One of the first questions new cat parents have in mind when they adopt is how to litter train a kitten. While this may seem daunting, new cat parents don’t need to worry as these pets naturally have clean bathroom habits.
However, if you’ve never had a kitty for a pet before, then you might benefit from a litter training guide such as this. Here are tips, steps, and things you’ll need to know to start litter training your new kitten.
How to Litter Train a Kitten
Step 1: Buy Two Litter Boxes
You should buy at least two litter boxes for each kitten you have. This is because you’d need to place different litter boxes in other places of your home. For example, you might need to have one litter box for each floor of your house, one litter box in your bedroom, and another litter box in the bathroom.
It would be best if you also bought the right size litter box for your kitten. Ideally, you’d need to have a litter box with the size of 13″ x 9″ for a kitten (consider Kitty Poo Club Litter), just enough for them to comfortably stand up, stretch, lie down, and move around a little bit.
For an older cat, you’d need a full-size litter box. Typically, a litter box that’s at least one and ½ size longer than the entire length of your cat.
Please make sure no barriers are in the box, so it’s easy for your cat to get in and out.
Step 2: Buy Litter
Generally, cats prefer fine-grain litter because they have a softer feel. But some cats do like other kinds of litter, so you might need to do some trial and error with the type of litter your kitty would enjoy.
There are many options, so it’s normal to be overwhelmed with what to buy for your cat. To play it safe, you can start with an unscented, standard clumping litter that is easy to scoop.
Once your kitty has been litter-trained, you can experiment with different types of litter, from inexpensive non-clumping clay to high-end eco-friendly options made of pine pellets and even wheat.
Step 3: Choose the Box Locations
Cats relieve themselves in private spaces, so choose a spot that doesn’t have a lot of people moving around, somewhere that’s confined, but also a place where there’s good lighting and some human movement, such as your bedroom and bathroom.
Please do not place your cat’s litter box near her food and water, as you need to make the space exclusive for urinating and defecating only. By placing the litter box near her food source, you might confuse what her litter box is for.
Step 4: Introduce the Litter Box to Your Cat
Introduce the litter boxes to your cat. Let her smell them, play with them, and make the boxes her friend. Be sure not to move the boxes around, so you don’t confuse her where they are.
Step 5: Set Her in the Box
After every meal, set your cat in one of the boxes. You can also put her inside the litter box after she wakes up from a nap. Create the association of urinating and defecating right after eating or sleeping in the litter box.
If you notice your cat is about to relieve herself, such as when she’s sniffing or crouching in a particular area, pick her up and put her inside the litter box.
Step 6: Create Positive Reinforcement
Reward your cat each time she relieves herself in the box. This creates positive reinforcement between relieving herself and using her litter box, and eventually, she’ll associate the behavior with something positive.
You can reward your kitty with a treat or toy each time she uses her litter box. Eventually, though, you would have to wean her from the rewards so you won’t always have to give her a treat or praise her each time she uses her litter box.
Do not punish, scold, or yell at your cat if she misses her litter box or if she doesn’t use it. This may lead to stress and anxiety and may even make the problem worse.
Step 7: Clean The Litter Boxes Frequently
Aside from eliminating the “cat smell” from your home, a clean litter box will make using the box a more pleasant experience for your cat.
Scoop the litter each time your cat relieves herself or when she defecates in the litter box. As she gets older, you can scoop her deposits once a day.
Clean and disinfect the box when you replace the litter. You can use mild soap and water or a mixture of water and white vinegar. An enzyme cleaner can also help eliminate the ammonia smell.
Do not use bleach, commercial disinfectant, and other harsh chemicals that can be harmful to your cat.
What To Do if Your Kitten Won’t Use the Litter Box
While many cats aren’t picky when it comes to litter boxes, there may be some exceptional cases where cats won’t use the litter box you provide them. When this happens, here are a few things you need to consider:
1. Evaluate Your Litter Box Setup
Is your litter box accessible? Is the location quiet and has some form of privacy? Is the box hidden in a corner? Do other cats guard it?
Is the box covered or uncovered? Try to change the location and overall setup of your litter box and make a few changes until your cat prefers to use it.
2. Change Your Box or Litter
Your cat may not like the shape or height of your litter box or your litter. She might not like the smell, texture, or general feel of the pellets, and you might need to buy another pair of litter boxes, as well as cat litter that your cat might like.
3. Clean The Boxes Regularly
Another reason why your cat may not use her litter box is that it might be dirty. You need to scoop your cat’s deposits daily to make sure it’s clean and hygienic.
4. Try Using Pheromone Diffusers
A pheromone diffuser placed near the litter box will help make your cat more comfortable, as well as reduce the stress of learning something new. Pheromone diffusers can help make kittens feel like they have marked their territory.
5. Bring Your Kitty to Her Vet
When all else fails, you can bring your kitty to her vet to try to see if she is suffering from medical problems that might prevent her from adequately relieving herself in a litter box. The vet can also make suggestions and give you other tips to litter training your kitty.
Read: Cat incontinence
Litter training your cat may seem daunting, but it’s easy if your cat happens to like the litter box setup. All you need is the right size litter box, the right kind of litter, and the right location to train your kitten how to use it.
Thankfully, cats naturally choose a spot to urinate and defecate, and a litter box is a perfect place for them to relieve themselves. This makes it easy for cat parents to litter train their kittens at home.
If your cat might not use her litter box, a few evaluations of your litter box setup are all it needs to get it right. When all else fails, a vet visit might be required to get to the root cause of the behavior.