How to Litter Train a Kitten
Whether you’re a first-time cat owner or a seasoned pro, knowing how to litter train a kitten is important. Proper training can keep your cat happy and your home clean.
Kittens need a little guidance when it comes to eliminating in the right place. With the right litter box, plus encouragement and treats for rewards, you can help your feline companion achieve success.
How to Train a Kitten to Use a Litter Box
For many kittens, litter training comes naturally. When you get your cat, they may already know how to use a litter box, thanks to an instructive mother. Cats also tend to bury their waste. This instinct helps them avoid attracting predators—and understand the purpose of a litter box.
If you’re introducing the box for the first time, try these steps:
1. Choose a Litter Box That’s Right for Your Cat
There are different styles of litter boxes you can try. A hooded version works well for cats who crave privacy, but it can leave others feeling boxed in. Other boxes may feature low entryways, high sides or handles for easy cleaning.
Also consider size. It is typical for cats to paw and dig in their litter as part of their natural elimination sequence, but you don’t want the litter (or its contents) to fly overboard, so go with a box with enough room for your cat to move around in. If you have a kitten, choose a box they can get into—and grow into—easily. Keep in mind you will likely have to size up as your kitten grows.
2. Pick the Right Number of Boxes
Determining the number of litter boxes is simple: One box per cat, plus one additional box. So, one cat, two boxes. Two cats, three boxes. You get the picture.
3. Balance Access with Privacy
Put the boxes in places your cat will easily find and are free of obstacles. Privacy is important as well. They might not feel safe in a high-traffic area such as a kitchen. A bathroom, on the other hand, may give them the protection they need.
Also, keep in mind how noisy a location may be. A laundry room might provide a nice space, but the machine (especially the buzzer) might lead to the cat being startled and avoiding the litter box.
Have more than one story in your home? Put a box on each floor to make taking care of business as easy as possible.
4. Choose Your Litter
As you learn how to litter train a kitten, there’s one important factor you don’t want to overlook: The litter.
There are a range of litter options that vary by price and materials. If you’re not sure what to choose, try a scent-free, non-clumping litter until you’re sure your kitten doesn’t have a tendency to eat the litter. Some cats won’t care about what type of litter you provide, but others will object to overpowering smells or uncomfortable textures.
5. Determine How Much Litter to Put in the Litter Box
How much litter you put in the litter box depends on litter type. Always check the package for specifics, but about two to three inches for non-clumping and three to four inches of clumping litter will do the trick.
6. How to Get Your Kitten to Use the Litter Box
Now that you’ve selected and placed your litter boxes, and filled them with an appropriate amount of litter, it’s time to introduce your kitten.
Show your cat where the box is located. If they don’t enter it on their own, carefully place them inside. They might begin sniffing or pawing at the litter. If not, show them what to do by running your own fingers through the contents of the box.
If your cat doesn’t take to the box right away, place them inside after they eat, drink or wake up. The routine can help train them to use the box on their own.
Particularly early on, try to limit how much access your cat has to the rest of the house. This will help prevent them from getting so distracted that they have a hard time finding the box when it is time to use it.
Keep the Box Clean
Cats like clean. Maintain litter boxes daily by removing solids and clumps and disposing them. Every month, replace litter and clean the box with warm water and mild detergent.
Other pro tips: Toss the old litter in the trash—don’t flush (even flushable types can wreak havoc on your plumbing), and don’t use as fertilizer (it could attract flies or other cats).
Reward Your Kitten’s Success
Positive reinforcement can be a powerful tool when you’re litter training a kitten. Remember to praise your cat for correct use of the litter box. Offering a tasty treat can also help form a positive association with the experience.
Just make sure you’re quick to reward. If too much time passes, they won’t connect the treat with the activity.
Don’t Punish for Accidents
If your kitten eliminates outside the litter box, scolding may only confuse or frighten them. Double check that the litter box is well prepared and continue to demonstrate how to use it.