I have a covered litter box which I clean twice a week. When I remove the lid to clean it, my male cat jumps into it and starts using it (urinates/defecates) in front of me, while I'm trying to clean it.

This happens almost ever time. Why does he do that?

  • 3
    Could be he just really hates the cover, and will hold rather than go for as long as possible. Once you take the lid off he's almost always bursting, so will just get on with things. This could be due to lack of light, smell, it feeling cramped, or just his personality.
    – Stig Tore
    Jul 10, 2017 at 12:06
  • 2
    Did you already try to clean it daily? Does he still do it then?
    – Diether
    Jul 10, 2017 at 13:21
  • 1
    My cat also does it while I'm cleaning it. But just let him do his thing. I clean the box often so cleanliness is not an issue.
    – Joy
    Oct 29, 2020 at 19:49
  • 1
    it is a cat thing we are not suposed to understand this,all my cats have done this and i have had cats for50+ years. Sep 29, 2021 at 16:33
  • One of mine does this too. As soon as I crouch down to clean the (uncovered) box, she ducks past me and hops in to use it. And frequently, after she leaves and I start scooping again, she comes back to repeat the process. In this case, cleaning more often and taking off the lid might help, but it's possible he's just weird like mine, too.
    – Allison C
    Sep 29, 2021 at 18:17

2 Answers 2


Your cat isn't weird, a lot of cats display this behaviour. It could just be because he goes to check out what you are doing, and then boom! What a good idea, partner, let's use the litter box.

When my cat was young, she used to do this every time I cleaned the litter box, and I clean it once daily. However she stopped doing it after I started telling her "No" every time she tried to do so.

She still likes to come see me clean it every time, but she doesn't go in. She waits until I'm done then gets in. It could be due to the fact that cats know the litter box gets clean and fancy after we are finished cleaning it, and so try to make things faster by just using it already even before we are done cleaning.

I read that when a cat sees someone removing its feces, it seems weird to a cat, and the cat starts getting a little stressed or confused about it and so uses the box again to keep their feces there, I'm just not sure on which site I read that and so I'm sorry to not be able to set you a link here.

It could also be because your cat prefers an open box like @Stig Tore said. And by the way, you should consider cleaning the litter box once if not twice daily, except if it is a huge box.

  • 3
    I used to have a cat that did this too. He'd come and sit close by and watch me clean it and the second I was done and stood up he'd hop in and do his business. I always assumed he just really appreciated using a clean litter box. Cats respiratory systems are very sensitive especially to the smell of ammonia, and a clean litter box makes for a more tolerable space. Also, cats mark their territory with urine and feces, when you remove it, they're more inclined to go back n say "nope, this is still MY litter box."
    – Christy B.
    Jul 13, 2017 at 17:50
  • Yes @Christy B. That's exactly what I'm talking about. Have a thumbs up for it...or a +1 (whatever you guys call it here) Jul 13, 2017 at 18:58
  • I would not suggest ever trying to prevent a cat from using the litter box when it needs to (i.e. telling it no, which likely includes eye contact and non verbal aggression). You don't want your cat to think the litter box is wrong.
    – Zaralynda
    Jul 13, 2017 at 19:49
  • If the cat understands that ''no'' is only when some one is cleaning the litter box so why not? Jul 14, 2017 at 0:51
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    "Your cat isn't weird, lot of cats display this behaviour." Aren't all cats weird, and we like their innate weirdness?
    – C.Koca
    Oct 30, 2020 at 0:44

If the cat does it while you are cleaning it, it may mean that they want a clean litter box! If they do it while you are cleaning it, then they think you will clean what they just did and it will be clean longer... Just a though. My little one does this. I let her so I can clean it after.

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