Kneading blankets and bedding, cozying up in cardboard boxes, scratching furniture and wall… if you’re a cat owner, you’re well aware of the many quirky feline habits and behaviors. One particularly annoying habit: scattering litter all over the place!
Lots of cats tend to kick litter out of their litter box, which can lead to tracking litter all over the house. If the vacuum cleaner has become your best friend since getting a cat, you may be looking for some ways to kick your cat’s litter-kicking habit.
Understanding Your Cat’s Bathroom Behavior
When it comes to understanding your cat’s quirky antics, it’s important to understand her instincts. You may feel like you’re the only pet owner whose home is seemingly surrounded by cat litter, but this isn’t necessarily true.
When your cat goes to the bathroom, she’ll typically do the following:
- Inspect the litter to see if it’s up to her standards (some cats are VERY picky).
- Dig around until she finds a clean spot to do her business.
- Dig a shallow hole in the chosen spot.
- Eliminate in the hole.
- Cover up the evidence with surrounding litter.
The way she covers up that evidence, of course, is through that dreaded kicking behavior.
Since kicking to cover up urine and feces is an instinct, it’s not exactly a bad habit that needs to be reversed. Instead, it’s our job as pet owners to figure out a way to keep the kicking contained to the litter box while also keeping our kitties happy and healthy.
Why Do Cats Kick Litter Out of the Box?
Before you assume that kicking litter out of the litter box is an act of rebellion, you’ll want to assess a few other factors, first.
If your cat is kicking litter outside of her box like it’s confetti, it might be because:
The litter box is too small.
Your cat’s litter box should be large enough that she can comfortably fit inside, turn around in all directions, and dig to her heart’s content. When she digs, you don’t want that litter to end up flying out of the box.
Instead of trying to get your cat to stop digging and kicking up litter, you may need to invest in a bigger litter box.
The litter box is too shallow.
You could get your cat a fancy new litter box that’s twice the size of her old one, but if the sides are too low, that litter-kicking problem still isn’t going anywhere.
If your cat is an exceptionally enthusiastic digger and kicker, or if she tends to do her business near the sides of the litter box, you may need to look into a deeper box with taller sides.
There’s too much litter.
Even the largest, deepest litter box can still pose problems if you’re filling it with too much kitty litter. After all, your cat isn’t going to be sitting any deeper than that top layer.
A layer of litter should generally be between 2-4 inches deep: deep enough that your kitty can dig and kick as needed, but shallow enough that there’s plenty of space for it to fly around without leaving the box.
There’s not enough litter.
When there’s not enough litter to cover up the waste, your kitty is just going to try even harder to make it work.
If your cat has ever had a bathroom accident on the floor or in her travel crate, you may have noticed frantic kicking at the air in an attempt to cover up her mess. Remember, covering waste is an instinct in order to hide from predators. Whether there’s enough litter or not, your cat is still going to try!
The litter needs to be changed.
Remember what we said about cats being picky? If the litter isn’t clean enough, your kitty will probably do even more digging as she searches for a clean spot to do her business, inadvertently kicking more litter outside of the box.
Plus, if the litter is dirty, it’s more likely to cling to your cat’s paws, resulting in litter being tracked all over the house.
Think Outside the Box: How to Keep Litter Contained
As frustrating as it may be, you should never punish your cat for her natural behavior. Instead, think about why your cat is doing what she’s doing, and how to address it accordingly.
For some, this may mean switching to a larger litter box; a large storage bin could do the trick. Opting for a box with a cover offers even more protection against rogue litter, and it offers more privacy for your cat.
It’s also good to clean your cat’s litter box as close to daily as possible. It helps to set a routine so it becomes muscle memory—for example, make scooping out the litter box the first thing you do when you get home from work.
Because digging can be a way of testing out litter, it may also take some trial and error to find the right litter for your cat. There are several options to choose from, each with its own perks, but remember to consider your kitty’s preferences too!