Pet Care 101 – How To Train Your Cat To Use The Litter Box


Congratulations on your new addition to the family! Having a cat as a companion is always a blessing for those who have the privilege. One of the first things your new companion will learn is how to use the litter box. This can be an easy process, so when it comes to how to train your cat to use the litter box a little patience goes a long way. With just a few training tips, you’ll have a litter-trained kitty in short order.

The Litter Box

The first step in litter training is making sure you have the right litter box for the task. Kittens may require a box with low sides so they can easily enter and exit as required. Cat’s with bad aim may require higher sides to prevent waste from dispersing around the box. On average, as long as you choose a heavy duty plastic container, most of your litter box choices will serve your needs well. There are many options available – may of which are quite handy and easy to use.

The Plus One Rule

Cats can be very temperamental when it comes to where they choose to eliminate. One of the best ways to ensure you have a comfortable kitty is to ensure you have enough options for them to choose from when they need to go. There is a general rule of thumb that suggests you adopt at least one litter box per cat in your home, plus one. If you only have one cat, two litter boxes are the minimum required. This is especially true if you have a cat that is reluctant to use the box. Location is also important. Place the litter box in a low traffic, relatively private area. This helps ensure comfort while using the station.

Immediate Introduction

Most cats will be able to instinctively use a litter box. To help your new cat establish a healthy relationship with their new space, make sure to have a litter box ready for when they arrive in your home for the first time. Place them near the box when you arrive so they can become acquainted with the smells and the location of the box. You can help expedite the process of early adoption by placing your cat near or in the box after meals, naps, or playing. This gets them used to the new routine and feeling comfortable with their space.

Regular Cleaning

Most cats will turn up their nose to a dirty litter box. To avoid forcing your cat to use an alternative station for elimination – like your favorite throw rug – make sure to scoop the poop at least once per day and change the litter once per week. When changing the litter, wash out the box with soapy water to eliminate stale odors. Also, make sure to use an unscented litter brand. Cats do not like fragrances and may not prefer to use a litter that contains them. Opt rather for an unscented variety that they respond well to when using. It could be a bit of trial and error at first, but your patience will pay off with a happy kitty.



Reward and Positive Reinforcement

Never create stress for your cat while in the litter box. Any kind of negative experiences can prevent them from forming positive associations with the litter box. If your cat has an accident, place them in the litter box right after. You can even give them a treat once there to give them a morale boost. They will learn what’s going on very quickly. If they still refuse to use the box, it may be because they are not happy with the litter choice, the cleanliness of the litter box, or the location it’s placed in. Keeping all these aspects in mind can quickly enforce great behavior and healthy habits.

Final Thoughts

Learning how to train your cat to use the litter box is pretty straightforward in the vast majority of cases. If you find that you are still having issues with litter training even after following these steps, reach out to us – we can talk about the situation. Nearly all cats will eventually catch on to litter box use within a few days of introduction. With just a bit of patience and positive reinforcement, you’ll have a happily eliminating cat in a very short period of time. To learn more, give the Little Cat Clinic a call, or browse our website.