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November 11, 2018 |0 min read |Veterinarian Reviewed

Help! My Cat Won’t Stop Kicking Cat Litter Everywhere!

Written by

Sharilyn Vera

You've just cleaned the litter box for your kitty. It's all fresh and free of the litter box smell, and if you've got a quality crystal based cat litter, you shouldn't need to clean it fully for several weeks. Your feline friend cat decides they need to use it right now, of course. They daintily do their business and... oh no! They're kicking like mad, your cat makes a mess in the litter box, sending kitty litter flying all over the floor. All your hard work, is ruined and you see kitty litter scattered everywhere. Well, it's not just you or your cat. As you go to type in "cat digging in litter box" in your search bar, you'll find that this is a really common thing that messy cats do. But why? And what can you do about the litter tracking?

Why is my cat kicking their fresh litter everywhere?

Your kitten might look like they're joyfully kicking cat litter, just to make more hard work for you, but actually, they're digging into the litter tray. This is because they have a natural instinct to cover their poop and pee using the cat litter dust. Cats are very clean creatures, and this ties somewhat into that type of cat behavior, but there's a more primal reason too. Cat feces and urine contain pheromones, which cats use to mark their territory. If you have ever questioned, “how territorial are cats?”, the answer is - very territorial. In the wild, smaller cats would bury their feces to indicate that they acknowledged the dominance of larger predators. When your kitten is trying to bury their poop, they are saying, "You're the boss human, and I know it." So annoying as it may be as a cat owner, take it as a compliment!

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Does the type of litterbox make a difference?

It can. If your cat’s litter box is too small, your kitty may be uncomfortable and turn around and around looking for a good spot to go in. A small litter box also means that when the cat does dig, there's nowhere for the kitty litter mess to go except on the floor, creating another litter box problem. It also helps if the litter box has high sides, as these will catch some of the cat litter that is thrown around.

One of many litter box cleaning hacks, a simple answer to the problem is to get a larger litter box with a hood, which is like a separate room for your cat to go in. Whatever litter box type you use, always make sure to put in the right amount of cat litter. Too much, and you eliminate the benefits of a box with higher sides. Too little, and your cat doesn't have enough to absorb their urine or cover their litter mess (such as solids).

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What else can I do to keep the cat litter in the litterbox?

Remove solids with a litter scoop as soon as you see them, as cats will paw around the litter tray looking for a clean spot to use, which might mean additional digging and more cat litter on the floor. For clay based litter or pine cat litter, you’ll also need to scoop the urine soaked litter out regularly. Cats might keep digging if they can smell their ‘business’ because they don’t feel they have hidden it enough. This is why it can be really helpful to buy a cat litter that fights odor. By using an odor free cat litter, you’re actually helping your cat mask the smell of their own waste, which reduces their instinct to keep burying it. Silica Gel based litter such as PrettyLitter can be beneficial, as it absorbs then eliminates odors.

Some large cats are just more into digging than others, but with our tips, you might be able to encourage them to keep a bit more cat litter in the litter box, rather than all over your floor. Have you got a cat that digs and kicks cat litter? How do you deal with it? Let us know in the comments!


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Written by

Sharilyn Vera

Sharilyn is a proud cat owner, long time storyteller and researcher. Her work spans beloved podcasts, television shows, media outlets, and independent documentaries. She likes to strike a balance between education and comedy, which you can hopefully tell when you read her articles!

Veterinarian-Reviewed by

Sara Ochoa

Sara Ochoa, DVM graduated from St. George's University Veterinary School in 2015. Since then, she has been at a small and exotic animal practice in Texas. In her free time, she loves making quilts and spending time with her husband Greg and their 4 fur kids. Two dogs, Ruby a schnoodle, and Bug a Japanese Chin, one cat named OJ and a leopard tortoise named Monkey.