How to Litter Train a Kitten

Litter Box Training

So you’ve decided to bring home an adorable little kitten. Congrats! Maybe you have always wanted to have a little fluff ball of your own. If this is your first time having a brand new kitty cat, there are steps you need to take so that you know can have him potty trained in no time flat. At least it’s easier than training a puppy, right?

Luckily, this is actually a natural process that many kittens adapt to very easily. When you do it the right way, it’s not difficult at all. Litter training cats probably won't be too much of a headache. Here are some simple steps to follow that will have your kitten mastering litter box training with ease.

Know Your Kitten's Schedule

Most kittens will have to use the bathroom shortly after waking up, after eating their daily meal, and sometimes following a period of being very active. Playtime especially seems to get things moving through their systems.

Try to keep your kitten on the same eating schedule each day, since that will help predict their bathroom habits. It’s natural that after they eat, your little kitten will usually have to eliminate.

Here’s a helpful tip to remember: until you know that they are completely trained, don’t let them have free run over your entire home. When you aren’t around, confine them to a smaller area, like your bathroom, or put them in their crate if you have one.

Set up the Litter Box in a Specific Area

Place the litter box in a specific area of your home, but away from their food. Cats, like most animals, don’t enjoy using the bathroom near their food. Position the litter box somewhere that’s easy for them to get to and preferably on the main floor where they spend most of their time. You may want to hide the litter box away in the basement, but that makes it hard for a smaller kitten to have access to.

Have at least 3-4 inches of litter in the box for them to comfortably dig through. You may want to use a cover eventually, but at first it’s easier to have it open so that you can place them in the box rather than sticking them through a tiny opening that may be scary for a kitten.

Bring Your Kitten to the Litter Box at Regular Intervals

This is important to practice until the kitten heads to the litter box on their own. When they wake up (even from naps), after a meal, and after playtime, bring them over to the litter box. Place them into the litter box and show them how to scratch at the surface of the litter with your fingers. They will watch what you do and try to imitate the behavior. This isn’t an issue if you have a mother cat around that will show their kittens how to use the litter box, but if you’ve adopted a kitten from a shelter or breeder this won’t be the case. Don’t worry, they will learn to use the litter box on their own even without a mother cat around.

Keep in mind that being consistent will help them learn to use the litter box on a regular schedule. Every two hours is a good baseline for bringing them to the litter box. Give them love and affection, praising them when they do their business in the litter box. They will understand that positive reinforcement is a great part of the process that they’ll look forward to receiving from you. If you want to use treats as a reward, that’s fine as well.

When Accidents Happen

If you see a kitten using the bathroom where they shouldn’t, gently bring them over to the litter box and place them inside. Don’t yell or act aggressively towards them. This will make the process  of getting your kitten on the right track much more complicated. They may start to hide from you or go in all the wrong places, like your closet. Gentle guidance and praise is best throughout this whole process.

Do not rub their nose in the accident spot. Sometimes people train a dog this way, but it doesn't work with cats. You don’t want your cat to become afraid of you in any way. Clean the spot immediately with a vinegar-based solution to get rid of the odor. This will keep your kitten from returning to the same spot to use the bathroom.

It’s also helpful if their litter box isn't completely cleaned out during training. The smell of their own urine or eliminations is going to remind them that’s where they need to go to the bathroom. Makes sense, doesn't it?

Above all, be patient and kind to your kitten through the process. Know that eventually being litter trained will be like second nature to them. It just takes a little time for them to learn.

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