If you’ve landed on this post, odds are you just added a new kitten into your life. Given your new bundle of feline joy is a kitten, he will need a little direction from you. When it comes to litter box training, it’s not too difficult because cats are naturally drawn to litter boxes, and their instincts allow them to understand what the litter box is for and how to use it. Still, they need a little encouragement from you.
Kittens can take to a litter box in just a couple of days, but a little help and guidance will be beneficial to your kitten. Let’s learn how to potty train your kitten and set your kitten up for success.
Before You Start
Before starting the process, when you start potty training will depend on your kitten’s age. The mother cat stimulates the kittens to go potty and cleans them up afterward before 4 weeks of age, at which time no litter box is needed. However, if your kitten is in the weaning stage, which usually occurs between 4 to 6 weeks of birth, you can start preparing your new kitten to use a litter box. If you’ve adopted an adult cat, you can begin potty training immediately (if they haven’t been trained already).
Before potty training your kitten, ensure you have enough litter boxes to go around—this is especially true if you have multiple cats in the home. Generally, you need one litter box per cat with one extra box. So, if you have two cats, ensure you have three litter boxes in the home.
Ensure you have plenty of litter, and keep the litter box clean. You can place a mat underneath the litter box to keep mess to a minimum. One last thing—be prepared to use positive reinforcement while training, and never yell at your kitten when he makes mistakes 1. And now, without further ado, let’s look at how to potty train your kitten.
How to Potty Train a Kitten
1. Choose the Correct Litter Box
Full-sized litter boxes may be too intimidating for your kitten, so size matters. Experts agree that a 13 x 9-inch litter tray is an acceptable size for kittens. Keep in mind that as your kitten grows, you’ll need to upgrade the litter box to a more acceptable size. Ensure you have two litter boxes of the same size in the home for your kitten, and upgrade them both as your kitten grows.
It’s ideal to buy uncovered litter boxes, especially for kittens. Remember that cats are naturally drawn to litter boxes, but they generally don’t like using covered boxes because, in the wild, they need an open space to keep an eye out for predators. As your kitten grows into an adult, he may prefer a covered litter box, but you can access that when the time comes.
2. Pick the Correct Litter
This stage may take some trial and error, but it’s best to avoid cat litter with harsh chemicals for kittens. A fine, sandy, and unscented clumping litter should work well for your kitten.
3. Litter Box Placement
Where you place the litter boxes is an important factor. The boxes should be in a calm area of the home with little foot traffic and noise. The areas should be free from area rugs or any other object that may be tempting to potty on. The placement should also be in an area with ambient light (if this is not possible, use a night light).
Refrain from placing multiple boxes in a corner because this will look like one giant litter box, and it may cause problems if you have other cats in the home. Instead, spread the boxes out. If you have more than one level, place a box on every level of the home.
4. Introduce Your Kitten to the Litter Box
Once you have placed the litter boxes full of safe kitten litter, it’s time to introduce your kitten to the litter boxes. The first step is to show your kitten the location of all the litter boxes spread throughout the home. Next, gently place your kitten in one of the boxes. Your kitten may paw at the litter right off the bat due to instinct—if your kitten does not paw at the litter, use your hand to sift through it to show him. Your kitten may use the box right away, but it may take going through this process a few times before he gets the hang of it.
If your kitten hasn’t used the box during this process, try placing him in a litter box right after eating, drinking water, or right after a nap.
5. Reward with Positive Reinforcement
When your kitten goes potty in the litter box, reward him with a tasty treat and gentle praise with a calm voice. Never yell at your kitten when he makes a mistake, and if he does, clean the area with an enzymatic cleaner to discourage accidents from happening in the same place. Ensure you provide a treat immediately after he goes potty in the litter box to show he did something that pleased you.
What to Do if You Kitten Won’t Use the Litter Boxes
If your kitten is not taking to the litter box, don’t fret! He will eventually, but there are steps you can take to prevent your kitten from going potty outside of the litter box.
For starters, ensure you have the litter boxes placed in the appropriate areas mentioned above. The box should be easily accessible and in quiet spots with little to no foot traffic. Ensure the box is not hidden, as well as there is no competition going on between other cats in the home.
You can also consider changing the type of litter you’re using as some cats have particular preferences, and the problem may be as simple as he doesn’t prefer the litter. Getting this right may take some trial and error, but you’ll get there eventually.
Ensure you’re keeping the litter box clean. If all of these steps are in order with what you’re doing, consider taking your kitten to your veterinarian to rule out a medical issue, such as a urinary tract infection (UTI) or kidney problems.
Potty training a kitten shouldn’t be too difficult, but success will greatly depend on where you place the litter boxes, choosing the correct size and litter, and how clean you keep them. If you follow the steps mentioned above, you should have no problems potty training your new kitten. If all else fails, take your kitten in for an examination to rule out medical issues.
Featured Image Credit: Kachalkina Veronika, Shutterstock