Why does my cat use his litter box right after I’ve cleaned it?
I asked myself this very question every day before I finally figured out the answer!
Since you’re here, I’m assuming you’d like to know what it is, right?
Let’s find out the secret behind this weird cat behavior!
Why Does My Cat Use His Litter Box Right After I’ve Cleaned It?
Have you heard of Occam’s Razor? It goes, “when explaining a thing no more assumptions should be made than are necessary.”
I bring it up because the answer to “Why does my cat use his litter box right after I’ve cleaned it?” is a real Occam’s Razor deal.
We’ll start with that obvious answer, then look one other intriguing possibility.
1. The Obvious Answer- He Just Prefers a Clean Box
The answer is probably exactly what you think it is- because it’s all fresh and squeaky-clean. Seriously, it’s that simple and that obvious.
Just like humans, cats prefer to do their business someplace clean.
Let’s play a somewhat gross game of “would you rather,” as I think it’ll help you understand your cat’s behavior and how it isn’t much different than your own.
Imagine you find yourself in a public bathroom. You have two stall choices. In the first stall (let’s call it A) some inconsiderate prat forgot to flush, and boy does it stink!
In stall B, you find a pristine toilet that looks like it’s ever been used. Which do you choose?
I’m willing to bet cold hard cash (but not much, because I’m kind of broke) that you’d go with Stall B!
That, my friends, is pretty much why your cat prefers to use his litter box RIGHT AFTER you’ve cleaned. It’s squeaky clean and doesn’t stink!
Okay, now let’s look at the other potential reasons.
2. Your Thieving Ways are Stressing Him Out
I came across this answer over on StackExchange, so it’s not exactly from an authoritative site, but it really does make sense if you think about it.
The respondent wrote:
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.
Basically, your cat is freaked out by the fact that you just stole his poop right out from his “this is where I mark my territory” spot.
The nerve of you, to clean up all evidence that he’s staked his claim on that box!
There is actually some evidence to back up this theory. Cats are territorial creatures in general, so it makes sense that they want to re-stake their claim ASAP.
3. A Clean Box is Easier on His Delicate Respiratory System
Another possibility- he’s just really happy that he can pee without feeling like his little kitty lungs are about to implode.
Cat urine, as I’m sure you know (or can smell for yourself) contains ammonia.
Not only is excess ammonia damaging to your own respiratory system, but it can also wreak havoc on your kitty’s more sensitive lungs.
According to the Cat Clinic in Plymouth, “ammonia has a very high VOC [volatile organic compound], burns mucous membranes and contributes to asthma.”
So it makes sense that your cat would prefer to use a clean litter box versus one that’s so full of pee, it burns his eyes, nose, and throat.
A Clean Litter Box is Just Plain Better for Your Cat’s Health
Along with protecting your cat’s sensitive lungs, a clean litter box also helps keep your cat’s urinary tract healthy.
Related: Fleas In Litter Box
First- and perhaps most importantly- it can help prevent the Feline Urethral Obstruction (FUO), a potentially fatal condition.
It can also prevent Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease, FUO’s slightly less dangerous (but still worrisome) cousin.
See, the more often you clean it out that box, the more likely you are to notice signs of these diseases, such as crystals in your cat’s urine.
As with all disease, the earlier you seek treatment, the better the prognosis.
Plus, both of these diseases can arise from your cat holding his urine because he doesn’t want to use a gross box.
The TL;DR Conclusion
In short, why does my cat use his litter box right after I’ve cleaned it?
The other answers are intriguing and definitely possible, but really, it comes down to the simplest answer.
Your cat just plain prefers a clean box.
Honestly, though, until our kitties finally figure out how to teach us “meowlish,” this is all just supposition.
We have no real way of knowing what our cats are thinking, we can only make educated guesses.