Litter training 101: mastering kitten potty training
Authored by Jodi Helmer
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Authored by Jodi Helmer
Unlike puppies that need to be trained not to squat on the carpet or raise their legs on the furniture, kittens need little direction when it comes to potty training. In fact, the idea of “litter box training” is misleading because there is little training involved.
Follow these simple steps and your kitten will handle the rest.
Litter boxes come in all shapes and sizes. Kittens are too small to scramble over the side of a large litter box so start small.
The ideal litter box for kittens is shallow enough for your kitten to climb inside to take care of business. If he keeps missing the box (and the waste is landing right over the edge) the box is too small. You’ll need to increase the size of the box as your kitten grows.
Some kittens prefer covered litter boxes while others prefer open boxes. You might have to experiment with a few different options to see which one your kitten likes best.
There are countless cat litter options from clay granules to pine pellets and options for scented and unscented and clumping and non-clumping.
Your kitten might show a strong preference for one type of litter so it’s a good idea to test out a few and see which one he prefers.
Some kittens may avoid granules that get stuck in their paw pads while others might steer clear of clumping litter that forms big balls in their litter box—and some kittens will happily answer the call of nature in any type of litter that’s provided.
Regardless of which type of litter you use, make sure that it’s deep enough for kittens to bury their waste.
The adage location, location, location also applies to litter box real estate, especially for kittens.
Your kitten may be too shy to explore the whole house so placing the litter box in an out-of-the-way spot like a basement or upstairs guest bath may deter him from searching out the litter box when it’s time to go.
Choose a central—but private—location like a main floor bathroom or mudroom. It should be easy for your kitten to find but private enough that he’s comfortable doing his business.
The magic formula for litter boxes is one box per cat plus one extra. Translation: One kitten will need two litter boxes. More cats means more litter boxes.
The extra litter box means your kitten won’t have to look for a “better” spot to do his business if one litter box is occupied. It also allows your kitten to have access to a litter box in different spots of the house: The easier you make it for him to find the litter box, the more likely you are to avoid potty issues.
Kittens will avoid dirty litter boxes and look for other spots to go—it’s their way of training you to keep their bathrooms clean.
Each litter box should be scooped daily and thoroughly cleaned weekly. Tools like a litter scoop, plastic litter box liners and cat litter mats can help keep the litter box and surrounding areas clean. There are even some self-cleaning litter box options!
Poor training may not be to blame if your kitten starts doing his business outside the box. Instead, it might be a medical issue like bladder stones and urinary tract infections can make your kitten associate the litter box with pain.
If your cat suddenly stops using the litter box, make an appointment with the veterinarian to rule out medical problems.
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