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Why Does My Cat Kick Litter out of the Box?


In the litter box, however, a cat has very definite restrictions regarding how much he can stretch his legs and how deep of a hole he can create. The limitations of the box may cause him to dig for a longer period of time in an effort to find the perfect spot. Since he’s limited by the walls of the box and the amount of litter, he may also be more exaggerated and awkward in his covering-up motions.

If the box already contains soiled litter, the cat may keep covering because he still detects an odor no matter how hard he tries to conceal it. Additionally, the walls of the typical litter box aren’t very high so if you have a determined cat, you’re bound to have litter up and over the sides. Even covered boxes don’t necessarily reduce litter scatter if the cat has his back end aligned with the opening.

cat paws in litter box

Photo: Fotolia

Create More Room in the Litter Box

Since most traditional litter boxes aren’t big enough, I recommend purchasing a large plastic storage container. As a general guideline, the litter box size should be 1 ½ – 2x the length of your cat from tip of the nose to base of the tail. With a storage container you can also choose one with high sides to reduce litter scatter. This way, you don’t have to resort to a covered litter box. To make it easier for your cat to access the high-sided box, cut a low entryway on one end. Be sure to sand sharp edges.

Litter Maintenance

If your cat is a non-stop litter scratcher, make sure it’s not because he isn’t satisfied with the degree of odor control. Scoop the box at least twice a day. If using scoopable litter, thoroughly wash the box once or twice a month. If using non-clumping litter, wash the box weekly or as often as necessary.



If there isn’t enough litter in the box your cat will probably never feel satisfied in his covering attempt for odor control. The scant amount of litter in the box will undoubtedly end up where you don’t want it as kitty tries, in vain, to conceal waste and odor. If you’ve gone overboard with the litter amount you’ll just be inviting your cat to send half of it over the sides of the box. In general, about a  3-inch litter depth is good but customize the amount based on your particular cat’s habits and preferences.

Need More Information?

For more specific information on cat behavior and training, refer to the books by best-selling author Pam Johnson-Bennett.

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