Why Does My Cat Roll in the Litter Box? Tips and Tricks to Solve This

By Davis Wilkins •  Updated: 11/25/22 •  8 min read
fat cat lying on the floor

Why does my cat roll in the litter box? If your cat is rolling around in his own feces and urine, you may be wondering why they do this.

Is it because your cat doesn’t like you and wants to tell you off by ruining your furniture with his smell? Or is he just trying to cover up the stench of kitty urine on his fur?

Many cat parents have tried to decipher why their cats roll in the litter boxes. But, when you ask them why their cats roll around, they will still tell you that they don’t know why.

If this behavior bothers you, I will help you grasp why your cat is rolling in the litter and possible remedies to this situation.

So why is your cat keen on rolling in the litter box?

1.     Dust Bathing:

Cats are very clean animals that don’t like to get dirty or have an unpleasant smell.

So why do cats roll in dust?  It may seem ironic, but it’s real cats do clean themselves using the litter.

The cleaning process (dust bathing) helps your cat to replenish the bacteria in his body. After rolling in the litter, the cat allows the dust to settle in the fur and then licks it off. When your cat ingests the litter, it fills its body with helpful bacteria.

Even though it’s a natural feline behavior, you should be concerned when your cat spends lots of time dust bathing. The process may seem harmless, but if it’s too much, it’s always dangerous. You should try and limit the rolling around process to only a few times a week.

Cats spend about 70% of their lives sleeping. That’s 13-16 hours a day!

Random Fact

2.     Litter Box Dominance:

If you are a cat parent with multiple cats, litter box dominance may be common in your household. Rolling in the litter box is one of the ways your cat uses scent marking, to mark his territory.

Your feline contains scents that can send a message to other cats that the spot is taken. The smell that the cat leaves behind is known as a pheromone.

Usually, the pheromone is secreted in areas such as the sides of your cat’s neck, along the tail, or the front paws.

You should reduce competition in your multiple cats’ household if you want to eliminate this bad litter box habit. To reduce the competition of territories, you should get a litter box for each cat. You will surely save the relationship between your multiple cats, strengthening their bond.

“In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.”

Terry Pratchett

3.     Litter Issue:

When your cat loves the litter’s texture and smell, they will express their feelings by rolling in them. Most of these litters that cats love usually contain cat attract additives. The additive overwhelms your cat with happy emotions that encourage him to defecate in the litter. This minimizes kittens jumping out of the litter box since the litter makes them feel more comfortable. As a result, your kitten rolling around in the litter box progresses.

The easiest way to avoid cat litter issues such as texture is by replacing the cat litter you are using, with new litter that discourages a dust bath. It would be best if you made gradual changes to the litter to avoid upsetting your cat. If the cat rolling in the litter box continues because of his love for the litter due to the additives, you should try using cat litter that is additives-free.

4.     Litter Box Issue:

The size and style of a cat box can contribute to your cat’s lousy litter box behavior. When you have a large and open litter box, your cat will find it ideal for rolling inside. Getting a less pretty litter box for your cat can significantly reduce your cat’s activities, such as lying in the litter box.

You should try a relatively smaller box and cover it to minimize excessive rolling and odor.

PS: The litter box should be big enough and comfortable for use by your cat.

When you get a covered litter box, make sure you clean it frequently to remove any odors trapped inside and dirt.

But again, you shouldn’t get rid of the old litter box immediately. Instead, place both the new and the old boxes side to side for at least two weeks until your cat adapts to the new one.

5.     Relieve an Itch:

Cat rolling in litter box? Sometimes the desire to scratch forces your cat to roll around in the litter box. The texture of the litter relives the uncomfortable sensation that your cat is experiencing. Fleas, ticks, and parasites are usually the suspects when your cat feels itchy.

As a responsible cat parent, you have to soothe the skin of your cat as you play. Brushing the fur of your cat now and then will significantly help to stop this issue. If you see your cat is upset while you are scratching him, then it’s time to visit the vet.

It’s normal if your kitty loves to roll in the litter box. The only thing you should do is ensure that the litter box is free from dirt at all times. In case the behavior escalates, you should visit the vet to examine if your cat has any medical issues.

Watch this short video and identify why your cat rolls in the dirt.

Tips on How To Stop Your Cat From Rolling Around In The Litter Box

1.     Interrupt the kitten rolls and get him out of the litter box. Speak out a choice phrase as you do this that will quickly be associated with the displeasure of the said activity.

2.     Place a sturdy brush inside the litter boxes, so your kitty has something to scratch on instead of themselves and other surfaces like the cat litter. The bristles will take off any loose hair while scratching loose fur and the scent will be left on the brush.

3.     Place a few drops of catnip or citrus essential oil near your cat’s litter box to see if that may help encourage them out of the litter box.

Caution: If you find that your kitty is rolling in his own poop, consider cleaning it up right away.

Your cat rolling in his own pee or poop could be a sign of illness. Have your kitty checked out by your vet right away to make sure they are healthy and that there isn’t an underlying issue causing them to roll around in their urine or poop.

4.     Change the cat litter to one whose texture discourages rolling. Silicon-based cat litter is a good choice to minimize kitten rolls in the litter box.

“Cats are connoisseurs of comfort.”

James Herriot

5.     Invest in a closed litter box with clean litter that discourages your furry friend from lying around in the litter box. It also minimizes any foul odor.

Remember, don’t make a sudden switch, but make it gradual.

Cats like clean litter, so always remember to clean out the dirt.

6.     A scratching post is a good solution for cat rolls since it is made of superior fabric that “scratches” your cat too. Cats like to play and this will make your furry friend happy.

7.     If your cat is an outdoor cat too, place a box of sand outside for your cat to roll in. There’s a danger however of your cat turning it into a poop litter box!

cat tree-scratching post

Why does my cat bury his toys in the litter box?

Cats bury their toys in the litter boxes to keep them hidden and safe from other cats that might steal them.

A cat may also be burying his or her toy because they are feeling bored and want a new challenge.

Give your kitty some more interactive playtime, like scratching posts with balls attached!

Why does my cat roll in the litter box after surgery?

If your cat is rolling in the litter box after surgery, it may be a way for them to relieve pain from their incision.

 It’s also possible that they are doing this because of anxiety or fear of being confined and put under anesthesia during the procedure.

Letting your cat out of its carrier might help alleviate some stress as well.


A litter box is a place where cats go to do their business and not a rolling ground and dust bath arena. Ensure that you are using a high-quality, dust-free cat litter that discourages your kitten from rolling around. Ensure that you supply fresh litter whenever necessary.

Cat rolling in litter box? Invest in a closed litter box and get your kitty a scratching post while at it!

Does your cat roll around in litter? Has he been doing it for a long time? Try out the above tips.

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.