Litter box training a cat does not need to be difficult… likely one of your foremost concerns. The good news is that when litter box training a cat, most will need very little guidance. How to train a kitten to a litter box?
In the Wild
The reason it is usually so easy to litter box train a cat is that a litter box offers an environment for urinating and defecating that is similar to what cats in the wild would use. Because the smell of cat urine is so strong, it can draw predators. That is why, in the wild, cats do not use the bathroom close to the place that they eat or near where they bed down for the night.
That strong smell is also the reason that cats take great care to cover up their business by clawing at the sand or dirt. This is the same action that you will see a domestic cat take when they use the litter box. It is this instinct that makes a litter box a natural choice for most cats or kittens.
How to train a kitten to a litter box – your guidance
Even though most cats will naturally gravitate towards using a litter box, the pets still may need a little guidance from you. You will not necessarily have to actively “train” a cat the way that you would a dog, but you may have to give them a push in the right direction from time to time.
Choosing a Box and Litter
Choosing the box and the type of litter is an important step. The box should be appropriate for the size of the cat. For example, a kitten may have trouble climbing into a very large box. A large cat may feel uncomfortable trying to use a too-small litter box. You may need to start with one size and then replace it when your kitten grows.
If you have more than one cat, you may need to have more than one litter box. Some say there should be one box per cat. Others find that two cats can share one box with no problems.
Having two boxes does not necessarily mean that one cat will use one box and one the other. It just provides ample space and ensures that a cat will never be without a place to go in the case that both cats need to use the bathroom at the same time.
The type of litter is equally important when litter box training a cat. Some kittens and cats are not at all finicky about the type of litter used. Others will not use the litter box because of the litter selected. Some cats do not like scented litter. If you are using scented litter and notice that your cat does not seem interested in using the box, consider trying a switch to an unscented brand.
Most cats do not care if you choose clumping or clay litter. Both feel the same to them, so that choice can be based on how you want to go about cleaning the litter box. With clay litter you will have to dump it each time you want to clean it. With clumping litter, you can simply remove the waste and then add a bit more litter.
There are also specialty litters, such as small clear balls and shredded newspaper. While some cats do fine with these litters, it is important to keep in mind that these types of litter will not provide the sandy feeling that is what draws most cats to the litter box.
If you are having trouble litter box training a cat with a specialty type of litter, consider switching to either clay or clumping kitty litter.
Placement of the Box
Where you place the box is another important factor in litter box training. Even if your kitten or cat is naturally drawn to the litter box, he will NOT use it if he is often startled by loud noises, other pets or children while going to the bathroom.
For that reason it is important to place the box in a spot that is relatively quiet and where the cat will not be interrupted by dogs or children.
Once a cat has been startled while using the box, it will be a bit harder to get him to use it again.
Confining the Kitten or Cat
When you are first training a kitten or cat, you might want to consider confining the cat to a small area, such as a crate or small bathroom. Give him access to his litter box while he is confined. This will make it more likely that the cat will learn to use the litter box, because he will not be able to go off and find an alternative spot.
Once the cat is used to using the box, you can stop confining him to one area.
Show Him the Way
While your kitten or cat is confined, if he does use the bathroom outside of the litter box, simply pick up the waste and place it in the box. Many cats will get the hint and begin to use the box.
You may have to do this a few time before you cat catches on.
You should remove anything that may seem comparable to a litter box. In most homes, this would be potted plants. If there are large potted plants, some cats may choose to use the bathroom in the soil of the plants rather than the litter box.
Until the kitten or cat is fully trained, you should move such plants out of reach of your pets.
Maintaining the Training
While getting a kitten or cat to use the litter box is not usually difficult, if the box is not maintained, many cats will stop using it entirely.
Remember, cats are clean animals. Most cats will not use a litter box that is dirty. If the box is not kept clean, they will simply find somewhere else to use the bathroom.
Ideally, the box should be scooped out each day. If that is not possible, it should be done every other day. If you have more than one cat per box, it is necessary to clean the box each day.
You should also replace a litter box that seems to have a foul odor even right after you clean it or that has been very scratched or otherwise damaged.
If you do purchase a new litter box, try to find the same kind as the one being replaced. Also, place the box in the exact same location.
Changing the Type of Litter Used
One way that some cat owners run into problems is that they switch the type of litter being used. Often, a sudden switch in the type of litter will cause the cat to stop using the box. To prevent this, you will need to introduce the new litter slowly.
Simply add a small amount of the new litter to the old litter. Gradually increase the amount of new litter while decreasing the amount of new litter. If you notice that your cat seems to have an aversion to the new litter, you might want to reconsider the change.
Remember, cats are creatures of habits. It is best to keep changes to a minimum.
Cat Stops Using the Box
Some cat owners find that a cat that was once perfectly litter box trained will suddenly stop using the box. If this happens, you may have to start at the beginning when it comes to litter box training.
First, you should try to identify the cause of the change in behavior. Did you change the type of litter? Did you move the litter box to a new location? If you cannot think of anything that may have caused the sudden change, you should bring the cat to your vet to rule out a medical reason for the change.
Then you can go back and use some of the tips discussed earlier in the article, such as confining the cat, until he again becomes used to using his litter box.
It’s Not Hard
The fact is that many find it more difficult to housebreak a dog than they do to litter box train a kitten or cat. That is in large part due to the fact that going to the bathroom in a litter box feels natural to the cat.
Choose the right size box, a type of litter that your cat is comfortable with and place the box in a quiet, private spot in your home. For some, that is all it will take. If you need to provide a little gentle guidance, use the tips found in this article.
Litter box training a cat doesn’t usually take much time or effort, but even if your cat is a bit stubborn, it will be well worth it to have a cat that is fully litter box trained. You now have complete knowledge how to train a kitten to a litter box.