How to Litter Train a Kitten

Training Your Kitten to Use a Litter Box

Whether this is your first kitten or the latest addition, each kitten is different when it comes to litter training. Knowing the basics of kitten litter training and how to adjust your kitten to her new box can make potty training your cat less stressful and time consuming.

When to Start

In the first few weeks of life, kittens’ messes are cleaned up by the mother cat which makes your life a little easier. However, once mom starts weaning her babies at around 4 weeks, she eliminates her cleanup duty as well. This is a great time to start introducing kittens to a litter box.

If you purchased or adopted your kitten from someone else, then check with them to see if they started litter training. If they have, see what products they used and what worked or if they haven’t, you can start right away when you get home. Same goes for adult cats that you bring home. Whether they are litter trained or not, introducing them to the litter box when they get to their new home is important.

Choosing the Right Litter Box

Size

Kittens are very small at first, so a full size litter box is generally too big for them to start off with. Look for litter boxes that are small enough for your kitten to crawl into. Usually the litter box will be labeled for kitten use as you will need to upgrade to a larger litter box once your cat begins to grow. If you have older cats in the home, then you’ll need to use more than one litter box for a time being until your kitten is big enough to keep up with her older siblings.

Style

When it comes to cat litter boxes, there are a wide variety of styles that you can choose from. You can choose if you want it covered, self-cleaning, round, square, brightly colored, etc. Basically litter boxes are designed to fit your lifestyle and the style of your home. As far as kitten litter boxes go, the options are simpler since your kitten will eventually outgrow it. Choose a litter box that is inexpensive and designed to easily allow your kitten to get in and out. Once your cat is big enough, you can switch to a more permanent litter box of your choosing. It’s important to note that each cat is different. Some prefer open litter boxes while others prefer enclosed litter boxes. Be prepared to try a few different options before your cat is happy.

Litter

If this is your first cat, then you may be surprised to learn that there are a variety of types of cat litter. You can choose from different materials, clumping or non clumping, scented or unscented, and even choose from a variety of colors depending on the material. What you choose depends on your preference, but ultimately your cat’s preference. Finding what your cat likes means you’ll have a happy cat that uses her litter box regularly.

Placing the Litter Box

When it comes to placing your cat’s litter box, there are a few important factors you should consider:

  • Lighting
  • Distractions
  • Visibility
  • Access

Your kitten needs to be able to easily get to her litter box, meaning she should know where it is and be able to easily get to it. Litter boxes aren’t necessarily something we want visible in our home but there are ways to place it out of the way where your kitten can still get to it. Many people choose to place them in their laundry rooms or bathrooms. Placing your kitten’s litter box somewhere they won’t get easily distracted is key. Don’t place it by their toys or other interesting objects. You want her to focus on going to the litter box and that’s it. Lighting is also important. Place a night light or turn on a lamp so your kitten can easily find her box.

As your kitten grows and explores the house more freely, be sure there is a litter box available to her on each level of your home.

Training

Now that you have your litter box essentials bought and set up, it’s time to start training your kitten. Cat potty training is all about time and patience. Some kittens get it right away while others need a few tries to get it right.

Introduce Your Kitten to Her Litter Box

Start by showing your kitten where her litter box is located. You’ll want to gently place her in her box and let her sniff around.

Give Her Some Guidance

Cat’s paw at the ground or their litter when they are ready to go to the bathroom. After placing your kitten in her litter box, she may start pawing at the litter, allowing her instinct to kick in. If she doesn’t, show her how it’s done by raking your fingers through the litter to demonstrate what she should do. If she mimics you and uses the litter box then she should have the hang of it from there.

Keep Trying

If your kitten doesn’t use her litter box right away, then you might need to keep introducing her to it throughout the day until she gets the hang of it. Try placing her there after eating, drinking, or immediately after she wakes up. Once she gets the hang of it she should start going on her own.

Rewards

Each time your kitten uses the litter box correctly, reward her with a treat as soon as she leaves her litter box. This will show her that she did a good job and will encourage her to continue to use her litter box.

Cleaning Your Kittens Litter Box

While you are training your kitten to use her litter box, it is important that you scoop after every use. This will ensure that she continues to use the litter box and won’t cause an aversion while she is getting used to it. Once she gets older and is adjusted to her litter box, you can scoop the box once a day depending on how much the litter box is used. Remember to keep a few inches of litter in the box at all times and switch out the litter every couple of days.

My Kitten Won’t Use the Litter Box

If your kitten is struggling with using her litter box and has frequent accidents, you may need to try something new. If she uses the litter box when you set her in it, maybe the location is hard to find so try a new spot. If she doesn’t like to be in the litter box, it may be that she doesn’t like the type of litter you are using. Keep trying different things until you find what works best for your kitten. If you continue having issues, call your veterinarian to ensure something more serious isn’t going on.

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