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two kittens staring at litter in pan
two kittens staring at litter in pan

Congratulations, you’ve adopted a kitten! Litter box training is an essential part of raising your kitten and it can be relatively easy if you follow some simple steps. In this article, we will discuss how to litter train a kitten, including the tools you’ll need, and ways to deter unwanted toileting behaviors.

Gathering Your Supplies

When it comes to shopping for litter pans and cat litter, you have a variety of options. Some of the most popular types of litter include clumping, non-clumping and crystal. Clumping litter is popular because it makes it easy to scoop out waste, while non-clumping litter is typically more affordable. Crystal litter is becoming increasingly popular due to its ability to absorb moisture and control odor. Cat litters also range in weight from heavy clay (bargain priced) to ultra-lightweight (premium priced).

Litter pans have modernized a bit over the past decade and some now include self-cleaning options. Let’s start with the basics:

  • Choose a pan that’s appropriate to your cat’s size. If you have a very young kitten, be sure it can enter and exit the pan easily. Avoid high- or steep-sided pans with very young kittens.
  • Your pan should be large enough for an adult cat to comfortably turn around.
  • If you have multiple cats, each should have its own pan. This is not only for privacy but to reduce the likelihood of disease spread if one of your pets becomes ill.
  • You’ll also want to keep a scoop handy and a garbage receptacle to collect the waste.

Approaches to Cat Box Training

When training a kitten to use the litter box, it’s important to be patient and consistent. Here are some tips:

  • Choose a quiet and private location for the litter box: Cats are protective of their privacy and prefer to use the litter box in a place that is away from high-traffic areas of your home.
  • Show your kitten where the litter box is located: When you bring your kitten home, show it where the box is located. You can even place the kitten in the litter box to help it get used to it. Let your kitten explore the box, even if it doesn’t go right away.
  • Encourage your kitten to use the litter box: When your kitten uses the litter box, give  praise and treats to encourage it to continue using the box.
  • Monitor your kitten’s behavior: If your kitten starts to show signs of needing to go to the bathroom, such as sniffing or circling, take it gently to the box and place it inside. Gentle reinforcement is enough to build good toileting habits in most kittens.
  • Keep the litter box clean: Cats prefer a clean litter box. Scoop out waste daily and completely change out the litter every one to two weeks. An untended liter pan is likely to result in unwanted toileting behaviors in other parts of the home.

Deterring Unwanted Toileting Behaviors in Cats

For a variety of reasons, a kitten may start to exhibit unwanted toileting behaviors, such as going outside of the litter box. Here are some steps you can take to deter these behaviors:

  • Rule out any medical issues: Before assuming your kitten is deliberately misbehaving, it’s important to rule out any underlying medical issues that may be causing the behavior (such as a digestive problem or urinary tract infection ).
  • Address any litter box issues: If your kitten is not using the litter box, it’s important to make sure the box is clean and in a quiet, private location.
  • Consider using a different type of litter: Some kittens may have a preference for a certain type of litter. If your kitten is not using the litter box, consider switching to a different type of litter to see if that solves the problem. Some cats prefer finer, less dusty litters.
  • Use positive reinforcement: When your kitten uses the litter box, give praise and treats. This will help reinforce the desired behavior.
  • Use deterrents: You can use deterrents, such as double-sided tape or aluminum foil, to discourage your kitten from going in inappropriate places.

Be Patient and Consistent

When raising a kitten, the most important thing you can exercise is patience. Remember to be gentle and reinforce the behaviors you desire with praise. The relationship you build with your kitten now will have a lasting impact as it grows into adulthood. Using consistent training techniques and deterring unwanted toileting behaviors, you can help your kitten learn to use the litter box effectively. The key to success is to be patient and consistent throughout the process!

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