Housetraining Your Kitten

How do I train my kitten to use a litter tray?

Initially, kittens are stimulated to toilet by their mother grooming and cleaning them. By about 1 month of age, they toilet by themselves, following their mother’s example by digging in loose material (litter or soil). Therefore kittens tend to use litter trays once in their new environment, without much training by the owner.

Kittens tend to go to the toilet after eating, after they wake up, and after play. Supervise your kitten at these times to ensure use of the litter tray.

If you see your kitten sniffing around a previously soiled area, then it up and take it to its tray. Scrape the litter with its front foot to stimulate the natural action that follows a successful deposit. Give it a food treat immediately after it has done it's business in the tray.

Early on you may need to set your alarm clock every two hours during the day. At each alarm, take your kitten to its litter tray scrape its paw in the litter and then move away. If you are unable to supervise, you may need to confine him to a small area containing the litter tray.

What type of litter and litter tray should I use?

Try to use the same type of litter that your kitten used before you obtained her, so that it is highly likely she will use it in her new environment. There are many different types of litter tray, including ones with covers. Your kitten may need one with short sides initially.

Litter also comes in many types including clay, recycled newspapers, ‘clumping’ litters, silicon-based, lucern-based, sawdust based and re-cycled plant material. Some cats have preferences for the type of litter, and you can determine this by offering a few litter trays side by side containing different types of litter, to see if he prefers a particular type.

How should I clean the litter tray?

Cats are fastidious, so keep the litter tray as clean as possible. One method is to line the tray with newspaper and provide a cupful of litter in which to eliminate, then the whole contents can be emptied every time it is used. Clumping types of litter allow you to remove small amounts daily. Clean the tray with soapy water and rinse well. If you use strong-smelling disinfectants, make sure they are rinsed very well to remove odours that the cat may dislike.

Where should I put the litter tray and how many do I need?

Place the litter tray in a private, quiet environment, but somewhere you can notice when it needs cleaning. Some cats have preferences for the location of the litter tray and you can test this by placing several litter trays in different locations, and see which one, if any, are used more frequently.

The number of litter trays depends on your cat. If you are away for long periods, it is a good idea to use more than one so that if one is soiled, your cat can always use the other. Do not place these trays next to each other. In multiple cat households, it is recommended to use one more litter tray than there are cats.

What if my kitten prefers to use the pot plants?

This is a common problem, with kittens preferring to dig in soil than the material in the litter tray. Confine your cat away from these areas, or make them unattractive to the cat by placing aluminium foil around the base of the plant, or stick some dry food onto an old saucer and place that in the pot, since cats dislike toileting near food. Make sure the problem is not that the kitten dislikes the litter, the litter tray, or its location, or that it is not being cleaned sufficiently.

- Last updated 16 November 2012

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