Cats and kittens are naturally inclined to cover their waist so they instinctively understand what the litter box is for most of the time.
However, there are some tips and tricks that you will find here to help you successfully train your kitten to use the litter box.
Having an appropriate litter for your kittens
First things first, you need a small and simple box for your kittens, so that it is not too tall nor has a door, steps or anything similar.
Use a kitten safe litter, that is fragrance-free and non-clumping. Kittens navigate the world with their mouths, and highly fragrant litters can be bad for tiny kittens.
Also, avoid ingested and clumping clay litter since it clumps up when it touches liquid. Instead, use an unscented paper-based litter, a corn or wheat-based litter until they’re 8 weeks old.
Once the kittens are 6 or 7 weeks old, move them into a plastic litter box that is more like what they’ll have as an adult you still want this box to be shallow and without lids but it can be a bit bigger and more robust than cardboard trees.
Stimulate kittens to evacuate
Kittens don’t go to the bathroom on their own for the first few weeks of life. From zero to three weeks of age kittens will be stimulated to go to the bathroom by their mother licking them. In this case, you would have to help them go to the bathroom by stimulating them with a soft tissue.
Once the kittens are three weeks old their bodies start being able to gradually go to the bathroom independently, they might poop or pee in their bedding between feedings, which is a perfect time to introduce the litter box.
You can stimulate them to go to the bathroom right into the box. They’ll be able to associate the scent of their urine with the box which will help them understand the use of the litter box.
More than 3-week old kittens
If you have a kitten that’s more than three weeks old you should introduce them to the litter box right away. The litter box should always be the first thing you show a kitten anytime they go to a new home or a new room.
Kittens naturally understand the box because they want to cover their waste but there are several things you can do to ensure that they do use the box.
The placement of the litter box
First, make sure that the litter box easy for them to find. When they’re learning they should never be more than ten feet away from a litter box. If they don’t know where it is, they might start looking for somewhere else to go. Put as many boxes as you need depending on the size of the space you have.
While they’re still learning, kittens will typically be drawn to go to the bathroom in a corner, therefore put a box in one or two corners of the room. Limiting the amount of space they have while learning will help because they’ll be right next to the box at all times.
Keep your kittens confined to a playpen or a single room until they’re totally trained to use the litter box. Once the kitten uses the box congratulate it. Kittens do well with positive reinforcement. Use an encouraging voice and give them some extra pets.
After they pooed
While they’re exiting the box, make sure they don’t find alternate places to go to the bathroom. Things like a pile of laundry in the corner of your room or some blankets all bunched up in their playpen.
If your kitten didn’t get it
If your kitten isn’t covering his waist and isn’t getting it, try a few different litter brands. Some kittens will have preferences or may be sensitive to the feel or smell of certain brands.
Kittens also learn by example and imitation. If a kitten isn’t getting it, bring it over to the box to watch other cats doing it so they can learn. Also, you can put the kitten in the box and run your fingers through the litter to show them that it’s a place to dig, or even gently run their paw through it to encourage digging behaviors that ultimately lead to potty time this will also teach them how to cover.
How to train feral kittens to use the litter box
A feral kitten that has been living outdoors, the bathroom to them might look like some dirt, and some leaves. So put a couple leaves on top of the litter box if to help them make the association.
They want a clean environment so have patience. Steer them in the right direction and never use negative reinforcement or punishment.
Keep the litter box clean
This is an important point because people don’t clean the box enough and therefore they fail to train their kitten to use the litter. Cats aren’t smelly animals, it is the owner’s responsibility to clean the litter box regularly.
Whenever you feed them, you should also check out the box and see if it needs a scoop. If it does Toss that small amount into a toilet a trash bag or a smell-proof pale.
When kittens are litter training it is very important to keep a clean box so that they’re incentivized to use it. Otherwise they might think it’s super gross and start looking for somewhere else to go, and the more they go elsewhere the more they will think it’s right to do it.
If you followed this steps you should hopefully have a fully trained kitten that likes to use her litter box.