How to litter box train a kitten

How your kitten uses the litter box from an early age will set him up for adulthood, so a bit of effort in training him young will ensure the best outcome for you both.

Here’s the good news: your kitten is already hardwired to make litter training easy, so it’s up to you to encourage your kitten’s good litter box behaviour.

Start with the litter

Different kittens prefer different types of litter. Fortunately, there are a lot of options commercially available. Make the choice based on what works for both of you.

You might like to scoop every day (in that case, scoopable litter is your new best friend) or you might like to dump the whole box and start fresh. Find out what your kitten prefers by testing out different litter options. Place different types of litter in similar boxes and see which one your kitten gravitates toward.

Think outside the (litter) box

Litter boxes come in all shapes, sizes, materials and colours. Make sure you pick one that is easy to clean, because a clean box is the key to maintaining good litter habits. Some boxes have tall sides, making kittens less likely to scatter litter with their boisterous shovelling, but keep in mind that your cat is going to be with you their entire life, so the high sides might make getting in and out of the box difficult as your kitten ages.

What your kitten decides she likes as a kitten may be a lifelong preference, so think ahead. Your cat should be able to comfortably enter and exit the box and have room
to completely turn around (while scratching) inside, so be sure that your box choice can accommodate your kitten’s expected adult size.

Out of sight, out of mind

Cats know they are vulnerable when they eliminate, so offer them a safe, quiet place to eliminate. In order to avoid litter box aversions later on, make sure nothing scary or bad happens when your kitten is in the box.

In addition, your cat shouldn’t be forced to share a single box with other cats in the house. Set up one litter box per cat plus one extra, so there’s no conflict over box use. Don’t forget to place your litter box in a place that’s not so out of the way that your kitten will find an easier option.

Yelling and nose rubbing is wrong

Never yell at your kitten or rub their nose in an accident if they miss the box. Your kitten cannot sort out their fear of your rough handling from what you are trying to convey, which could cause your kitten to fear you. If you see your kitten start to posture for elimination outside the box, quickly scoop them up, place them gently in the box and give them some privacy. If your kitten is not choosing the box, it is up to you to find out why.

With a little planning and some testing, you should be able to find out exactly what you and your cat prefer, setting you both on the path to live happily litter after!

-article extracted from DVM360