How To Litter Train Kittens

Owning a new kitten is a wonderful experience, but it also takes a lot of love, time and patience. While your kitten gets acclimated to its new home and family and you get acclimated to your new furbaby, there are a few important things that must be done. One of the most crucial first steps in owning a kitten is litter training. Without it, you’ll have a cat that lacks structure and goes to the bathroom anywhere, leaving the two of you with an undoubtedly tense relationship. 

Getting Started

Kittens can start litter training as early as 4 weeks of age! To get the process started, first you will need to set the training stage. While this may seem like a simple task, there are several things to consider:

(1) The size of the litter box. Litter boxes will need to grow with your kitten, so prepare to purchase more than one.

(2) The number of litter boxes available. There should be one more litter box than there are cats in your home, so if you have one cat, you should have two litter boxes.

(3) The type of litter box. Pay attention to whether or not your cat seems to prefer an enclosed or open litter box.

(4) The type of litter. Try out a few types of litter while training to figure out what your cat prefers.

(5) Where to place the litter boxes. The placement and availability of litter boxes is a critical factor in encouraging your cat to use the box. Avoid hiding boxes or putting them in closed spaces; cats don’t like to feel trapped when eliminating. Additionally, make sure some type of light is present near the box, whether it be natural or a night light.

Introducing Your Kitten to the Litter Box

There are three simple and easy steps when introducing your cat to its litter boxes:

Step 1: Show your cat the locations of each litter box and let it sniff them.

Step 2: Place your cat inside the litter box. They may start pawing at the litter or using the litter box. You can also calmly run your fingers through the clean litter to demonstrate the pawing action.

Step 3: If your cat didn’t use one of the boxes in the initial introduction, try placing it in one of the boxes each time it eats, drinks, or wakes up from a nap, until it begins using the box on its own. 

Positive Reinforcement

The best way to show your cat that it’s supposed to use the litter box is by practicing positive reinforcement! Every time your cat uses the box appropriately, immediately reward it with a treat as it leaves the box to create a positive association. 

Keep Boxes Clean

It’s always important to keep litter boxes clean, but especially during the training process. Try scooping your cat’s box after every elimination and adding clean litter. By doing so, you’re ensuring that your cat doesn’t develop an aversion to the box because it’s dirty. 

If you’re having trouble litter training your cat or have questions about the process, your veterinarian is a good source for consultation and troubleshooting.

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