How to litter train your kitten

Kittens have a natural tendency to use a litter tray and often learn from their mother, but it’s essential that a new kitten owner helps their pet understand where they should relieve themselves.

How can I tell if my kitten wants to go to the toilet?

I always suggest that one of the first things you’ll need to do when toilet training your kitten is to learn the signs that they want to relieve themselves. When a cat is ready to go to the toilet you’ll notice them sniffing, scratching or crouching on the floor.

What’s the best way to start litter training my kitten?

To begin with, be observant and place your cat in the litter tray if you notice they want to go. You can also place them on the tray at certain times during the day, perhaps when they’ve eaten or when they’ve woken up in the morning and before they go to sleep at night.

It’s important not to pressurise your cat into going to the toilet. Give them the opportunity to go in the right place at the right time.

Where should I put my kitten’s litter tray?

I recommend putting your kitten’s litter tray in an easily accessible spot and away from where they eat and drink. Ideally, it should be in a quiet place well away from busy or noisy parts of the house so as not to disturb them.

How should I reward success?

It’s always a good idea to reinforce good behaviour with a reward. To show your kitten that using the litter tray is what you want them to do, reward them with a little cat treat after they’ve used it. This will help your kitten associate the litter tray and going to the toilet with a positive experience.

You can also encourage or reward your cat with a reassuring and enthusiastic voice, keeping the tone soft and gentle.

What should I do if accidents happen?

Let’s face it, until your kitten is completely used to using their litter tray, accidents will happen!

But don’t panic. If your kitten seems to be missing the litter tray, it could be down to some of these reasons:

  • Check if the litter tray is dirty. Cats are very clean animals and won’t use a litter tray if it’s dirty, so it’s vital that you keep the litter tray clean at all times to ensure toilet training success.
  • Your kitten might not like where the litter tray is located. If this is the case, try moving it to another, quieter part of the house.
  • Your kitten might have reached sexual maturity.
  • Your kitten might simply want attention.

And what if accidents persist?

A cat’s toilet habits can often be something of a mystery, but if accidents continue to happen then I’d recommend having your pet checked over by your vet. What may look like a behavioural issue could actually be caused by an underlying medical problem.

What I sometimes see in my surgery is that if a kitten has a urinary tract problem and it hurts when they go in the tray, they may start to associate the pain with the tray and no longer want to use it.

How do I encourage my kitten to move from using the litter tray to going to the toilet outside?

Most cats will be perfectly happy to go to the toilet in a litter tray, but if you’d like to train your cat to relieve themselves outside, try moving the litter tray gradually towards the door to the garden or outside space. Do this in stages over the course of a few days, eventually moving the tray outside before removing the tray altogether.

Watch our video for more on litter training your kitten.

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