Cats are naturally clean and hygienic creatures. According to Cristin Tamburo Coll, certified feline behavior consultant at The Cat Counselor in Los Angeles, “cats are one of the few animals that are both predators and prey in the wild. They cover their waste to cover the smell, so they’re not more of a target for a predator.”
While cats are fastidious animals, they still require litter training for using litter boxes. And as with everything, cats should be trained when they are young kittens. But how to get kitten to use litter box?
It’s relatively easy to litter train your kitten than a pup, thanks to her innate instincts. Let’s now discuss how, when, and what you might need to toilet train your new pet member in the house.
Invest in a litter box, and make sure it’s the right size for your kitty to climb over. A kitten needs a small litter box to start with, and you need to size up as she grows bigger.
It is better that there is a minimum of more than one litter box than the number of cats you own. These feline fellows are fastidious creatures and might not like to use a litter box that another cat has already used.
Petmate Open Cat Litter Box
Types of Litter
In general, cats seem to like a litter that has a consistency of beach sand or garden soil.
Kittens explore and learn the same way human babies do—using their mouths. Therefore, it is essential that a litter is chosen that does not consist of any toxic or harsh chemicals that the kitty might consume. While clumping litters might be the standard for an adult cat, it’s a risk for kittens if ingested and should not be provided until she is at least two to three months old.
As your fur baby grows older, you may experiment with different kinds of litter used in your kitten’s litter box. The most common types of litter widely available are
Some owners might prefer all-natural products that include options made out of paper, pine, grass, walnut shells, corn, or wheat.
Placement of Litter Box
Kittens tend to be drawn to corners and spaces away from their main home base, which are more quiet and private, and where they can feel safe and secure. Hence, start by keeping the litter box in a corner, easily accessible but clean from the clutter. Loud noises or people going in and out may distract them from getting down to business.
It’s tempting for pet parents to put the litter box in closets and corners to keep it hidden and avoid the smell from spreading, but remember that cats don’t like to feel cornered or trapped during their toilet time. “In nature, cats don’t want to get caught by a predator inside an enclosed area,” says IAABC-certified cat behavior consultant Mieshelle Nagelschneider.
Equally important is to not keep the box near their food. Think about what you would want in your own bathroom—if it wouldn’t be comfortable for you, chances are that your kitten might not find it comfortable either.
Similarly, it should not be placed in the dark. There must be some ambient light around for them to see and find their litter box.
How to Get Kitten to Use Litter Box?
You have brought the box, the litter, and it is placed in the right place. It’s time your kitten uses it. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to litter train your kitten.
Introduce Your Kitten to the Litter Box
Newborn kittens need to be stimulated to relieve themselves and won’t start using the litter box until three weeks of age. Show your kitten the litter box as soon as she has reached three weeks of age and let her examine it, explore it, play with it, and use it. Your kitty might start digging and sniffing it on its own. If she doesn’t do any of that, you can hold her front paws and start digging in the litter with them.
Set your fluffy baby in the box following meals and after her naps. If you notice that your pet needs to relive itself—which might look like sniffing or crouching in a particular area—pick her up and put her in the litter box.
Reward your furry bundle of joy with treats or toys when you see her using the litter box. This will help her create a positive association with the activity. Eventually, you’ll need to wean her off from expecting a food-related treat every time she uses the box. Verbally praising your kitten will encourage her too. If you observe her using the same location, place the litter box in that space.
Do Not Be Aggressive Towards Your Cat
Cats do not associate punishments with the incident in question, so it doesn’t help train her not to do it in the future. Punishing, scolding, or being aggressive towards her for accidents may lead to stress and anxiety and exacerbate the problem rather than solve it.
Therefore, it is essential to learn to be patient, supportive, and loving towards your pet and keep stimulating her until you’re confident that she is using the litter box regularly and the right way.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Furthermore, it is essential to keep the litter box clean as it will not only help eliminate the ‘dreaded cat smell’ from your home but will also make using the box a pleasant experience for your kitten.
No one likes to use a dirty toilet, and cats are no different! Scoop the box after every elimination in the beginning so your fur buddy doesn’t develop an aversion towards it. Once your kitten is a bit older, you can scoop it once a day.
Change the litter at least once a week and clean and disinfect the box using mild soap, water, or a solution of water and white vinegar. Avoid bleach and harsh chemicals as these might harm your feline friend.
Use an enzyme cleaner to wipe areas outside the box where your kitten might have excreted by mistake. This will eradicate the smell, which, if left untreated, might encourage her to keep going in the same spot.
If your kitten still doesn’t seem to get the hang of litter training, or if it suddenly stops using it, it may be time to seek advice from a vet. Monitor your kitten for any abnormal behavior like bloody urine or stool, persistent and obsessive licking of genitals, or crying and mewing around or while in the litter.
If you encounter any of these symptoms, a professional can always help you troubleshoot your kittens’ issues.
Now that you are well aware of the basics of how to get kitten to use litter box, you’re well on the road to a happy, harmonious relationship with your kitten. Remember that training may be time-consuming but your cat will soon master it with your affection, support, and patience.