How To…Litter Box Train Kittens and Cats
Under normal circumstances, using the litter box should not be a problem for your cat. They like to scratch and dig in the loose litter and the next thing you know, they’re squatting to go potty.
Making the transition from an outdoor cat to an inside cat would probably be the toughest litter box training scenario, especially if they are beyond the weaned kitten stage and are now teenage or adult cats.
When you bring your new cat (any age) inside your home, the litter box should be the first stop. Plunk her down on the floor and let her see it and sniff it. Pick her up and place her inside the box. She may paw at or dig in the litter but more likely, she’ll jump out. Put her back in…if she jumps out again then put her back in again. Take your hand and dig at the litter to show her what to do. Seriously. If she’ll let you, take one of her front paws and dig at the litter for her. If she doesn’t go potty and hops out then repeat this process about an hour later.
Keep very close watch on her. Do not be shocked if that first day/night she has an accident somewhere in the house. She may squat right in front of you and pee! If that happens, immediately pick her up and rush her to the litter box, place her inside, dig at the litter and hopefully she’ll get the clue she should use the litter box instead of your living room carpet!
Continue to introduce her to the litter box. Do NOT let her have full run of the house. Again – keep your beady little eyes on her as much as possible. Obviously if she just used the litter box (and hopefully not your floor), you can take a break from constant surveillance. Many times it’s necessary to confine the cat to only one room or a small area of the house until you can trust her. Definitely when she first wakes up in the morning and after meals plop her in the litter box.
When she uses the box, praise her by talking in a happy, positive voice and pet the daylights out of her. This will encourage her to use the litter box again, letting her know that was proper behavior.
Place the litter box in a quiet, low-traffic spot but where your cat can access at all times. If you have a huge house, use two litter boxes. Some people will have a litter box on each floor/level of their house. Don’t place her food and water bowls right next to it either. How’d you like to eat directly next to your toilet? Ew!!
A mechanical litter box, like a self-cleaning type, may or may not be harder to train her to use. Every cat is different. Perhaps you should start her with the basic, old-fashioned litter box and when she’s mastered that, she can graduate to the cool, high-class, self-cleaning model.
If you have several cats, give the new cat her own private box so she doesn’t have to share. She’ll be more at ease and the whole territorial thing can be avoided with her being the new cat on the block.
Helpful Litter Box Tips:
Cats hate icky litter boxes. If it’s too dirty, they won’t use it and you’ll regret not keeping it clean.
Scoop out waste DAILY. Keep about 1″ to 1 1/2″ of litter in box. Add more when needed. Depending on how well you clean out daily waste, you could go 3 to 4 weeks before dumping all the litter and starting fresh. Some folks may need to start fresh after one week, though.
One litter box per cat, plus one more.
Some cats will refuse to use a box with heavily scented litter.
The four main litter types are clay-based clumping, clay-based non-clumping, crystal, and natural/biodegradable. If your cat doesn’t want to use the litter box, experiment.
Avoid a box that is too small.
Some cats love hooded boxes and enjoy privacy, but be sure to wash the box and the hood every week.
A plastic litter box can absorb urine even if you use liners. Scrub it thoroughly with soapy water when it’s time to clean (every one to three weeks) and buy a new one periodically.
If your cat was a stray, and you’re having problems with getting her to use her box, try placing leafy material on top of the litter. It will remind her of what she went potty on outside. Remove the green stuff daily and scale back each day until it’s all litter in the box.
Jessie says: I only had one accident in the house. It was the first night I stayed inside.
Gina says: But I constantly kept my eyes on her. Several times during the first 2-3 weeks she would hunker down and start to scratch at the carpet and I knew she was about to potty on it. I’d snatch her up and put her in the litter box then she’d go potty. I’d vigorously praise her then. Also during those first few weeks, every 4-5 hours, if she was up and not sleeping, I’d put her in the box or call her into that room and watch her climb into the box on her own. She quickly got the hang of it. Thankfully.