Why Does My Cat Stare at the Litter Box?
Cats are known for being creatures of mystery. They seem to change their mood on a dime and it can be hard to predict what your cat may be interested in doing. As you get to know your cat over time, you will eventually come to learn what some of your cat’s oddities are. Every cat has their own personality to them; however, there are some behaviors that may warrant a double-take and a question as to whether or not something is normal. For example, one problem that some cats have is that they may stare intently at their litter box.
Usually, there shouldn’t be anything that interesting about your cat’s own litter box, right? While this is often the case, there are some situations where your cat may feel the need to stare at its litter box. In these situations, there is often an underlying problem that you will need to take care of. If you do not care for the underlying problem at hand, there’s a chance it could escalate to the point where your cat urinates inappropriately outside of the litter box.
Before you begin to wonder whether or not your cat staring at the litter box is normal, you will first want to rule out behaviors that are completely normal so that you aren’t trying to fix a problem that isn’t really there. After all, cats are strange creatures and it may just be that your cat has a particular fascination with the litter box.
Cases Where it Is Normal Behavior
Cats, being as widely varied as they are, will end up doing a lot of strange stuff over the course of their lives. For some cats out there, that strange stuff may include staring at the litter box for seemingly no reason. There are some cases where your cat doing this may be entirely normal and expected behavior and shouldn’t really be given a second thought.
A good example of this is if your cat stares at the litter box and you while you are cleaning it and continues to stare at it some time after you have cleaned it. To your cat, you are simply collecting buried droppings for inexplicable reasons. From that perspective, your behavior is most certainly stare-worthy. What this means is that you will also want to consider the situation where your cat is staring at the litter box.
If your cat is particularly young and still learning its ways from its parents, it may not quite understand what the litter box is meant for. Kittens learn by watching their parents so when they stare at the litter box without their parent cats with them, it could be that they are trying to understand what the litter box is meant for. To cats, litter boxes are full of smells from both the droppings and whatever communication the cat may be using while it uses the litter box; young kittens who are still learning about the world may be staring at the box out of sheer curiosity. This behavior will stop as your cats grow older.
A similar aspect can be applied to your cat if you have bought a brand-new litter box or if you have replaced the litter in the litter box. If its litter box has been drastically changed recently, your cat may be worried, confused, or even curious about what is happening to it so it may spend some time staring at the litter box trying to understand what is going on. You can expect this behavior to stop as your cat realizes that even if the litter box is new, there is nothing that special about it.
Cases Where it Is Indicative of a Problem
There are some cases where your cat’s staring at the litter box may actually be a sign that there is something going on that is not being explicitly communicated. One of the most common causes of this is a territorial dispute in a multi-cat household. A cat with a more dominant personality may try to claim a litter box as its own and, by doing so, creating a situation where the less dominant cats of the house may not want to use the litter box.
In a power dispute, two cats may stare at each other from the litter box as cats will often stare at each other when being territorial. If the cat is staring at the box while another cat uses it, this may be another case of a territorial stare that simply isn’t being reciprocated by the other cat who is using the box. In this case, you will have to do what you can to dissolve the power dispute before you can fix the problem.
And finally, if your cat is staring at the litter box with its nose in the air and then walking away, it may be sniffing the box from afar. Here, your cat is simply checking to see if the litter box is clean enough for your cat to decide to use it or not. If the cat doesn’t feel that the litter box is clean enough, you may find an unpleasant surprise elsewhere in the house and this is something that nobody wants to have happen. If this happens repeatedly, it may be worth trying to clean the litter box more often to try to alleviate the problem.