Litter Box Training Tips


More people surrender their cats to animal shelters because of litter box issues than for just about any other reason. The sad truth is that the vast majority of these people would not have felt they needed to give up their kitties if they had simply followed a few basic guidelines.

Real estate agents are all about "location, location, location." So is your kitten. The litter box should be easily accessible and should offer a combination of privacy and escape routes. It should not be near where your cat eats because cats are will not eliminate where they eat.

If you have a dog, the litter box should be in a place where the dog cannot get to it. Litter pans should not be located near noisy places like the laundry room or the basement. If the washing machine or the furnace goes on while your kitten is doing her business, it might scare her away from the litter box.

Size matters. Your kitten's litter box should be large enough for her to turn around in and have several places to dig, so that she can use the box more than once without stepping on her previously deposited waste. Purchase a box large enough to fit these requirements for an average-size adult cat.

What's under her feet? Cats' litter preferences are usually formed in kittenhood, and most cats seem to prefer a sandy texture. For your convenience in removing liquid waste and keeping odor to a minimum, a clumping litter is recommended. You can get clumping litter in the traditional clay, or you can opt for more environmentally friendly versions made of corn, wheat, or other grains. Do not use scented litter; the smell is overpowering to a cat's sensitive nose and can cause litter box avoidance. Many of the grain- or wood-based litters have a natural aroma that most people (and cats) find pleasant.

Keep it tidy. The most important thing you can do to ensure that your kitten does her business where she should is to keep the litter box clean. This means scooping out solid and liquid waste at least twice a day and washing the entire box with soap and water once a week. (You may get away with less frequent washing if you use clumping litter, but whatever type of litter you use, you must wash the litter box it at least once a month.) Use dish soap--preferably the unscented kind--and warm water for your weekly cleanings and rinse the box very well afterwards. If you're dealing with disease or a worm infestation, rinse with a weak bleach mixture after you wash with soap and water.

One final note: Covered litter boxes are not always ideal because it's easy to forget to do the routine scooping if you can't see the mess. Covered boxes trap urine and fecal odors, so when your kitten goes inside, she's entering a miniature gas chamber. Would you want to use a bathroom where you had to step in sewage to get to the toilet and you were gagging from the reek in the air? We didn't think so!

If you keep your cat box clean and accessible and you make sure it's the right size for your kitten, you shouldn't have any trouble with litter box issues.

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