Albuquerque Journal Article – Cat Sleeps in Dirty Litter Pan

Cat sleeping in litter box

Better Alternatives will mean Better Choices  


My cat has a thing about sleeping in her litter tray even when it has been used. How can I get her to stop without her not wanting to use it for what it’s for?


Dr. Nichol:

Cats find boxes irresistible but your girl, sleeping in the latrine, can’t be making snuggle time a pleasant experience for her person. I agree that change is in order.

Start with good management. Your cat needs a fresh-as-a-daisy place to eliminate whenever the whim strikes. Whatever your feline population, you’ll need one litter pan per cat plus one. Clumping litter is usually best, scooped twice daily. Dump and wash the pans weekly. With these fundamentals the kitty in question will be less prone to announce her arrival in your boudoir with the scent of Ode de Toilet.

Cats are broadly described as socially asocial. They are certainly capable of enjoying the company of others but they also have a strong need for alone time. In order to ponder the meaning of life they require secure locations to think deep thoughts in peace. All indoor cats need a plethora of hide boxes at various heights in different rooms. The openings of those little hideaways should face away from the center of the room. When cats hide, they need to believe that no one can find them until they are ready.

We all need choices, pets included. Accessorize some of the hide boxes with fluffy towels, others with firm mats, and a few with no padding at all. If this particular kitty still insists on spending her life in the loo I would consider a self-cleaning litter pan like a Litter Robot or Cat Genie. These gizmos reliably pack away soiled litter following every use. Your kitty won’t pick a contraption like this for her catnaps because she’d never achieve REM sleep.

Finally, be sure to naturalize your cats’ indoor environment in lots of other ways as well. At least a couple of floor-to-ceiling cat trees located against windows will allow essential climbing, perching, and simulated stalking of helpless prey. For the full list of feline Environmental Enrichments go to my website,


Each week Dr. Jeff Nichol makes a short video or podcast to help bring out the best in pets. Sign up at no charge at Dr. Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). You can post pet behavioral or physical questions at or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.