Training a kitten to use a litter box is an easy task. In most cases, special “training” is actually not necessary, if you provide an appropriate litter box, because cats naturally love burying their feces and urine.
Appropriate litter box, however, means not only buying a good one, but also placing it in a correct position and filling it with a litter suitable for kittens. If it still does not help, and your kitten does not get the idea of using a litter box, small encouraging from your side might be necessary. How? Read below:
PLEASE NOTE: If your cat has litter box issues, it does not necessarily mean he’s not trained properly and it might be a good idea to check other reasons why your cat possibly avoids his box.
- Get an appropriate litter box. Kittens usually prefer litter box with shallow edges for easier access. Normal sized litter box should be chosen as too large ones might scare the kitten off. Also, most kittens prefer uncovered litter boxes. You may get one with cover, but put it on after the kitten is trained to use the litter box.
- Make the litter box accessible. This does not mean only open doors to a place where the box is. In most cases, litter box must be in a same room where kitten spends the most time. Later, when the kitten has got used to litter box, it may be gradually placed in a desired location. However, litter box should not be placed in a too crowded, too distant place, near cat food or near loud home appliances that may scare the kitten off. If home has other cats or pets, make sure kitten is comfortable crossing his way with them. If not, place a litter box so he does not need to meet unfriendly pets for a litter box visit. Read more about cat litter box placement here.
- Appropriate litter. Best preferences for kittens might be absorbing clay or silica litter. Clumping litter might not be a good choice, as kittens tend examine litter by tasting it. If your new kitten has used a litter box in his previous home, the same type and even brand of litter is recommended. Later on you may switch to other type gradually.
- Place your kitten in the litter box. Kittens usually relieve right after sleeping, eating and playing. Place him in a litter box at those crucial times. Also, do it whenever your kitten appears to seek a place to relieve. If an accident happens, place him in a litter box, as well, but do not punish. However if you are mad and angry, stop being so right after you place a kitten in the litter box. You don’t want him to associate punishing with the box.
- Make associations between elimination and litter box. First association should be made by digging the litter. Most kittens are doing it themselves, however, if he does not, you may show him by doing it yourself. Or take his forepaws in your hands and move them simulating digging. Also, kittens identify an elimination spot by smell. Placing a stool or a small amount of urine in a litter box may encourage this association.
- Clean the litter box. Despite the belief, that dumping the whole litter box weekly, is good enough cleaning, litter box must be scooped at least daily in normal conditions. During the training period, it’s recommended scooping after every use. Untidy litter box is the number one reason for litter-trained cat not using it. If you want to litter train a cat on a dirty litter box, your success may suffer.
- Avoid other desirable elimination spots. It’s easy to litter train a cat, because the litter structure is desirable for elimination. However, some other places, like plant pots, carpets or newspaper piles may be desirable, as well. If you want to train your kitten to use a litter box, and only a litter box, you should avoid the presence of the stuff mentioned above. At least during the training takes place. Take newspaper piles away, block access to rooms with carpets and plants. If necessary, remove them. When the training is complete, introduce those items back gradually. That is, if you take plant pots back in, you should allow your kitten to be near them for short periods and under supervision, in the beginning. Read more how to make unwanted elimination spots undesirable for your cat.
Remember, above technique is intended for litter training a kitten. While, roughly, similar pattern is used to litter train an adult cat, it has some variations, and they are important. If that’s your case, we’d recommend you reading our article about litter training an adult, former outdoor cat. This article is a part of series about litter training cats.