You’ve just gotten yourself a new kitten, and laid out their food, water, and given them a nice place to rest. What about their litter box? It’s a necessary part of any indoor cat’s life to learn proper litter box training, as most cats are given to shelters due to house soiling. With just a little basic knowledge, it’s possible to help your kitten avoid this so you both live happily together.
Cat peeing over side of litter tray
When To Start Training?
Most cats will instinctively begin to use the litter box, but litter training is actually very easy. Kittens will start to use the litter box when they’re only four weeks old, so if you have the kitten with you, start as early as possible. Don’t begin before four weeks though, since the kitten won’t understand much, and won’t even start walking until two weeks.
That being said, if you adopted a kitten, you probably won’t introduce them to your home until they’re older. Regardless of the age of the kitten, start litter training them as soon as you get them home.
When you begin training at four weeks, you’ll notice the kitten digging and playing with the litter. After that, your kitten will instinctively begin to bury their waste. You can help your kitten along though when it comes to learning the tasks.
Start small by placing your kitten in the litter box so they can dig on their own. Teach them while they’re digging by scooping some litter yourself, like you’re digging too. This may stimulate their interest if they aren’t getting it. Remember that your kitten does not need to eliminate the first time they’re in the litter box. Let them try it out and get used to it first. If they jump out of the box, place them in it here and there throughout the day, but don’t force them to stay.
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You might see your kitten begin to eat the litter until they differentiate where they eat from where they eliminate. Don’t worry about this, but do watch them to be safe. Clumping litter should be avoided at this age, as it will form clumps inside the kitten’s digestive system if they ingest it.
Kittens won’t learn the significance of different locations until they’re around six weeks. This is when you can expect the most success since they’ll already know where they need to go.
If you have other cats in the home, this may not necessarily be a bad thing. Your kitten will learn to identify the litter box by smell and touch, but they will also learn by observing what older cats do, and by watching other kittens use the box. If you get one kitten to use the box, it’s likely the others will follow suit.
Your kitten may not want to use a box another cat has used though. Some cats are very territorial, and will require their own box to eliminate.
Clean The Box
As a kitten owner, it’s up to you to keep your kitten’s litter clean. They won’t use it if it’s dirty. Maintain the box, and keep it in a place that’s less noisy. If you’re using an automatic litter box too, be sure to help your cat get used to the noise so they aren’t deterred.
Your kitten may know how to use the box, but they also need to know where the box is. Don’t put it in a place that’s too noisy, and not somewhere that’s difficult for your kitten to gain access to. Cats prefer to use their box in privacy, so leave them alone sometimes too. Place it just slightly off the ground if you have an overexcited dog looking to get to it.
If your kitten is having trouble, do not scold or punish them. Yelling or squirting them will confuse and scare them, as they won’t understand why you’re unhappy. Just clean up any accidents and go to the vet if you see anything irregular.
Things To Consider for Your Kitten
You know the basics of how to train your kitten and when to get started, but there are a few specifics about the litter box that you should know too. Consider these tips to make the transition for the box easier.
Firstly, don’t place the box too close to food or water. It’ll just confuse the kitten. Start out with an open box too, even if you smell the odors. Fill the box with about half an inch of litter, but don’t line the box with newspaper or plastic liners (Best Pellet Paper Cat Litter). They tear easily. It might also take you a little time to see which type of litter your kitten prefers. Once you find it, stick to it.
Remember Not To…
Don’t use clumping litter, or harsh sprays around the box either. Cats will shy away from chemicals like that. Remember to give your kitten some privacy too, and if you do see your kitten urinating outside the box after training them, take them to the vet. This can be a sign of a bladder or kidney problem.
It’s very exciting bringing a new kitten into your home, but you may be feeling intimidated by litter training them. Your cat will begin using the litter box by around four weeks on their own, and with a little help from you, will adjust quickly to your home. As long as you remember these considerations, the transition should be easy for you both.