Why does my cat sleep in the litterbox?

My mom adopted a 2 year old cat 4 days ago. Since she adopted the cat it stays in its litterbox 24/7 and hardly eats. The cat has been to the vet and has no medical issues. Today she bough a 2 level tower so the cat could be up away from the dog but could also hide. The cat slept in the tower for most of the day but then came out and went to the litterbox and started to sleep in there again. My mom is worried that the cat will never come out of the litterbox. When it's not sleeping in the litterbox it climbs into a small kitchen drawer and gets stuck because it is a large cat (20 lbs). Will this cat ever stop sleeping in it's litterbox and is there anything she can do to help? The cat doesn't mind the dog, It will willingly sit in your lap with dog right next to it and let the dog sniff it without reaction. So we don't believe that has anything to do with it. Any advice or help will be greatly appreciated.

Asked by Member 993733 on Jun 22nd 2010 in Other Behavior & Training
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Izadore (Izzie)

Adopting an adult cat is a much more involved thing than adopting a kitten. An adult has a "life history" where a kitten probably does not. Whether the cat lived in a shelter, foster home or was an owner-surrender, it did have a life before it came to your mom. Because the cat has memories, either good or bad, of its previous life, it will take much longer than 4 days for it to become accustomed to its life with your mom. For all it knows, this could also be a temporary situaton. The cat obviously likes small, confined spaces which make it feel safe. Laying in the litter box is not unusual for a cat who is not sure of its situation. Your mother must go about socializing her cat slowly. A soft voice, some gentle playtimes with a feather teaser, keeping an eye on the dog so no issues develop and asking friends/family to treat him/her the same way. Eventually, when the cat trusts its situation and your mother, it will begin to come out more. Patience and understanding are the way to go!

Izadore (Izzie) answered on 6/23/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


True, almost all cats have an affinity for small, tight spaces, because it makes them feel protected and unseen by anyone/anything that could hurt them. In the same vein, human babies get wrapped up in blankets like a burrito because they like the feeling of being snuggled in a small space; this is the same behavior mechanism in cats.

I have seen LOTS of shelter cats sleep or just hang out in their litter box while at the shelter or pound. They are so freaked out about being in "jail" that the litter box seems to them like it's the only place they can hide. To this kitty, 4 days is not a long enough time to start trusting his environment. As he's still getting to know the household and his surroundings, he will sporadically find snug places to hide when he's feeling vulnerable.

Something that works well with cats are these cardboard houses they can hide out in. You can make your own out of a box. Go to and click on the "Gifts That Give More" link to see one.

Merriweather answered on 6/30/10. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer