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Cat Scratches Side of Litter Box – Reasons and Solutions

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Why does my cat scratch the sides of the litter box? It can be because of biological instinct, or because of stress and anxiety, or it could be that she is trying to communicate through that!

Well, there are various reasons when the cat scratches side of litter box. I am pretty sure, just like many cat owners, you are also fed up with this screeching sound. But, fail to know the reason behind it!

Well, not anymore. All your problems are now solved. In this article, we have jotted down multiple reasons why does my cat scratch the litter box? You can go through the pointers and know your reason know!

why does my cat scratch the sides of the litter box

Why Does My Cat Scratch the Sides of the Litter Box?

Your cat can be marking her territory by scratching the side of her litter box. Many times, Cat scratches side of litter box when there is not enough litter to cover their waste as they are looking for a more material to cover their waste.

Well, there is a variety of reasons cat scratches the sides of the litter box!

You can scroll more to know more!

1. Biological Instinct

To keep themselves safe from other animals and predators, cat’s relatives used to hide by covering their feces as predators use their smelling sense to catch their prey. Wild cats help themselves by covering their toilet after doing the business.

Cat’s urine has a distinct pungent smell that can be easily detected. Cats bury their waste to make it harder for large cats to trace them. Thus, one reason why a cat scratches the side of the litter box is to hide its pheromones.

Cat’s have a habit of marking their territory to show their dominance. Especially in the case of food, they will use their pheromones to mark the territory. Similarly, they also pee and poo outside to enclose their territory. Due to which they have to cover their waste to keep themselves concealed and safe from other predators.

2. Behavior Problem

Sometimes due to behavior issues cat scratches the side of the litter box.

cat scratches litter box

1. Kitten Loves Playing

If your cat is younger, she finds her surroundings interesting. They are curious, and they keep on exploring, searching in their environment. It’s fun for them.

Kitten scratching litter boxes can also be because of this. When they use the litter tray, they may get excited while covering their feces with litter. Thus, they end up scratching the sides of the litter boxes extremely.

2. Tension and Anxiety

Cat scratching litter box excessively is common if she is under stress or emotional breakdown. It’s normal for a cat to show their stressful situation in unusual behavior. Kitty doesn’t prefer any change also. Change in her surrounding can trigger her. Due to which she can also undergo depression!

Like if you have recently adopted a pet or new kitty, or moved her litter box to a new area, or if you have moved to a new home. These all factors can affect her because she wants attention and also want privacy while doing bathroom business.

Some indicators of excessive scratching in cats are diarrhea, weight loss or weight gain, not eating sufficient food.

If a cat scratches the side of the litter box excessively then, you should keep a check on her. And take the necessary step to aid the situation. Contact your vet and work upon the issue. You can stop the cat digging in the litter box by offering her scratching posts to release her stress.

3. Is It a Sign of Communication?

You have to observe that if only a single cat is scratching the litter box or others are doing it too?

Well in case, if both the cat digs excessively in the litter box, then they are trying to communicate. Felines scratch their litter tray to tell other cats that she is using the box at present or she has used the litter box.

Cat excessive digging in the litter boxes is their way of cat communication!

When a cat scratches the side of the litter box, the scent glands present in its paws leave the smell, which passes the message of cats showing their existence.

Cats also use their scent glands to claim the litter box as their possession. If this happens, then you can get one litter box per cat. This will bring harmony among all the cats.

Hold on! There are other reasons too. Don’t leave the post here! Scroll more to know more!

3. Litter Box is Filthy

A cat might be scratching the sides of the walls if the box is filthy!

dirty litter box

If your cats’ litter box isn’t clean, she may get overwhelmed by the scent of the litter box. And thus, she will excessively cover her feces.

If your cat keeps digging in the litter box, then this can be because her litter box is often dirty. And, As you know, cats like their surrounding to be very clean and tidy.

Due to busy schedule if you are not able to clean your kitty’s litter regularly. Then large self-cleaning litter box is an appropriate choice for you.

As a result, if it is not clean, they will tend to scratch the side of the wall. Therefore, to avoid such conditions and to make your cat use the bathroom, make sure to clean the litter box properly with lukewarm water and soap. Scooping out the used litter at least once a day or every few weeks will also work. It will remove the smell from the litter box.

4. Inappropriate Size of the Box

If the litter box is smaller, this can also be a reason why does my cat scratches the litter box walls.

Well, kittens like their litter boxes to be smaller, but for big cats, it won’t be appropriate. All cats need an open and easy-to-use litter box. Where they can get room to do the business, closed litter boxes are hard to use, cats don’t prefer doing their toilet business in that. Also, as it is not accessible easily, there are higher chances of misshapen.

If you have got an uncomfortable litter box for your cat, then you will see she will keep on scratching the walls of the litter box, scratch the floor because she can’t fit inside that.

Yes, it’s true cats do have a preference for litter boxes too! Although we may not find any difference and like to get covered litter box as it helps to hinder the smell. But, the cat may not like using it.

Well, choosing a litter box according to cats is a kind of error and trial task! But, once you know what they like, it’s worth it! You can buy an extra-large cat litter box if your kitty is huge in size or choose a small litter box if she is little.

5. Litter Glued to Her Paws

Excessive scratching of the litter box helps cats to prevent the cat litter from sticking to their paws.

litter stuck in cat paws

Clumping cat litter is the best; it is easy to clean and maintain. But, it may not be good for your cat’s paws. Well, it is because the particles of clumping litter stick a lot to their paws. Thus, your cat does box scratching.

If you are parenting multiple cats then check out this best clumping cat litter for multiple cats available on the market.

Glued litter in her paw while covering the solid waste will make her feel uncomfortable. She tries to remove from her little toe by scratching the sides of the litter box.

This is likely to happen more with cats who have long or medium hair and huge fur on their paws. You can trim their paw’s hair regularly and can also get the low-tracking litter to keep your cat’s claws happy. And determine the right amount of fresh litter that she likes because it does matter!

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Before We Go!

Cat scratches the side of the litter box to keep their paws healthy, they scratch to avoid clumping litter gets stuck in between their little toes, and there is various reason to it.

Would you like to know why does my cat scratch the sides of the litter box? Then read this article. In this, we have covered the list of why a cat does that.

We have also mentioned how to prevent such situations too! Do give it a read, and if you know any other reason or have tips and ideas, then feel free to comment down below!


  1. Kitty scratching sides of litter box – CatForum
  2. Cats: Destructive scratching – The Humane Society of the United States
  3. Cat Scratch Disease – Kids Health

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