Why Does My Cat Scratch The Sides Of The Litter Box? – Simple Explanation

If your cat friend is a house cat or uses a litter box, you’ve probably seen and heard them use their claws to scratch the side from time to time. And the noise can appear to go on forever while you’re engaged in a discussion or watching TV!

What gives cats the urge to scratch in their litter box? Is this annoying behaviour typical for cats? What can cat owners do if this isn’t the case?

1. Cats Scratch The Litter Box Before Pooping

Your cat may be scratching about in the cat litter if you’ve been paying attention when they use their litter box. Before they pee or poop, you might witness them pacing and scratching the litter box’s sides.

This is how they, um, locate the ideal location for their deposit.

To make it simpler for them to bury their scent later, cats will dig a hole. Before deciding where to use the restroom, it could appear as though they change their minds several times. They may be doing this in order to avoid the smell of another cat or unclean cat litter. Naturally, they are going to occasionally snag the side of the litter box while performing all this digging and scratching.

2. Cats Scratch The Litter Box After Pooping

Cats often scratching the sides and bottom of the litter box while digging a hole for their “deposit.”

It’s normal cat instinct to bury urine and feces after they’ve used the litter box. This is to prevent them from being located by predators and because they’re very clean animals. It’s also how they leave their scent markings because your cat’s paws have scent glands.

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Wild cats, adult cats, and even kittens dig and bury their urine and feces. By scratching the sides of the litter box, they’re making sure they reach the furthest edge of the tray to grab as much cat litter as possible.

3. Reasons Why Cat Scratches The Litter Box Excessively

Scratching the side of the litter box is perfectly normal cat behavior. However, suppose it seems excessive, or your feline friend seems to be spending a long time digging around.

In that case, they might not be satisfied with their kitty toilet. If this is the case, it’s time to do some detective work to find out what’s bothering them.

a. Cat’s Don’t Like The Litter

Cats can be very fussy, especially concerning their litter box. So, if you’re noticing your kitty seems unable to find a suitable spot to do their business, it might mean they disapprove of your choice of litter.

Thankfully, there are plenty of options, from gravel, clay, and sand to woodchips, clumping, and non-clumping. Once you find out which your fussy feline likes best, you might find they’re more efficient at using the litter box!

b. Lack Of Litter

Perhaps you’re already using the type of cat litter that your kitty likes, but you’re not using enough of it. I get it; the costs of owning a pet add up, and money is tight for many people now.

But, don’t be tempted to use less litter. if you create a deeper layer of cat litter, you’ll make it easier for your cat to bury their poop, and you might find that your cat stops scratching the litter box so much.

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c. Their Litter Box Is Too Small

We all want to feel relaxed and comfortable when we go to the toilet, and your cat is no different. If your purry pal feels cramped and restricted because their litter box is too small, they might struggle to settle down to use it.

If you choose a bigger one that gives them more space, they might get on with the job quickly and do less scratching about!

d. Cat Dislike The Litter Box

You might find that your cat prefers more privacy, so they might feel more comfortable using a litter box with a lid. On the other hand, some cats find that an enclosed litter box cramps their style. So, it’s all about personal preference!

e. The Litter Box Not Placed In A Right Place

You wouldn’t want to use the bathroom with an audience, nor does your cat. Cats usually prefer their litter box to be in a quiet, private location, away from the hustle and bustle of family life. If your cat’s litter box is on the main thoroughfare through the house, try moving it to a quieter spot.

f. The Litter Box Is Not Clean

Cats love cleanliness! If their litter box isn’t clean, they’ll be reluctant to use it. This can mean they spend what seems like hours scuffling around in the cat litter, scratching the sides, trying to find a clean-ish spot.

If your cat’s excessive litter box digging is bothering you, try cleaning it more often. However, ensure you use cleaning products that don’t smell too strongly, as this could also offend your finicky feline.

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g. Cat Don’t Like Sharing

A good guideline is to have one litter box per cat in the house, plus one extra.

Many humans prefer to use their own bathroom rather than a public toilet. After all, it’s not so pleasant to consider that so many others have used the same toilet you’re using. Well, cats think in a similar way. They don’t like to share their litter box.

This doesn’t just mean keeping their litter box clean; it also means making sure you have the correct number of litter trays for the number of cats in your household. A good guideline is to have one more litter box than the number of cats you have. This will prevent competition and bullying and make toileting easier for your feline family.

h. Medical Problems

Suppose your cat is frequently back and forth to the tray and passes only tiny amounts of urine. In that case, they might have a urinary tract infection or cystitis. You should contact your vet immediately if you think this might be the case. A blocked bladder, where no urine can be passed, is a serious emergency that mainly affects male cats.

If your cat has a blocked bladder, they may also seem lethargic, grumpy, and painful. Constipation might also mean they dig around in their tray more than usual and don’t produce anything. Both of these conditions require veterinary care.