Why Do Cats Scratch Their Litter Box?

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Why is My Cat Scratching the Litter Box?

Owning and taking care of your cat can be an exciting and challenging journey. You have to ensure that it is provided with the best care, including health checkups, high-quality food, and much more.

Although every cat is different in personality, one similar habit in all cats is their urge to scratch their litter box every time they use it. Now you might be wondering why cats’ litter box gets scratched by cats? In this article, we will be looking at why they do such a thing.

Habit of Scratching

Every cat owner knows their cat’s personality and tendencies to perform certain activities that they enjoy. Many people find it quite difficult to believe that just like humans, cats have different personalities, ranging from quiet and shy to extremely playful, extroverted, and friendly.

However, it does not play a direct part in cats’ habit of constantly scratching their litter box when it comes to personality. Although you may think this habit is unusual, it is quite healthy when cats themselves are scratching cats’ litter boxes.

They do this to “bury” their waste and liquid so others cannot see it. This is an instinct in cats as out in the wild, and cats develop the habit of hiding their waste from other cats.

Cat scratching the litter box

Cat Senses

When it comes to talking about the five senses in cats, it can be said that it is extremely strong as cats can smell and distinguish between their faces and that of other cats or animals.

When cats constantly try to dig and scratch their litter box, they are trying to let you know that they are doing it to prevent smell escaping and not because they want to perform territory marking. Besides this, cats also scratch their litter box to hide from predators, even if they are in a safe and calm environment such as indoor households.

Furthermore, another reason that could relate to why they scratch their cat’s litter box is because they are trying to tell you how they feel about it. Cats can easily get scared and paranoid, especially if they are brought up in a household; hence if cats’ litter box is changed dramatically, it could cause them to be anxious.

Maintain the Health of Paws

You may have noticed that your cat loves to scratch not only their litter box but also other household furniture, and the reason why this is done is to sharpen and maintain the health of its paws. Scratching continuously can serve as a way to scrub away dead and rough skin, allowing exposure to the growth of new nails.

If you have noticed that your cat continuously scratches its paw, it could also be because his waste or the clumped litter is attached to one of the paws, which can cause discomfort and pain. To avoid your cat suffering from this discomfort, it is advisable that you routinely check its paws after it is done using the cat’s litter box.

Maine Coon kitten raising its paw

High Anxiety Levels

Unlike humans who can better understand and adjust to changes in life, cats can easily get scared and develop anxiety. This behavior can cause multiple secondary factors such as declining health, depression, and much more. Moreover, anxiety could also develop in cats due to underlying sickness or disease. To deal with it, they may turn to scratch their cat’s litter box.

To avoid these changes in behavior in your cat, you must minimize external changes such as moving furniture, inviting unfamiliar guests to your house, loud noises, etc. All these habits can cause problems and anxiety. If you have been noticing odd behavior in your cat besides scratching their litter box, you must visit your nearest vet for a checkup.

Small Litter Box

Another minor yet important issue that results in your cat scratching its litter box is its size and quality. Most of the time, when cats try to excessively scratch the litter box to a point where the litter comes out of the box, it is a sign to let you know that they do not feel comfortable in it.

If your cat continuously tries to scratch in the litter box, even if you are actively changing it after every use, it is best to upgrade the cat’s litter box to a bigger size.

Moreover, besides having a compact and tiny litter box, cats also might scratch because it is not placed in a quiet and calm location. Like humans, cats also need privacy when using the cat’s litter box. In addition to upgrading the size, keep in mind to place it in a quiet and dark place, away from human glares and chatter.

Cat litter box on tiled floor

Low Quality / Less Litter

Lastly, one factor that could contribute to your little kitty scratching the litter box is the overall quality of the litter product. If you choose to spend money on a low-quality litter box, your cat may get annoyed due to the unpleasant odor and texture of the litter.

Hence you should spend a few extra bucks to ensure your cat is comfortable. You should also actively make sure that there is plenty of litter available each time your cat uses the cat litter box. These tips may seem quite small, but they play a larger role in cats’ overall lifestyle and habits.


So these are some of the most common reasons why cats develop the habit of scratching their litter box after they are done using it. After all, it is your job to ensure that your cat is comfortable and healthy to avoid future problems.

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