Training cats to use the litter box

It’s not difficult to train cats to use the litter box. Learn how to be successful with your training.

Training kittens to use the litter box - house training

House training of cats

If a kitten grows up with its mother, it’s the mother which trains the kitten to become clean. The mother cat cleans its baby during the first weeks of its life. When the newborn kitten starts eating solid food, after about 4 to 6 weeks, she stops her cleaning services. To show the kitten where to relieve itself, some mother cats carry or push their babies into the litter tray. Kittens learn quickly, as they are curious and imitate their mothers. Since the first weeks of life are very important for a kitten’s development, it should not be separated from its mother before it is 12 weeks old.

Where’s the litter box?

If your kitten has learned from its mom to use the litter box, it will be clean in its new home within a very short time. If the mother cat hasn’t trained the young feline, you might need a little more time and patience. It’s best to take a few days off when bringing a kitten home to your house. Show the new family member where the cat toilet is and put it into the tray. Scrape with your finger in the litter. Since the kitten is curious it will instantly inspect the box – and possibly run out immediately. Place the young cat into the box several times a day, especially after it has eaten and after sleeping to avoid it doing its business elsewhere.

How to get your cat used to the litter box

Observe your kitten during the settling phase. The more time you spend with your new family member, the faster you will recognise when it is looking for a place to go to the toilet outside the litter box. When the baby cat starts sniffing the ground and seems restless, you should act quickly. Pick the cat up and put it into the cat toilet immediately. Once the cat starts urinating or defecating into the box, give it praise by caressing it and using friendly words. And if an accident happens to the kitten unnoticed by you, never punish it: cats learn through praise rather than through punishment. Remove the waste and clean the spot thoroughly. Usually, the kitten should get used to the litter box in the new home after just a few days. To make sure that your house training is successful, follow these 10 tips:

  1. Place the cat toilet in a quiet and clean place. Cats don’t like their litter box being located in a busy area.
  2. Make sure that the litter box is accessible at all times.
  3. The litter box should be placed far enough away from the cat’s food bowl.
  4. Choose a litter box with a low lip for a small kitten, allowing the youngster to get in and out without any problems.
  5. Praise your kitten the first few times that it uses the toilet. Praise can help you to train your cat to become clean.
  6. Use a plant-based litter. Kittens like playing with the litter and sometimes even eat it. Our plant-based litter COSYCAT is 100 % ecological and easily digestible. For a comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of mineral and plant-based cat litter see Mineral clumping litter compared with plant-based clumping litter in our Advice section.
  7. Make sure to use a soft litter that is pleasant for the cat’s sensitive paws.
  8. Remove the waste several times a day from the cat toilet during the first training phase. As soon as the cat uses the litter box regularly, we recommend removing the waste twice a day.
  9. Clean the litter box thoroughly from time to time. The cleaning intervals depend on the cat litter you use.
    If you use a clumping litter, clean out the box completely after approximately 4 to 6 weeks. With a non-clumping litter, clean the box thoroughly after 1 week. We recommend that you use organic clumping litter because it has many benefits for humans, animals and the environment.

Use a litter box with which your cat feels comfortable. Litter boxes can be covered or uncovered, they can have a swing door or a built-in sieve tray. The latter are also called sifting litter boxes. Many cats don’t like covered trays as the cover reinforces the odours. If your kitten doesn’t want to use the litter box at all, try another box.