House Training your Kitten

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Do I need to train my new kitten to use a litter box?
Most cats will naturally use a soil type surface for elimination. By providing a litter box with an appropriate and appealing material, very few cats will need to be trained to use it. At about 30-36 days of age kittens will begin to search out a loose substrate for elimination. The kitten learns specific areas and substrates to use by watching their mother.


How can I help to train my new cat to use the litter box and area that I have selected?
Initially, it is best that the kitten be confined to a small area with an appropriate sized litter box. This allows you to take advantage of a cat’s tendency to eliminate in a loose material. As long as the kitty litter is easily accessible and is the only loose material available, very little effort should be required to litter box train your kitten.
Kittens most commonly need to eliminate after they eat, after they wake up and after play. At those times, you should place the kitten in its litterbox and praise or give a treat for elimination. A kitten does not need to be confined continuously, but should be supervised to prevent accidents and frequently brought back to the appropriate elimination location. A little of the urine or stool odour from previous elimination should help to attract the cat back to the box. If the kitten soils in a location other than its litter box, clean up the area thoroughly using a product that is designed to neutralize cat urine odour. It may be helpful to move a small amount of the stool or a few drops of the urine to the box to attract the cat to that area.

If you have a multi-cat household, ensure there is at least one more litter box than number of cats. By confining the kitten to an area with its own box, the kitten can establish regular litter habits without competition or threats from the other cats. This also provides for a more gradual and cautious introduction of the kittens to the other cats.

What type of litter material should I use?

There are many types of litter available including clay litter, fine “clumping” litter, plastic pearls, silica, recycled newspapers and wood shavings. Some brands have scented litter material which may deter some cats. If you have a kitten that tends to eat litter (as some young kittens do), please seek advice on safe options. Since the kitten will first start eliminating by following the cues of the queen, continuing with the same litter as used in the first home is helpful. Some studies have found that clumping litter may be preferable to more cats.

What size and type of litter box should I buy?
Initially, the size of the litter box should be determined by the size of the kitten or cat. A very small kitten may need a box with shorter (lower) sides or a ramp for easier access. As the kitten grows, a larger box is generally more appropriate. Some owners prefer litter boxes with covers on them. This is acceptable if it is acceptable to the cat. You need to be sure that the cat can negotiate the opening by stepping into it will comfortably fit through the opening. Over time be certain to increase the size of the box if necessary to accommodate the cat’s changing size.

Where should I put the litter box?
The litter box should be placed in a location that is easily accessed by the cat, yet out of the way. Try to avoid congested household
areas. The cat should have some privacy and quiet to eliminate. The laundry is often used but be sure that noise from laundry
appliances are not disruptive and aversive to your cat. Make sure that the cat does not get locked out of the room at a time when it
may have to eliminate. Try to put the litter box in an area that is convenient for you to check on and keep clean. Do not put food
and water bowls immediately next to the litter box. If there are dogs in the home, then the litter box should be located where the
cat can eliminate without being bothered by them.

How often should I clean the litter box?
One of the most important factors in continued litter box usage by house cats is cleanliness. Cats are very fastidious animals, and spend time each day making sure their coat, feet and face are clean. One can assume that they would like a clean place to eliminate. Faecal material should be removed after each bowel movement, if possible and the box should be cleaned or scooped of urine wastes on a daily basis. Litter should be completely changed and the tray cleaned weekly. Your cat may like more frequent cleaning of the litter box to maintain good usage patterns. Some cats dislike the odour of the cleansers used to clean litter boxes, so rinse the box thoroughly after each cleaning. A number of products are self-cleaning and this can be particularly appealing to some cats.

How many litter boxes do I need in my home?
The number of litter boxes needed depends on the number of cats, the size of your home, the temperament of your cat, and
other pets. When there are multiple cats, multiple trays should be available in different locations, not all side-by-side in one place. Even for only one cat, two boxes may be appropriate depending on the layout of your home and the individual preferences of your cat. Some cats prefer one box for urine and one for stool. In general, there should be at least one litter box per cat; however, if soiling
problems arise, most behaviourists advise one more box than the number of cats in the house.


What if the kitten does not use its litter box?
Should the kitten begin to eliminate in locations other than its litter box, first review the steps above. Is the litter in an area that
is appealing and easily accessed by the cat? Is the litter box being cleaned frequently enough? Are there enough litter boxes for the
number of cats? Try to determine what there is about the area that your cat is soiling that is so appealing to your cat. Most
importantly is there anything about the area, box or litter that might be preventing its use (or scaring your cat)?


To determine the most appealing litter for your cat, offer two or more different litters in the same type of box, side-by-side and see
which one, if any, the cat uses most frequently. Next, determine the type of litter box the cat prefers by offering two or more
litter box types side-by-side (each with the preferred type of litter). You can determine the cat’s preferred location by offering the
preferred litter box with the preferred litter in two or more locations and determining which one, if any, the cat uses more frequently. If litter box problems persist, please give us a call on 3208 9233 and consult your veterinarian for individual advice.

© 2020 Albert Animal Hospital. 

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