Why is My Cat Rolling in the Litter Box?

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Why is my cat rolling in the litter box

A frequent question that we often get asked is – Why is my cat rolling in the litter box? Don’t worry, this is a perfectly normal behavior arising from a variety of reasons. Although humans see cat litter as very dirty and unsanitary, rolling around in the litter box is quite normal for our little felines. As long as the litter box is kept clean, this behavior isn’t unhealthy. To learn more about why your cat is going crazy in its litter, stay tuned because we will cover this issue in depth and discuss a little about cat psychology, also we will show you what you can do about it.

Why is my cat rolling in the litter box?

There’s no definitive answer to why a cat rolling in the litter box, if you want to get to the bottom of the problem, you have to observe your cat’s behavior and look for the signs of why he is doing it. Below are the most common reasons that you need to know:

They are marking their territory

cat rolling in the litter box

In case you were unaware, cats have special glands on their cheeks, paws, and flanks, which give out various pheromones – a substance that can affect the physiology of or trigger a response from a member of the same species. When a cat rolls around in the litter box and rubs his head against the dust, he is releasing pheromones. While humans cannot notice them, other cats can, they use pheromones to communicate and mark their territory. Especially for a multi-cat household, where cats will scent mark to compete with others for access to the same litter box.

Also, any unexpected changes in routine, from small to bigger ones, such as the arrival of a new pet, or a new family member, moving house, or just moving the location of the litter box can cause stress to our little friends. In these cases, cats feel like their homes are being challenged, so they might be establishing their territory by rolling around in the litter box to leave scents, and telling other cats to back off.

To avoid this dilemma, you may want to provide each cat with his own litter box, and one plus extra. So, they will not have to combat sending out the message telling other cats that he owns the location anymore. Moreover, when adult cats are ready to mate, they also omit relatively strong pheromones by rolling on the ground, whether it’s in the grass, soil, or cat litter. No matter what the reason is, it’s quite a normal behavior that you don’t need to panic about.

They feel scared

cat rolling in the litter box

As you may know, cats seem to be very calm and relaxed but in fact, they are prone to anxiety and stress just like humans. As we have mentioned earlier, any small changes in their daily routine or a lot of loud noise may cause their anxiety level to rise up.
One of their first reactions must be to escape and retreat to their most private space – their litter tray. Our four-legged friends might feel like the litter box is the only thing in the world that belongs to them. It is a safe place where they can hide and not be bothered by anyone.

They have a medical issue

When your cat isn’t using the litter box, it can be a sign of skin irritation or allergy, or it might be something more serious. Some medical problems such as urinary tract disorders, kidney stones and feline idiopathic can interrupt your cat’s flow – he might feel the need to pee but nothing’s happening.

If you find your cat rolling around in the litter box and meowing, it could be that they are in pain and trying to relieve itself. In that case, the thing you need to do immediately is to get your cat to the vet to be checked and ruled out any health problems.

They are dust bathing

dust bathing

Dust bathing is an instinctive activity in which outdoor cats engage when they are in the wild. Cats love to roll around on uneven surfaces to remove excess fur and bacteria that make them itchy and dirty. In case they are unable to go outside, they will use cat litter to scratch an itch instead.

The fine-grained stone texture of cat litter helps to soothe kitties when they are excessively itchy. Just like humans, cats are in need of a good back scratch sometimes, that’s why you will find your big boy rubbing his back against particles in the litter tray. Regular grooming your cat’s fur can ease the problem, but some cats prefer rolling around the litter box instead of being brushed.

Cat Litter type

When your cats fall in love with the litter’s texture and smell, they will want to cover themselves in it. Some certain cat litters have cat attract additives (herbal), designed to encourage cats to urinate and defecate inside the box. This minimizes cats jumping out of the litter tray since it makes them feel comfortable and relaxed with the litter.

As a result, cats love to spend time rolling around and playing in their own place.

Litter Box type

Another reason for your cat’s lousy litter box behavior could be the matter of size and style of the cat box. Your Tom may find it ideal to roll inside a large and open litter box because it provides him a spacious and welcoming space to sit in and play.

Sometimes, your little felines may be too keen on the litter box when spending excessive time inside their own private area. If so, you should consider switching to another type of litter box.

Combating Fleas, Ticks, & Parasites

Sometimes you’ll catch kittens or adult cats rolling in the litter box to simply relieve an itch because of fleas, ticks, or parasites. Since most cats are not fond of water, you may find soothing their skin via baths very difficult. Instead, they love to rub their backs against grainy textures like kitty litter or concrete to remove bugs from their fur.

While rolling around is not a sign of anything dangerous, when you see your cat keeps doing it, is there anything to worried about? The short answer is no, it’s just an ordinary way in which your cat is showing his positive emotional reactions. But why does your kitty keep rolling around? We will look through some common reasons below:

Why does my cat keep rolling around in the litter box?

The simplest cause behind your cat keeps rolling around in the litter box is to be happy. Cats sometimes just roll around to indicate that they want to play and spend time with you. It could also be likely that in the past you positively fortified this habitual behavior by laughing, praising, and petting your cats when you first saw them rolling. As a result, they will take this as a compliment and keep doing it to receive responses from you.

Regardless of the reason, rolling in the litter box is nowhere near harmful to your little felines. But if you find it disturbing, there are some easy measures you could take to stop your cat from rolling around.

How do you stop cats rolling in the litter box?

The first thing you can do to stop cats rolling in the litter box is to change the litter type that your little friends are falling in love with. This becomes especially useful if he likes dust-bathing in it. There are several types of litter available out there, so you have a lot of choices available.

The high chance is that the cat litter being used is so fine, causing your cat loves to play in it. Consider switching to one that is coarse or something less attractive. For example, if you are using pellet litter, change it to sandy litter. Try a litter that doesn’t give off a lot of dust.

Ensure to make the change slowly as you will not want your cat to protest or avoid using the litter box.
Switch the litter box size

Large open litter boxes are perfect for rolling around because your cat has enough room to relax and go crazy inside. Hence, it could be a great idea to buy a smaller one to keep them from being too playful. A covered litter box also helps to stop the situation. I placed the old litter box next to the new one for at least two weeks until my cat adapted to it. I found no problems switching slowly to the new type.

However, one thing you should keep in mind is that this may mean you will have to clean the litter box more often. Small and closed litter boxes could be helpful in this case but they will trap the scents inside the box. When the smells start to become too strong, your cats may avoid using their restroom and relieve themselves elsewhere. This could be the worst-case scenario that not one cat parent wants to be in. So, clean more often to ensure that your kitties will be using it.

Brushing them on a regular

Also, help your cat reduce skin irritation by brushing them on a regular basis. Grooming your cats not only removes dirt and debris from their coat but also eliminates dead skin cells and stimulates blood circulation. Even if cats are good groomers, regular brushing sessions will keep your cats from ingesting loose hair through self-grooming.

Spends time outdoors

If you live in a house with a garden and you have time to take your beloved kitties outside, then this is something you should try out. Let your cats rub themselves on the dusty soil instead of the kitty litter.

This will not only satisfy their need to roll but also serve to remove any dirt, debris, or bacteria from their coat. Accordingly, you will find your cat’s hair softer and cleaner thanks to frequent dust baths. All you need to do is introduce them to a safe spot and they will know what to do from there.

Use scent markers around the home

While you can’t keep sent-marking acts at bay, you can stop some less desirable behaviors by scattering extra scent markers around your house. The good news is that adding your cat’s scent throughout the house will serve to give him more confidence. Thus it will tone down your cat rolling around to release special smells to mark their own territory.


Is it normal for cats to roll in their litter box?

Luckily, it’s normal behavior for cats to roll in their litter box. As long as you keep the litter box clean, there’s nothing to worry about it.
If your felines seem distraught while rubbing their backs against the dust, take them to the vet as soon as possible to make sure they are not struggling with fleas or parasites or even worse, suffering from any medical problems. Keep a watchful eye on your little friends as the vet may not outright tell you when something happens.


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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