How to litter train a kitten. It is not very difficult as in reality all you are doing is making sure your new pet has everything it needs to do what kittens do naturally. But still there are some things you need to do.
Kittens by nature understand how to use a litter box. They instinctively prefer to relieve themselves in sand or dirt. But just like human children, every kitten develops at its own pace, so a little patience is needed on your part.
When Do You Start Litter Training Kittens?
Just as with human children, timing is everything. For the general wellbeing of your kitten, do not take it from its mother too soon. Ideally, for their emotional and physical well-being, a kitten should not be separated from its mother until after it is weaned.
Do not try to start litter training you kitten before it is at least 3 weeks old. Kittens 3 weeks old or younger will not go potty naturally but must be stimulated to make them go. This is a task that the kittens mother performs.
Generally, after a kitten is 3 weeks old you can start introducing them to the litter box. With just a little coaching they will figure out what it is for very quickly. Kittens are instinctively driven to cover their waste.
What Kind of Cat Litter Should I Use?
The world best cat litter for a kitten is a litter that does not clump and has no fragrance or odor suppressing chemicals, and also, preferably dust free..
Why? Kittens, just like human babies explore the world with their mouth. So, yes, you will want a litter that will not harm the kitten if they eat it. Litter that clumps will clump inside a kitten just as well as it does in the litter box, which can cause life threating complications.
Likewise, litters with fragrances or odor suppressing chemicals may also harm a kitten if eaten. Also, some cats may simply not like the scent and decide go potty elsewhere.
What is the Best Litter Box for Kittens?
Kittens are small. You will need a litter box that is easy for them to get in and out of. It is recommended by some that a shallow open top litter box be used at first until the kitten is big enough to use an adult litter box. You do not need to go to any extra expense for this. A simple cardboard tray will work just fine. You will only need this until the kitten is about 8 weeks old, and then they can graduate to an adult cat litter box.
If you do start out with an adult cat litter box, then make it easy for the kitten to get into and out of it. If in doubt, make a little ramp for the kitten to use, something with good traction. Attach it to the litter box with some duct tape until the kitten has grown large enough to come and go without it.
If you are using an enclosed box, make sure it is big enough for an adult cat to turn around in it. Yes, little kittens turn into big adult cats, so be prepared. And again, make sure your little kitten has an easy to get in and out of it.
Where to put the Litter Box
Where should you put the litter box? Here is an opportunity to use a bit of kitten psychology. Kittens needing to go potty tend to seek out corners or other areas away from their main hangout. Yes, even cats like to have a little bit of privacy when they go. So do not put the litter box in a high traffic area.
So, for starters, look for a nearby clutter free corner that is easily visible and within easy reach of the kitten. But also, be sure it is in an area where the kitten will be spending a lot of time. Do not make the kitten go searching for it. If there is more than one area where the kitten will be spending time, then have a litter box in each area.
Once you have placed the litter box and shown the kitten where it is, keep it there. Unless it becomes necessary do not move it around from place to place. If for some reason you must move it, move it just a few feet at a time until it is in its new location. Do not confuse the kitty.
Another consideration when deciding where to place the litter box, is that kittens generally do not like to go potty where they eat. So try to keep food bowl and litter box away from each other.
And as some kittens can be very energetic diggers, scattering litter far and wide, if you are not using an enclosed litter box you may also want to place the litter box on a drop cloth to make cleanup easier.
During the training process, you will want to make sure that the litter box is very easy for the kitten to find – at all times! Because kittens are instinctively driven to cover their waste, if the litter box is not easy to find and easy to get to they may seek out alternative locations to go, places like a convenient pile of laundry for example, which would not be a good thing. And that is not what you want to teach your kitten to do. Such behavior if allowed to continue can easily develop into a bad habit.
Introduce the Kitten to the Litter Box
When the kitten is old enough to begin using a litter box, take the kitten and place it in the litter box. You should do this as soon as you bring it home. Let the kitten spend some time exploring the litter box, Initially you will want to do this first thing in the morning, after every meal, when it wakes up from a nap, and whenever else you think the kitten may need to go. Yep, just as with a human child.
Some kitten will catch on quickly, others no so fast. One thing you will want to avoid – resist the urge to “show” the kitten how to dig in the litter box. Let them figure this out on their own. And they will figure it out, some more quickly than others.
Use Positive Reinforcement
Just as with human children, a little positive reinforcement goes a long way. Trying to punish a kitten for potty mistakes may only make things worse. You do not want the kitten to associate the litter box with punishment. Spanking or yelling will only make the kitten afraid of you. So, ignore the accidents when they happen, and praise them when they get it right.
Just as with puppies, if the kitten goes potty in an area outside of the litter box, but sure to thoroughly clean it immediately in order to keep the area from becoming marked by scent as a potty area. Clean bedding, laundry, etc., that has been scent marked by errant kitten potty and keep these things off the floor and away from the areas that the kitten has access to.
If the kitten keeps using the same spot, put a litter box there.
Keep the Litter Box Clean
Cats like people like clean bathrooms. So, clean the litter box at least once a day. More often if needed. A clean litter box will make thing more pleasant both for you and for the kitten. Also, a kitten is more likely to return to a clean litter box than a dirty one.
If you have more than one cat, ideally you should have at least one litter box for each cat.