in the litter box, you need to first rule out any underlying medical cause. Often urinary tract infections or kidney disease can result in frequent urination for your pet. If this is the case, your vet will probably prescribe antibiotics and recommend a change in diet.
  • Diarrhea or constipation: If your cat is experiencing either of these conditions, it may be trying to cover up its mess. Take your cat to the vet if they’re doing this frequently.
  • Is there enough cat litter: A basic guide is to ensure that there’s about a 3-5 inch layer of litter in the cat box. This will provide her with enough litter for digging, covering, and playing. Observe your cat’s digging habits and adjust the cat litter amount accordingly. Keep the cat litter level consistent by adding more litter even as you scoop the waste clumps.

Remember: In a multi-cat household, what you need is more litter boxes and not more litter in the cat box.

Watch this 90-second video on cat behavior in the litter box:

 Why Do Cats Scratch the Side of the Litter Box?

There are many reasons why a cat would scratch the side of the litter box. Before panicking, remember that cat claws are made to scale surfaces, like the walls of a litter box.

Cats scratch out of instinct, not spite. It’s instinctive for cats to remove the outer layer of their claws to keep them sharp.

This is also why they need a scratching post or pad.

A cat will scratch its post in a back and forth motion until the outer layers of the claws have been removed.

A cat may also scratch its post or box in a circular motion.

Cats need to scratch for several reasons:

  • To stretch
  • To mark their territory
  • To remove the outer layer of their nails and sharpen their claws. When they do so, you may notice that your cat scratches one side of the box more than another.
  • To remove the poop and litter stuck on its paws. If your cat isn’t able to dig through all the clumping litter, she may resort to scratching it off. You can prevent this from happening by making sure you scoop out all the clumps regularly so that your cat has enough space for digging and covering her waste with fresh litter.

A reason why cats scratch one side more than another is that they prefer a softer texture or better grip on that part of their box.

Scratching creates grooves in your cat’s nails and helps relieve pressure when they’re being sharpened by contact with fabric fibers in the litter material.

You can solve this issue by placing a cat litter mat in front of your cat’s litter box so he or she has an option between scratching the rug and wall.

Why Do Cats Roll in the Litter Box?

I had a cat that did this once, but I was so traumatized by it that I didn’t let her back into the house for about 10 minutes.

Is it normal for kittens to play and roll in the litter boxes? Some cats can’t resist the urge to play in a bit of kitty litter or cat litter.

It’s not that common for indoor pets, but there is some speculation about why cats would even want to roll around in their feces and pee.

If your cat plays in the litter box, don’t be alarmed.

As long as your cat is rolling around in a clean litter box, let them be.

If you find your cats rolling around in a dirty litter box, always consult a cat behaviorist for diagnosis since cats are known to be fastidious creatures.

A cat will roll around for the following reasons:

  • Taking a dust bath: The answer lies in the cat’s natural behavior and self-grooming habits. Cats are very fastidious animals who like to keep themselves clean and odor-free. Cats will engage in dust bathing regularly and use their paws to cover up their waste after depositing it in the litter box. They then roll around on their backs so that the scent of their waste is spread over their body. This way they can mask their smell with the strong scent of cat litter or dirt. They feel cleaner and more confident about themselves after dust bathing.
  • Marking territory grounds: Cats use scent to communicate. When your cat rolls around in the litter box, it is leaving her scent behind on the box. It’s saying, “This is mine!” If you have more than one cat, some will try to cover up other animals’ scents with their own as well.
  • Itching hence seeking some relief
  • Showing affection to the litter in the box

Why Does My Cat Keep Running to The Litter Box?

Is it constipation or a urinary infection? There are many reasons why your cat may be repeatedly running to the litter tray and it can be difficult to determine what is causing the behavior.

If your cats keep running to the litter box just now and then, be concerned. A cat should peep 1 to 2 times a day.

Anything more than 3 to 6 times is a sign of an underlying medical condition, and you should seek medical attention.

The following are some of the most common reasons your cat keeps running to the litter box and what you can do about it.

  • It can also be a sign of feline diabetes. The urine that comes out may also have a sweet smell due to high sugar levels in the urine, which leads them right back to the same spot over and over again.
  • Feline lower urinary tract disease
  • The most common reason why a cat keeps running to the litter box is because of painful feline interstitial cystitis. The reason for cystitis in cats is usually because they do not drink enough water, which can cause an imbalance in their urine. The consequence of this is that their urine becomes very concentrated and this causes irritation to the bladder and urethra. As a result, some cats become quite uncomfortable and will run towards the litter tray as soon as they start feeling the need to urinate. However, make sure your cat is consuming enough water every day before assuming that it is suffering from cystitis.
  • If you have just recently changed your cat’s food and it seems like she gets to the litter box more often than usual, then be aware that this could be a sign of diabetes or renal failure. Make sure to obtain veterinary advice if you notice an increase in your cat’s trips to the litter tray.

How Do I Get My Cat to Stop Kicking Out of the Litter Box?

  • Buy your cat a bigger litter box– “A litter box should be big enough for the cat to reach out her forearms in completely, and to dig and pull back,” says Tynes. “They should be in a position to turn around in all directions.
  • Add more litter in the litter pan-A cat will bury its waste, and if there is not enough litter in the box, it will try to keep on digging for that extra layer of litter.
  • Keep the litter box clean– Your cat might be trying to clean out the litter tray because it cannot find any clean spot to chill on.
  • Buy a high-sided covered litter box– this will ensure that no matter how hard they play, litter always stays in the litter box.

How Do I Stop My Cat from Playing in The Litter Box?

One question I get a lot from cat owners is how to stop a kitten from playing in the litter box.

This behavior can be frustrating for pet parents because the cat may track litter outside of the box, or use an area that is not designated for his potty needs.

The best way to stop your cat from playing in the litter box is to find out what the cause of its behavior is. . Is it bored? Is it stressed? Is it just playing?

You don’t want to discourage your cat from using her litter box, but you also don’t want her to play in it with her toys or paws.

If your cat is just playing in the litter box instead of using it for its intended purpose, here are some tips for changing this behavior and getting your cat back to using her litter box as she should be.

Cat at a scratching post
  1. Toys treats and training products can make all the difference. Set up and keep a regular schedule of fun playtime with your kitty.  Keep alternating her toys to prevent them from becoming boring.
  2. Provide solo games and activities, such as kitty puzzles, tunnels, and food-dispensing toys to keep her occupied during her time alone.
  3. Litter box covers are another option that keeps your kitty from getting into the litter box once he’s done his business. The trick is finding a litter box cover that fits your space as well as your feline friend.
  4. Provide a Cat Scratching Post: A cat scratching post will make your cat feel like it has a place of its own. Make sure that you do not place the scratching post near the litter box. If you do, your cat will still scratch the litter box.
  5. Move the litter box to a different location in the house, and add different litter boxes. Cats like to have their little corner to go to the bathroom in, so if you place the box in the corner of another room, this could solve your problem.
  6. Examine the litter box itself: Is there too much litter in the box? The more litter that is in the box, the more likely your cat will play in it rather than do its business. Scoop out extra dirt and litter until you have less litter, about 3 inches remain.


So there you go. Six strategies to keep your kitty contained and happy.

Did you even notice I gave you an additional strategy to implement?

So, if you are having this litter box behavior, and wondering if it is normal for kittens to play in the litter box, I know this guide has been helpful.

If one method doesn’t work for you, try another one.

It took a few weeks for my cats to stop, but I was persistent and determined to stop them from playing in their litter box.

Before I knew it they had stopped and been using the box normally again.

So, tell me, after implementing these strategies, which one worked best for you?