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What Do Your Cat’s Litter Box Behaviors Mean?

Cats can be quirky, but sometimes their actions can tell us something important. What might your cat want you to know?

Understanding Litter Box Behavior

Actions speak louder than meows. If your cat exhibits any of the following litter box behaviors, they may be trying to tell you that their litter experience could be better.



Using one to all paws to perch on the side of the box. This may mean that there are too many used clumps, the box is too small, the litter isn’t the right depth, or it’s not the best feel for her sensitive paws.



Hesitating to enter the box or to use it once he’s in. This may mean he wants to use the box, but there’s something he finds unappealing.

box banging

Box Banging

Scratching or pawing at any surface other than the litter itself. This may mean she has an issue with the box hood, the size of the box, or its overall cleanliness.

Litter Kicker

The Litter Kicker

Vigorously kicking litter around and/or out of the box before using it. While this is natural cat behavior, you might consider using less litter or a high-sided box.



Avoiding using the box (by holding it), taking longer to eliminate, then exiting quickly, not burying waste. This may mean she has a dirty or unappealing box. The box may be located in a noisy area, or other environmental stressors. 

The Janitor

The Janitor

One cat from a multi-cat home returning to bury waste and clean up after another cat’s visit. While this may be natural for some cats, it may mean that you may need more boxes or more frequent cleaning.

If you notice any sudden change in your cat’s behavior, it could be a sign of an underlying medical issue, and you should call your veterinarian.

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Learning and Growing Together

Check out more Tidy resources to learn how to improve your litter experience and help you and your cat live your best lives together.

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Make Their Comfort Your Priority

Give your cat a litter that puts them first, with cat-preferred paw feel (vs. the leading clumping litter) and a cat-selected scent.