Cat Scratching Litter Box Excessively: 10 Reasons Why & What To Do!

Why Is My Cat Scratching Litter Box Excessively? Scratching is an instinctual behavior of Cats. One of the things that they commonly Scratch is their Litter Box which is normal unless it gets Excessive. In this case, one of the possible reasons is the Litter Box is not big enough for them to move around comfortably. It could also be that the Litter Box is dirty.

You may be Scratching your head because you are clueless as to why your Cat is excessively scratching the Litter Box. The reasons vary. It could be due to territorial marking, grooming, to cover their waste, and in some cases, they are just being playful.

In this guide, we will uncover the truth of why your Cat won’t stop Scratching Litter Box. Aside from the behavioral reasons, is it a manifestation of a health problem? Or is your cat is simply playing in the Litter Box? So, let’s find out the reasons and the solutions to Cat Excessive Litter Box Scratching.

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Why does my Cat Scratch the Litter Box so much?

Cat Excessive Scratching Litter Box
Why does my Cat Excessively Scratch the Litter Box?

So, to answer your question about why your Cat keeps Scratching at Litter Box, we divided the answers into three (3) sections, namely:

  1. Behavioral reasons.
  2. Litter Box related issues.
  3. Medical reasons. 

Let’s discuss each of them in more details below:

Behavioral reasons why your Cat keeps going to Litter Box and Scratching:

1. To Play

Growing kittens are playful, explorative, and curious. It’s not unusual to find them running, digging, and jumping around the Litter Box. Kittens may look at their Litter Box as their playground where they can endlessly have ‘fun games’ with their playmates. 

Why do Cats play in their Litter Boxes? Here are the reasons why:

  • Kittens love playing in the Litter Box because they’re attracted to the scent of the Litter.
  • They enjoy lounging around the Litter Box because of the soft texture of the Litter. 

While occasional playing inside the Litter Box is okay, the issue is different if it becomes Excessive. By this, it means that your kitten is already using the Litter Box as a place to sleep. 

In this case, kittens that Excessively play in their Litter Box may suffer from medical conditions like urinary tract infections (UTI). It’s also possible that your kitten feels threatened by another household pet. 

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2. To Mark Territories

Cats are naturally territorial. Cats’ paw pads contain scent glands that release a unique smell when Scratching. 

They use their scent to mark territories to prevent competition and confrontations. Aside from urine spraying, one way Cats leave their scent is through Excessive Scratching of the Litter Box. 

Excessive Litter Box Scratching is more common among households with multiple Cats, more so if only one Litter Box is provided for all Cats. This scenario is also referred to as multi-Cat household conflict, wherein one or more Cats declare ownership of the Litter Box through scent marking. 

3. To Clean His Paws

Cats are obsessed with making themselves clean including their paws. Some of them Excessively Scratch their Litter Boxes to get rid of the tiny particles of Litter that get caught in between their paws. This is just part of their obsessive grooming habits. 

4. To Cover His Waste

This is an instinctual behavior that domesticated Cats inherited from their ancestors in the wild. 

Covering their feces is a survival tactic that their ancestors employed to avoid them from being tracked by their enemies. Plus, they also used this strategy to protect their kittens from being hunted. 

To this day, Cats Scratch the Litter to dig and bury their feces making their smell undetectable from ‘imagined’ predators. 

If the smell of cat Litter permeate your home, consider getting a cat Litter odor control solution. It effectively traps and neutralizes the unpleasant odor to maintain freshness in your home. It will be a breath of fresh air for both you and your feline friend.

5. To Relieve Stress or Anxiety

External stressors such as a new pet or a person in the house, a new type of food, or any kind of change can make a Cat angst or stressed out.

It’s not uncommon for feline behavior to express anxiety through Excessive Scratching of the Litter Box. They do this if they’re feeling distraught over some changes initiated in the household. 

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Litter Box-Related Issues

In some cases, the reasons for Excessive Scratching of the Litter Box are due to the Litter Box itself as well as the Litter. 

6. Wrong Size of the Litter Box

Did you measure the Litter Box of your Cat? The ideal size should be 1 ½  times larger than your feline baby. Anything smaller leads to discomfort which Cats express through Excessive Scratching. 

If you have a large cat like a Ragdoll or a Maine Coon, it’s a good idea to invest in a Litter Box that is specifically for large cats like this one below:

7. Quantity and Quality of Litter

Next to the dimension of the Litter Box, the next things you need to look at are the quantity and the quality of the Litter. 

If the amount of litter is too thin, the tendency is for Cats to Scratch Excessively to cover their feces. The recommended thickness of the Litter is 3 inches.

If your feline friend has a habit of scratching the litter box excessively, it is wise to invest in a multi-purpose cat tree.

Notably, a dual function cat tree incorporates both a Litter Box enclosure at the base and a scratching post on top.

This way, your cat can comfortably do his business and, instead of resorting to scratching the Litter Box excessively, have immediate access to the scratching post above.

The scratch-friendly surface of the cat tree satisfies their natural urge to scratch while also keeping the litter box intact. It’s a seamless, practical arrangement that harmonizes your cat’s essential behaviors, contributing to a happy pet and a clean home.

Some Cats are particular about the scent and the texture of the Litter. If they are not satisfied with those factors, or they find the Litter dirty,  it can lead to Excessive Scratching. 

8. Location of the Litter Box

Cats like to have some private moments during their bathroom breaks. So, location matters. They prefer quiet and an area that is not busy with people. Placing the Litter Box in a noisy location can stress them out leading to Cat Excessive Litter Box Scratching. 

Medical Reasons Why Cat Scratches Litter Box instead of Litter

If the above reasons are not the culprit, then, it’s time to have your Cat assessed by a veterinarian because there may be underlying health issues such as these 2: 

9. Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

Cats with UTIs always have a strong urge to urinate. The problem is that UTI comes with pain and discomfort. To relieve discomfort, Cats tend to Scratch the Litter Excessively.

10. Urethral Obstruction

This disease mainly affects the male population and is caused by a crystal-like blockage in the urethra. This makes urinating painful and difficult. Hence, the affected Cats Scratch the Litter Box Excessively instead of the Litter in the hopes of finding a comfortable position to urinate. 

Why does my Cat Scratch the Litter Box walls?

If you see your Cat Scratches walls of Litter Box, the possible reason is a dirty Litter Box. As you know, your feline fur baby places too much importance on cleanliness. So, if you see your Cat Scratching walls of Litter Box, it’s his way of telling you to ‘please clean my Litter Box’. 

Why do Cats Scratch the Walls of the Litter Box
Why does my Cat Scratch the wall of Litter Box?

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In case you forgot your task to clean the Litter Box, don’t be surprised to see your Cat Scratching Litter Box walls Excessively. Cats set a high standard of cleanliness. At all costs, a Cat will avoid a dirty Litter Box and a Cat Scratches Litter Box walls is his way of trying to find a cleaner spot. 

Make it a habit to clean the Litter Box as often as possible to prevent the behavior of a Cat Scratches wall Litter Box Excessively. Ideally, you should scoop the Litter once a day so that the Litter remains fresh and smells nice all day.

What if you always scoop the Litter but your Cat Scratching Litter Box wall continues? Observe your Cat if he’s having a bout of diarrhea. If none, a Cat Scratching at Litter Box could be due to your feline baby’s disapproval of the scent or the texture of the Litter.

Why do Cats Scratch the side of the Litter Box?

Why does my Cat Scratch.the side of the Litter Box
Why does my Cat Scratch side of Litter Box?

Aside from the 10 reasons we’ve discussed earlier, and you are still astonished why my Cat Scratches the sides of the Litter Box, the reason could be pregnancy. A Cat Scratches side of Litter Box Excessively because she may be checking out places where she can give birth. 

A mother looks at Litter Box as a safe and quiet place for her upcoming kittens. Thus, a Cat keeps Scratching side of Litter Box as a sign that her date with a stork is nearing. 

Also, it is more common among unspayed or unneutered felines to display Cat Scratches at side of Litter Box behavior.  He or she is more territorial and a Cat Scratching side of Litter Box is his/her way of territorial marking.

Another thing we want to emphasize regarding why a Cat Scratches side of Litter Box instead of Litter is because of the wrong size of the Litter Box. The inappropriate size of a Litter Box can result in either refusal to use it or a Cat Scratches edge of Litter Box Excessively. 

A lot of Cats are more comfortable with a large ‘bathroom’. So, if your Cat Scratches the side of the Litter Box, it can be an indication to shift to a more spacious Litter Box. 

Why do Cats Scratch in the Litter Box?

Why do Cats Scratch the inside of their Litter Box
Why does my Cat keep Scratching in the Litter Box?

As we discussed earlier, one of the reasons why a Cat Scratching inside of Litter Box is common is because it is trying to bury its urine or poop. This is perfectly normal and they do this instinctively as a way of not attracting other predators of their presence. 

But, when you observe your Cat obsessively Scratching Litter Box, this may already be a sign of a behavioral problem that may be due to stress or some other issues. 

Why is my Cat Scratching Litter Box liner?

Are you asking why my Cat Scratches the Litter Box liner and the reason behind it? 

The Litter Box is some sort of sanctuary for your Cat. And, anything that may make it feel uncomfortable inside the box such as a Litter Box liner can cause indiscriminate Scratching.

Litter Box liners are useful and convenient in easily removing the soiled litter that accumulated over time. But, sometimes, the Litter Box liner can cause discomfort leading to Excessive Scratching. Here’s why…

First, the texture of the Litter Box plastic liners can feel disagreeable to some Cats when it comes in contact with their claws. 

Second, ill-fitting liners that are way too big for the Litter Box may also cause them to Scratch away at the material, especially if there are too many folds.

One way to prevent this is to use a non-stick stainless steel Litter Box or ensure the liner fits perfectly with the Litter Box.

Why do Cats Scratch outside the Litter Box?

Why does my Cat Scratch outside the Litter Box
Why does my Cat Scratch outside of the Litter Box?

My Cat Scratches outside the Litter Box sometimes and I often wondered why this is so. Is this unique to my Cat or is it yet another quirky cat behavior common among our feline friends?

I listed below some reasons why a Cat Scratches outside Litter Box.

  • The main thing about a Cat Scratching outside of Litter Box is they are signaling to other Cats that the area around their Litter Box is their territory. Leaving their unique scent signals other cats to stay away and also gives them a sense of security around that area.
  • Another reason is that the Litter Box might be dirty or already full. Your Cat might be telling you that it is not satisfied with the Litter Box and it is trying to find another place outside the Litter Box where it wants to eliminate its waste. You can minimize this behavior by regularly scooping the litter and replacing it every few weeks.
  • This just might simply be part of your cat’s unique quirky behavior. Every Cat is different and they each have their style and personality. Maybe your Cat Scratching outside its Litter Box is part of the ritual it needs to do before or after eliminating its waste.
  • It could also be that your Cat is not happy with the configuration of the Litter Box. Some of them are not attracted to some types such as covered or top-entry Litter Box. In this case, you can change the Litter Box to an open-type Litter Box. 

My Cat Scratches top of Litter Box! Why is that?

The reason why a Cat Scratches the top of a Litter Box is probably because they feel confined inside a covered Litter Box. While it may be more convenient for a Cat owner to have a covered Litter Box to control the odors as well as to lessen the scattering of the litter, it may be too enclosed or small for your Cat to feel comfortable. 

Another reason is that some Cats feel vulnerable to an attack when they are doing their bathroom break. They need to have a clear field of vision of any predators approaching, thus, they Scratch the top of the Litter Box.

Why do Cats Scratch around their Litter Box?

Why do Cats Scratch around Litter Box
Why does my Cat Scratch around the Litter Box?

A Cat Scratching around Litter Box is one way a Cat would mark its territory. When a Cat Scratches around Litter Box, it is releasing pheromones from its paws. This signals to other Cats in your house that that is the place where they do their business that no one else can use.

Moreover, if what you provide is a high-sided Litter Box, it may be too high for a kitten or an old Cat to go in and out of the Litter Box. Thus, they tend to Scratch around the Litter Box to find a way how to comfortably go inside it. In this case, you can change to an open-Litter Box type. 

Why do Cats scratch the floor around their Litter Box?

Cats Scratch the floor around their Litter Box for the same reason why they Scratch around their Litter Box which is to signal other cats that it is their territory. There are instances when Cats may attack another if they perceive that their space is being invaded. 

They consider their Litter Box as a safe place but at the same time a vulnerable one because of the fear of being preyed upon when they are pooping.

Why do Cats scratch their Litter Box after using it?

Why do Cats Scratch after using the Litter Box
Why do Cats Scratch after using Litter Box?

A Cat may Scratch their Litter Box after using it to clean their nails and paws. Cats typically would chew their nails to remove excess dirt on their paws, but some cats may prefer to scratch their nails onto the Litter Box to file away the dirt instead of a Scratching Post.

It is also possible for the Cat to have learned this behavior from its mother. Kittens often learn things by emulating the behavior of their mother which develops into a habit as they mature. 

Why is my Cat Scratching Litter Box Excessively at night?

Cats are usually active during the early morning and evening. And this may be the reason why they would Scratch the Litter Box excessively during the night time. 

They are not nocturnal animals. But because their prey is typically active during the night, they have developed the habit of being more active during the night and would usually rest during the day. 

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Your cat may also be understandably bored during this time without the attention it seeks from its family. This results in channeling their energy by playing or scratching away at their Litter Box.

So, why does my Cat keep Scratching the Litter Box?

Why does my Cat Scratch the Litter Box
Why is my Cat Scratching the Litter Box?

To summarize, here are the top 9 reasons why my Cat keeps Scratching the Litter Box: 

1. They love to play around with it because of the comfort it provides.

2. They mark it as their territory.

3. Cats groom and clean their nails through scratching.

4.  To cover their eliminated waste.

5. To soothe or reduce their stress.

6. The Litter Box doesn’t correctly fit the size of your Cat.

7. The texture and the amount of Litter do not satisfy your Cat.

8. The location of the Litter Box makes them feel threatened.

9. The Cat may be suffering from a medical condition, such as UTI or bladder obstruction.

Why is my Cat Scratching floor like Litter Box?

Cats are creatures of habit. Even a seemingly minor and nonchalant change can be a significant source of stress. This is also applicable when it comes to their choice of Litter. 

Cats usually develop a special liking for the type of Litter used when they were still kittens. Though it does not apply to all, some of them may feel uncomfortable using another type of Litter that they got accustomed to when they were kittens. 

So, in case you shifted from clumping to a non-clumping type of Litter, you can expect your kitty to go berserk by Excessively Scratching his Litter Box. 

My Cat Scratches Litter out of Box! Why is that?

As we’ve said, the type of litter being used may be the reason why a Cat Scratches Litter out of the Box. Cats have different preferences when it comes to the texture, material, and odor of the litter. 

Some may refuse to use the Litter Box and some would simply try to Scratch it out of the box if they find it not to their liking.

The litter comes in different forms from plant-based materials. It ranges from pine shavings, walnut shells, or grass seeds, to inorganic materials, such as silica crystals and clay. 

Cat Litter can also be either clumping or non-clumping. The advantages of using clumping litter are that it is easier to scoop out and there is less chance of contaminating the rest of the Litter with the waste. 

Non-clumping Litter, on the other hand, has larger granules that don’t stick to your cat’s paw easily, especially for a kitten, and it is cheaper.

It is therefore recommended that you try out different types of Cat Litter first to see which one your Cat would prefer.

Why is my Cat Scratching in Litter Box but not peeing?

A Cat Scratching in Litter Box without peeing may be a sign that the Cat may be suffering from a urinary tract infection. Signs that your cat may have this condition include difficulty in urinating or the amount of urine has decreased.

The Cat may also be suffering from a bladder infection called Feline Interstitial Cystitis. This may be caused by a mineral imbalance or a bacterial infection leading to the formation of crystals or stones inside the bladder. These block the urethra causing the cat to have difficulty urinating with some exhibiting blood in the urine.  

Are Ragdoll Cats easy to Litter train?

Yes, Ragdolls are easy to train provided that reward training techniques are employed. Ragdolls are smart and playful and can be taught basic house rules including Litter Box training.

It should be pointed out that Ragdolls are large domesticated cats. The Litter Box should be appropriate to their size or something with high sides since Ragdolls tend to kick their litter around.

Cat Scratch ritual

Cats have an instinctual behavior of scratching and digging dirt or sand when they eliminate their bodily wastes. They do this as a way to conceal their territory from the predators in their area.

The typical ritual of a Cat using the Litter Box can be summarized as follows:

1. The Cat would get into or enter the Litter Box.

2. Before the elimination, some Cats may dig holes.

3. After they have eliminated the waste, most would bury the waste by pulling litter over it.

4. Some Cats would scratch on the surface of the Litter Box to further mark their territory.

How to stop Cat from Scratching Litter Box?

It is difficult to stop a Cat from Scratching its Litter Box since it is part of its instinctual behavior. But, you can minimize the Excessive Scratching by knowing what is causing the behavior.

If it is due to stress or anxiety, then you can reduce it by engaging them in some interactive play to release feel-good hormones that would relax their body.

You can also lessen Excessive Scratching by providing them with the right type of Litter Box that has the appropriate dimensions. Plus, a litter material that is most comfortable for them.

Why is my Cat constantly in Litter Box?

There are several reasons why a Cat constantly going to Litter Box. One is that it may be a sign of stress. You may observe your Cat in Litter Box for long time since this is a place where he feels secure and safe to hide due to the familiar smell it provides.

Another reason why Cat going to the Litter Box frequently is that he may suffer from a medical problem such as a urinary tract infection. The sensation of wanting to pee may cause a cat to repeatedly enter the Litter Box.

Some cats also suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) which makes them engage in repetitive behaviors. 

The cause of OCD in cats may be stress-related and can manifest through overgrooming, tail-chasing, and even Cat OCD Litter Box frequent visits. There is no treatment for the condition, but giving your Cat a solid daily routine can reduce the repetitive behaviors.

5 Ways to Deal with Cat constantly Scratching Litter Box

1.  Add more Litter Boxes in a multi-cat household and place these in different areas around your home. 

2.  Provide Scratching posts around the house.

3.  Clean the Litter Box regularly and scoop the Litter once a day. 

4.  Change the size or configuration of the Litter Box. There are different types of Litter Boxes in the market, from open Litter Boxes to covered Litter Boxes to top-entry and high-sided Litter Boxes. It’s a matter of finding out the preference of your Cat. 

5.  Know the Cat’s preference when it comes to litter. Some prefer the scented while others are more drawn to odor-free Litter. 

Final thoughts

It will be easier for you to cope with your Cat’s particular idiosyncrasies and behavior if you are aware of the underlying reasons why your Cat is persistently scratching the litter box.

It can just be a simple matter of switching the Litter Box you use, or it might be a sign of something more serious that necessitates a trip to the veterinary clinic. 

Following the discussion of the numerous contributing factors, the information will help you better grasp the situation and suggest potential remedies.

Related Questions

Why does my cat dig to the bottom of the litter box?

One of the reasons is that your cat is suffering from Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) wherein the Cat may have difficulty or pain urinating. The disease is typically seen in middle-aged Cats or obese Cats that get little to no exercise.

Why does my cat scratch the floor after pooping?

It could be that your Cat is suffering from diarrhea. The poop might have gotten stuck underneath the tail causing him to scrape his bum across the floor which he tries to clean by scratching. You can check the Litter Box for any loose stools if this happens. It may also be due to space restrictions wherein the Litter Box is too small for the Cat to hide and bury their waste.

The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.