Although you understandably cannot wait to spend as much time as possible with the new addition to the family, there are a few things that need to be settled to set yourself, and your new kitty, up for a happy and healthy experience. One of the first things you will need to do will be teaching your new kitten how to use the litter box.
The good news is that this is a fairly easy task. Cats are naturally clean animals and will instinctively clean up after themselves. Many kitties learn from their mother about burying their deeds beforehand, but if your kitten needs some help with litter training, read on to find a few useful tips.
Choose the Right Litter Box
First, ensure that the litter box is big enough. A small litter box will discourage your kitten because it feels confined. A good rule of thumb is that a litter box must be 3 times the length of the kitten from its nose to its tail.
The kitten should have enough space to move around and litter in more than one spot.
The litter box must have low sides so that the kitten can easily enter and leave. You will need to replace the box to an adult version as your kitten grows. The standard litter box is a small plastic litter box. You can also use a cardboard tray, old baking pan or even a short box.
If you have a multi-storied house, ensure that there is a litter box on each floor.
A hooded litter box may or may not work for your cat. It is ideal to help cover up smells and for kittens who like to dig around their litter. For kittens who defecate or urinate near the edge, a hooded litter box is helpful. But your kitten may or may not like it as it may feel trapped.
Choose the Right Litter
Some kittens will be okay with any litter you choose, others tend to be picky.
Most of the time kittens prefer soft matter such as sand. Kittens may try to eat litter when it is introduced for the first time, so choose a variety that is non-toxic and has no harsh chemicals.
Kittens also have a very sensitive olfactory system so unscented litter is the best choice for them.
According to Cat World, coconut cat litter is an ideal organic option as it has a natural scent, with a soft, natural and comfortable texture that kittens generally love. Because it is natural, your kitten will be able to adjust to it quickly as well.
Choose the Right Placement
Cats like privacy when they relieve themselves and your kitten is no different. Ensure that the litter box is in a secluded but accessible area in the house so that the kitten can do their business peacefully. Avoid cramped places like under cabinets or closets.
Cats are cautious by nature, so you have to make sure that your kitten has a few escape routes to get out of if it is startled or confronted by another cat.
The litter box should also be in a quiet corner and away from loud appliances. Loud noises will discourage your kitten from using the litter box.
Kittens don’t litter near their sleeping or eating spots so keep that in mind when you place the litter box.
Introduce Litter at the Right Time
Kittens need to be stimulated to go to the bathroom. They usually learn to use the litter at 3-4 weeks from their mother. However, every kitten has its own pace, so you might have to be patient. Let your kitty know where the litter box is, but don’t force your kitten to explore it.
Understand When It Wants To Go
Your kitten is not born knowing about the litter box, you will need to train your kitten about what a litter is and how it is the perfect place to for burying ‘deeds.’
Lift your kitten and place it in the tray early in the morning after waking up, after each meal and at night, or whenever you see that it might need to go. Slowly, your kitten will learn to do this by itself.
Keep It Clean
Cleanliness is key. Cats are instinctively scrupulous. Would you like to use a dirty toilet? Your cat is the same. So aim to scoop the litter at least once a day. Clean the box and replace the litter weekly.
Rinse the box with water after washing with detergent and avoid using strong smelling disinfectants.
Use enzymatic pet stain cleaners specifically for cat urine and for any accidents. If you use regular cleaners, the smell may not be masked for your kitty and it will reuse the area as the bathroom.
An important note – pregnant women must refrain from cleaning litter. If you must, use gloves and wash your hands thoroughly afterward.
Take Kitten Steps
Patience is key when it comes to teaching. Every kitten is different and has their own pace when learning things. Don’t be discouraged if your kitten is taking some time.
Also, don’t be upset or scold your kitten about accidents. Your kitten won’t understand why you are upset with them and it may even deter them from using the box.
If your kitten is using the laundry, keep them off the floor. If it is using the same location, place the litter box there. Get your kitten accustomed to the environment of the room by keeping it there for several days.
After your kitten uses the litter box, don’t scoop the area right away. Let the smell remain to remind your kitten to use the box. If your kitten relieves itself outside the box, place it in the box again.
Do it repeatedly until it learns to associate the box with the bathroom.
Give your kitten positive reinforcement by giving them lots of praise and treats or toys to play with each time they use the litter box. This will encourage them further to use the box.
Provide A Box of their Own
If you have multiple kittens, keep one litter box for each as far apart from each other as possible. Having a single box for multiple cats often results in dominance struggles, ambush attacks, and relieving outside the box.
If you have a dog, barricade the dog from the litter box by using a baby gate a few inches off the floor so that the kitten can pass through. This will prevent your dog from bothering the kitten and prevent the dog from developing intestinal obstruction or intestinal worm infestation from eating litter.
Encourage Going Outdoors
If you prefer that your kitten litter outdoors, keep the litter box near the cat door and sprinkle some litter on a convenient spot in the garden!
Solve any Problems
If all tricks fail, try to determine why your kitten is not using the litter box. Check whether:
- The litter box is clean
- Your kitten has urinary tract disease or intestinal parasites
- Something has invaded their territory
- Your kitten needs attention
Consult a vet if the problem persists.
Cats have the natural urge to bury their waste, so you already have an advantage. They do not need to be house trained like dogs or potty trained like our little humans.
All they need is your patience and love. With a few basics in mind, your beloved kitten will be litter trained in no time.