What You Need to Know About Litter Box Training

Whether your kitten brings a playful sense of adventure to your home or a mellow cuddle-friendly vibe, there’s no doubt that inviting a young cat into your life is rewarding. But it’s not all fun and games; what about litter box training? How can you make it easier, and cleaner, for everyone?

Training Your Kitten to Use the Litter Box

Relax, for most kittens – and their owners – litter box training is a breeze. Cats instinctively want to relieve themselves and then bury the evidence in a soft, “dig-able” area. This is why sand boxes are a favorite (so if you have a child’s sand box and an outdoor cat, you may want to invest in a cover). Luckily, you can cater to their instincts inside with a litter box.

For some kittens, calling it “training” is a bit of a stretch:  you put the box out, make sure there is litter in it, and they do the rest. Here are a few tips to make sure that it’s really that easy!

  • Know when to start. Kittens can litter box train at about 4 weeks. They’ll start to dig, and this indicates they’re ready to go. If you adopt a kitten, start training immediately.
  • Put the litter box in an area that is relatively private and away from high-traffic areas. Cats are discrete, and they may not go in the box if they feel too exposed. Many cats prefer a hooded box (and many owners, too. It helps reduces odor as well as the litter that ends up on the floor when your cat digs).
  • Show your kitten where the litter box is. Kittens rarely forget, but to reinforce the training, place her in the box in the morning, after a nap or meal, and after you’ve played. It helps if you rub their paws in it so they understand they should dig there. Praise her for using the box.
  • Make sure one side of the litter box is low enough that your kitten can enter easily. Also, choose a large litter box – don’t worry; she’ll grow into it faster than you can believe!
  • Leave a little urine or feces in the box. When you change the litter, don’t clean as thoroughly as you normally would. Leaving behind a bit of urine or feces reinforces the kitten that this is where she should relieve herself. The scent marks it as her spot. After your kitten has the hang of it, feel free to clean away!

Accidents and Messes

While cats are typically easy to train and have few slip-ups, accidents can happen. What can you do?

  • Investigate. There may be something “wrong,” which is deterring her from using the litter box. You may have it in an area that is not comfortable; she may not like the type of litter you’ve provided; or she may not like the box. Tweaking these can help.
  • Do not scold or reprimand your pet. She will not understand why. Some people punish the cat (rubbing her nose in the mess) and then plop her into the litter box. The lesson that gets through to her is: “Uh oh, this box is bad. I won’t go here.”  If there’s an accident, gently take her to the box and praise her for going.
  • Completely remove the smell. Cat urine is an unpleasant and stubborn smell. You don’t want your home to smell like a giant litter box, but there’s another reason to get serious about attacking messes: your cat has just “marked” her territory, and she will continue using it. If you eradicate the smell, she will not be as likely to return.
  • Invest in an enzymatic cleaner with Ordenone. The problem with accidents is that you can remove visible traces, but the smell lingers on. Ordenone is a natural compound that traps odor molecules. They’re essentially locked up tight, and then the enzymes continue the smell-destruction by breaking down the malodors completely so even your cat can’t smell it. The result is a deep clean, with no trace of urine or feces.

With love, support, praise, and consistency, your kitten will catch right on to litter box training. For occasional missteps, a good enzymatic cleaner with Ordenone and some patience will help her get back on track.