How to Train a Cat to Use the New Litter Box

Adult cats usually know to use a sandy, granular area to relieve themselves, but kittens may require assistance in establishing proper litter box habits. To properly train your kitten, there are several things you can do. This includes knowing when to begin, selecting the appropriate litter box, choosing the right type of litter, finding the right location for the litter box, and helping your kitten become comfortable with using it. Here are some tips to help ensure your kitten’s success in using the litter box.


When to Start Litter Training Kittens

When kittens are born, their mother encourages them to eliminate and clean them afterwards, so they don’t need litter boxes during the first few weeks. However, you can train them to use litter boxes at around 4 weeks old by providing kitten-friendly ones. When kittens reach a certain age, they begin the weaning process. If you adopt an older kitten or adult cat, you can begin their litter box training when they arrive at their new home. It is essential to ensure you have all the necessary supplies ready.


How to Litter Train Your Cat – Choose a Litter Box

Seeing your feline size, choose the litter box accordingly. While deciding on a litter box may seem trivial, it does make a big difference to your kitten.


Get the Right Size Litter Box

For small kittens, full-size litter boxes can be overwhelming. It’s best to opt for a litter tray that’s 13 by 9 inches, which many vets recommend. However, if you have other adult cats or an older cat in the house, they will require a full-size box, while your kitten will need a smaller one. As your kitten grows, the litter box should also grow. A good rule of thumb is to ensure that the litter box is around 1 1/2 times the length of your cat. So, you must upgrade the litter box as your cat grows up.


Give Options to Your Cat Between Litter Boxes

To ensure good litter box hygiene, having one more box than the number of cats in your household is recommended. For instance, if you have two cats, it is advisable to have three boxes; if you have five cats, you should have separate boxes for each.


Uncovered or Covered Litter Boxes

A lot of cats prefer to use an open box. In the wild, cats avoid being trapped by a predator inside a closed space. While many veterinarians agree cats don’t like to feel trapped using their litter box, we think cats prefer privacy.

Your cat’s preference will determine whether or not the lavatory has a roof; it has been shown that some cats prefer an open space to relieve themselves, while others prefer an enclosed space. Always give your kitten a choice at first so you may determine what they like best.


Pick the Right Type of Litter

Studies have revealed that cats generally prefer fine-grain litters because they feel softer. However, cats have their preferences regarding clumping or non-clumping litter. While clumping litters are convenient for scooping, some cats may prefer non-clumping ones. Additionally, some cats may refuse to use a litter box with corn- or wheat-based litter because it smells like food. Instead, cat parents may opt for scented litters such as lavender, coffee, or jasmine. To find the perfect litter for your kitten, it’s best to try out a few different types and observe their preferences.


Plan Where to Put the Litter Boxes

Litter box placement and availability can be critical factors in encouraging your kitten to use the box.


Don’t Hide the Litter Boxes

Placing multiple litter boxes in the same corner can create one large box and may cause privacy issues for your cats. It may be tempting to hide litter boxes in closets or corners, but this should be avoided as cats dislike feeling cornered or trapped during toilet time. Additionally, providing ambient light for your cats to locate their litter boxes is essential. If needed, a night light can be used to provide sufficient lighting.


Avoid Distractions

Set up your kitten’s litter box in an area with few things to distract them from getting to business.

For kittens having trouble focusing, you may have to remove the option of having other “interesting” places to urinate. Try keeping your kitten in a small room without rugs or carpeting and only a small amount of bedding to try and keep them focused until they master using the litter box.


Place Litter Boxes on Every Floor

To make things easier for your cat, place litter boxes on every floor of your home and avoid making them go through multiple rooms or obstacles to reach them. Remember that your kitten will eventually become an adult cat, so avoid placing litter boxes in hard-to-reach areas such as shelves or multiple flights of stairs that may become a challenge for them.


Introduce Your Kitten to the Litter Box

To help your kitten learn to use the litter box, select your supplies and set up the litter box areas. Follow these steps: 

  • Step 1: Introduce your kitten to each litter box and let them sniff around. 
  • Step 2: Gently place your kitten in the litter box. They may start pawing at the litter or using the box alone. If they don’t, show them how to paw at the litter by running your fingers through it. 
  • Step 3: If your kitten doesn’t use a particular box at first, try placing them in the box after they eat, drink, or wake up from a nap until they start using it on their own.


5 Easy Steps to Get your Cat Used to a New Litter

Cats can be very picky and may refuse to use a dirty or unfamiliar litter box. However, following five simple steps, you can easily help your cat adjust to the new litter.

  • Step 1 – Prepare an extra litter box: First, make sure you have an extra litter box available. Fill it with the new litter and place it next to the current litter box that your cat is used to.
  • Step 2 – Observe your cat’s behavior: Monitor your cat’s behavior for five days to see if they regularly use the new litter box. If so, you can remove the old litter box. 
  • Step 3 – Mix old and new litter: Add a few scoops of used litter from the old litter box to the new one. Then, add new litter to the old litter box. This way, you have one box with a mix of old and new litter and another with fresh, new litter.
  • Step 4 – Repeat the process: Repeat Step 3 daily, but take it slow. If your cat doesn’t like the new litter, mix it in with the old litter or remove some clumps from the new litter box.
  • Step 5 – Transition to a new litter: Once your cat is comfortable with the new litter, you can transition to a box with 100% new litter. 


Reinforce Good Litter Box Habits

Reward your kitten with their favorite treat when they use it appropriately to create a positive association with using the litter box. Give the treat immediately after they leave the box so they associate it with the activity. In case they make a mistake, avoid punishing or yelling at them. Instead, calmly clean up the mess with an enzymatic cleaner and avoid any other reaction.


Keep the Litter Boxes Clean

To ensure that your kitten is comfortable using their litter box, it’s essential to scoop it after each elimination and add clean litter to maintain a depth of 2 to 3 inches. You can switch to scooping daily as your kitten becomes more comfortable using the box. It’s also essential to periodically empty all the litter in the box, clean it, and refill it with clean litter. The frequency of changing non-scoop litters will be indicated on the label. Clumping litters can be changed completely every week or every few weeks, depending on how many cats use the box.


What to Do if Your Kitten Won’t Use the Litter Box

If your kitten is struggling with litter box training and urinating outside of the designated area, follow these steps:


Assess your litter box arrangement. Each kitten has unique preferences, so ensure that the litter boxes:

– Are easily accessible 

– Are situated in peaceful areas

– Are not concealed in corners 

– Are not being monopolized by other cats.


If your kitten is having trouble with their litter box, try changing either the box itself (such as switching from a covered to an uncovered box or getting one with lower sides) or the type of litter. You could also try keeping the same box but experimenting with different types of litter to see if that is the issue.


It’s important to scoop the litter box more frequently and replace all the litter more regularly.


To help your kitten feel more comfortable in their surroundings, try using pheromone diffusers near the litter box. These diffusers can reduce stress by making your kitten feel like they’ve marked their territory.


It’s essential to bring your kitten for timely checkups to the vet for medical issues, such as parasites or urinary tract infections, that may contribute to inappropriate elimination. Although rare in kittens, it’s essential to recognize these possibilities.




Your veterinarian can also assist with addressing any litter box issues your kitten may have.

Remember to be patient during training, as your kitten takes time and attention to develop good habits.

With your love and support, your kitten will learn in no time.

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