When you bring a new kitten into your home, you'll need to teach them how to use a litter tray. Litter training is a simple process, and with consistent training and a little patience, it could take only a few days.
We've outlined some great training tips to help you litter train your kitten, as well as ways to avoid potential illnesses that could end up as a claim on your insurance.
Get ready for litter training
Before you get your kitten home, you’ll need to be prepared with the following three things:
It's best to have more than one litter box or tray for your kitten to use in different places. Kittens enjoy privacy at toilet time, so put your trays somewhere that will allow them some space. For extra privacy, you can buy trays with higher sides.
If you have more than one cat at home, they each need their own tray as a minimum.
There are various types of litter, each with its pros and cons. Some clump better, others have a nice scent or claim to be biodegradable. Do your research and find the one best for your household and price range. If your kitten is trained before they come home, you’ll need to use the litter they are used to at first.
Treats and toys
You’ll need to reward your kitten for using the litter tray, this gives them confidence they are making the right decision. Feeding a treat or playing with a fun toy will create a positive association and reinforce the use of the litter tray.
Where should you put the cat’s litter tray?
There are various factors to consider when finding the best spot for successful litter training:
- Footfall – avoid well-used areas so your kitten has peace and space
- Noise – the noise of household items such as a tumble dryer can deter your kitten from using the tray
- Food – to ensure a healthy environment, avoid putting the litter tray near where they eat and drink
- Accessibility – your kitten needs constant access to their litter tray, so avoid putting it behind closed doors
Train your kitten to use the litter tray
There are three simple steps to training your kitten. The key is to be consistent and keep repeating until it is second nature to them.
Step 1. Learn the signs your kitten needs the toilet
Signs include sniffing, scratching and crouching to the floor.
Step 2. Put your cat in the litter tray
When you see the signs, pop them calmly into the litter tray and leave them alone to use it. You also need to put them in after meals and naps.
Step 3. Reward them for their successes
Use praise, treats and playtime to reward your kitten when they use the litter tray successfully.
Keep repeating these steps until your kitten is confident in using the litter tray.
What to do if your cat struggles to use the litter tray
Expect accidents and never punish your kitten for making a mistake. It’s all new to them, and they’re still learning the rules at home. The more consistent you are, the faster they will learn and build confidence using their litter tray.
There are several reasons your kitten may be having accidents in the house:
- The litter tray isn’t clean
- Attention seeking
- The litter tray location
- Sharing the tray with other cats
- The smell or texture of the litter
- An underlying health condition
You’ll need to experiment and see what’s causing the behaviour in your kitten.
Our internal vet, Martin, explains “If the accidents continue, your kitten may have an underlying health condition, such as urinary issues.”
Moving to toilet training outside
If, eventually, you would like your kitten to use the outside as their toilet, you can follow these steps:
- Slowly move their litter tray closer to the door
- Add some litter to the garden to show them where they can go to the toilet
- Keep a litter tray inside until they are using the outside consistently.
- Remember to keep your kitten inside until they have had all their vaccinations
Litter training an older cat
Older cats are usually toilet and litter trained by the time they come to your home. If they were an outdoor cat and you’d like them to use a litter tray, you may need to go back to basics.
Similar to getting a new kitten, you’ll need to choose the right tray and litter. Show your cat the litter tray and let them explore it. If they’ve been toileting outside for a long period of time, it may help to pop a little soil in there. When they start to get the hang of the litter tray, you can slowly remove the soil and replace it with more litter.
Training an older cat can take more time. Set them up for success by being patient and rewarding their progress. Punishing your cat could make them anxious about using the litter tray and is never recommended.
Covering your kitten
Due to the clean nature of cats, litter training a kitten can be a quick process if you are consistent and recognise their behaviours.
Don’t forget, keeping the litter tray clean is essential to help avoid your kitten or anyone else in the home becoming ill.
Kittens can get into all kinds of mischief and fall unwell from time to time. Make sure you’re covered with MORE THAN cat and kitten insurance. We could provide you with financial support with those unexpected vet bills, giving you peace of mind.