Training your Kitten or your Cat to use a Litter Box: It’s Easier than you Think

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Placing your kitten in a litter trayThe wonderful thing about cats is that they are naturally clean animals. They have a basic instinct not to soil their “nest” because if they were in the wild it would alert predators as to their whereabouts and also put them at risk of infection and disease.

Litter Training your New Kitten

When a kitten is very young they are unable to defecate and because of this the mother needs to lick the kitten’s nether regions in order to stimulate elimination. When the kitten is old enough to move around, the mother will only stimulate the kitten’s elimination function when the kitten is away from the nest. This would be their first toilet training session.

If you have adopted a kitten you will probably find that the kitten already knows how to use a litter tray, thanks to the mother cat’s toilet training sessions. All you need to do is reinforce this behaviour, keep the tray clean, and use plenty of loving praise when the kitten uses the litter tray.

When first putting the kitten in the new litter tray, move some of the dry litter around with your hand and put the kitten in it so that she can explore. You can even move her paws so that she knows to scratch at the litter.

A kitten is most likely to want to use the litter tray after meals and after she wakes up from a nap, so use these times to place her in the litter tray. If you see her sniffing, take her straight to the litter tray. Remember to praise her and do not punish her if she has an accident.

Litter Training an Adult Cat

If an adult cat is not used to a litter tray, it may take slightly longer to train your cat. The process is very similar to that of a kitten when training, always remembering to speak softly and encouragingly to the cat. Cats don’t like to be watched, so make sure she has some privacy.

If she misses the tray, quickly pick the faeces with a scoop and place them in the litter tray, covering them well. Clean the area really well with a biological detergent to remove all traces so that she doesn’t go back there again.Kitten using a litter tray

Useful tips:

  • Make sure the litter tray is in a safe, quiet spot in your house, such as the bathroom.
  • Make sure it is kept away from food and water bowls.
  • If you have a multi-storey home, place a litter box on each level.
  • If you have more than one cat in the house, make sure that there is a litter box for each cat, plus one extra.
  • Most cats like clumping litters, but always try to use a litter that your cat prefers.
  • Keep the litter tray scrupulously clean at all times. A great time saving tip for busy people is to line the litter tray with a bag. This makes it much easier to clean as all you need to do is roll the bag in on itself and pop it into another bag before throwing it away and replacing the litter tray with a new bag.
  • Never ever punish a cat by smacking her or rubbing her nose in her faeces as this will create fear in the cat, and this could lead to endless toileting problems. Praise her and give her treats to reinforce good behaviour.

by Phillipa Mitchell

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