If you’re the proud pet parent of a new cat, the question of how to litter train a kitten is probably foremost on your mind. It might relieve you to know that litter box training is typically a fairly simple affair. Many kittens arrive in their new homes having already learned how to use a litter box from their mothers, and even those who haven’t are helped along by a strong instinct to bury the evidence after doing the deed.
Step 1: Choose the correct litter box.
Choose a large litter box: A common cause of cats engaging in inappropriate elimination is that the litter box is too small for the cat.This is particularly important if your cat is still growing; a litter box that’s on the snug side now may be far too small for his liking in a few months.When choosing a size for your cat’s litter box, it’s generally best to err on the side of caution and get a bigger litter box. Your cat will feel like he has more room, and he will be less likely to think it’s too full too quickly.
Decide on covered or uncovered. Covered and uncovered litter boxes both have their advantages and disadvantages. Some cats have a preference, while others don’t. You may want to try both and see type of box your cat prefers
Get more than one box. If you have enough room in your home for more than one litter box, it may be worth getting a second or even a third litter box. This may even be a necessity if you have more than one cat, or if your cat is young and still learning to use the litter box, but some experts recommend that you have at least one litter box per cat in the house, plus one extra.
Step 2: Find the perfect litter.
Use a natural, unscented litter; sometimes crystal litter, clay litter or ones with a heavy scent may discourage cats from using the litter box. Be consistent in what litter you use, as changing the litter could cause your cat to stop using the litter box temporarily.
Choose the right litter. Cats generally prefer clumping litter, as it’s more comfortable to walk on and makes it easier for your cat to bury his wastes. It will also make it easier for you to scoop and clean your cat’s waste out of the litter box if you use clumping litter.
Use the right amount of litter. Using too much litter will create a mess, as some litter will inevitably get kicked or spilled out of the box after your cat buries his waste. But failing to use enough litter could make your cat feel as though he can’t bury his waste, causing him to eliminate outside the box. A litter box with insufficient litter can also create odor problems, and could make cleaning a bit more work-intensive.
Keep a clean litter box
Step 3: Location, location, location.
Place the litter box in a quiet area of your home where there isn’t a lot of foot traffic. If you have multiple floors, consider placing additional litter boxes throughout your home. Make sure your cat knows where the litter boxes are; most will find it, but it never hurts to show them.
Step 4: Teaching Your Cat to Use the Litter Box
Learn your cat’s schedule: Learning your cat’s schedule will help you determine when he’s most likely to relieve himself so you can direct him to the litter box
Play with your cat near the box. Since many cats need to eliminate after playing and running around, you can facilitate the process by playing with your cat near his litter box. The activity will most likely leave him needing to eliminate, at which point you can direct him to (or even place him in) the litter box.
Teach him what to do. If your cat never learned to use a litter box from his mother, you may need to show him how it’s done. That doesn’t mean actually using the litter box yourself; rather, you’ll have to carry him to the litter box when he’s about to eliminate, and teach him how to dig in the litter.
Step 5: Addressing Inappropriate Elimination
Never yell at your cat: Yelling at or scolding your cat will only make him fearful of you, and will do nothing to solve his elimination problems.
Put waste where it belongs: If your cat eliminates outside the litter box, rather than simply tossing his feces in the garbage, it may be helpful to pick it up with a paper towel and place it in the litter box
Move food and water to the problem area. If your cat continues to relieve himself outside the litter box and seems to have one spot he really enjoys, try moving his food and water to the area where he keeps eliminating.
Step 6: Ruling Out Medical Problems
Check if your cat is eliminating elsewhere. If your cat is not using the litter box, it’s important to check around the house to ensure that he is still eliminating wastes. If he does not seem to be eliminating anywhere around the house, he may have a partial or total urethral obstruction. If you believe your cat is not eliminating waste at all, it’s imperative that you take him to a veterinary hospital immediately.
Look for vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss. Some cats suffer from inflammation along the gastrointestinal tract, causing feline inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The most common symptoms of
IBD include vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and lethargic tendencies. Some cats with IBD also experience bloody stool. Symptoms can vary depending on what part of the gastrointestinal tract is affected. If your cat suffers from any of these symptoms, you should take him in to see a vet as soon as possible.
Keep At It!
If at first you don’t succeed, keeping trying! Many pet parents may become discouraged by an accident or two, but remember: Cats naturally gravitate toward doing their business in a litter box.
“Litter training is not like house training a dog. It actually should not take a lot of training at all. Litter training should, for the most part, be natural,” Galaxy says. “Keep going and they will get it.”