When you bring a new kitten home, one thing that is likely on your mind is how to teach them where they can go to the toilet. Helping your kitten learn where they can relieve themselves can be a simple process. They naturally want to use a litter tray and can even learn to use one by watching their feline mother.
If your new feline needs some encouragement, our tips can help you guide them.
Supplies you’ll need
Before you bring your new furry family member home, go to a pet store or have a look online for these supplies:
It's best to have more than one litter box for your kitten to use in different places. Pick places around your home that are easy for your kitten to find with some privacy for them. For extra privacy, you can buy trays with higher sides.
If you have more than one cat at home, make sure they have their own tray and an extra one can also be useful.
From clumping to dust-free or scented, there are plenty of litter options. Here are a few of the different types you can choose from:
This type of litter gets its name from the clumps that form when it gets wet.
- The clumps make it easier to clean
- You can quickly remove the soiled litter, even urine
- You can clean the tray without having to clear all the litter.
- It can be more expensive to buy
- It causes more dust than non-clumping litter options
- It is not recommended until you have trained your kitten as the litter can be dangerous if eaten.
Wood pellet litter
This type of natural pellet litter is often made from pine or cedarwood.
- Controls odours
- It's an eco-friendly option
- Soft for your kittens’ paws
- Absorbs well.
- It is non-clumping which can make it harder to clean
- The wood can have a strong scent which may deter your kitten.
Sand or clay litter
This type of litter is the most common choice for litter trays.
- Clumping clay litters make scooping easier
- There are versions with scent which can mask odour
- Widely available and accessible
- Lower cost.
- It isn't very eco-friendly
- Can stick to your kitten's paws and track around your home.
This is a newer type of litter on the market.
- Absorbs liquids well
- Gets rid of odours.
- Can be expensive compared with other litter options
- Can be sharp for your kittens’ paws.
As standard, an unscented litter is best to start with in case your kitten is sensitive to new textures and smells. Once they are comfortable with the litter tray, you'll be able to explore another option.
Treats and toys
When you're training your kitten to use their litter tray, reward them when they use it. Feeding a treat or playing with a fun toy will create a positive association and reinforce the use of the litter tray.
Where should I put the litter trays?
Think about where in your house is most peaceful so that your kitten can go to the toilet in private. Avoid putting their tray in a hallway or well-used rooms. Also think about the noise volumes. If their tray is next to a washing machine or tumble dryer, the noise might deter them.
If you've decided on a spot in the house where your kitten will eat and drink, don't use this area for their litter tray too. Would you like to go to the toilet in the same place you eat your dinner?
Now, ask yourself if the spot you're thinking of is always accessible. If there's something blocking your kitten from their tray, they might have an accident.
Simple steps to litter training your kitten
So, you've chosen your litter and where the tray will be. Next, you need to know how to teach your kitten to use it. These 3 simple steps will help you do just that.
Be sure to consistently repeat the following steps as many times as you need. Your kitten will soon learn that the litter tray is a positive place and use it with confidence.
Learn the signs
If your kitten starts to sniff, scratch or crouch on the floor, they likely need the toilet. Be observant and aware of these signs.
Put them in the litter tray
When you see your kitten showing the signs, calmly place them in their litter tray and leave them to use it.
Reward them for their successes
Reward your kitten when they use the tray with praise, a treat and a play with their favourite toy.
How often should I clean my kittens litter tray?
It’s important that your kitten has a clean place to go to the toilet. Kittens are naturally clean animals and may look elsewhere in the home if their litter tray is dirty. Clear their tray of soils throughout the day or at least once a day, to encourage your kitten to use it.
You should remove the litter and scrub the tray at least once a week using hot water and detergent. This will give the tray a deeper and hygienic clean. Be sure to check the detergent before you use it to make sure it isn't toxic for your kitten.
Keep to a cleaning routine, otherwise your kitten may start searching for a new toilet spot.
A clean litter tray is more pleasant for you and your kitten. It will keep them coming back when they need to relieve themselves and help them learn to use it every time.
Remember, accidents happen
Expect accidents to happen when you're litter training your kitten. It's new to them and they're still learning the rules of the home. If they have an accident, avoid punishing them. Simply clean it up and stay consistent with your training. The more consistent you are, the faster they will learn and build confidence using their tray.
There may be several reasons why your kitten has started to have accidents around the house:
- Their litter tray isn't clean
- They may be attention seeking
- They may feel uncomfortable going to the toilet in the area the tray is.
Our internal vet, Martin, explains that “If the accidents continue, your kitten may have an underlying health condition, such as urinary issues.” Contact your kittens’ vet and seek their advice if you have any concerns.
Next steps for 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
- Always 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 older cats
Older cats are usually toilet and litter trained by the time they come to your home. If they were an outdoor cat, you may need to go back to basics with them to teach them where they can go to the toilet inside.
To get them used to the litter after using the outside for so long, try adding outdoor soil to the tray to begin with. When they start to get the hang of the litter tray, you can slowly remove the soil and replace it with more litter.
Covering your kitten
Kittens can get into all kinds of mischief and fall unwell from time to time. MORE THAN cat and kitten insurance is there for you and your feline friend should you need it.