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How To Litter Train A Cat

(Last Updated On: 31/01/2017)

How to litter train a cat is relatively an easy procedure but it seems quite hard to people who don’t know much about cats.What type of litter box is suitable and how many litter boxes should be used? Is it better to use clumping or non-clumping litter inside the box? Placement of litter box and its cleaning are equally important factors during training. Cat litter box’s size matter too as cat should be comfortable while using it.

Cats are born with a natural instinct to protect themselves from potential predators, so they bury their waste in order to cover their tracts. This means that all a cat needs is to know where to find soft sand or any such material which will effectively hide its waste. Thus cat litter training basically involves showing the cat where the litter box is and making sure the litter box has right litter type in it for the cat to use.

white kitten in litter sand box - How To Litter Train A Cat

How to Litter Train a Kitten

  1. When an owner brings a kitten home for the first time, it is generally a good idea to keep the kitten confined in a room. This room should not only contain the kitten’s sleeping arrangements but also its food pot and its litter box. Thus the first step in cat litter training is to prepare and place the litter box in the room where the kitten will be staying.
  2. The next step is to introduce the kitten to the litter box- its location and the feel of the litter. The owner should take the kitten to the litter box and gently place it in the box and let it sniff around and explore. If the kitten seems scared, the owner should dig with his/her fingers to show the kitten that it is safe and to get it accustomed to the digging sound.
  3. Usually the kitten already knows the purpose of the litter box and only needs to be taken to it for a few times, till it remembers its location. Other times it might be so that the kitten has to be taken to the box ten times a day so that it associates elimination with the box.  The trick here is that the owner should not scoop all litter out at once, but keep some litter behind so the smell guides the kitten towards the box and help it quickly adapt.
  4. Since the kitten is in learning stage thus it might happen that when it needs to relieve, it runs towards a hiding spot and litters there. The owner should keep an eye on the kitten for first few days and the moment it starts scratching the floor or leaves a game to run to a hiding place, pick it up and gently place it in the litter box and talk to the kitten in encouraging words till it decides to relieve itself in the box.
  5. Every time the kitten goes to the litter box itself, it should be treated with fond words or food so as to encourage it to repeat the action again. This is a very motivational step for cat litter training.
  6. It will take the owner around four weeks for complete cat litter training.

How to Litter Train an Adult Cat

If you are adopting or purchasing an adult cat then training him to use his litter box will not be difficult as he already would have been used to use the litter box. Adults don’t need sufficient amount of cat litter trainingin fact on their first night at new home; they should be locked over night in one room which must have the very basic furniture. This will help the cat knowing where its litter box is located and that it has to use it only.

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How to Re-train a Kitten or a Cat to Use Litter Box

In case the kitten litters on the floor, the owner should not punish it, for then a negative association between the owner and kitten’s toilet habits will be created in the kitten’s mind. The kitten then might start finding more hidden areas to litter so that the owner does not find it out and reprimand again. In this case, the owner should gently take the kitten to the littered area and make it smell the litter and then take it to the litter box so that the kitten knows where to go next time. In addition, the littered areas should be properly cleaned so that the smell does not guide the cat towards littering there again. It is simply repeating how to litter train a cat process.

Inappropriate Toileting

One of the most common problems that cat owners face is when their cats start toileting around the house instead of in the litter box even thought they went through the process of litter box training. Such a behavior is often interpreted by the owners as cat’s way of punishing them or deliberately annoying them, however, this is not the case. Instead it is cat’s way of hinting to the owner that something is not right, it can be something serious, it is not a sign of bad training, and the problem may lie with the cat’s environment or with the cat’s health. Therefore the owners should realize that their cat is in distress and instead try to help with solving its problem.

Causes of Inappropriate Toileting and Their Cures

1. Health related problem

It might be so that the cat has some physical problem such as inflammation or infection of urinary tract or some intestinal problem that causes urinating and defecating to be frequent and painful. In such a case, the cat ignores its training and starts associating pain with litter box and might stop using the box altogether. Diseases that hinder mobility like arthritis or nervous system disorders also result in cats littering outside the box. If it is noticed that the cat is behaving in such away, and defecates much more than normal or cries when eliminating, then the first step should be to take it to the vet for a checkup instead of doubting your litter box training process.

2. Litter box related problem

This is the most common cause and relatively easily cured by taking extra care of what the cat really needs from the litter box. Many a times the problem is simply that the litter is not clean enough or not cleaned regularly. Cats like cleanliness and have acute sense of smell, thus if the litter is not scooped regularly or the box is not clean then they might choose not to use it. Increasing the frequency of cleaning the box and scooping out the waste shall solve this problem.

  • It might also be that the box itself is the problem- maybe the sides of the box are too high for aged cat or kitten, or the box has become smaller for a growing up cat, or it had been washed with chemicals that contain harsh odors like ammonia which repulse cats. Observing if the cat has aversion to certain type of box should tell the owner if the box needs changing.
  • Another possibility can be that the cat finds the type of litter used distasteful- it might not like the texture of the litter especially if new type of litter is introduced, or if scented litter is used then it might find the scent of it repulsive as most cats do not like perfume. Pouring different types of litter in different boxes and observing which one the cat prefers can result in cat’s reuse of the litter box.
  • The location of the litter box can also cause cats to stop using it. If the place is not private enough for the cat or not easily accessible or does not provide escape routes then the cat will decide not to use the litter box and instead starts littering at a place which offers it more security and comfort. In this case, the owner should note the place where the cat prefers to litter and then place the litter box nearby this place and make sure the cat knows the new location of the box.
  • Another problem is your cat not being well with litter box training and may need a session of retrain

3. Stress related problem

Any sort of change in environment that surrounds the litter box area such as a new cat has started sharing the same litter box; or a traumatic experience like accident occurred while the cat was defecating or urinating can cause the cat to feel stressed while using that litter box and thus not use it in future. In such a case the cat owners should reassure their cats about the safety of the area and exclusivity of the litter box.


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