Cats display all kinds of unusual behavior that to the new cat owner might seem confusing or even worrisome. One of these classic but weird behaviors is sleeping in the litter box. Sleeping in your own toilet is pretty disgusting — and considering cats are so obsessed with keeping clean, it’s super-confusing they would choose the litter box as a place to take a nap. Our own precious cats would never dream of such grossness, until, that is, we uprooted them from their home. Yup, we tried to make switching to a new apartment as stress-free as possible, but moving sent our cat Bill straight for the litter box. And he didn’t even have to pee. This litter box hiding lasted for days.

At first, he wouldn’t even come out to eat — we had to leave food next to the box, and he’d take a few bites while he was still sitting inside it. However, after a few days and a lot of attention, he started venturing out into his new space. According to our vet at Prospect Animal Hospital, sleeping and hiding in the litter box is a common reaction in cats to any overly stressful situation. While it may seem gross to the pet owner, a cat’s litter box may feel like the only safe haven in new surroundings because it smells like it does. The Nest, «cats actually mark their territory with their urine and its scent can sometimes be comforting to an anxious cat. Cats also hide in litter boxes for the same reason they hide in cardboard boxes — the smaller, enclosed space feels like added protection. Cats are very territorial, and if another animal threatens their space, they’ll act out in order to assert dominance.

If your cat’s feeling threatened by another animal, make sure there are as many litter boxes around as there are felines. If you have a dog, make sure the litter box is out of the way, so the cat doesn’t feel like it has to sneak by the dog every time it wants to use it. You can also use pheromone sprays and diffusers around the litter boxes to alleviate stress. Sleeping in the litter box can also be the sign of something more serious, so you want to be sure and monitor your cat closely if it suddenly starts doing it. This could be indicative of any number of illnesses, not just ones having to do with elimination. Full blockage like this could be fatal in only 48 hours, so if you notice your cat straining to urinate more than once, take it to the vet immediately. That being said, you shouldn’t jump to the worst case scenario if your cat suddenly starts sleeping in its littler box.

Just keep a close eye on it and if other unusual behaviors, like the ones listed above, start to develop, you should definitely give your vet a call. The stuff you need to know, crafted just for you. Please enter a valid email address. CONNECT with millions of women. How to Retrain a Cat to Use the Litter Box. Has your cat stopped using the litter box?

Understanding the reason for avoiding the litter box is critical to correcting your cat’s behavior. The underlying cause is often a source of stress, such as a change in the household. Medical problems are another common culprit if your cat suddenly stops using the litter box, especially in senior cats. Move the litter box to the right location. Cats may stop using the litter box after a scary experience in the area, such as a loud noise or harassment by another pet. They may also dislike the spot you chose after moving the litter box, or moving to a new home. Keep the litter box in a quiet, low-traffic spot where the cat can see people coming.

Choose a room with at least two exits so the cat doesn’t feel cornered. Keep litter boxes away from food and water bowls. Cats do not like to combine these two areas. Signs that your cat may have had an unpleasant experience in the litter box including running quickly in and out of the litter box, or using an area near the litter box. Try moving the box to a new room if you notice this. Keep at least one litter box on every floor of a multistory home. Play with toys near the litter box.

Play with your cat in the same general area as the litter box. You can bring the cat to the litter box to investigate on its own, but do not drop it inside or reward it with treats for using it. These tactics can backfire by making the cat uncomfortable or afraid. Unlike dogs, cats should choose the litter box on their own, especially if they used one in the past. Keep the litter box clean. If your cat perches on the edge of the box or eliminates right next to it, the box might be too dirty for it. Remove clumps and top up with fresh litter at least once a day, preferably twice. Rinse the litter box once a week with baking soda or unscented soap. If you use non-clumping litter, change the whole box every couple days to prevent odor build up, which can drive away the cat. Do not clean the litter box with scented products. Do not use a disinfectant unless it is specifically made for litter boxes, as many of them contain chemicals toxic to cats. Switch to new litter gradually.