Why Cats scratch Litter Box Excessively and How to Handle it?

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Why is my cat scratching the litter box excessively?

Is your cat scratching the litter box excessively? Thus, your house is now in a mess and seems to be unhygienic with the litter scattering around. Still, you do not know what is happening to your cats. Is this a normal behavior or a health problem?

If you are in such situations, then you are landing on the right page. Let’s continue with our article today to understand more about the cat behaviors!

But before going into the solutions, we should know the reasons why your cats do so!

Why is my cat scratching the litter box excessively?

Behavior Problems

Behavior Problems

Marking the Territory

Cats are a territorial species, and they are completely aware of their territory. If they feel they have to protect their belongings, they will use the pheromones on their paws as a way to mark their area.

For example, when it comes to food, they will dig around to lay claim on what is theirs. However, sometimes, to avoid confrontation, they will bury their wastes to hide the scents as a signal of not challenging the largest cats.

Keeping Paws Healthy

Normally, the underside surface of the cat’s paws can be hard, and thus, they have the intention of scratching or swiping at something to wear away the old outside husks in order to let the new mails emerge. To deal with this problem, you can install some scratching posts around the house for destructive scratching prevention.

Also, the clumping litter can get stuck in the paws, making them uncomfortable and hurt, especially for long-haired cats with a lot of fur on the bottom. You can easily detect this by taking a closer look when your cat is scratching. If you see any litter dropping off the paws, then they are removing the clinging litter.

In this case, you should not declaw your cat as this may cause many more problems. Instead, you can change to a finer litter to make it easier for cats to declaw.

Communication with Fellow Housemates

If your house has more than one cat, then the scratching of the paws shows that he or she is trying to communicate with the fellow housemates. As in the cat paws, there are scent glands, by scratching, they are leaving the scent to let other felines know about their existence.

Litter Box-related Problems

Small litter box
If there is nothing wrong with your cat’s behavior, then the cat scratching the litter box excessively may be related to the litter box itself

Dirty Litter Box

To be more specific, the litter box can be too dirty for your cat to feel happy. It may give off some unpleasant smells, and hence, what you need to do is to replace the litter every couple of weeks. Also, you should clean the litter box thoroughly with warm water and vinegar at least once a month.

Litter Box is not big enough

Besides, another clearly seen problem is that the litter box is not big enough. Cats love a spacious area, but when the litter box is small, there is a possibility of their digging the litter and scraping it. This will produce bad odors and make your cats feel uncomfortable.

Not Enough Litter

Not Enough Litter

But even when you have already cleaned the litter box and provided an extra-large one, your cat is still scratching. Then, there is not enough litter in the box. It is their instinct to cover the nasty poop until there is no smell left. Thus, obviously, the box not having enough litter is the reason why your cat is scratching the sides of the box.

To cope with all these litter box-related problems, you can pick an extra-large or jumbo litter box with more than a 3-inch litter layer in the box. You should clean it regularly, too.

Litter box not in a calm and private location

Can I put two litter boxes next to each other

Cats prefer privacy and a high-traffic area like living rooms is not a good choice. Also, please do not place the litter box next to or close to where they eat. Therefore, a quiet place like washing rooms is the most ideal.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to stop cats from playing in the litter box?

Sometimes you may find that cats keep playing in the litter box, especially the kittens. But is it normal for kittens to play in the litter box? Yes, it is. Don’t worry too much! The kittens are just ‘practicing’ and they love the feeling when digging.

But when it comes to mature cats, is cat digging in the litter box for no reason? No, they are not. This may be a sign of a mental problem. They are trying to cower themself in the litter box, where there is their remaining smell which makes them feel safe.

At that time, for mature cats who have mental problems, you can take them to the vet for consultation. As for kittens, a toy for distraction is a good answer to the question of how to stop cats from playing in the litter box.

You can see how cats dig in the litter box and how to deal with that problem here:

Why do cats stare at the litter box?

This problem is related to the claim of territory. If you see your cat staring at the litter box, another feline may have used her/ his litter box. There is also a possibility that the box is not clean enough. Thus, please clean the litter box regularly and you will understand why cats use the litter box after you clean it.

Why does my cat scratch the floor around the litter box?

As stated above, the cat scratching the floor like a litter box means they are making a complaint about the litter box. Maybe it is dirty or too small or there is not enough litter in the box. That is why the owners should check the litter box regularly, especially when the cats want to use it.


In short, each behavior of cats has its own meanings. Cat scratching litter box excessively can be attributed to:

  1. Their behaviors
  2. The litter box
  3. The position

Thus, when there are any of the above problems, you can check the litter box first to see if it is clean and has enough litter or not. Then, clean the litter box thoroughly. And finally, if the two first steps do not work, please take your cat to the vet.

Hopefully, with our article today, you can understand more about your cats and their behaviors about cat scratching litter box excessively.