Kittens are smart little creatures and they can be surprisingly quick to learn. It is in their nature to search for a clean, sandy surface that can serve as a comfy toilet. Thus, they get used to a litter box quite easily, provided that all the basic requirements are met.
If you have just welcomed a new kitty into your home and are wondering how to prevent improper elimination from the start, here are some proven tips and tricks that can make the process smooth and effortless for both you and your little furry friend.
Knowing The Facts
Most kitties learn how to use the litter box by the age of 8 weeks. Furthermore, they instinctively start to dig in the sand (or sand-like litter) by the age of 4 weeks. Thus, if your kitten is at least a month old, you should have no problem training him or her to use the toilet. If the little one is already 2 months old, there may be virtually no need for training. With particularly small kittens under the age of 4 weeks, you may need to be a bit more patient, until the natural instincts kick in.
Choosing The Right Litter Box
When teaching your kitten to eliminate in the right spot, one of the crucial factors that you need to take into consideration is the adequacy of the litter box. Namely, what matters most is that the box is easily accessible. It should have low sides, so the little one can enter it easily. It should not be a top-entry litter box or a high-sided box that requires the kitten to jump high and work hard to get inside the toilet.
If you opt for a self-cleaning model, you should by no means let the cleaning cycles start automatically, at least not at first since the noise and the motion can easily scare your little friend. You should start the cycles manually until your kitten gets used to his or her new toilet.
Our general recommendation is that you start with an open-top litter box featuring a more-or-less classic design, such as the popular Luuup litter box. However, you can choose any of the top-rated litter boxes, as long as it is safe, simple, and low-sided, providing sufficient comfort without looking intimidating.
Choosing The Right Litter
Not all kinds of litter are safe for kittens and not all of them suit the preferences of the little ones.
Clumping litter is generally considered to be an unsafe choice since it may cause serious health problems if ingested. For example, if your kitten leaves the litter box with a certain amount of litter on the paws, he or she is sure to lick the paws clean afterward and thus ingest some of the litter. Once in the small intestines, the litter may start to clump. This can cause major digestion issues and the consequences can even be life-threatening, so be sure not to use clumping litter until your kitty is at least 4 months old.
As far as preferences go, kittens, just like older cats, prefer natural, non-scented, fine-particle litters. Among the safest choices are 100% natural litters, like the organic CatSpot litter made of coconut. Whichever brand you choose, be sure to go with non-clumping, hypoallergenic, scent-free, sand-like litter with no artificial ingredients that are hard to pronounce.
Picking The Location
Choosing the right location for the litter box is essential in house soiling prevention. Fortunately, there are only a couple of simple rules to remember. The litter box should not be close to the food and drink bowls, it should not be located in a high-traffic area, and it should not be kept in a dark, cold or distant place. If the litter box is near your kitten’s favorite playing spots, in a safe, low-traffic environment, you do not have to worry about your little friend choosing a different place to eliminate.
Introducing Your Kitten To The Litter Box
Now that we have covered all the factors that may influence your kitten’s attitude toward the litter box, it is time to focus on the training process itself. The first step is acquainting the little one with his or her new toilet. If you place the litter box in one of your kitten’s favorite parts of your home, it is likely that your friend will start exploring it independently.
If this does not happen naturally, you can speed up the process by placing your kitten in the litter box and slowly dragging the little paws across the surface. This is likely to inspire your kitten to do some digging.
The best time to introduce your kitten to the litter box is after a nap or a meal. This is when elimination usually occurs and once the little one starts digging in the sandy litter, he or she may instinctively use the toilet without any further encouragement.
Once your kitten successfully uses the litter box for the first time, you can repeat the process described above a couple of times to make sure your furry friend understands that the litter box is his or her to use.
Making The Litter Box Attractive
If your kitten does not get used to the litter box after a couple of uses, there are some tricks that can help make it more appealing. First of all, the box should be clean at all times. Second, you can make matters more interesting by placing a toy or two in the litter box or leaving a treat at the entry. Finally, if nothing works, spraying some catnip on the edge of the litter box is sure to attract your kitten’s attention and make the litter box more likable.
As your kitten grows to love the litter box, the likelihood of choosing a different toilet is reduced to a minimum. Thus, do not shy away from using his or her favorite treats and toys to make it happen.
If you follow all the rules and tips presented above, you are likely to train your kitten to use the litter box within a few days at most. However, every kitten has a different personality and unique preferences and habits, so be patient throughout the process.
Like we said before, kittens are clever and do not need too much help or encouragement to start using the litter box, so as long as you make sure all the key criteria are satisfied and the training process is pleasant, with just enough support provided, your kitten will get used to the litter box in no time.