How to litter train your kitten: 10 cat house-training tips from a vet

  • by DR Roxanne Jones
How to litter train your kitten: 10 cat house-training tips from a vet

If you’ve ever tried to house train a puppy, here’s the good news: litter training a kitten is immeasurably easier. Kittens and cats naturally try to find sand or dirt to relieve themselves in, so if you introduce your kitten to a litter box as soon as you bring her home, she’s likely to use it without too much hassle.

That said, there are some things you should know about your new kitten and her litter box habits. Our vet explains more.

10 tips to ensure your kitten uses her litter box properly from the start

Mother cats will generally litter-train their kits as soon as they’re weaned. Even so, you may find that your kitten has an accident or two when she first moves in. This may be due to separation anxiety, confusion, or being overwhelmed or over-excited in her new home.

It’s vital that you do not punish your new baby in any way for these little spills. Accidents are just that – accidents. Rather, show her the litter box and encourage her to use it in future. You can also help to improve her litter box usage by:

  1. Confining her to one part of the house when you first bring her home to help her feel safe and secure. Make sure she has food, water and a clean litter box to use. Slowly introduce her to the rest of the house over the next few days, taking your time – especially if you have other pets
  2. Praising her when you see her using her litter box.
  3. Keeping the litter box clean. Cats dislike ‘going’ in a litter box that is smelly, dirty or ‘full’. Regularly remove any soiled litter (this is easy if you use the clumping type) and top up with fresh litter. Once a week, throw out all the litter and replace it.
  1. Placing her litter box in a quiet but easily accessible area once she has full run of the house. Make sure it’s as far as possible from her food, as cats don’t like to defecate close to where they eat.
  2. Ensuring the litter box is big enough, particularly if you have more than one cat. Cats like to have plenty of litter to wee and poo in. Even kittens can climb into a large litter box easily.
Kitten or cat not using her litter box? This might be why:
  1. If your kitten or cat starts to wee or poo outside the litter box, it indicates a problem, especially if she used to use it happily. Has anything in the environment changed? Is she stressed or feeling threatened, or has the litter box not been cleaned regularly?
  2. If your cat or kitten starts to urinate on your bed, furniture or other easily noticeable places, this could indicate that she is ill. A sick cat often has no other way to show her humans that she is ill, other than by weeing or pooing in a highly visible place. Take her to the vet as soon as possible. Bloody urine could indicate a bladder or kidney infection.
  3. Is your litter box covered or enclosed? Covered litter boxes are appealing to humans as they help to mask smells, but many cats don’t like feeling ‘trapped’ when they relieve themselves. In the wild, they need to be able to see around them while they defecate to make sure they aren’t under threat. This instinct prevails even in domesticated cats, so try switching to an uncovered litter box.
  4. Have you started using a new kind of litter? Cats are creatures of habit, and yours may be averse to the change. Alternatively, if your kitten hasn’t used her litter box from the start, try using a different type. Stay away from scented litter, as this can be off-putting.
  1. Cats prefer a little privacy when they poo. Try moving the litter box to a more out-of-the-way area, taking care to ensure it’s not close to her food.

In the majority of cases, kittens will take to their litter boxes easily. If you struggle, or if your kitten or cat’s toilet behaviour changes, consult your vet. It’s often the first sign of illness or distress, and your vet will be able to help

Get more tips for a happy, healthy kitty

Your new kitten will bring you many years of joy and happiness, and you’ll want to make her life joyful and happy too! Read our blog for more kitten and cat health tips, or visit our online vet shop to find high quality food and treats for your furbaby.

Here’s to easy litter training for you and your kitten!

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