How do I litter-train my kitten?
- Pick a container that is an appropriate size. If your kitten is very small, you will need a box with low sides so he can climb in and out. As your kitten grows, you can get a bigger box. Some cats like covered litter boxes, but some do not. If your kitten has strong preferences, you will have to accommodate him.
- Choose a litter material. There are so many options available, including clay, plastic pearls, silica, recycled newspaper, and clumping types. Some studies show that the vast majority of cats like clumping litter, so that is usually a safe option. Some cats dislike scented litter.
- Confine your kitten to a single room at first. Put the litter box in a corner so the kitten feels safe, and make sure it is at the far end of the room from the food, water and bedding as cats don’t like to eliminate where they eat or sleep.
- Remove anything else from the room that has loose material like dirt – potted plants, for example.
- Show your kitten the litter box. If he doesn’t catch on right away, be sure to feed the kitten at specific meal times (as opposed to free-choice), and place the kitten in the litter box when he finishes eating.
In the vast majority of cases, that is all there is to it!
If, for some reason, your kitten won’t use the litterbox:
- Don’t punish the kitten if you find an soiled area outside the litter box – the kitten will not know what he is being punished for. If you actually catch him in the act, simply pick him up and place him in the litter box.
- Try putting a little bit of the kitten’s own feces or urine in the box – the smell will attract the kitten back to that area.
- Clean up any accidents promptly, and be sure to use a cleaner specially designed to remove pet odors so the smell does not attract the kitten back to the wrong place.
- If the kitten is consistently using one spot outside of the box, after cleaning it, place the box in that spot.
- Make sure there is nothing around the litter box that could be making the kitten feel insecure, such as a pipe behind the wall that makes noise, or a furnace.
- Consider trying a different litter material or a different box.
- If none of this works, call us because there could be a medical reason for the litter box aversion, such as an infection or parasite.
Once my kitten has full access to the house, where should I put the litter box?
In order to avoid the cat developing a litter box aversion, you want to make sure the box is somewhere that he always feels safe. Keep in mind:
- Only place the litter box in a laundry room or near a furnace if the cat is not bothered by the sounds of the machines.
- If you have a dog, put the box somewhere that the dog can’t go so it can’t bother your cat there.
- If you have a covered box, make sure the opening faces the entrance to the room so no one can accidentally startle the cat.
How often should I clean the litter box?
- Cats are very clean and fastidious, so you should clean the litter box often. Scoop out soiled litter as soon as you notice it; if the box is somewhere you don’t walk by regularly, make a point of checking it twice a day.
- Change the litter in the box weekly if you are not using clumping litter; with clumping litter, you can change the litter less often, but remember to top it up to replace the clumps that have been scooped out.
- Sometimes it helps to have more than one litter box in more than one location, especially if you have more than one cat. Many behaviorists recommend one litter box per cat, plus one more.
If you ever have problems with house soiling, please give us a call.