Why Does My Cat Play in the Litter Box?
Despite all of the sophisticated drawings of cats and their appearances with royal figures throughout history, cats absolutely have a playful side to them. They enjoy hunting down their prey and eating it, and if they are given the right toys, they will gladly pretend to hunt. They will chase their own tails, play with each other, and may even play with you if they consider you to be a part of their family. While watching cats play can be enjoyable, there are a few times where a cat being playful can be more problematic than anything else. For instance, you might notice that your cat is spending more time in its litter box than it really should be. This can be due to countless reasons.
Some cats may just take longer than others, as they may be more meticulous in burying their droppings. Other cats may seem to play by kicking all of the litter out of the box. You may even find your cat trying to eat the litter. All of these actions may seem cute at first, but they are actually signs that there may be an underlying problem. Unfortunately, cats cannot communicate with words the same way people can, so it is up to you as the owner to determine why your cat is doing these things.
Unless your cat is particularly young, what you may consider to be “playing” in the litter box may be a sign that your cat is communicating with you about its situation. A cat who kicks its litter out of the box is telling you that there is something wrong with it. A cat who sits and sleeps in the litter box may have kidney or bladder problems. A cat who eats its litter likely has nutritional deficiencies. What a lot of people mistake for play is an indication that something is going on.
When Play Actually Means Play
With all of that being said, extremely young kittens or younger cats who may not have been in a place where they had dedicated litter trays may not realize what the litter is for. These younger cats are doing exactly what a toddler does when he or she realizes that it can drop things in the toilet. Younger cats will find the litter to be interesting and may take a little bit of time out of their day to investigate what the strange material could be. This can involve a cat taking a bite or two of litter (in the same way toddlers put everything in their mouths), or it could be your cat digging in the litter for no reason at all. Typically, once a cat realizes what the litter is for and optimally sees another cat using the box, its instincts will kick in and ensure the cat associates the litter box for doing its business and not as a sandbox. If your younger cat doesn’t grow out of this phase of kittenhood, you may need to look further into the situation.
If your kitten is playing in its litter and getting it everywhere, you may want to consider getting a top-down litter box, or a litter box with high sides so that it won’t kick the litter everywhere while it plays.
When a Cat Eats Litter
Some people may come across their cat eating litter and believe it to be humorous. However, unless the cat is a kitten who is just exploring litter for the first time, then there’s a good chance that there is not a fun reason for your cat doing this.
Cats will eat their litter when they have a nutritional deficiency in minerals. After all, clay litter is going to have plenty of minerals for your cat to eat. Consider taking your cat to the vet to see if the problem is nutritional or if there is an underlying problem causing the nutritional deficiencies. As with all problems that involve pets, you should try and rule out any health problems before you discipline your cat, as there’s a chance the cat may not be able to help what it is doing.
When a Cat Kicks Litter
This is one of the most common problems that people will have with their cats and litter boxes. Whether a cat is overzealous about keeping its garbage buried or a cat is burying for no reason, it can be a sign that something isn’t right. The most common reason why cats do this is because the litter box isn’t clean and they are smelling droppings (either their own or another cat’s) and they are trying to bury those droppings. You should make sure you clean the litter box regularly. Other times, kicking litter out of the box can be caused by the box being too small compared to the cat, or the litter box not having high sides. Sometimes all you need to do is invest in another litter box and all of the litter-related problems seem to go away.
Finally, it can happen if your cat is having territorial issues with another cat in the house. You should always have a separate litter box for each cat, plus an additional one to ensure that there are no feuds over which litter box belongs to which cat.
By taking care of these problems, there’s a very good chance that your cat will stop kicking litter out of the box, leaving you with a much cleaner bathroom. Over time, your cat will eventually lose interest in playing with its own litter, allowing it to move on to playing with other toys around the house or other cats.