Unique creatures such as cats have their quirks. It may sound puzzling, but cats scratching the sides of their litter boxes is as common as scratching any other place in one’s house.
Only if the scratching is becoming too frequent, you should look closely at what is bothering the young feline.
Cat owners need to realize what is causing this change of behavior and address the issue as soon as possible.
We are going to explain why one’s cat might behave in this way and suggest several solutions to reduce the scratching.
Why cat scratches side of litter box?
So why cat scratches side of the litter box? Cat scratches the side of the litter box because either the box is not large enough, or you haven’t clean them up for a while or the litter box is used by another cat.
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Let’s go a bit deeper.
To understand why a cat is scratching the sides of the litter box excessively, you need to find the answers to the following questions –
- Is the litter in the box enough for the cat?
- Is the box clean enough for the cat?
- Is the litter getting stuck on the cat’s paws?
- Is the litter box being used by any other cat?
- Is the litter box in a suitable location?
One of the first things you should check if your cat is scratching the sides of the litter box is whether there is enough litter for the cat.
Whenever one is cleaning the litter and removing the excrement from the litter box, one scoops out some litter. It cannot be avoided, especially for the sticky nature of litter.
If sufficient litter is not available for the cat, it cannot use it for covering the waste. If their futile attempt to produce more litter by scratching does not give any result, they decide to avoid the litter box completely and find somewhere else to answer nature’s call.
Scratching the sides of the litter box may be the early sign of cats disliking the litter box.
One other important reason for this behavior can be the cleanliness of the litter box. Cats are very clean pets, and they like their living areas to be extremely tidy and odorless.
The litter box can be the place for their defecation, but they also spend alone time there. It is in their nature to remove the pungent smell of their waste as soon as possible.
So, cats can get overwhelmed by the smell of the litter box and try to cover their waste product desperately, which results in scratches.
While buying litter, cat owners always prefer clumping litter to make the cleaning easier. But you need to make sure that the litter does not get stuck to the cat’s paws.
Cats do not like having clumps between their little toes. Whenever it happens, they like to scratch the sides of the litter box to remove those irritating clumps.
You need to take special care of the cats who have fur under their toes as it is common for them to have litter stuck to the paws.
One easy way to understand if this is the problem that’s bothering a cat is to take a look at the cat’s scratching when they are getting out. If small litters are coming out of the paws, you have found your problem.
Cats are very territorial animals, and they do not like other cats invading their private space. If any other cat is using the same litter box and the litter box is not clean, they can detect the smell of the other cat.
They can choose to ignore it and scratch the sides of the litter box to show that they are uncomfortable with the situation.
Cats can be very moody sometimes, and they can express their discomfort by just scratching the side of the litter box.
One needs to make sure that the litter box is in a very airy, open space.
If one keeps the litter box inside a bathroom or some enclosed place, cats can get annoyed by the smell of the enclosed space and scratch the sides of the litter box to show their irritation.
What’s the solution?
You have a good idea about what could be the reason for this type of behavior now. It is the time to find the remedies and stop the scratching of the litter box.
Every situation is unique, and you need to approach the solutions one by one to deal with the problem.
- Getting a larger litter box and filling it with more litter
- Keeping the litter box very clean
- Buying more litter boxes
- Putting the litter box at a comfortable location
- Changing the type of litter
The most common solution is buying a deeper litter box for the cat and filling it with a large amount of litter. Shallow litter boxes contain less litter, and cats struggle to find enough litter to cover their waste.
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No matter how many litter boxes you have at home, one must scoop all the boxes at least twice every day. In addition to scooping, one should change the litter entirely once every week.
For a multi-cat household, the rule of thumb is to have one litter box per cat and one more. This will reduce the chance of cats sharing a single litter box, and they will have their own private space.
One should keep the litter boxes at convenient locations for the cat. For a large house, there should be litter boxes on every floor and at two ends of the house.
The last method is to change the litter product entirely. If you are suspecting that the cat is scratching the side to remove lumps of litter, then only consider this option.
If one’s cat is scratching the sides of the litter box and nothing seems to work, then just let it go. Making sure that the cat does not have any of the above-stated problems is all you can do.
If none of the solutions are working, then this strange behavior can suggest health issues. Take the cat to a vet for a check-up as it is better to be safe than sorry.
Otherwise, the scratching is just your cat being unique, and it is perfectly okay.
Hi There, AJ Oren here. I am the founder of this amazing pet blog & a passionate writer who loves helping pet owners to learn more about their pets through my articles. I am also the content manager of this blog. I have experience in pet training and behavior, sheltering, and currently working for a veterinary clinic.