Litterbox Training

Getting your cat to think inside the box.

The good news is using a litterbox is a natural behavior for your kitten, just like scratching to mark territory, but this time we only want to encourage and nurture the behavior not change it.  What you and your kitten decide to do often will become a lifelong choice, so think ahead and plan. 

When first bringing your kitten home it is often best to keep your kitten in a single room or two to prevent your precious new kitten from getting hurt.  It will also help train your kitten to using the litter box.  The first question will be what kind of litter will work best for you and your kitten, scoop able, paper, corn cob or gravel litter.  It may be necessary to start with plain dirt with an adult cat that has always lived outside and may not have used a litter box.   It often works best to try out several substrates at one time by lining up several identical boxes that contain different materials.  You can then monitor to see which your kitten prefers.  The next step is thinking about the box itself.  Many cats do not like covered boxes – they trap all the smells in a small area, the same reason that we often prefer them.  Make sure that your litter box is about 1 ½ times the length of your kitten when she will be an adult.  Make sure that it is easy for your kitten to get into and out of the box.  Again, remember that what the two of you choose will probably be a lifelong choice.

Cats are very vulnerable when they are in the litterbox so the positioning of the box can be very important to avoiding aversion to the box.  Make sure that the area is safe, private and quiet.  Putting the litterbox next to the food bowls is a no no as well as putting it near the washer where sudden noises may scare your kitten.  Think ahead and plan for the unexpected.  Remember is you have multiple cats that the rule of thumb is one more litter box than the number of cats that you have.  In multiple cat situations it is also important to make sure the litter boxes are not all grouped together in one place so that there’s no guarding of the boxes by one cat and preventing another cat from getting safely to the box.

Remember that it is never okay to yell at your kitten for not using the box.  If your kitten is posturing like he wants to urinate or defecate outside of the box, gently pick him up and put him in the box and walk away.  If your kitten is not using the box it is your job to figure out why.  Go back to the basics and start the process again and see what you need to change to make your kitten happy.

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