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Training Your Kitten or Cat to Use the Litter Box

Potty Training 101

Welcome to potty training 101—for you and your cat that is! Just as potty training a toddler takes some time, patience and commitment, so will training your kitten or cat to use the cat box. The good news is cats naturally seek out surfaces just like the one in his or her litter box to “do their thing.” Your main job is to provide a clean and comfortable litter box and teach them that it is the right place to go.

Follow our simple tips and your cat will be well on his way to litter box or potty training success!

  1. The location of your cats litter box is key – Cats prefer a quiet place where they can feel safe as they use “the facilities.” A quiet bathroom in a part of the house without much traffic may be an ideal place to start. Be sure to leave quite a bit of distance between where your cat eats and sleeps and where you have placed his litter box. We don’t like to eat our meals in the bathroom and neither will your cat!
  2. When you have selected a spot for the litter box, stick to it – Do not change the location of the litter box once your cat knows where it is or your cat will be confused and may stop using it. Just imagine if you stumbled to the bathroom in the middle of the night only to find it wasn’t there anymore—that would be pretty disturbing!
  3. Introduce your cat to his litter box – Show him where it is and then gently place him in the litter box. Hopefully your cat will dig around a bit to get a feel for the box and the idea that this may be a nice spot to go to the bathroom. If he jumps out immediately do not force your cat back into the box. Give it an hour or two and then try again. If your cat continually rejects the litter box, consider changing the type of litter you have in the box to one that is more pleasing to your cat.
  4. Be sure to keep the litter box clean – Waste should be scooped daily, and the box should be completely emptied and cleansed weekly.
  5. Have more than one litter box – If you have more than one cat you should probably have more than one litter box. Most cats do not like to share. The rule of thumb is one box per cat, plus one. So if you have 3 cats you would need 4 litter boxes.
  6. Expect a few accidents – Just like toilet-training a toddler, potty proficiency doesn’t happen overnight, and your kitten will probably not be litter box-trained overnight either. A few accidents may happen as your cat gets used to what it is supposed to do and where you expect him to do it. It is important to clean up any accidents immediately and remove the odor. If the odor is not eliminated your cat is likely going to be drawn to it and go again in the same place. A good all-natural odor remover is a mix of one part water to one part white vinegar.
  7. Never punish your cat if he has an accident – You should firmly say “no!” especially if you catch him in the act. Promptly pick your cat up and place him in the litter box and then provide praise.

Follow the above steps and the rest should come pretty naturally to your cat. If your cat starts eliminating outside of the box after a period of regularly using the box, check out our article on Inappropriate Elimination in Cats for possible reasons and solutions.

Resources

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