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Home » Why Does My Cat Keep Scratching At The Litter Box

Why Does My Cat Keep Scratching At The Litter Box

September 21, 2023

Cats and their litter. It’s one of the most amazing aspects of raising a cat, watching them naturally get litter box trained without any effort on our part. Cats are clean and like to keep their bowel movements hidden and out of eyesight. So they naturally bury their waste in a litter box. 

But what happens when that motion of burying feces just keeps going?

Let’s dive into the four major reasons your cat keeps scratching their litter box. 

They Have Excessive Energy

I’m starting here because this post was inspired by Yaki, who just doesn’t give up when it comes to foul smells in the litter box. In fact, we’re convinced he just enjoys the sensation it brings him. Sort of like how humans love running their hands through the sand, Yaki loves moving around cat litter. And 6am is usually when his shift starts. 

For cats with lots of energy, you may find yourself dragging them away from the litter box more often than not. That’s because they are actually just playing. It’s annoying, but it’s actually a sign of an active and healthy cat. 

The solution here is pretty simple: you need to get some better stimuli for your cat. We’ve long talked about establishing routines for your cats so you can keep them active and engaged. If your cat won’t stop scratching the litter box, you might want to start here. Routines do wonders for cats. 

They Have A Need To Scratch

If it’s not from energy, your cat may just be suffering from a lack of objects to scratch. If your cat is scratching your furniture a lot as well, this may be why they seem to love attacking the litter box walls all day. 

A cat's need to scratch should never be ignored. In fact, the less items they have to scratch, the more they will turn to your furniture and other things you love. Even more, this will affect their nails - cats scratch to trim their nails. If you don’t give them a good scratching post, their nails can beef up and you will need to cut them more frequently. 

Their Litter Box Is Too Dirty

My favorite one. I can’t overstate this enough. Cleaning your cat's litter box every day will increase your quality of life so much. You will not fight with them on bad smelling boxes, and you will give them a strong routine to get used to. 

Cats have way better noses than we do, so before you think that the litter box doesn’t smell bad, be sure. In fact, if your cat is excessively scratching the litter box walls, the first thing you should try is to clean it daily. 

Cats are scratching the litter box walls because they are trying to grab litter and bury their feces. If there’s not enough litter or the litter is too dirty, this process could end up taking a long time for them. 

Their Litter Box Is Too Small

Now for the best one. This ties in with Yaki again as well, as he’s a pretty large cat, but one reason your cat may be playing with the litter is because their litter box is just too small for them. They get in there and they have no room to move around, and they start to “rearrange” some things as best they can. 

The size of your litter box will depend on the size of your cat, but we’ve seen this issue with our cats. Some of them (Yaki and Yavapai) are just too big for a standard box. They need the open space and they need more space than a normal cat. 

For whatever reason, this leads them to go digging around and trying to get themselves comfortable in there before doing their business. It sometimes also means they have to go back in after they finish their business to scratch around and make sure everythings covered. They lose their instinctual movements because they are quite literally constricted by the size of the box, and so it causes them to keep working on their cleaning process. 

So invest in an XL litter box and see how that changes things for them. In fact, be sure to grab an open top box to make sure they can stand upright while using it. 

Wrapping Up

While your cat's excessive scratching of their litter box may feel annoying, especially in the early morning hours, it’s a perfectly normal behavior with some obvious causes. Examine your cat's litter box and make sure it’s not too old or beaten up. 

Make sure to establish a routine with them to help with any excess energy they get. Keep the litter clean, and invest in a good scratching post for them if needed. Doing these things will help alleviate the excessive scratching of your cat’s litter box walls. And if all else fails, you may need to just hide the litter box overnight. Try the bathroom. 


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