Do You Have to Train a Cat to Use a Litter Box?
Yes, most cats require training to use their litter box. Some are born knowing how to use a litter box, but many need to be trained by their owners, especially if they are trying to adjust to a new home. Even new cats and kittens can be taught how to use a litter box. So don’t worry if you have an adult cat that has never used one.
So, how to train a cat to use a litter box? The first step in how to litter train your cat is finding the right one for her. There are many types of litter boxes, and cat litter types or pellets; you need to find the right one for your pet.
Cats are creatures of habit, so if she isn’t using her litter box, it’s likely because it doesn’t suit her needs or expectations. Some cats do not like covered litter boxes. The best way to find out what will work best is through trial and error until you find one that she likes.
What Are the Benefits of Training a Cat to Use a Litter Box?
Cats are very sensitive creatures, and they don’t like change. If you attempt to force a cat to use a litter box, he will likely resist and refuse to use it altogether.
It can take time to train a cat to use a litter box, but it is worth the effort in the end. Here are some of the key benefits of litter box training:
- Keeps the House Clean: Cats who don’t know where their bathroom is will often pee or poop on the floor, which is unpleasant, unhealthy, and unsanitary.
- No Night Walks: It reduces the need for your cats to go outside in inclement weather or at night when it’s dark. This can be dangerous for cats if they’re not used to being outdoors — they may get lost, hurt by an animal, or hit by a car.
- Easy Traveling: Litter box training makes traveling with your cat easier because you’ll have fewer accidents when you’re away from home and less clean-up when you return home. You can even take a portable litter box with you on trips, which makes it easy for short stays away from home (like overnight stays at hotels).
- No Bad Odors: A well-maintained litter box will keep odors at bay, which means you won’t have to worry about walking into the bathroom after your cat has used it and being overwhelmed by cat urine or feces odors.
This is vital if you have multiple cats that share a single litter box, as maintaining several boxes can be difficult if each cat prefers its own. By training your cat to use one location for defecation, you will avoid having multiple stinky boxes around the house.
- Reduced Infection Risk: If you have kids, they may come into contact with the cat feces if they put their hands in their mouths or touch toys that are covered with pathogens found in cat feces in your home.
- Less Stress: It cuts down on stress for both you and your cat. Cats that feel stressed tend to have accidents in the house out of fear or confusion (or both). Having a designated place to go when they need to relieve themselves helps keep everyone calmer — which means fewer accidents!
How to Train a Cat to Use a Litter Box?
Here are the basic steps on how to train a cat to use a litter box:
- Find the Right Litter Box: The first step in training your cat to use the litter box is selecting one suitable for your cat’s needs. A shallow clean litter box is best for new kittens and young cats, but for senior cats, a deeper litter box is better because it reduces the amount of tracking that occurs when your cat walks on the litter.
When selecting a litter box, be sure that it has low sides so that your cat can easily enter and exit the box. You will need one litter box plus one for every cat. So each cat has personal space if you have two or more.
- Choose the Right Place for the Litter Box: Place the litter tray where it will not be disturbed by other pets or family members who may bother or frighten your cat while using it (such as near a door). You should also place it away from areas with loud noises or distractions, such as windows and televisions. Avoid tight spaces and corners like closets where your pet might feel trapped.
- Encourage the Litter Box Use: Encourage your pet to use it by putting clumping litter, non-clumping litter, sawdust, and sand, in the bottom of the box and encouraging her to sniff around it. This may take time, but eventually, they will get used to smelling the scent on the bottom of their paws after using the box and will begin going there voluntarily. Kittens do well with positive reinforcement; when she uses her potty, reward her with cat food or treats.
- Keep the Litter Box Clean: Once your cat uses the litter box, it is important to keep it clean. You should scoop out any waste that may have been deposited into the box and clean it with soap or detergent once a week.
How Long Does it Take to Train a Cat to Use a Litter Box?
Most kittens are litter box trained by eight weeks of age. However, some cats may take a bit longer to learn their lessons.
To speed up your cat’s litter box training, you can use a shallow litter pan for young kittens up to six months old. The shallower pan makes it easier for the kitten to see what she is doing and prevents accidental drowning in a deeper litter.
Also, ensure the box is easy for the kitten to get into and out of. If it’s too tall, place a step stool next to it so your kitten can climb in and out more easily. If it’s difficult for your kitten (or older cat) to climb over the edge of the pan, place a step stool inside.
What Should I do With a Cat That Refuses to Use a Litter Box?
Your kitty may refuse to use the litter box because it is dirty or too small. You should scoop out waste at least twice daily and empty the full box every other day. A clumping litter will help keep things cleaner, as it can be scooped out easily and discarded in a trash bag.
If this does not work, add a second litter box. Keep one in another room, so your cat has some privacy, and locate them in an area that is easy to access.
If your cat still has litter box problems, it might be time to take her to the vet for a checkup. The vet will determine if any medical issues, such as urinary tract infections, may be responsible for your cat’s behavior or inappropriate elimination, as the case may be.