7 Reasons Why Do Cats Like Rolling in Litter Boxes

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A frequent question we often get asked is – Why is my cat rolling around in the litter box? Cats are known for their unique and sometimes peculiar behavior, one of which is rolling around in their litter box. This behavior can be confusing for cat owners, as it may seem unusual or even concerning. However, there are several reasons why a cat may engage in this behavior, such as marking their territory, trying to cover up their scent, or expressing pleasure or comfort. It’s also important to note that cats are naturally clean animals and may be trying to maintain their cleanliness. Factors such as preferences for certain types of litters and playfulness can also play a role. While this behavior is considered normal, it’s always a good idea to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying conditions. In this article, we will explore the various reasons for this behavior and provide tips on how to address it.

Why is my cat rolling around in the litter box?

Marking territory

Marking territory

Cats have a strong sense of smell and use scent marking as a way to claim an area as their own. They have scent glands located on various parts of their body, including the paws, which they use to deposit their scent. Rolling in their litter box may be a way for them to deposit their scent and mark it as their territory. This behavior is more common in cats that live in multi-cat households or in areas where there is a lot of outside cat traffic, as they may feel the need to assert their presence and claim their territory.

Covering up scent

Cats are naturally clean animals and have a strong desire to keep themselves and their environment clean. They may roll in their litter box as a way to cover up their own scent, especially if they perceive it as being too strong. This behavior is more common in cats that are not frequently groomed, or that have a strong odor, such as from a medical condition or diet. They may also roll in their litter box as a way to mask any other scents that may be present in the environment that they don’t like. It is a natural instinct for cats to cover their scent and it’s a way of maintaining their cleanliness.

Expressing pleasure or comfort

Cats may roll around in their litter box because they find it pleasurable or comfortable. They may enjoy the sensation of the litter against their fur, the texture of the litter under their paws, or the scent of the litter. Some cats may also have a preference for certain types of litters, such as clumping or non-clumping, scented or unscented, and may roll around in their litter box as a way of expressing their pleasure or comfort. In addition, they may associate the litter box with positive experiences such as eating or sleeping, and may roll around in it as a way of expressing contentment.

Maintaining cleanliness

Maintaining cleanliness

Cats are naturally clean animals, and they spend a significant amount of time grooming themselves to keep their coat clean and shiny. They may roll in their litter box as a way of keeping their coat clean and groomed, as the litter can act as a kind of a natural exfoliant that helps to remove dirt and dead hair from their coat. This behavior is more common in cats that are not groomed frequently or have a long hair coat as it is harder for them to reach certain areas of their body. This behavior can also be seen as a sign that the cat is healthy and is taking care of its hygiene.

Playfulness

Cats may roll around in their litter box as a form of play, especially if they are young or have a lot of energy. Young cats and kittens often engage in playful behavior, and the litter box can provide an interesting and stimulating environment for them to explore and play in. They may roll around, dig, and bury themselves in the litter, as they would with any other type of play material. This behavior is more common in cats that are not provided with enough playtime and stimulation, and it can be seen as a sign of a healthy, active cat.

It’s important to provide cats with plenty of toys, scratching posts and other forms of enrichment to channel their energy and keep them mentally and physically stimulated.

Litter preference

Cats may have different preferences for certain types of litters, such as clumping or non-clumping, scented or unscented, and may roll in the litter box as a way of experimenting with different options. Some cats may prefer a certain type of litter, such as clay or recycled paper, while others may prefer a more natural option, such as wood chips or grass. Cats may also have a preference for certain scents and may roll in the litter box as a way of testing out different options. This behavior is more common in cats that are provided with multiple litter boxes and have the option to choose from.

Note that cats have a sensitive sense of smell, and the scent of the litter can play a big role in their behavior. It’s recommended to observe your cat’s behavior when introducing new types of litters and choose the one that fits the best for your cat.

Medical condition

In rare cases, cats may roll in their litter box due to an underlying medical condition such as a skin irritation or infection. They may roll in the litter box in an attempt to soothe or relieve the discomfort caused by the condition. Other signs that a cat may have a medical condition include excessive grooming, hair loss, or redness and inflammation of the skin. If you notice any of these signs or your cat’s rolling behavior seems excessive or unusual, consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical conditions and ensure your cat receives proper treatment.

How to stop cat rolling in the litter box?

There are several ways to address a cat’s behavior of rolling around in their litter box:

Keep the litter box clean and well-maintained

Keeping the litter box clean and well-maintained is an important step in addressing a cat’s behavior of rolling around in their litters box. A dirty or smelly litter box can be unappealing to cats and may discourage them from using it. Regularly scooping out the litter box and changing the litter every few days will help to remove any waste and keep the litter box clean and free of strong odors. This will also help to prevent any potential health issues for your cat, such as urinary tract infections or other infections caused by dirty litter.

It’s recommended to scoop the litter box at least once a day, and change the litter every one to two weeks depending on the number of cats you have and how frequently they use the litter box.

Provide multiple litter boxes for multiple cats

Providing multiple litter boxes for multiple cats is an important step in addressing a cat’s behavior of rolling around in their litter box. Cats are territorial animals and may become stressed or anxious if they have to share a litter box with other cats. Providing multiple litter boxes can help to reduce competition and territorial behavior, and ensure that each cat has a designated area to use.

As a general rule of thumb, it’s recommended to have one litter box per cat, plus one extra. It’s also important to ensure that the litter boxes are placed in different areas of the home, to give each cat a sense of privacy and security.

Experiment with different types of litters

Experimenting with different types of litters can help you to find the one that your cat prefers, and reduce the chance of them rolling around in their litter box. There are many types of litters available on the market, such as clay, recycled paper, wood chips, and grass. Each type has its own unique properties, such as clumping or non-clumping, scented or unscented, and some cats may have a preference for one type over another.

Also note that some cats may have allergies or sensitivities to certain types of litters, so observe your cat’s behavior and note any changes or patterns in their behavior when introducing new types of litters. It’s recommended to start with a small amount of new litter and gradually increase it over time, this will help your cat to get used to the new litter.

Consult with a veterinarian

Visit the veterinarian

Consultation with a veterinarian is an important step in addressing a cat’s behavior of rolling around in their litter box, especially if the behavior seems excessive or unusual, or if you notice any other signs of a medical condition.

Note that cats, like any other living being, have unique personalities and behaviors, what may be normal for one cat may not be for another. Therefore, you should consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical conditions, and also to have a better understanding of your cat’s behavior and provide a suitable environment for them.

A veterinarian will be able to conduct a physical examination and rule out any underlying medical conditions that may be causing your cat’s behavior. They may also be able to recommend other treatments or therapies, such as medication or changes in diet, that can help to alleviate any discomfort or pain that your cat may be experiencing.

Provide plenty of toys, scratching posts and other forms of enrichment

Offer something else to chew

Providing plenty of toys, scratching posts, and other forms of enrichment can help to channel your cat’s energy and keep them mentally and physically stimulated, which can help to reduce their desire to roll around in their litter box. Cats are naturally curious and active animals, and they need a variety of stimulating activities to keep them engaged and prevent boredom. Providing toys such as balls, feather wands, and interactive toys, can provide a source of entertainment and help to release pent-up energy. Scratching posts can also provide an outlet for cats to express their natural scratching behavior and help to keep their claws healthy.

Another form of enrichment for cats is providing them with opportunities for hunting and foraging. This can be done by hiding treats or small toys around the house, or by using puzzle feeders that require the cat to work to get the food. This can provide an outlet for their natural predatory instincts and help to keep them mentally stimulated. Also, providing a window perch or a cat tree can give them a vantage point to observe their surroundings, which can also be an enrichment for them.

Another way to keep cats active and mentally stimulated is through interactive playtime with their owners. This can be done with a laser pointer, wand toys or even just a simple ball of paper. These activities will not only keep them physically and mentally active but also strengthen the bond between you and your cat.

Groom your cat frequently

Regularly groom your cat

Grooming your cat frequently can help to keep their coat clean, shiny, and free of any dirt and dead hair. Cats are known for their grooming routine but they can miss certain areas of their body, especially those that are hard to reach. Grooming your cat can help to remove any dirt and dead hair that they might have missed during their self-grooming routine, this will also help to reduce any strong odors from their coat.

Moreover, grooming also helps to strengthen the bond between you and your cat, as it’s an opportunity for you to spend quality time with your cat and make them feel loved and cared for. This can also help to reduce stress and anxiety in cats. It’s recommended to groom your cat at least once a week, but it can be increased to more frequently if your cat has a long coat or if they are shedding a lot.

You should use the appropriate grooming tools when grooming your cat. A metal comb or a slicker brush can be used to remove tangles and mats from long-haired cats, while a rubber brush or a mitt can be used for short-haired cats. For cats that have sensitive skin, it’s important to use a grooming tool that is gentle and won’t irritate their skin. Grooming also includes trimming your cat’s nails, cleaning their ears and brushing their teeth. All of these steps will not only help your cat look and feel better, but also help prevent any potential health problems that can arise from neglecting their grooming.

Observe your cat’s behavior

Observing your cat’s behavior and noting any changes or patterns can help you to understand why your cat is rolling around in their litter box and determine the best way to address the behavior. It’s important to pay attention to when and how often your cat is rolling around in their litter box, as well as any other changes in their behavior or habits. For example, if your cat starts rolling around in their litter box more often or for longer periods of time than usual, it may be a sign that they are experiencing discomfort or pain. If you notice any changes or patterns in your cat’s behavior, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical conditions and ensure that your cat receives proper treatment.

It’s also important to pay attention to other factors that might be contributing to the behavior, such as the type of litter you are using, the cleanliness of the litter box, and the presence of other cats in the household. Keeping a journal of your cat’s behavior, including the time and location of the behavior, can also help you to identify patterns and make changes to their environment as needed.

Conclusion

So, why is my cat rolling in the litter box? Is it dangerous and unhealthy behavior? We hope that after deeply discussing the issues we will thoroughly get to know that rolling around in the litter box is perfectly normal. Your cat rolls in the litter box because of some causes such as territorial behaviors, dust bathing, or itches.

Alternatively, they may feel stressed or uncomfortable with the litter and the box. If you notice any signs that they are suffering from any health issues, consult a vet to address and get rid of the problems. Comment in the box below if you have any further questions.

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Alix Wilson

Alix Wilson is Veterinarian at Center for Avian & Exotic Medicine. She has always had a passion and love for animals. She attended Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine for her undergraduate degree. Alix graduated from Ross in 2005. Follow me on: Linkedin

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