LITTER BOX TRAINING YOUR KITTEN
Usually by the time your new kitten reaches your home, he will already be toilet-trained courtesy of his mother. You may have to take control of litter training, however, if you have adopted a kitten who was either orphaned or removed from his mother too soon.
- Cat litter box
- Fresh, clean litter
- A litter scoop
In general, you need at least one litter box per cat in the house, and if possible “plus one extra”. Initially a basic, plastic tray type will suffice – a smaller tray may be good enough for a kitten, but an adult cat will need a larger box. Regardless of size though, its sides should be low enough to allow the kitten or cat to hop into it. Most cats tend to prefer litter that is unscented, fine- grained, and clumping – so choose a variety with these characteristics initially. A two-inch thick layer of litter in the box is a good starting point.
Where To Place The Litter Box
It is also important to choose the best place to put the cat litter box. Ideally this should be somewhere private for your cat. It needs to be accessible to him, but also away from:
- His food and water
- His direct sleeping area
- Direct heat (such as radiators)
- Noisy areas
The Training Process
Initially keep the litter box where your kitten can see it. If he starts to sniff or dig around, this may indicate toilet time! Gently place him in the litter box and take his paw and scratch at the litter with it. Whenever he uses the box, reward him with praise (or a treat occasionally!). If he “misses” the box, scoop up the feces and place them in the box. Never scold him for “failing” – this may discourage box use. Continue this process for a couple of weeks, or until he always uses the box (typically within a couple of days).
Cleaning The Litter Box
- Scoop out clumps at least once daily
- Replace all the litter with a fresh batch regularly
- Approximately twice weekly for clay litter
- Every 1-2 weeks for clumping litter
- Clean the box with a gentle soap and water mixture every 2-4 weeks
My Cat Is Not Using The Litter Box!
Some reasons may include:
- The litter box isn’t clean enough
- A recent change in litter type
- Relocation of the litter box
- “Alternative” litter sources (like plants!)
- Medical problems
The good news is that cats are extremely clean, and if are provided with a clean litter box and fresh litter, they usually take to using it within a couple of days without any problems. If your cat is not using the litter box, however, have him examined by a veterinarian to ensure that he has no underlying urinary or gastrointestinal problem.Written by Dr. Parry ©July 6, 2011
Dr. Parry is a veterinarian working at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.