These tips will help you establish healthy litter box habits that will keep your cat happy.
Contrary to popular belief mother cats do not teach their kittens to use the litter box.
Kittens begin to dig in loose material at just a few weeks old without ever having observed their mothers doing so. This natural instinct is used in training kittens to use the litter box until your cat is reliably house trained.
Find a suitable litter box for your cat
Most cats prefer unscented litters. If your cat is fussy about going into her litter box try a different type of litter until you find one she likes but transition from old to new slowly over a period of 10 days.
Your cat should be able to comfortably step inside turn around scratch and squat without touching the sides of her litter box.
One litter Box per cat
It is crucial that if you live in a multi-cat household, that you provide one litter box per cat plus one additional box and it is recommendable to place litter boxes in a private area where your cats can go potty in peace and quiet.
Show the cat what the litter box is for
Initially confine her to one room, preferably one with non-porous floors, such as a kitchen, bathroom, utility room, basement, or garage, and show her where the litter box is located. You can encourage your cat to use her litter box by gently putting her in it.
Leave a tiny bit of urine or feces behind in the box. The scent will remind her what the box is for.
She should not have free run of your home when you leave the house for any length of time until she learns it.
Provide your cat with a bowl of water and a warm place to sleep at one end of the room and a fresh clean litter box at the other end.
Have a regular feeding schedule
Your cat should have a regular feeding schedule in order to develop a corresponding litter box schedule.
To reward your cat for using her litter box you must be there at the time she uses it. Most cats especially kittens will need to go shortly after waking, after eating, and after exercise.
To help predict when your cat will go, feed her at regular times. If the input is on a regular schedule, the output will follow likewise.
Put the litter box on a quiet place
Relocate your cat’s litter box to a private low traffic area, and never place your cat’s food or water bowls near her litter box. Also, avoid noisy spaces such as the laundry room.
Call her to the litter box from a variety of places around your house especially areas where she has soiled. When your cat gets to the box, scratch the litter to get her interested.
Reward your cat for using the litter box
Similarly, throughout the day whenever your cat has been asleep for over two hours wake her up and call her to the litter box. Encourage your cat to hop into the litter box, and praise her when she does so, even if she does not go she is learning that the litter box is a great clean place to be.
If your cat does use it then praise her in a gentle voice. Once she is finished gently stroke her, give her a treat, and let her know how pleased you are with her behavior.
If mistakes occur pick up the cat and set her down in the box, do not discipline just before placing the cat in the box. The cat will associate any reprimand with being placed in the litter box and will soon associate that the litter box is the wrong place to go.
Punishing a cat teaches her to be afraid of you. Never rub your cat’s nose in a mess or bring her over to it for a reprimand, she will have no idea why she’s being reprimanded but she may be inclined to eliminate in hidden spots such as behind the sofa to avoid another reprimand.
Punishment doesn’t work with cats. Prevention and praise for getting it right are the keys to training.
If your cat evacuates outside the litter
Clean any accidents immediately with half solution of white vinegar and water. This will help to eliminate the odor, and hopefully prevent the kitty from returning to that spot.
Cover the area with a plastic sheet, this will make it unpleasant for your kitty and discourage her from going there again.
As soon as she is using the box reliably, and this could be as quick as a day or two, remove all liquid and solid waste regularly. Scoop out solid material at least, once a day, and stir the litter to keep the surface dry.
If your cat or kitten suddenly stops using the litter box for no obvious reasons then take your cat to the vet as soon as possible.
Once your cat gets into the hang of finding the litter box and using it, they should have this skill for life.
Cats are very clean animals so they expect their litter boxes to be kept in clean conditions. A dirty litter box is unhygienic and also a primary reason why a cat won’t use it.
If possible once a month thoroughly clean the box with soap and water and rinse thoroughly replace your cat’s litter box periodically since plastic materials absorb odors.
provide your cat with a clean litter box that’s easy to access get her interested in the litter box by scratching the litter reward your cat for using her litter box immediately after she uses it and remember prevention and praise are the keys to training punishment does not work with cats.