How to Get Your Kitten (or New Cat) to Use the Litter box
21 January, 2014
When you bring your newly adopted kitten or even an older cat home, there are many things to consider to make your kitten feel comfortable. You must kitten proof your home, feed him or her the right food, and most importantly, train the little guy to use the litter box. Kittens adapt very readily to using a litter box but some tips below can help ease the transition.
Consider the size of the litter box
Your kitten’s litter box should be large enough for her to turn around in and have several places to dig, so that she can use the box more than once without stepping in her previously deposited waste. Purchase a box large enough to fit these requirements for an average-size adult cat.
Cats’ litter preferences are usually formed while they are kitties and most cats seem to prefer a sandy texture. For your convenience in removing liquid waste and keeping odor to a minimum, a clumping litter is recommended. You can get clumping litter in the traditional clay, or you can opt for more environmentally friendly versions made of corn, wheat, or other grains.
Also avoid using clay clumping litter for young kittens as it can be dangerous, causing intestinal blockages if accidentally ingested.
Where to place the litter box
Place the litter tray in a quiet area because cats like their privacy. Don’t choose a position where there is a lot of traffic or noise and don’t place it out in the open. Preferably place it in a corner or at least with one wall behind it. Make sure your kitten knows where the litter box is and that he doesn’t have to travel far to reach it.
How to house train your kitten
Do not allow your new kitten full run of the house. Try to contain your little feline friend to the room you spend the most time in so you can watch him most of the time. Close all bedroom doors and barricade other areas that do not have doors.
Establish a routine
Gently place your kitten in the litter box a couple of minutes after he has finished eating and a couple of minutes after he has woken from a sleep. Cats by instinct prefer to bury their waste and your kitty’s instincts will take over as he or she digs and scratches at the litter by himself. Give your kitty some time to sniff around and decide what he is going to do. If he doesn’t start scratching by himself, all you need to do is gently take hold of his front paw and simulate a digging and scratching motion. The kitten should get the idea from doing this and will usually cooperate.
When your kitten uses the litter box, give him or her lots of praise. If he doesn’t use it don’t force the issue. You must never use a raised voice or make him afraid of the litter box in any way.
Establish a routine by placing your kitten in the litter box at hourly intervals throughout the day. He may not want to go every hour but this will reinforce the idea of where you want him to go. It also helps avoid too many accidents.
Observe your kitten as much as you can
With young kittens accidents can occur frequently. You must be prepared to watch your kitten carefully at all times. If you see signs that he is about to go pee or poop, gently pick up your kitty without a fuss and gently place him in the litter box. Again, never yell or raise your voice at your kitty if he or she has an accident as this is not effective and your kitty will retreat and be scared of you and the litter box!
Your kitten will adapt quickly
Once your kitten has used the litter box, he or she leaves the smell of cat urine which will encourage him to come back next time and re-use it. Be patient and praise your kitty for the correct behavior and soon your kitten will be using the litter regularly.