How to Train Your Kitten To Use a Litter Box
Author: Maryann Taylor
If you’ve just brought home a new little kitten, training him/her to use the litter box is a question that will be foremost on your mind. Though let us tell you that training a kitten to use a litter box is a fairly simple process. Cats are very clean animals by nature and most kittens would have already learned to use the litter box observing their mother do the same. Even if a kitten has not observed another cat using a litter box, they are usually guided by their very strong instinct for cleanliness and will know that they need to eliminate and cover their waste in a litter box. But in case you, or your new kitty need some help with litter box training, here are a few ways you can go about it.
You will need to start with buying a good, sturdy litter box. It is a good practice to have one extra litter box per cat, so if you have one cat you will ideally need two litter boxes. Place the litter boxes in an area that is easy for your kitten to access, while offering seclusion. Cats like privacy while using their litter boxes so if you place the litter box in an exposed area your kitten may shy away from using their litter box.
Once you’ve got the litter boxes ready, you’ll need to fill it with good quality cat litter. There are many varieties of cat litter, ranging from cheaper non-clumping litter, to more expensive eco-friendly options. Though cats in general aren’t very particular about the kind of litter in their boxes, some may not like litter that has a strange texture, or smell. Your best bet would be to invest in a basic, unscented, clumping cat litter to get your kitten started.
What you will also need is a plastic scoop to scoop up their waste once your cat has finished using their litter box for the day.
A good idea to encourage regular litter box habits in the beginning is by rewarding your kitty with their favourite cat treat, or a bit of dry food. This will help them with a positive association with using their litter box. Once your cat starts using their litter box regularly, you can gradually start weaning them off the treats.
Begin by showing your kitten the litter box as soon as you bring them home. Place your kitten in the litter box. Let them sniff around and get familiar with it. Once you’ve introduced your kitten to the litter box, avoid moving it around, or you will end up confusing him/her.
Start with placing your kitten in the litter box immediately after a meal, or after a nap. In the initial few days, it is advised to keep a close eye on your kitten and watch out for signs that indicate that they may need to use the litter box. This includes them crouching around, or sniffing in a corner. If you notice this happening, immediately pick them up and gently place them in their litter box.
While we encourage you to reward your kitten for marinating good litter box habits, don’t punish, or shout at them if they end up soiling outside the litter box. This will only scare them away from using the litter box. As opposed to dogs, cats do not associate punishment with the incident, and punishing them won’t help them not repeat the incident in the future.
Cleaning and Maintaining a Litter Box
To ensure your kitten uses their litter box regularly, you will need to clean it every day. This helps get rid of odour emission from the litter box, and also makes using the litter box a pleasant experience for your kitten. Always remember that cats are very clean animals, and will never use a dirty litter box.
Cleaning the litter box involves using a plastic scoop to remove your kitten’s deposits. Top up the amount of litter in the box every few days, as cats are prone to burying, and covering their waste. Discard the litter every few weeks and thoroughly clean the litter box using water and a mild soap, or white vinegar. It is not recommended to use bleach, or other chemicals to clean the litter box as they may harm your cat.
Important Things to Keep in Mind
If your kitten refuses to use the litter box even after weeks of litter training, there may be a problem with the shape, or size of the litter box, the brand of litter you’re using, or even the location of the box. Some cats find covered litter boxes confining, while others prefer concealed litter boxes for privacy. The reason could also be as simple as you having to scoop the litter box more often. You will need to give your kitten some time, while trying various combinations of the size of the litter box, kind of litter, or location, to see what works best for your kitty.
Another important point to keep in mind is that cats who have not been spayed/neutered have a tendency to spray urine around the house to mark their territory, even if they have been litter box trained. To prevent this from happening, we strongly advise you to get your kitten spayed/neutered as early as possible. Your vet will be able to tell you the best age at which your kitten can be spayed/neutered.
If your kitten has been using the litter box regularly and then suddenly stops, this may signify an underlying health condition and you must take your kitten to the vet at the earliest. There are many factors that make a cat suddenly stop using the litter box. A few causes can be stress, anxiety, or even a urinary tract infection which can be a very serious health condition if left untreated.
We hope you are now completely ready to litter train your kitten, and we wish you a happy and purrfect life ahead with your new little fur ball.