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Home » Why Do Cats Use The Litter Box After You Clean It

Why Do Cats Use The Litter Box After You Clean It

February 23, 2023

I’m sure you’ve been there before - you clean out your cat's litter box and find them jumping right in there to use it again. We’ve had this happen so many times, and found a whole bunch of different reasons for this behavior but we can narrow it down to three primary reasons: 

  1. Cats Are Re-Marking Their Territory
  2. Cats Prefer A Clean Litter Box
  3. You Got Your Cats Attention While Cleaning It

There’s probably a million other reasons they have for jumping in there, but it all boils down to these three reasons. 

Cats Need To Re-Claim Their Territory

Thankfully cats aren’t as persistent as dogs in terms of marking their territory. But cats still have these urges to claim a litter box. And they do so by using it. This allows their particular scent to permeate through the box so they know it’s theirs. 

Now, we live in a multicat household, and we believe that sharing is caring. But Naz, Naz needs to claim a box first. I usually clean their litter boxes in the morning while they are eating, and Naz will end her meal early to use the litter box before the others get in there and mark it. 

It’s important to note that Naz was also a street cat, so she naturally has a lot more territorial claims and issues surrounding that than the others. In general, outdoor cats have a harder time getting used to using a litter box

Cats Prefer A Clean Litter Box

This one goes hand in hand with a cat's preference for everything to be neat and orderly. They have to get in that box - think about it for a second. If you haven’t cleaned it, it smells awful to us, imagine how it is for them with their persistent noses. 

If you aren’t cleaning your litter box daily, no wonder your cats jump in right after you clean it. There’s a good chance they are holding it in and waiting for you to clean it. Don’t do that to your cats, figure out a routine for cleaning the litter boxes, or at least invest in a self-cleaning litter box so they aren’t waiting for you to clean it all the time. In fact, not cleaning your litter daily is one of the primary reasons it’s hard to get rid of the smell of litter in your house

Yavapai is our cat who has the biggest issues with a dirty litter box. In fact, he will pee on things if the litter box isn’t cleaned out every day. 

If this is a persistent issue in your household, you may want to read up on the smells that deter cats to get an idea of what else you can do to protect your furniture from cat pee. 

If you are putting off a good litter box cleaning due to lack of new litter, you can also check out our homemade cat litter alternatives article to get some tips for how to extend your litter life with household ingredients. 

You Keep Getting Your Cats Attention

This is one of the funnest reasons your cat is jumping in and using the litter box right after you clean it - because you drew them to it. You know how litter sounds when you scoop it up. It makes a noticeable sound, and depending on the type of litter box you have, those high walls can create an echo chamber for your work. 

Since cats are inquisitive by nature, when they hear you messing around in their stuff they want to know what is going on. And when they see you removing their fecal matter, they really want to understand why you’re touching their stuff. 

It’s a common reaction for a cat to jump in and “show you” what they do in there because they think you’re upsetting their bathroom. 

Yaki is the worst with this. We can get him to endlessly urinate just by messing with his litter. He doesn’t have a particular obsession over it being clean, he has an obsession over the noise it makes. He also loves doing his best to clean up the litter, even if that means scratching at the floor for a while. 


If your cat uses the litter box immediately after you clean it, don’t worry that there’s something wrong with them. It’s a really natural reaction, and could be part of a number of reasons. The only concern you should have is if it doesn’t occur frequently. This could mean that you actually have waited too long to clean out the litter box, which means your cats have been waiting on you. 

If your cats love to use the clean litter, it's because they are clean, territorial, or just interested in learning what you’re doing messing around in their litter. Get used to it, they will be doing it their whole lives probably. 


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